Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 27th Jan 2022

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Where Is the Operation Warp Speed for Covid Testing?

The U.S. is awash in vaccine doses, but the availability of tests has been a problem throughout the most intense surges of the Covid-19 crisis. That’s because while there was an Operation Warp Speed to create vaccines, there hasn’t been a comparable initiative for tests. In response to the omicron wave, the administration of President Joe Biden has stepped up its investments in testing.
26th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid-19: Vaccine passports scrapped as coronavirus rules ease

Proof of Covid-19 status to enter bars, restaurants and cinemas has been scrapped in Northern Ireland. The change took effect at 12:00 GMT following a decision by Stormont ministers last week. Nightclubs - which were forced to close on 26 December - can now also reopen, along with the return of indoor standing events. Vaccine passports will still be required to access nightclubs and large events.
26th Jan 2022 - BBC News

China to mass test millions for Covid ahead of 2022 Winter Olympics

China is trying to squash any coronavirus outbreaks by repeatedly mass testing citizens before fans start arriving for the Winter Olympics next month. Beijing’s Fengtai district announced it would start testing its two million people on Tuesday, making it the third time the capital’s residents are getting tested since last weekend. The spectacle is set to start in just nine days – on February 4 – and officials are taking extremely careful measures to make sure Covid does not ruin any plans. Anyone in China who buys headache, fever or other cold medicine will be forced to get tested within 72 hours of doing so.
26th Jan 2022 - Metro

German parliament debates compulsory vaccination as COVID surges

German lawmakers agonised over whether to impose compulsory COVID-19 shots on Wednesday, as new record daily COVID-19 infections and the country's stuttering vaccination campaign forced them into an ethical and constitutional dilemma. Protesters stood in small groups around the Reichstag parliament building, surrounded by police, as politicians within presented cross-party motions. Chancellor Olaf Scholz backs compulsory vaccines for over-18s but his coalition government is divided on the issue and he has told lawmakers to vote according to conscience.
26th Jan 2022 - Reuters

S.Korea's daily COVID-19 cases surge as new testing scheme begins

South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases exceeded 13,000 for the first time on Wednesday, driven by the spread of the Omicron variant, as the government launched a new pilot testing scheme to meet skyrocketing demand. The record 13,012 cases for the previous 24-hour period came just a day after the tally first topped 8,000 despite the extension of tough social distancing rules.
26th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Jan 2022

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Vaccines will always be our best weapon against Covid – here’s how to deploy them

Since the pandemic began almost two years ago, the monster that is Covid-19 has visited every corner of Earth, killing more than 5.5 million people. But we have fought back with astounding speed and vigour, and the situation today is very different from that in early 2020. Ten billion vaccine doses will have been administered worldwide by early February. The Covax scheme has delivered 1bn vaccines to lower-income countries. As a result, global daily deaths from the virus are at their lowest point in more than a year. So, is the monster slain? No. Covid-19 will not just disappear. Only one human infectious disease has been eradicated from the planet – smallpox – and that took nearly 200 years. Polio is near to extinction, but it has taken a 70-year campaign.
25th Jan 2022 - The Guardian

Does the world need more COVID-19 vaccines? These companies think there's still room for improvement

The ultimate COVID-19 vaccine will be able to tackle all emerging coronavirus strains, easy to store and quick to manufacture. And yes, there's still time for the stragglers who were beaten to the punch by Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna—at least according to the companies still trying to get in line. Not to mention, just 60% of the world has been vaccinated, according to the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data database. The rates are higher in richer regions like the U.S. and EU, while the need is great in less developed nations. But the window to contribute to the vaccine fight is closing. A new report from Morningstar sees demand for boosters remaining heavy in 2022 but dissipating over 2023. If a company isn't already filing for authorization, they'd better get on it. Jean-Francois Toussaint, Ph.D., head of research and development for Sanofi Pasteur, said 20 billion doses of existing vaccines are expected to be available this year. So where does that leave remaining companies, like Toussaint’s, that have shots in the pipeline?
24th Jan 2022 - FierceBiotech

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 25th Jan 2022

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WHO chief says world at 'critical juncture' in COVID pandemic

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday that it was dangerous to assume the Omicron variant would herald the end of COVID-19's acutest phase, exhorting nations to stay focused to beat the pandemic. "It’s dangerous to assume that Omicron will be the last variant and that we are in the end game," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a WHO executive board meeting of the two-year pandemic that has killed nearly 6 million people. "On the contrary, globally the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge."
24th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Europe could be headed for pandemic 'endgame': WHO

The Omicron variant has moved the Covid-19 pandemic into a new phase and could bring it to an end in Europe, the WHO Europe director said Sunday. "It's plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame," Hans Kluge told AFP in an interview, adding that Omicron could infect 60 percent of Europeans by March. Once the current surge of Omicron sweeping across Europe subsides, "there will be for quite some weeks and months a global immunity, either thanks to the vaccine or because people have immunity due to the infection, and also lowering seasonality". "We anticipate that there will be a period of quiet before Covid-19 may come back towards the end of the year, but not necessarily the pandemic coming back," Kluge said. Top US scientist Anthony Fauci expressed similar optimism on Sunday, telling ABC News talk show "This Week" that with Covid-19 cases coming down "rather sharply" in parts of the United States, "things are looking good".
24th Jan 2022 - IBTimes UK

Thailand Offers 4th Covid Shot in Tourist Spots Before Borders Reopen

Thailand is ramping up the rollout of fourth Covid-19 shots to residents in its tourism-dependent regions as the nation gears up for border reopening next month. Authorities are offering AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines in Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi and seven other provinces to those who have received their third dose at least three months ago, the health ministry said. The Southeast Asian nation has already administered more than 800,000 fourth doses, mostly to healthcare workers and those in high-risk groups, official data showed.
24th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

France bars unvaccinated from restaurants, sports venues

People who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 are no longer allowed in France’s restaurants, bars, tourist sites and sports venues unless they recently recovered from the virus. The new law came into effect Monday requiring a “vaccine pass” that is central to the government’s anti-virus strategy. France is registering Europe’s highest-ever daily coronavirus infection numbers, and hospitals are continuing to fill up with virus patients, though the number of people in intensive care units has dropped in recent days.
24th Jan 2022 - Associated Press

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 24th Jan 2022

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Beijing introduces more COVID measures as cases mount before Olympics

Beijing's city government on Sunday introduced new measures to contain a recent outbreak of COVID-19, as China's capital continued to report new local cases of the virus less than two weeks before it hosts the Winter Olympic Games. Nine locally transmitted cases were found in Beijing on Jan. 22, the National Health Commission said on Sunday, of which six were in the city's Fengtai district. Fengtai will organise nucleic acid tests for COVID-19 for all of its residents on Sunday, district health authorities said.
23rd Jan 2022 - Reuters

Australia to Allow Overseas Arrivals With Rapid Antigen Test

Australia will allow international air travelers to enter the country if they provide results from a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of departure. A RAT must be undertaken by or under the supervision of a medical practitioner that includes pharmacists or trained personnel at an authorized airport testing station, the Ministry of Health said on its website Saturday in Sydney. The change is effective from 1 a.m. Sunday. Until now any incoming traveler needed to provide a negative PCR test within three days of departure, creating the risk a person may get infected after the test and before embarking. In addition, the global spread of omicron has dramatically increased demand for PCR testing which has impacted access for those wanting pre-departure certification.
22nd Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid: NHS in push to vaccinate the final four million

More than four million adults in the UK have not yet had a first Covid jab and 16 million have not had their booster. This winter, NHS vaccine teams have been out on the streets trying to win over those hard-to-reach groups who might have struggled to access health services in the past. Carole Phillips, an NHS clinical director in Portsmouth, is best described as a straight talker. A former army medic who served in Afghanistan, she is now running outreach programmes in the city - trying to get the Covid vaccine to the most vulnerable. "In Portsmouth, we have still got a large percentage of the population - 20% - who haven't had their first jab," she says. "We have to reach out to these people, regardless of their lifestyle, to protect all of us in the end."
21st Jan 2022 - BBC News

France's Consitutional Council approves Macron's vaccine pass

France's Constitutional Council on Friday approved - with conditions - the country's new COVID-19 vaccine pass, which will require people aged 16 and above to show proof of vaccination to enter public places like bars, restaurants and cinemas. The new pass is part of President Emmanuel Macron's drive to make life difficult enough for the small minority of unvaccinated people that they are compelled to get COVID shots. The Council's ruling paves the way for the vaccine pass to take effect on Jan. 24, replacing a health pass that showed proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or past infection.
21st Jan 2022 - Reuters

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Jan 2022

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U.S. to require COVID vaccines for essential workers crossing borders

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is announcing Thursday it is requiring that non-U.S. essential workers such as truck drivers and nurses who are crossing land borders be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, effective Saturday. The Biden administration first announced in October that effective Nov. 8 it would again allow non-essential foreign visitors to travel from Canada and Mexico into the U.S. across land borders if they were vaccinated. The U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico had been closed to non-essential travel for 20 months because of COVID-19 concerns.
21st Jan 2022 - Reuters

Austria set to make COVID shots compulsory after bill clears parliament

Austria's lower house of parliament passed a bill on Thursday making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for adults as of Feb. 1, bringing Austria closer to introducing the first such sweeping coronavirus vaccine mandate in the European Union. Faced with a stubbornly high number of vaccine holdouts and a surge in infections, the government said in November it was planning the mandate. Since then it has raised the age as of which the mandate will apply, to 18 from 14.
21st Jan 2022 - Reuters

US begins offering 1B free COVID tests, but many more needed

For the first time, people across the U.S. can log on to a government website and order free, at-home COVID-19 tests. But the White House push may do little to ease the omicron surge, and experts say Washington will have to do a lot more to fix the country’s long-troubled testing system. The website, COVIDTests.gov, allows people to order four at-home tests per household, regardless of citizenship status, and have them delivered by mail. But the tests won’t arrive for seven to 12 days, after omicron cases are expected to peak in many parts of the country. The White House also announced Wednesday that it will begin making 400 million N95 masks available for free at pharmacies and community health centers.
20th Jan 2022 - Associated Press

Taiwan to mandate COVID vaccination proof for entertainment venues

Taiwan will mandate the use of passes that provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination for entry into entertainment venues, the government said on Thursday, as it seeks to reduce infection risks while tackling a small rise in domestic Omicron cases. The Central Epidemic Command Centre said that from Friday entry into venues including bars and night clubs would require proof of full vaccination, either by showing a physical vaccine card or a new digital card.
20th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Wearing a mask on planes DOES cut risk of COVID spreading, study finds

Study used simulation to test how far virus-laden droplets could travel and infect They then compared it to real world flights where passengers had caught Covid Their model was 80 per cent right in predicting who did and didn't get the virus In one flight, the team found masks would have cut Covid infections from 12 to 1
20th Jan 2022 - Daily Mail

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 20th Jan 2022

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Report outlines 8 steps for current, future pandemics

A new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) comments on the "ineffectual and fragmented" US COVID-19 pandemic responses thus far and recommends eight steps to manage the ongoing crisis amid variant fatigue, inflation, and supply chain disruptions. CSIS, a bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organization based in Washington, DC, said it issued the recommendations to secure US global leadership in the next phase of the pandemic response. Among the steps recommended in the "2022 is the year of decision" report are to launch a US international pandemic readiness project and to appoint a presidential global health security envoy.
19th Jan 2022 - CIDRAP

Greece imposes rolling fines to push COVID-19 vaccinations in older people

Greece has begun imposing recurring fines on those over the age of 60 who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 to try to boost inoculation in the most vulnerable age group even as infection rates from the fast-spreading Omicron variant are slowing. After hitting an all-time high of 50,126 registered coronavirus infections on Jan. 4, mainly driven by the spread of the Omicron variant over the Christmas holidays, cases have been falling in recent days
19th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Airlines Step Up Hygiene to Keep Covid Out of the Air

In that long-ago time before the pandemic, most travelers chose an airline based on a single, straightforward factor: price. And those who didn’t grab the cheapest fare typically steered their business toward a carrier where they had frequent-flyer miles. Cleanliness, by contrast, barely registered. These days, hygiene is the most important factor in choosing a travel company for almost 60% of Americans, according to a survey by aerospace products manufacturer Honeywell International Inc. That tracks with International Air Transport Association data showing that passengers worry about boarding planes, with 42% of them uncomfortable using lavatories and more than a third concerned about breathing recirculated cabin air. “We know that our customers are more conscious than ever about hygiene,” says Anil Jain, engineering chief at Air India Express, which has introduced robots to clean its planes. “We need to be proactive.”
19th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

China's Zero Covid, Vaccine Program Leaves It With Omicron Whack-a-Mole

The U.S. recently passed the grim marker of 850,000 deaths from Covid-19. By contrast, China has recorded 4,636 Covid-related deaths since the pandemic began. And yet the policies that were so successful for Beijing over the past two years have now become something of a trap. On the face of it, China has changed its policy to reflect its high rate of vaccination. Beijing recently replaced “Zero Covid,” an approach that kept infections and deaths extremely low while allowing the economy to grow, with what it calls “dynamic clearing.” The new policy accepts that infections will happen and empowers local regions to deal with them.
19th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Starbucks suspends vaccine, test requirement after U.S. court ruling

Starbucks Corp suspended COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for U.S. employees that had been mandated by the government, according to a memo sent to workers on Tuesday, following an adverse U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The coffee giant had said earlier this month it would require its around 220,000 U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing. The U.S. Supreme Court last week struck down Joe Biden administration's vaccination-or-testing mandate for large businesses, ruling that the policy overstepped executive authority.
19th Jan 2022 - Reuters

U.S. to make 400 million N95 masks available for free to fight COVID-19 pandemic -official

The U.S. government will make 400 million non-surgical N95 masks from its strategic national stockpile available for free to the public starting next week, a White House official said, marking the Biden administration's latest effort to help curb the COVID-19 pandemic. The face masks will be shipped to pharmacies and community health centers this week, the official said, and available for pickup late next week.
19th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 19th Jan 2022

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Britain preparing for end-June switch to paid COVID tests - document

British health officials are aiming to be ready to start charging Britons for COVID-19 tests that are currently free at the end of June, a document seen by Reuters shows, in what could be a risky gambit for the government. Britain has been increasingly dependent on rapid testing to try to tackle the more-transmissible Omicron variant, which has spread rapidly through the population but is less severe. The government has previously said it will end the universal free provision of easy-to-use lateral flow devices (LFDs) at a "later stage", with individuals and businesses bearing the cost.
18th Jan 2022 - Reuters

U.S. website to order free COVID-19 tests up and running

The U.S. government's new COVIDTests.gov website, set up for American households to order four free COVID-19 tests amid the Omicron variant surge, is up and running ahead of its official launch on Wednesday, the White House said. U.S. households can secure four tests at no cost when ordering from the website, with shipping expected within seven to 12 days of ordering, the White House said on Friday. President Joe Biden has pledged to procure 1 billion free tests for Americans, and more may be ordered in the future.
18th Jan 2022 - Reuters

2,000 hamsters to be culled in Hong Kong over fears of animal-to-human Covid-19 link

Hong Kong authorities have asked pet shops and owners to hand over about 2,000 hamsters for a mass cull and temporarily suspended imports of small animals after finding evidence of the first possible animal-to-human transmission of Covid-19 in the city. Officials on Tuesday also ordered all 34 licensed pet stores that sell hamsters to suspend operations and about 150 customers who had visited the Little Boss shop in Causeway Bay since January 7 to enter quarantine. Pet owners whose hamsters test positive must also be isolated as well. While animal welfare groups expressed shock at the “drastic action”, authorities and health experts stressed the risks to public health made the cull necessary. Two people tied to the Little Boss shop have been confirmed as infected and another is listed as a suspected case, while 11 hamsters from the store were categorised as preliminary-positive.
18th Jan 2022 - South China Morning Post

Abu Dhabi requires booster shots to enter the emirate

Facing a nationwide surge in coronavirus cases fueled by the spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant, Abu Dhabi is requiring people entering the city to show proof of booster shots. The government’s health app said earlier this week that people entering the capital of the United Arab Emirates must show a “green pass,” confirming their vaccination status. The app says that visitors are no longer considered fully vaccinated unless they have received a booster at least six months after their second dose. Those wishing to enter Abu Dhabi also must have have tested negative for the virus within the last two weeks to maintain their “green” status.
18th Jan 2022 - Associated Press

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 18th Jan 2022

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CDC Director Aims to Improve Covid-19 Messaging, Data Collection

One year into her tenure as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky acknowledged that she hasn’t been clear enough with the American public. She says the pandemic threw curveballs that she should have anticipated. She thinks she should have made it clearer to the public that new rules and guidelines were subject to change if the nature of the fight against Covid-19 shifted again. “I think what I have not conveyed is the uncertainty in a lot of these situations,” Dr. Walensky said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. The CDC director has come under fire from public-health experts for the way she has communicated pandemic guidelines from mask wearing to isolation requirements. Some Biden administration officials said the CDC’s explanations of new and amended guidelines can sometimes be hard to grasp.
18th Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Return of the flu: EU faces threat of prolonged 'twindemic'

Influenza has returned to Europe at a faster-than-expected rate this winter after almost disappearing last year, raising concerns about a prolonged "twindemic" with COVID-19 amid some doubts about the effectiveness of flu vaccines. Lockdowns, mask-wearing and social distancing that have become the norm in Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic knocked out flu last winter, temporarily eradicating a virus that globally kills about 650,000 a year, according to EU figures.
18th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Apple makes Covid-19 booster shots mandatory for all employees

Amid the surge in Omicron cases in the US, Apple is making booster vaccines mandatory for all its employees. Apple employees must submit proof of Covid-19 boosters or be required to take tests to enter stores and offices from February 15. ‘Due to waning efficacy of the primary series of Covid-19 vaccines and the emergence of highly transmissible variants such as Omicron, a booster shot is now part of staying up to date with your Covid-19 vaccination to protect against severe disease,’ according to an internal memo
17th Jan 2022 - Metro

Which Mask Is Best for Covid N95, KN95 or Cloth? Understanding 2022 Guidance

Advice from U.S. authorities on the need for face masks has flipped back and forth since Covid-19 took hold in 2020. In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said immunized Americans could ditch their masks in most settings. It reversed course in July amid a rise in cases caused by the more transmissible delta variant. Now, with the quickly spreading omicron variant causing a surge in infections, the agency is urging wider use of medical-grade masks in the general public. It revised earlier guidelines that had discouraged the use of gold-standard N95 masks in order to reserve them for medical workers.
17th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Masks reintroduced as WA records five new local COVID-19 cases amid Omicron spread in Perth

Western Australia has reintroduced a mask mandate for all indoor public areas in Perth and Peel after Premier Mark McGowan revealed three new local COVID-19 cases had been recorded in addition to two earlier-announced cases, bringing the total number to five. Masks will be required from 6:00pm Sunday in all indoor public places in Perth and the Peel region, but will not be required to be worn in homes. Anyone who has been in Perth or the Peel region from January 6 will be required to wear a mask indoors if they have travelled to another region.
17th Jan 2022 - ABC News

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 17th Jan 2022

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Italy's sewers will give early alert for future COVID spikes

Italy will use the nation's sewage to predict future coronavirus spreads and to alert authorities to rising cases and new variants before they appear in testing and hospitals, a senior official said, announcing a project to be launched in coming months. The new tool will be rolled out as governments look for new ways to track the virus to inform public health policy and to decide whether they have to take unpopular measures like restrictions that disrupt people's lives and economies. It could also be useful amid concerns about shortages of testing kits and labs being overwhelmed as the more infectious Omicron variant sweeps the world. Like many other countries, Italy is seeing surging cases.
15th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Google mandates weekly COVID-19 tests for people entering U.S. offices

Alphabet Inc's Google is temporarily mandating weekly COVID-19 tests for any person entering Google offices or facilities in the United States, the tech giant said on Friday. Anyone who comes into Google's U.S. work sites will require a negative test and be required to wear surgical-grade masks while at the office, the company said. "To help prevent the further spread of COVID-19 during this period of heightened risk, we’re implementing new temporary health and safety measures for anyone accessing our sites in the U.S.," a Google spokesperson said.
15th Jan 2022 - Reuters

U.S. CDC recommends Americans wear 'most protective mask you can'

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) late on Friday revised its guidance for Americans on wearing masks, recommending wearing "the most protective mask you can," although the agency stopped short of calling for nationwide N95 usage.
15th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Zhuhai in coronavirus mass testing mode after Zhongshan reports case

The southern Chinese city of Zhuhai reported seven cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 on Friday, as citywide mass screening of its 2.4 million people got under way. One of the cases was a 53-year-old woman living in the township of Nanping and she was transferred to a designated hospital for treatment, Zhuhai health authorities said. Authorities announced on Friday that all residents would be tested within the day at designated areas, advising the public to not leave Zhuhai unless absolutely necessary. Those who travel will need to show a negative nucleic test result taken within the previous 24 hours.
14th Jan 2022 - South China Morning Post

Covid-19 Home Tests Pose Accessibility Problems for People With Disabilities

“We need to look at the Covid testing process, break it down into component parts of the process and figure out how to make those more inclusively designed,” Ms. Fleet said in an interview. That can range from examining test prices to gauging the legibility of their instructions, she added. At-home Covid-19 tests have been in high demand since December, as infections rose and people sought them ahead of holiday gatherings. Home test kits are particularly important for people who cannot stand in long lines for public testing sites or cannot reach them, accessibility advocates say.
14th Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 14th Jan 2022

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Why Cuba's extraordinary Covid vaccine success could provide the best hope for low-income countries

Cuba’s prestigious biotech sector has developed five different Covid vaccines to date, including Abdala, Soberana 02 and Soberana Plus — all of which Cuba has said provide upwards of 90% protection against symptomatic Covid when administered in three doses. The country of roughly 11 million remains the only country in Latin America and the Caribbean to have produced a homegrown shot for Covid. The WHO’s potential approval of Cuba’s nationally produced Covid vaccines would carry “enormous significance” for low-income nations, John Kirk, professor emeritus at the Latin America program of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, said
13th Jan 2022 - CNBC

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Spain doctors win suit for lack of protection from COVID-19

Spain’s medical community has scored a victory after a court ordered that a regional government must compensate doctors with up to 49,000 euros ($56,000) for having to work without personal protection suits during the devastating early months of the pandemic. The lawsuit brought by a doctor’s union is the first of its kind to be won in Spain, whose health care system was pushed to the brink when COVID-19 first struck. “This ruling is groundbreaking in Spain,” doctor Víctor Pedrera, secretary general of the Doctors’ Union of Valencia CESM-CV that filed the suit, told The Associated Press by phone on Wednesday. Pedrera, a family doctor, said that he got ill with the coronavirus shortly after it hit Spain in March 2020 and spent two months at home “quite badly off and with no idea of what was being done for treatment.”
12th Jan 2022 - The Independent

Central American bank funds Cuban COVID-19 vaccine drive

The Central American Bank for Economic Integration said it would give Cuba a loan of 46.7 million euros ($53.1 million) to help bolster the communist-run country's COVID-19 vaccine program as it seeks to ramp up production for both domestic use and export. The fresh funds will underwrite the production of 200 million additional shots, according to a statement from the bank on Monday. Cuba, a poor Caribbean island nation hard hit by the pandemic, has nonetheless already vaccinated more of its citizens against COVID-19 than most of the world's largest and richest nations.
12th Jan 2022 - Reuters

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Are Throat Swabs Better at Detecting Omicron in Covid-19 Rapid Tests?

A growing debate surrounds whether people testing for Omicron should swab their throats. Most people in the U.S. have been doing Covid-19 rapid tests with nasal swabs. That is what the Food and Drug Administration endorses and what rapid tests sold in the U.S. instruct. But some scientists say a throat swab may be more effective at detecting Omicron. Some are calling on the FDA and test manufacturers to better study throat swabs, saying that the reliance on nasal swabs may be one reason why rapid tests seem to be less sensitive in detecting Omicron than previous variants.
11th Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

COVID-19: Heathrow demands all testing is dropped after 600,000 passengers cancelled Christmas flights

Heathrow Airport has called for all coronavirus testing to be dropped for fully-vaccinated people while revealing that "at least" 600,000 passengers cancelled flights during the key holiday month of December. The UK's largest airport said "swiftly imposed" action during the month to tackle the Omicron variant in the run-up to the festive season prompted uncertainty among travellers who faced additional bills for costly PCR tests.
11th Jan 2022 - Sky News

WHO says more research needed on vaccine efficacy against Omicron

A World Health Organization technical body said on Tuesday that current COVID-19 vaccines may need to be reworked to ensure they are effective against Omicron and future variants of the coronavirus. The technical group, made up of independent experts, said it would consider a change in vaccination composition and stressed that shots needed to be more effective in protecting against infection. "The composition of current COVID-19 vaccines may need to be updated to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines continue to provide WHO-recommended levels of protection against infection and disease by VOCs (variants of concern), including Omicron and future variants," the technical body, tasked with making recommendations to the WHO, said in a statement.
11th Jan 2022 - Reuters

U.S. CDC may recommend better masks against Omicron

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering updating its mask guidance because of an increase in the number of Omicron-related coronavirus cases, the Washington Post reported on Monday. The agency will likely advise people opt for the highly protective N95 or KN95 masks worn by healthcare personnel, if they can do so consistently, the newspaper reported, citing an official close to the deliberations. The CDC guidance is expected to say that if people can "tolerate wearing a KN95 or N95 mask all day, you should," the report said.
11th Jan 2022 - Reuters

U.S. insurers must cover eight at-home COVID tests per person monthly -White House

Insurance companies will be required to cover eight over-the-counter at-home coronavirus tests per person each month starting Saturday, the Biden administration said, expanding access to highly sought-after kits as Americans grapple with a surge in coronavirus cases. The White House also said on Monday that there is no limit to the number of COVID-19 tests, including at-home tests, that insurers must cover if they are ordered or administered by a health care provider.
11th Jan 2022 - Reuters

No vax, pay tax, says Canada's Quebec as health system struggles

Quebec, Canada's second most populous province, is planning to force adults refusing to get COVID-19 vaccinated pay a "health contribution" in a move likely to spur a debate about individual rights and social responsibility. Premier Francois Legault told reporters at a briefing on Tuesday that the proposal, details of which were still being finalised, would not apply to those who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons.
11th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Indonesia to kick off booster campaign, but most will have to pay

Indonesia officially kicks off its vaccine booster programme on Wednesday, with free jabs for the elderly and those without the means to pay, according to the Ministry of Health. But the decision to make the majority of Indonesia’s 270 million inhabitants pay for the boosters out of their own pockets has fuelled controversy. “Why has the government suddenly come up with the idea of boosters? If it is because the government is worried about waning antibodies, then it is OK as that is relative to the pandemic,” Pandu Riono, an epidemiologist and professor at the University of Indonesia, told Al Jazeera. “But if it is related to the pandemic, then the vaccines should be free.”
11th Jan 2022 - AlJazeera

Biden wants U.S. agencies to mandate COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated employees by Feb 15

The Biden administration said on Tuesday that federal agencies should require weekly COVID-19 testing by Feb. 15 for unvaccinated government employees who are working on-site or interacting with the public. A vaccine mandate imposed by President Joe Biden in September covers about 3.5 million federal workers and required them to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 22 or face potential discipline or even termination.
11th Jan 2022 - Reuters

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Swab throat too when using rapid COVID test, Israel's Health Ministry says

Israel's Health Ministry on Monday instructed people self-testing for COVID-19 to swab their throat as well as their nose when using rapid antigen kits to increase the chances of detecting the Omicron variant. The recommendation goes against the advice of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has said manufacturers' instructions should still be followed and that incorrect use of throat swabs could pose a safety risk. On Israeli Army Radio, Sharon Alroy-Preis, Israel's public health chief, said antigen tests, used widely in the country, are less sensitive than PCR tests in detecting illness.
10th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Chile, a vaccine front-runner, launches fourth COVID dose

Chile, one of the world's fastest movers on COVID-19 vaccines, started its campaign to give fourth doses on Monday to immunocompromised people, a regional first, as infections rise driven by the fast spread of the Omicron variant. The South American country has seen daily infections rise to over 4,000, doubling over the last week, government data show, a reflection of soaring infections globally, despite hopes over data suggesting Omicron may be less fatal, if more contagious. "This vaccine, this fourth dose or second booster dose, will be available to everyone
10th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Pfizer CEO predicts omicron vaccine will be ready in March

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on Monday said that his company is aiming to have a vaccine that targets the omicron variant as well as other COVID-19 variants ready in March. “This vaccine will be ready in March,” Bourla said in an appearance on CNBC’s "Squawk Box." “We [are] already starting manufacturing some of these quantities at risk,” he added. Pfizer will produce the doses to be ready in case countries want the shots, but Bourla noted that it was unclear if a vaccine targeting variants was necessary or how exactly it would be used. “The hope is that we will achieve something that will have way, way better protection particularly against infections, because the protection against the hospitalizations and the severe disease — it is reasonable right now with the current vaccines as long as you are having let’s say the third dose,” Bourla said.
10th Jan 2022 - The Hill

Spain set to limit retail price of COVID-19 antigen tests

Spain's government is working on rules to limit the retail price of antigen tests for COVID-19, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Monday, after shortages were reported in many pharmacies across the country last month. Price rises during the surge in Omicron cases and the scarcity of tests in pharmacies have raised protests from opposition politicians and consumer groups, many of whom are calling for tests to be sold in supermarkets.
10th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Million Indians get COVID vaccine boosters, hospitalisation low

More than 1 million Indians received their third COVID-19 vaccine dose on Monday as the country rolled out boosters for frontline workers and vulnerable elderly, with the Omicron variant fuelling an eight-fold rise in infections in 10 days. The health ministry said only 5% to 10% of the infected have sought hospitalisation, compared with 20% to 23% during the Delta-driven last wave that peaked in May. Authorities say most people have shown no or only minor symptoms and have recovered quickly at home. "The situation is dynamic and evolving, therefore, the need for hospitalisation may also change rapidly," Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote in a letter to state authorities asking them to regularly review staffing levels
10th Jan 2022 - Reuters India

Europe loosens COVID policies as Omicron takes out key workers

The Czech Republic said on Monday it would allow critical workers such as doctors and teachers to go to work after a positive COVID-19 test, the latest European country to ease restrictions to keep services running as cases surge. As the much more contagious Omicron variant becomes dominant and forces hundreds of thousands to isolate, the pressure is growing on health workers, police and firefighters, with teachers set to follow as schools resume after Christmas holidays.
10th Jan 2022 - Reuters

China Reports Nation's First Community Spread of Omicron

China saw its first omicron cases in the community, igniting a mass testing blitz in the northern city of Tianjin as the country strives to maintain its zero-tolerance approach to Covid in the face of more transmissible variants. The two cases in the port city were confirmed as being omicron by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, after its local branch completed the genome sequencing, CCTV reported. The infections were from the same transmission chain but officials have yet to establish if the strain is the same as imported omicron cases reported earlier in Tianjin, according to the report. China’s commitment to its Covid Zero policy has seen it restrict movements and implement mass testing and other measures in cities spread across the country. Further outbreaks raise the risk of new lockdown measures that could disrupt production and shipping in an economy already battling weak consumption and a property market slump.
10th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Labs Limit Covid-19 Test Access as Demand Soars

Escalating demand for Covid-19 tests is prompting some laboratories to ration access, giving priority to people with symptoms or other health concerns as the Omicron variant quickly spreads. Triaging who is eligible for Covid-19 tests can help ensure that patients who need a test the most get results fast enough to isolate or get treatment, pathologists and public-health experts say. The strategy, however, risks perpetuating the virus’s spread if some people get turned away from testing altogether. “What we don’t want is for people to not be able to get tested in the community and then show up at the ER to get testing,” said Melissa Miller, director of the University of North Carolina’s microbiology lab. “But there is a maximum amount that you can collect in a day.”
10th Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Relying on more home COVID tests, Israel looks to lower costs

Israel sought on Sunday to ease access to home COVID-19 tests after a decision to allow most vaccinated people to use the kits to decide whether or not to quarantine led to shortages in shops and complaints about high prices. "We are mindful of the public's distress," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the weekly cabinet meeting, announcing that every child in kindergarten or elementary school in Israel would be issued will three free kits in the coming days. The government was also negotiating price reductions with major pharmacy chains, Bennett said, adding: "In any event, costs will come down in the near future because the market will be flooded with millions of kits that will arrive in Israel."
10th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Covid in Scotland: Wrongheaded to stop free lateral flow tests, says Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has insisted it would be “utterly wrongheaded” to halt the free availability of lateral flow tests as her health secretary dismissed the idea of following England and reducing quarantine to five days. Under plans reportedly being considered by UK officials, the tests could soon be made available only in “high-risk” settings such as care homes, hospitals and schools. A Whitehall source told The Sunday Times: “I don’t think we are in a world where we can continue to hand out free lateral flow tests to everybody forevermore. It’s likely we will move to a scenario where there is less testing but where we have a capacity to ramp it up if necessary, such as in the winter.”
10th Jan 2022 - The Times

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Government ‘failing’ on classroom ventilation as thousands will not get air purifiers

The government's plan to provide 7,000 air purifiers to schools falls thousands short of what is needed to ensure adequate ventilation in every classroom, according to a survey of teachers. The Department for Education said ventilation in classrooms was key to reducing the spread of Covid-19 among schoolchildren but many teachers report that they have been left unable to even monitor the quality of their air. Labour said the government was providing “just a fraction” of the ventilation support that schools need. A survey of nearly 2,000 teachers by Nasuwt, the teachers' union, found that more than half (56 per cent) did not have access to a CO2 monitor despite a commitment by ministers to provide all schools and colleges with them at the start of the school year.
7th Jan 2022 - The Independent

Moderna CEO expects a second COVID booster will be needed later this year

Moderna Inc.’s CEO expects fully vaccinated people to need an additional COVID-19 booster shot later this year, as the efficacy of the first booster wanes over time. Speaking Thursday at a virtual conference of health-care CEOs held by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Moderna MRNA, Chief Executive Stephane Bancel said the current booster should be enough to protect people through the winter omicron surge. However, “I will be surprised when we get that data in the coming weeks that it’s holding nicely over time — I would expect that it’s not gonna hold great,” Bancel said in reference to the booster’s strength. “I still believe we’re going to need boosters in the fall of ’22 and forward.” “We have been saying that we believe first this virus is not going away,” Bancel said. “We’re going to have to live with it.” Bancel said the United Kingdom and South Korea have already submitted orders for a second round of boosters.
7th Jan 2022 - MarketWatch

Some Families Shell Out for Covid-19 Tests as Officials Race to Offer More

Some families say they are spending hundreds of dollars on Covid-19 testing during the surge in cases across the country, as efforts by the Biden administration and local officials to distribute free tests lag behind the Omicron variant’s rapid spread. Facing hourslong lines at free testing sites, some people have turned to companies that sell more-convenient laboratory testing options, in some cases at prices of more than $200. And until the Biden administration begins making free Covid-19 testing more widely available, some people say they will continue to pay $20 or more for over-the-counter, at-home tests. The tab for using over-the-counter rapid tests effectively, with tests over many days, can stretch past $100, creating a disincentive for people to test, public-health and policy experts say.
7th Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

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Covid-19: Hundreds of maskless London Underground passengers fined

Hundreds of passengers have been issued fines for not wearing face coverings on London's transport network since it was made mandatory. Compulsory face coverings were reinstated amid rising concerns about the Omicron variant of Covid-19. Penalty notices up to £200 were issued to 536 people between 30 November and 21 December, the Mayor of London said. Figures showed a further 287 passengers have penalties being processed by Transport for London (TfL).
6th Jan 2022 - BBC News

Covid ‘vaccination doubt line’ receiving up to 1,000 calls a day in Netherlands

A “vaccination doubt line” set up by doctors in the Netherlands is receiving up to 1,000 calls a day from people who are still unsure whether or not they should get jabbed against the coronavirus. The helpline, originally launched as a local service in November by Robin Peeters, an endocrinologist at the Erasmus medical centre in Rotterdam, and Shakib Sana, a GP, was given a national number last month and has been inundated with inquiries. Staffed mainly by volunteer medical students from rooms made available in the university hospitals of Utrecht, Amsterdam, Nijmegen, Maastricht and Rotterdam, the service has met “an extraordinary response”, Peeters said.
6th Jan 2022 - The Guardian

Italy makes Covid vaccinations compulsory for over-50s

Italy has made it obligatory for people aged 50 or more to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as the country scrambles to ease pressure on hospitals and reduce deaths amid a dramatic surge in infections. The measure is among the toughest vaccine mandates in Europe and takes effect immediately. The move was unanimously supported by ministers despite divisions between the parties that make up prime minister Mario Draghi’s broad coalition before the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
6th Jan 2022 - The Guardian

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Cuba’s vaccine success story sails past mark set by rich world’s Covid efforts

The island nation struggles to keep the lights on but has inoculated 90% of population with home-developed vaccines General Máximo Gómez, a key figure in Cuba’s 19th-century wars of independence against Spain once said: “Cubans either don’t meet the mark – or go way past it.” A century and a half later, the aphorism rings true. This downtrodden island struggles to keep the lights on, but has now vaccinated more of its citizens against Covid-19 than any of the world’s major nations. More than 90% of the population has been vaccinated with at least one dose of Cuba’s homegrown vaccines, while 83% have been fully inoculated. Of countries with populations of over a million, only the United Arab Emirates has a stronger vaccination record.
5th Jan 2022 - The Guardian

Covid-19: Demand for lateral flow tests 'outstrips supply'

People in Northern Ireland who get a positive lateral flow test no longer need a PCR test to confirm that result. The Department of Health has said those who receive a positive lateral flow test should assume that they have Covid-19 and self-isolate immediately. It comes amid business closures and health service pressures due to staff absences caused by self-isolation. Pharmacists have warned the demand for lateral flow tests in Northern Ireland is outstripping supply. Northern Ireland has reported 12% of its total number of positive Covid-19 cases since in the start of the pandemic in just the last seven days.
5th Jan 2022 - BBC News

Israel earmarks COVID PCRs for high-risk groups, expands home-testing

Israel changed its COVID-19 quarantine and testing policy on Wednesday as part of efforts to husband resources and ensure continued protection for vulnerable people amid a surge in infections fueled by the Omicron variant. PCR tests will be earmarked for people aged 60 and over or with weak immune systems, while those at lower risk will be checked with rapid antigen tests, the health ministry said.
5th Jan 2022 - Reuters

England to suspend PCR confirmation of positive rapid COVID tests

People who test positive for COVID-19 on rapid lateral flow tests will not need to confirm their results with a follow-up PCR test if they are not showing symptoms, the UK Health Security Agency said on Wednesday. Britain is reporting record daily case numbers, and the UKHSA said that the high prevalence meant the chance of a false positive from a lateral flow device (LFD) was low. The move could also reduce the burden on the testing system, and reduce confusion if the test results contradict each other. At current levels of prevalence, officials say a positive LFD result is likely to be accurate, even if a follow-up PCR were negative.
5th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Ireland to drop COVID-19 test requirement for vaccinated arrivals

Ireland will drop its requirement for vaccinated arrivals to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test and return to seeking a proof of vaccination or recent infection upon entry, Prime Minister Micheál Martin said on Wednesday. Ireland introduced the measure a month ago to slow the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant. Omicron now accounts for almost all Irish infections, which have rocketed to record levels in the last two weeks. Martin also said he believed Ireland's current restrictions to slow the spread of infection are effective and that it remained to be seen whether health chiefs will suggest any changes later this week.
5th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Italy to Require Covid Shots for Those Over 50 to Blunt Record Cases

Italy made vaccination compulsory for people over 50 and further reduced what the unvaccinated can do in its latest bid to fight the surge in Covid-19 cases. “We want to slow down the growth of the contagion curve and push Italians who still aren’t vaccinated to do so,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi said during the cabinet meeting, according to a statement. “We are acting in particular on age groups that are most at risk of hospitalization, to reduce pressure on hospitals and save lives.”
5th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

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50-second Covid test designed for use in schools and airports submitted to UK regulator for approval

A 50-second Covid-19 test that has been designed for use in schools, airports and at entertainment events has been submitted to the UK’s medicines regulator for approval, i has learned. The testing device, which is portable and around the size of a desktop-computer, is able to detect Covid infected particles in saliva samples in under a minute, according to creator Kidod Science and Technology. The firm claims it can provide results comparable to a PCR test and that it could be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) within weeks.
4th Jan 2022 - iNews

Parents can now register children aged five to 11 for Covid-19 vaccine

Parents can now register children aged five to 11 for Covid-19 vaccines, with the rollout set to begin imminently. Registration can be done online, and parents will receive a text message confirming their appointment. The HSE has urged the public to consider bringing their children forward for vaccination. “Clinical trials showed that this vaccine was highly effective at preventing Covid-19 in children,” a statement said.
4th Jan 2022 - The Independent

Covid-19 testing system to remain under pressure for weeks, health official says

The Covid-19 testing system in Ireland is expected to remain under major pressure in the coming days, a senior health official has said. The comment comes as one teaching union has called for a re-think on the full reopening of schools, ahead of a meeting with Education Minister Norma Foley. The Government’s party leaders will on Tuesday discuss the ongoing Covid-19 situation.
4th Jan 2022 - The Independent

South Korea court exempts private schools from vaccine passes

A South Korean court ordered that private educational facilities, including cram schools, should be temporarily excluded from government COVID-19 vaccine pass mandates, the health ministry said on Tuesday. The injunction is one of the first legal obstacles to South Korea's vaccine mandates, which require passes or testing for entry to facilities including restaurants, cafes, gyms, and bars, as well as privately-run schools. A Seoul administrative court ruled that the mandate at private education facilities such as tuition centres, libraries and study cafes should be blocked while it considers a legal challenge filed against the Ministry of Health by federations of private education and parents' groups, the ministry said.
4th Jan 2022 - Reuters

France vows to go ahead with vaccine pass despite parliamentary glitch

French government officials on Tuesday vowed to enact by mid-January as planned a law to block unvaccinated people from hospitality venues, despite the legislation hitting a procedural hitch in parliament overnight. "January 15 remains our goal," for the law coming into force, European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune told LCI television. Until now France has enforced a COVID-19 health pass, which means in order to get into restaurants, cafes or cinemas or board trains, people need to either show a fresh negative test, or proof of vaccination. The legislation will remove the option of showing a negative test, effectively barring unvaccinated people from hospitality venues or trains.
4th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Israeli study finds fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose boosts antibodies five-fold, PM says

A fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine boosts antibodies five-fold a week after the shot is administered, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday, citing preliminary findings of an Israeli study. "A week into the fourth dose, we know to a higher degree of certainty that the fourth dose is safe," Bennett said at Sheba Medical Center, which is giving second booster shots in a trial among its staff amid a nationwide surge in Omicron variant infections. "The second piece of news: We know that a week after administration of a fourth dose, we see a five-fold increase in the number of antibodies in the vaccinated person," he told reporters.
4th Jan 2022 - Reuters

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Omicron Cases Are Hitting Highs, But New Data Puts End in Sight

A string of new studies has confirmed the silver lining of the omicron variant: Even as case numbers soar to records, the numbers of severe cases and hospitalizations have not. The data, some scientists say, signal a new, less worrying chapter of the pandemic. “We’re now in a totally different phase,” said Monica Gandhi, an immunologist at the University of California, San Francisco. “The virus is always going to be with us, but my hope is this variant causes so much immunity that it will quell the pandemic.”
3rd Jan 2022 - Bloomberg on MSN.com

Israel Gives Fourth 4th Shot of Covid Vaccine

Israel will start offering a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine to people aged 60 and over, becoming the first country in the world to widely disseminate the extra jab to fight off the omicron strain. The fourth dose will also be made available to medical staff who had their last jab at least four months ago, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a press conference on Sunday. Last week, Israel approved the extra shot for people who are immunocompromised, as well as residents of nursing homes and patients in geriatric wards. New daily cases, which topped 5,000 last week in the country of 9.5 million, are expected to quadruple by the end of the week, Bennett said. The caseload could reach as many as 50,000 cases a day, he said, or nearly five times the previous peak. Critical cases remain well below previous records but have started to creep up over the past week.
2nd Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Omicron dampens worldwide New Year celebrations, but London throws party on TV

The Omicron coronavirus variant dampened New Year festivities around much of the world, with Paris cancelling its fireworks show, London relegating its to television, and New York City scaling down its famous ball drop celebration in Times Square. The illuminated ball made of Waterford crystal panels slid down its pole at the midnight hour in Times Square, but only 15,000 spectators were allowed into the official viewing area instead of the usual 58,000.
1st Jan 2022 - Reuters

Key workers and vulnerable people to be prioritised for Covid-19 tests if necessary, health chiefs say

Key workers and vulnerable people will be able to jump the queue for Covid-19 tests if necessary, health authorities have said. Amid shortages of instant Lateral Flow Devices (LFD) and delays processing PCR lab tests, health chiefs said they were prepared to prioritise supplies for “critical workforces”. Ministers previously faced calls to ring-fence tests for NHS workers to ensure patient safety and prevent staff shortages due to unnecessary isolation.
31st Dec 2021 - iNews

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UK's Johnson warns of hospital risk for unvaccinated

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Wednesday that the overwhelming majority of patients ending up in intensive care with COVID-19 had not received their booster vaccine, as he urged people to get their jabs. Johnson, on a visit to a vaccine centre, said he had been told by some doctors that up to 90% of patients with COVID-19 in intensive care had not received their booster vaccines. "I'm sorry to say this, but the overwhelming majority of people who are currently ending up in intensive care in our hospitals are people who are not boosted," he said. "I've talked to doctors who say the numbers are running up to 90% of people in intensive care."
29th Dec 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Fresh vaccine booster drive launched amid continued rise in coronavirus cases

A fresh booster jab drive has been launched by the NHS in an effort to protect more people from the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. Another 650,000 text messages and 50,000 letters will be sent in the coming days to those people who are yet to get their third vaccine dose, asking them to have a "jabby new year". Millions were contacted earlier in the week with a similar message, encouraging people to book their boosters as soon as possible.
29th Dec 2021 - Sky News

More Covid-19 Vaccines Are Reaching Poorer Nations, but Slowly

Vaccine makers have delivered more Covid-19 shots to the world’s poorest nations in recent months, but wealthy countries are still receiving a disproportionate share. The unequal distribution, global health experts say, has hampered efforts to move past the pandemic and allowed new variants like Omicron to emerge. High-income nations, which include the U.S. and are home to a sixth of the world’s population, have received nearly half of all 5.9 billion doses made by the four major Western vaccine makers, according to healthcare data company Airfinity.
28th Dec 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

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Madrid's free COVID tests struggle with demand as infections hit new high

Demand for free COVID-19 testing kits provided by Madrid's regional government far outstripped supply on Tuesday, with long queues forming outside pharmacies as nationwide infections continued to climb amid the Omicron variant's rapid expansion. Spain's coronavirus infection rate hit a new record, rising to 1,360 cases per 100,000 people, measured over the preceding 14 days, from 1,206 cases reported on Monday, a five-fold rise since the beginning of December, according to health ministry data.
28th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Latin America Is Now a World Leader in Vaccinations

Latin America, once a hot spot of Covid-19 deaths, now leads the U.S. and much of the world in vaccinations, as supply concerns have eased and health policy makers rush to shield their countries from new variants roiling other regions. Applying a mix of Chinese, European and American vaccines, about 62% of South America’s population has received two shots or the single dose by Johnson & Johnson. That is more than the 60% of Europeans inoculated with two doses, the 56% of people in North America and the 54% in Asia, according to Our World in Data, a pandemic research project at the University of Oxford. Only Australia has fully vaccinated a bigger percentage of its people.
26th Dec 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Ecuador mandates vaccines, Italy masks outdoors as Omicron rages

Italy has reintroduced mandatory masks outdoors and Ecuador made vaccines compulsory for nearly all to combat coronavirus infections surging globally, led by the Omicron variant, days before the Christmas holidays. More stringent than most, China shut down a city of 13 million people to extinguish a tiny Delta variant outbreak, pursuing its zero COVID-19 goal, while Spain will require masks in some outdoor settings. Meanwhile, France and the United Kingdom announced record highs of COVID-19 daily infections. Vaccination has also been made mandatory in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Indonesia, Micronesia and New Caledonia for adults, while Greece said people must wear face masks both indoors and outdoors during Christmas and New Year’s gatherings.
24th Dec 2021 - Al Jazeera English on MSN.com

Making Green, Disposable Face Masks That Won't Become Ocean Plastic

“Biodegradable masks will be a big market with a lot of demand from governments who are seeing what a big problem mask pollution is becoming,” says Francois Dalibard, chief executive officer of Groupe Lemoine, a French company that manufactured 500 million face masks this year. “The first ones to offer it will have a big advantage.”
24th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

Bulgaria offers cash reward to boost vaccination rates among pensioners

Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said on Thursday that elderly people who get a COVID-19 shot will be eligible for a cash reward as part of his government's drive to boost the vaccination rates, the lowest in the European Union. Petkov, who took office this month, said every retired Bulgarian will get a one-off payment of 75 levs ($43.40) in addition to their pension in the next six months when vaccinated with a first or second dose. Pensioners who have already received three shots will also be eligible for the add-on.
24th Dec 2021 - Reuters

White House says it is 'grateful' Trump got, promoted COVID-19 booster shot

The White House is grateful that former U.S. President Donald Trump received and promoted getting the COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday. The Republican former president recently said in an interview that he received a booster shot, and called the COVID-19 vaccines "one of the greatest achievements of mankind." "The ones that get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don't take the vaccine," Trump said in an interview with conservative commentator Candace Owens. "If you take the vaccine, you're protected."
24th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Australia Brings Forward Booster Shots Amid Omicron Outbreaks

Australia has brought forward implementing third-dose booster shots for Covid-19 as the nation battles outbreaks of the omicron variant. From Jan. 4, Australians will be be able to get their booster shot four months after receiving their second dose, narrowing the current five-months wait time, Health Minister Greg Hunt said in Canberra. From Jan. 31, the gap will be cut again to three months. “These dates have been set out of an abundance of caution to give Australians early continued protection,” Hunt said. About 91% of Australians aged 16 and over have had two jabs, he said.
23rd Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

COVID: Study suggests AstraZeneca booster works against Omicron

AstraZeneca has said that a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine “significantly” lifted antibody levels against the Omicron coronavirus variant, citing data from a new laboratory study. Findings from the study, yet to be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, match those from rivals Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which have also found a third dose of their shots works against Omicron.
23rd Dec 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Zambia to introduce COVID-19 booster jabs next week

Zambia will introduce COVID-19 booster vaccines as it battles the respiratory disease which has infected over 200,000 people and killed more than 3,000, Health Minister Sylvia Masebo said on Thursday. The southern African nation also plans to start vaccinating children agred 12-17, who until now have not been elegible for the COVID-19 jab, Masebo said at a media briefing. "Zambia will begin to administer the booster vaccines for COVID-19 commencing on 27th December, 2021," Masebo said.
23rd Dec 2021 - Reuters

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Covid-19: In Sweden, a vaccine passport on a microchip implant

At the beginning of December, Sweden enacted new rules requiring individuals to have a passport at all events with more than 100 people. Following that announcement, the number of people who got microchips inserted under their skin rose: around 6,000 people in Sweden have so far had a chip inserted in their hands.
22nd Dec 2021 - FRANCE 24

Finland starts vaccinating children aged 5-11 against COVID

Finland will from Thursday start offering COVID-19 vaccines to children between 5-11 years of age, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said on Wednesday. The Finnish Health Institute earlier this month recommended that children aged five and over should be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they or someone in their household were at high risk of severe infection
22nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

French rush for COVID tests before Christmas reunions

Student Jules de Biase is fully vaccinated and has no COVID-19 symptoms, but on Wednesday, ahead of seeing his elderly grandmother over the Christmas holidays, he took a test to be certain he was well. "It's better to be sure you're negative," he said. Many others agree, as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly across France and the rest of western Europe in the run-up to the festive period. Laura Korniak, a 29-year-old communications specialist, said she was also getting tested as a precaution. "I wanted to test before joining my family to celebrate Christmas," she said. COVID PCR and antigen tests are free for people in the French social security system and vaccinated. For others, the tests are some of the cheapest in Europe, with an antigen test typically costing about 25 euros ($28.27) and a PCR costing less than 50 euros.
22nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

Britain to vaccinate vulnerable younger children against COVID-19

Britain on Wednesday said it would start vaccinating vulnerable children aged five to 11 against COVID-19 after the country's medicines regulator approved the use of a lower dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot in that age group. The children will receive two 10-microgram doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine - a third of the adult dose - with an interval of eight weeks between the first and second doses, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said. A decision on whether to offer vaccination in general to younger children would be taken after additional data on the rapidly spreading Omicron variant and the effect of immunising young children could be considered, the JCVI said.
22nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

Israel to Offer Fourth Covid-19 Shot to Over 60s

Israel is set to offer a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to older people and healthcare workers to reduce the impact of an expected surge of infections driven by the Omicron variant—as two major studies found that the variant causes significantly less serious disease than earlier strains. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland concluded that the risk of hospitalization with Omicron was two-thirds lower than with earlier variants. South African researchers said earlier on Wednesday that they estimate the risk of hospitalization at around 70% to 80% lower.
22nd Dec 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Cloth Masks May Not Be Enough in Omicron Fight, Expert Says

Omicron is once again making people think twice before reaching out for their colorful, reusable cloth face masks. “They can be really good or really terrible,” depending on what fabric is used, said Trish Greenhalgh, professor of primary health care services at the University of Oxford. Double or triple-layer masks made of a mix of materials can be more effective, but most cloth coverings are just “fashion accessories,” according to Greenhalgh. As the highly infectious omicron causes Covid infections to surge worldwide, governments around the world are tightening restrictions to try and stop its spread. Earlier this month Britain reintroduced compulsory mask wearing on public transport, shops and in some indoor venues, having previously relaxed the rules in the summer.
22nd Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

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Israel to offer fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine to people over 60

Israel announced on Tuesday that it will offer a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to people older than 60, amid concern about the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. A Health Ministry expert panel recommended the fourth shot, a decision that was swiftly welcomed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as "great news that will help us overcome the Omicron wave that is spreading around the world." Although the decision is pending formal approval by senior health officials, Bennett urged Israelis to get the dose as soon as possible, saying: "My message is - don’t waste time, go get vaccinated." The decision follows the first known death in Israel of a patient with the Omicron variant.
21st Dec 2021 - Reuters

France Covid Vaccine Pass to Come Into Force in Early January

France will require that people are fully vaccinated to enter bars, restaurants and cultural venues starting in early January to help slow the spread of the omicron strain of Covid-19. The vaccine pass will come into force from the first two weeks of the new year, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said in a statement to reporters on Tuesday. Under the new system, a negative test will no longer be an alternative to vaccination. “We’ve got no time to lose in the face of the omicron variant,” Attal said. “The forecasts are worrying, it’s true. We’re entering an area of turbulence, it’s certain. But we have the weapons to fight.”
21st Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

EU sets binding 9-month validity of vaccinations for COVID-19 travel pass

The European Commission on Tuesday adopted rules that will make the European Union COVID-19 certificate valid for travel nine months after the completion of the primary vaccination schedule. The proposal comes as several EU states introduce additional requirements on travellers in a bid to reduce the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders told Reuters the EU Commission was against additional requirements, and was assessing the measures.
21st Dec 2021 - Reuters

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As Omicron threatens a global surge, some countries shorten COVID-19 booster timelines

A growing number of countries are reducing the wait time for COVID-19 vaccine boosters from six months to as few as three in a bid to ward off a new surge in infections from the Omicron variant. They are reacting to early evidence suggesting that Omicron is spreading faster than its predecessor, Delta, and is more likely to infect people who were vaccinated or had COVID in the past. Some scientists, however, say that giving boosters too soon could compromise the level of longer-term vaccine protection. While data remains limited, half a dozen laboratory studies have shown that an initial course of COVID-19 vaccines - typically given in two doses - is not enough to halt infection from the Omicron variant, but a booster shot may help.
20th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Kuwait to make COVID-19 vaccine booster compulsory

Kuwait will require anyone who has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for nine months to get a booster shot, the government communication centre tweeted on Monday. Kuwait will also require incoming travellers to quarantine at home for 10 days unless they receive a negative PCR test for the coronavirus within 72 hours of their arrival.
20th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Why changing the definition of 'fully vaccinated' could be difficult

Article reports that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might consider redefining what it means to be "fully vaccinated" against Covid-19 to include a third dose of vaccine -- but the question is when the definition could change. Such a change is "on the table and open for discussion," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday. "That's certainly on the table. Right now, it is a bit of semantics," Fauci told CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin on "Squawk Box." Fauci was referring to the definition of "fully vaccinated" for the purpose of regulations or businesses that may require vaccination.
20th Dec 2021 - CNN

Sri Lanka to make COVID vaccine card must to enter public places

Sri Lanka will require the showing of a COVID-19 vaccination certificate compulsory for entry to public places starting from January 1, in a renewed attempt to prevent another spike in infections. Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga made the announcement on Sunday in an abrupt switch from the gradual ending of restrictions put into place after the country was confronted with a third wave of COVID-19 infections in April caused by the Delta variant.
20th Dec 2021 - AlJazeera

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France hopes new vaccine pass will speed up vaccination amid Omicron spread

France hopes that a planned new vaccine pass that will be required to enter public places will persuade more people to get inoculated against COVID-19 as the country faces a rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the health minister said on Saturday. The government does not want to impose new curfews or lockdowns on people who have been vaccinated, but the threat of Omicron means authorities have to increase pressure on those refusing vaccination, Olivier Veran said on France Inter radio.
19th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Appeals Court Reinstates Biden Covid-19 Vaccine Rules for Large Employers

A federal appeals court Friday reinstated Biden administration rules that require many employers to ensure that their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly for Covid-19. A divided panel of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved a stay issued by another court that had blocked the rules. The majority, in a 2-to-1 ruling, said legal challenges to the administration’s vaccination-and-testing requirements were likely to fail. The ruling is a near-term boost to the White House but was immediately appealed on an emergency basis to the Supreme Court by some employers who oppose the mandate. The requirements, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and scheduled to take effect in January, apply to businesses with 100 or more employees and cover roughly 84 million workers.
19th Dec 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Canada's vaccine mandate for foreign crews a headache for European airlines

European airlines are walking an increasingly fine line to meet both foreign inoculation and local privacy requirements, as more countries require flight crews to be vaccinated against COVID-19, carriers say. Canada is slated on Jan. 15 to end an exemption that allowed entry of unvaccinated foreign flight crews, joining others that have vaccine mandates for pilots and passengers alike. That's creating a logistical headache for European carriers, who are unable to ask for their employees' vaccination status since they are bound to strict data protection laws in Europe, a spokesperson for the trade group Airlines For Europe (A4E) said.
17th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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Sweden extends COVID vaccination rules as hospitalisations rise

Sweden will require visitors from other Nordic nations to have a vaccine pass to cross the border as it tightens restrictions in the face of rising number of COVID-19 infections and worries about the Omicron variant, the government said on Thursday. Sweden has seen new infections jump in recent days, if from levels below most European countries. It has reintroduced a limited number of measures and authorities said further steps would be needed if infections kept rising.
16th Dec 2021 - Reuters

JCVI makes pregnant women priority group for Covid vaccination

Pregnant women have been made a priority group for vaccination following research showing they are vulnerable to more serious illness and pregnancy complications if they are infected with Covid-19. The vaccines watchdog, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), announced on Thursday that pregnant women would be moved into priority group 6 alongside adults under the age of 65 who have long-term health conditions, and urged pregnant women to get first and second doses and booster jabs as soon as possible.
16th Dec 2021 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Hundreds of thousands with coronavirus not using NHS app to 'ping' close contacts

Hundreds of thousands of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are not using the NHS contact tracing apps to alert their close contacts, despite the outbreak of the Omicron variant, new figures reveal. In Scotland less than 20% of people who have downloaded the contact tracing app are using it to inform people that they have tested positive. The Scottish government recently announced that contacts of infected people must isolate until they can take a PCR test, and the app is a key way of alerting them.
16th Dec 2021 - Sky News

Court revives health worker COVID-19 vaccine mandate in 26 U.S. states

A federal appeals court on Wednesday revived in 26 U.S. states a COVID-19 mandate issued by President Joe Biden's administration requiring millions of healthcare workers to get vaccinated if they work in facilities that receive federal dollars. In a rare win for Biden's pandemic strategy, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that a lower court had the authority to block the mandate in only the 14 states that had sued and was wrong to impose a nationwide injunction. The Biden administration mandate requires that healthcare facilities get staff vaccinated against the coronavirus or lose funding from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which administers the two large government healthcare programs.
16th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Millions of unjabbed a key concern as England scrambles to vaccinate

In the Newtown ward of central Birmingham, the government’s “Get boosted now” slogan means nothing to half of over-16s, because they have not had any vaccination against Covid at all. It is a similar story in Westminster and Camden in London where among the over-12s, 30% have not had a single jab. In Nottingham, a quarter of the whole population face the coming Omicron “tidal wave” unvaccinated. The vaccination scramble is not just about boosters but about persuading millions to get any jab at all. “Omicron will unevenly hit the least protected,” said Jim McManus, the president of the Association of Directors of Public Health. “We have two jobs: to get the vaccines into as many arms as possible and really get into the communities with the worst uptake.”
15th Dec 2021 - The Guardian

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NHS and social care workers must have Covid vaccine after MPs pass new law

Care staff and NHS workers will now be required to have their coronavirus vaccine in order to work after MPs voted through a new law this evening (Tuesday, December 14). MPs voted 385 to 100 in favour of the new regulations, which will require NHS and social care staff to be vaccinated by April 2022. It means those who have not received their vaccine have just a few months to get it or face being unable to work. While the new regulation was approved in Parliament, it did meet resistance from some MPs, including dozens from the Conservative party.
15th Dec 2021 - Wales Online

Italy extends COVID-19 state of emergency, imposes swab for EU visitors

Italy on Tuesday extended a COVID-19 state of emergency to March 31 and ruled that all visitors from EU countries must take a test before departure, amid concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The state of emergency, which was introduced in January last year, gives greater powers to the central government, making it easier for officials to bypass the bureaucracy that smothers much decision-making in Italy.
15th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Germany to ease testing for those with COVID-19 booster

Germany will exempt people who have had a booster vaccination from having to take a coronavirus test before entering some leisure facilities, federal and regional health ministers agreed on Tuesday. The proposal, agreed by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach and ministers from Germany's 16 federal states, is aimed at encouraging people to get a booster shot and relieving testing capacity. However, a negative test result would still be required to enter hospitals and care homes to help protect more vulnerable people, according to the draft, reviewed by Reuters.
15th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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Google says employees flouting vaccination rules will eventually be fired - CNBC

Alphabet Inc's Google told its employees they would lose pay and eventually be fired if they do not follow its COVID-19 vaccination rules, CNBC reported on Tuesday, citing internal documents. A memo circulated by Google's leadership said employees had until Dec. 3 to declare their vaccination status and upload documentation showing proof, or to apply for a medical or religious exemption, according to the report. After that date, Google said it would start contacting employees who had not uploaded their status or were unvaccinated and those whose exemption requests were not approved, CNBC reported.
15th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Kroger to remove some COVID-19 benefits for unvaccinated employees

Kroger Co will stop some COVID-19 benefits for unvaccinated employees starting next year, as the supermarket chain pushes more workers to get inoculated amid growing concerns over the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. The company will no longer provide paid COVID-19 leave for unvaccinated employees and will apply a $50 monthly health insurance surcharge to salaried non-union workers who are unvaccinated and enrolled in a company healthcare plan, a Kroger spokesperson said on Tuesday.
14th Dec 2021 - Reuters

California to reinstitute statewide mask mandate amid rise in COVID cases

California will impose a statewide mask mandate in all indoor public spaces as COVID-19 case rates soar, the state's senior government health official said on Monday as precautions ramp up against the Omicron variant. The mandate, which will take effect on Wednesday and last a month, is one of several measures the most-populous U.S. state is taking to slow a wave of infections that is already straining hospitals in areas where vaccination rates are low. "We know people are tired, and hungry for normalcy," state Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said in a conference call with reporters. "Frankly I am, too."
14th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Singapore mulls COVID-19 boosters requirement to qualify as 'fully' vaccinated

Singapore is considering requiring its residents to get a booster shot to qualify as fully vaccinated against COVID-19, its health minister said on Tuesday, as it seeks to protect its population from the Omicron variant. The city-state of 5.5 million people currently allows only those counted as fully vaccinated - or recipients of two shots - to enter malls or dine in at restaurants or at hawker stalls. From Jan. 1 it will bar unvaccinated employees from entering workplaces, unless they undergo tests each time.
14th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Apple makes masks mandatory at U.S. retail stores as COVID-19 cases rise

Apple Inc will require all customers and employees to wear masks at its U.S. retail stores, the iPhone maker said on Tuesday, as COVID-19 cases surge in the country. Last month, Apple had scrapped its mask mandate for customers at more than 100 of the company's about 270 stores across the United States, according to Bloomberg News, as coronavirus cases declined. "We regularly monitor conditions and we will adjust our health measures in stores to support the wellbeing of customers and employees," the company said on Tuesday.
14th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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S.Korea to test AI-powered facial recognition to track COVID-19 cases

South Korea will soon roll out a pilot project to use artificial intelligence, facial recognition and thousands of CCTV cameras to track the movement of people infected with the coronavirus, despite concerns about the invasion of privacy. The nationally funded project in Bucheon, one of the country's most densely populated cities on the outskirts of Seoul, is due to become operational in January, a city official told Reuters. The system uses an AI algorithms and facial recognition technology to analyse footage gathered by more than 10,820 CCTV cameras and track an infected person’s movements, anyone they had close contact with, and whether they were wearing a mask, according to a 110-page business plan from the city submitted to the Ministry of Science and ICT (Information and Communications Technology), and provided to Reuters by a parliamentary lawmaker critical of the project.
13th Dec 2021 - Reuters

California to re-institute statewide mask mandate amid rise in COVID cases

California will impose a statewide mask mandate in all indoor public spaces as COVID-19 case rates soar, the state's senior government health official said on Monday as precautions ramp up against the Omicron variant. The mandate, which will take effect on Wednesday and last a month, is one of several measures the most-populous U.S. state is taking to slow a wave of infections that is already straining hospitals in areas where vaccination rates are low.
14th Dec 2021 - Reuters

São Paulo says it has fully vaccinated more than 100 percent of its adults. Will it be enough to stop omicron?

In a world struggling to convince people to take the coronavirus vaccine, the news was striking. São Paulo, the largest city in the Western Hemisphere, announced late last month that it had succeeded where others had failed. One hundred percent of its adult population had been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus — a remarkable rate in an era characterized by an intransigent and growing global anti-vaccine movement that has hobbled vaccination efforts from Europe to the United States.
13th Dec 2021 - The Washington Post

Coronavirus: Army to help with booster vaccines for all UK adults.

The army will help in an effort to give booster vaccinations to all UK adults by New Year's Day, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced. Speaking on TV in a recorded message on Sunday night after Strictly Come Dancing, the PM explained that the top-up vaccinations would help "in our battle with the new variant". The plan will be delivered across all four UK nations, he said. Scotland is also setting the same target to offer all adults a booster by the end of the year, and Northern Ireland said it is stepping up its rollout and hopes to get as many people as possible boosted by then too.
13th Dec 2021 - BBC News

COVID-19: N Ireland's coronavirus passport set to become legally enforceable, as Wales and Scotland prepare for tougher restrictions

Northern Ireland's COVID-19 passport scheme, which requires people to provide proof of vaccination, a negative lateral flow test result or evidence of a previous coronavirus infection to gain entry to licenced premises and entertainment venues, is set to become legally enforceable today. The scheme was introduced late last month with a two-week grace period to allow businesses to adjust to the new requirements. The rules will apply to the hospitality sector including pubs, restaurants and nightclubs, as well as entry to large indoor and outdoor events, such as cinemas, concerts, theatres, and sporting events.
13th Dec 2021 - Sky News

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Finland to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination from healthcare workers

Finland plans to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for health and social care workers, the government said on Wednesday. The new legislation would also allow social and health care employers to access information about employees' COVID-19 vaccinations and possible infections in the past. "This regulation would make it possible to ensure the health and safety of social and healthcare workers and thus the availability of services, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru told a news conference.
9th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Capital injection: Slovakia offers cash to over-60s to get COVID shots

Slovakia is to give cash handouts to people over 60 who get vaccinated against the coronavirus or have their booster shot, aiming to spur inoculation rates lagging others in the European Union. Parliament approved the payments on Thursday, giving the go-ahead to a proposal by the government which had at first considered handing out vouchers for hotels or restaurants but opted instead on payouts. Those receiving booster shots by mid-January will get 300 euros ($340), while over-60s who sign up for the vaccine by that time are entitled to 200 euros.
9th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Vaccine equity is essential. Vaccine makers need to drop barriers to reaching refugees and other displaced people

It is estimated that 167 million people, concentrated in low- and middle-income countries, are at risk of outright exclusion from Covid-19 vaccination campaigns. That number is subject to sudden shifts: overnight, a storm, a flood, an intensifying conflict, a toppled government, disputed boundary, or shifted frontline can push hundreds of thousands of people out of health systems’ oversight. More people have been forcibly displaced in the last decade than ever before, because the weather is both more extreme and less predictable and violent conflict is increasingly common. For everyone, but most starkly for the most vulnerable people, the pandemic has had a compounding effect on insecurity. Not only are these individuals omitted from vaccination campaigns, but many of them are at extra-high risk of contracting the disease because they live in close quarters with limited ability to physically distance or self-isolate and often with poor sanitation.
9th Dec 2021 - STAT News

Ending the pandemic requires global solidarity, not blame

When historians write about the Covid-19 pandemic, they will certainly highlight the essential research behind safe and effective vaccines, the remarkable pace of vaccine development, and the sacrifices made by clinicians and clinical trial participants. They will also write about the gross neglect of global partners when designing a worldwide public health strategy, which has been plagued by vaccine inequity, nationalism, and fear. The latest misguided response by the U.S. government bans incoming travel from a number of southern African countries — some which have no known cases of Covid-19 caused by the Omicron variant — but not from European ones where the variant has already been detected. Moreover, the ban does not apply to U.S. nationals flying into the U.S., who need show only proof of a negative Covid-19 test.
9th Dec 2021 - STAT News

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Norway again hardens COVID-19 curbs to try to halt spread

The Norwegian government introduced stricter rules on Tuesday to limit the spread of COVID-19, including a cap on the number of visitors in private homes and shortening the hours bars and restaurants can serve alcohol. The Nordic country has seen a surge of COVID-19 infections in recent weeks, followed by a rise in the number of hospitalisations. "We really wished we were done with the pandemic. But the situation is now so serious that we must put in place new measures to keep control," Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told a news conference.
8th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Sweden to reintroduce many COVID-19 measures as cases rise

Sweden will reintroduce a raft of measures to curb rising COVID-19 infections, urging renewed social distancing and the use of masks in public transportation, the government said on Tuesday. "We see an increased spread of infection, but still from low levels," Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told a news conference. "We need to work together to that the situation doesn't get worse, so today we are presenting further precautionary measures."
8th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Pfizer, BioNTech vaccine neutralises Omicron with three shots

Neutralising antibodies seen one month after third dose. Pfizer CEO says seeking booster shot is the best option. Vaccine may still protect against severe disease Any vaccine relaunch could be achieved in March 2022.
8th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Fans must show vaccine pass to attend top-level games in England

Fans in England will need to show proof of double vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test to attend top-level sport after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed tougher COVID-19 restrictions in the country on Wednesday. The British government has made the NHS COVID Pass mandatory for any event with more than 10,000 people in a bid to slow the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
8th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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Africa needs to make own vaccines but hurdles are high, experts say

Africa needs to make its own vaccines to avoid a repeat of its supply problems in the COVID-19 pandemic but faces big obstacles in turning itself from a pharmaceutical testing ground into a place where vaccines are created, experts said on Tuesday. The Partnership for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM) has set as a target that 60% of the continent's routine vaccine needs, or between 1.4 and 1.7 billion doses yearly, should be met by local manufacturing by 2040, up from about 1% now. Experts meeting at a PAVM conference in Rwanda said the pandemic had shown Africa urgently needed to tackle its dependence on imported vaccines. But they outlined daunting obstacles, from brain drain to power shortages.
7th Dec 2021 - Reuters

New York City expands COVID vaccine mandates for children, private sector

New York City expanded its array of COVID-19 mandates on Monday, setting vaccine requirements for children as young as 5 years old and for workers at all private-sector companies as the highly transmissible Omicron variant pushes into more U.S. states. The most-populous U.S. city set a Dec. 27 deadline for all 184,000 businesses within its limits to make their employees show proof they have been vaccinated, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. In addition, children 5 to 11 years old must get at least one dose by Dec. 14 and those 12 and older need to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 27 to enter restaurants and participate in extracurricular school activities, such as sports, band and dances
7th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Poland to introduce mandatory COVID jabs for some workers, says health minister

Poland will introduce compulsory vaccinations for doctors, teachers and security service personnel, and will require staff in places like restaurants to check customers' COVID-19 vaccination certificates, the health minister said on Tuesday.
7th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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South Africa's Biovac to start making Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in early 2022 - exec

South Africa's Biovac Institute will start making Pfizer-BioNTech's, COVID-19 vaccine early next year after receiving the drug substance from Europe, a Pfizer executive said on Monday. Biovac's "fill and finish" deal with Pfizer, announced in July, will make it one of the few companies processing COVID-19 shots in Africa, where many countries have struggled to access sufficient doses during the pandemic. "We expect that the Cape Town facility will be incorporated into our supply chain by the end of this year," Patrick van der Loo, Pfizer regional president for Africa and the Middle East, told a conference in Kigali on vaccine manufacturing in Africa.
6th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Italy tightens curbs on unvaccinated as COVID-19 cases rise

Italy tightened curbs on Monday on people still not vaccinated against COVID-19, limiting their access to an array of places and services. The measures were announced last month, even before the discovery of the Omicron variant, and come as cases of coronavirus are starting to tick up across the country, albeit at a slower rate than in many other European nations. Under the new rules, only people who have been vaccinated or have recently recovered from COVID-19 can access indoor seating at bars and restaurants, visit museums, go to cinemas and clubs and attend sporting events.
6th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19 news: Australia plans to vaccinate five to 11-year-olds

Five to 11-year-olds in Australia could get a coronavirus vaccine as early as 10 January, following provisional approval by the nation’s drugs regulator. A one-third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved as safe and effective for this age group by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. The rollout is subject to approval by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation. Like adults, the 2.3 million eligible children will receive two doses of the vaccine at least three weeks apart. In the UK, covid-19 vaccinations are only available for those aged 12 and over. But the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is currently adjudicating on whether under-12s should also get jabbed. The US and Israel began offering the vaccine to 5 to 11-year-olds last month
6th Dec 2021 - New Scientist

New York mayor plans vaccination mandate for private-sector employers

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday he planned to issue a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private-sector employers that will go into effect on Dec. 27, calling it a "pre-emptive strike." Several indicators on Monday showed the spread of COVID-19 were increasing in the most populous city in the United States, including the percentage of people who are testing positive for the virus, according to data from New York City.
6th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Germany plans to make vaccination compulsory for some jobs

The incoming German government wants to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory from March 16 for people working in hospitals, nursing homes and other medical practices, according to a copy of draft legislation seen by Reuters on Sunday. Germany has been reticent about making vaccines compulsory for fear of exacerbating a shortage of medical and nursing home staff, but support has grown for the idea as the country has faced surging infections in a fourth wave of the pandemic. The Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats, which are set to form the new German government on Wednesday, are set to present the legislation to parliament in the coming week.
6th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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Germany imposes curbs on unvaccinated, considers jab mandate

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said unvaccinated people will be excluded from non-essential shops, and cultural and recreational venues in Germany, and parliament will consider imposing a general vaccine mandate. Speaking on Thursday after a meeting with federal and state leaders, Merkel said the measures were necessary in light of concerns that hospitals in Germany could become overloaded amid a surge in COVID-19 infections, which are more likely to be serious in those who have not been vaccinated. “The situation in our country is serious,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin, calling the measures an “act of national solidarity”. She said officials agreed to require masks in schools, impose new limits on private meetings and aim for 30 million vaccinations by the end of the year. The plans include a blanket ban on entering venues, including bars, restaurants and cinemas for anyone who has not been vaccinated or recovered from COVID, according to a document signed off by the leaders.
2nd Dec 2021 - Aljazeera.com

Clues to Omicron Variant’s U.S. Spread Include Test Samples, Sewage

Covid-19 test samples and wastewater are helping researchers across the U.S. figure out how widespread the Omicron variant might be. Surveillance is more robust in the U.S. than when the Alpha or Delta variants of the Covid-19 virus emerged, public-health officials and experts say. A fault in some commonly used Covid-19 tests also helps scientists flag potential Omicron cases. But gaps remain, particularly from one part of the country to another. Nearly 30% of known Covid-19 cases were sequenced and shared online in Vermont during the past three months, according to an international database of genetic sequences called GISAID, compared with some 1% in Oklahoma. “We’ve greatly increased the number that we have been sequencing, but they’re not equally distributed,” said Julie Swann, department head of Industrial and Systems Engineering at North Carolina S
5th Dec 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Nigeria plans COVID booster shots after Omicron cases: Live

Zambia has detected its first cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant, as the “highly transmissible” new variant spread to more than 40 countries since it was first detected in South Africa last week. The country’s health ministry said on Saturday that three people tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week. It added that two of the three infected had travelled abroad recently. A woman who had not travelled abroad had mild symptoms, it said.
5th Dec 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Australia to Start Vaccinations for Young Children Early 2022

Australia will begin vaccinating young children starting early next year once authorities receive final approvals in the coming weeks. Australia’s pharmaceutical regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, has provisionally approved a one-third dose of Pfizer’s vaccine for children aged 5-11 years, Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement Sunday. Subject to final approvals, the authorities will begin vaccinations starting Jan. 10, he said. Final recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation are expected in the coming weeks, and the program will be timed to provide at least one dose to the kids ahead of the new school year in 2022, Hunt said.
4th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

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Finland to limit children's COVID-19 vaccines to high-risk households

Children in Finland aged five and over should be vaccinated against COVID-19 if theyor someone in their household are at high risk of severe infection, the Finnish Health Institute recommended on Thursday, opting against shots for all children. The government is expected to accept the recommendation. The institute said the vaccinations could start as soon as Finland obtains approved shots.
2nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

Germany could make Covid vaccination mandatory, says Merkel

Vaccination could become mandatory in Germany from February, Angela Merkel has said, as she announced what her successor as chancellor, Olaf Scholz, described as “a lockdown of the unvaccinated”. As more EU countries confirmed cases of the Omicron variant, which the bloc’s health agency said could make up more than half of all infections on the continent within months, Merkel described the situation as “very serious”. Meeting with Scholz and Germany’s 16 state leaders for emergency talks on Thursday on tougher measures to stem rocketing Covid cases, the outgoing chancellor said an “act of national solidarity” was required.
2nd Dec 2021 - The Guardian

U.N. chief slams COVID-19 'travel apartheid' as unacceptable

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that travel restrictions imposed over COVID-19 that isolate any one country or region as "not only deeply unfair and punitive - they are ineffective." Speaking to reporters in New York, Guterres said the only way to reduce the risk of transmission while allowing for travel and economic engagement was to repeatedly test travelers, "together with other appropriate and truly effective measures."
2nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

Pakistan expands COVID vaccination drive amid Omicron fears

Pakistan’s government will step up COVID-19 vaccination efforts and is expanding the criteria for vaccine booster shots, amid fears of the Omicron variant, authorities say. On Wednesday, the leadership of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), which is heading the country’s COVID-19 response efforts, held a meeting in the capital Islamabad to review steps to curb the spread of the virus.
2nd Dec 2021 - Aljazeera

Biden’s new Covid plan: more boosters, free home testing, and ‘monoclonal antibody strike teams’

President Biden will announce a new plan Thursday afternoon for combating the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The plan includes a new campaign to increase uptake of booster shots, new policies meant to provide Americans with free at-home coronavirus tests, and more stringent policies on international travel. Public health officials still don’t know much about the Omicron variant, including whether it causes milder symptoms than other forms of the coronavirus, or whether it is more transmissible than other variants. The first case of the Omicron variant detected in the United States was announced by U.S. health officials on Wednesday.
2nd Dec 2021 - STAT News

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Japan starts Covid booster vaccinations amid omicron scare

Japan on Wednesday started offering coronavirus vaccine booster shots to health care workers amid growing concerns over a new variant of the virus that has already been detected in the country. Japan's initial vaccination drive kicked off in mid-February and some medical workers who received jabs more than nine months ago are now eager to get additional protection ahead of a possible next wave of infections — especially after the new variant known as omicron, which was first reported in South Africa last week, was found in Japan on Tuesday. At Tokyo Medical Center, a group of nurses and doctors received booster shots. “It's an important first step for our patients and their families to be treated with a sense of safety," said hospital chief Kazuhiro Araki.
1st Dec 2021 - The Independent

Some Teenagers Under 18 Could Soon Get A Pfizer COVID-19 Booster Shot : Shots - Health News

For the first time, people under the age of 18 may soon be eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot in the U.S. On Tuesday, Pfizer CEO and Chairman Albert Bourla said the vaccine maker had submitted its request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to expand the emergency use authorization of a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include 16- and 17-year-olds. Bourla made the announcement on Twitter, saying that "it is our hope to provide strong protection for as many people as possible, particularly in light of the new variant" — a reference to omicron, which has not yet been detected in the U.S.
1st Dec 2021 - NPR

Vaccine champions Spain, Portugal focus on the reluctant few

Juan Esteban Mariño, a healthy 29-year-old, has been part of the rare cohort in Spain who have resisted health authorities’ strong recommendations to get their vaccine shots. His position only changed when he planned an end-of-the-year holiday in Portugal, where authorities are cracking down on unvaccinated visitors as they confront a surge of infections and try to limit the spread of the omicron variant. “I needed to get the jab to leave the country and return without any inconveniences,” Mariño said Wednesday at a large vaccination center in Madrid as he pressed sterile gauze against his left arm and rolled down his sleeve. “With the new variant and restrictions complicating life, getting the vaccine has become unavoidable,” he added.
1st Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

India asks states to step up COVID testing over Omicron

India’s health ministry says the states should ramp up COVID-19 testing as the world battles the new coronavirus variant Omicron, while some cities have delayed the reopening of schools as a precautionary measure. The ministry on Tuesday also said the Omicron variant “doesn’t escape RT-PCR and RAT (testing)”, appeasing some concerns among domestic health workers that changes in the spike protein of the virus could lead to conventional tests failing to detect the mutation.
1st Dec 2021 - AlJazeera

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CDC says it is moving to tighten international COVID-19 testing rules

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed late Tuesday it is working to impose stricter COVID-19 testing rules for air travelers entering the United States amid concerns about a new COVID-19 variant. The CDC confirmed in a statement it is working to revise its current Global Testing Order "for travel as we learn more about the Omicron variant; a revised order would shorten the timeline for required testing for all international air travelers to one day before departure to the United States."
1st Dec 2021 - Reuters

Mandatory Covid Vaccine in Greece: $114 Monthly Fine for Refusal Among Over 60s

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced mandatory Covid-19 vaccination for all Greeks above 60 years of age before a cabinet meeting in Athens on Tuesday, in an effort to tackle the new omicron variation threat ahead of the festive season. Those who refuse to get vaccinated will have to pay a monthly fine of 100 euros ($114) for each month they don’t get jabbed, starting on Jan. 16, according to Mitsotakis. The penalty will be imposed by the tax authorities directly to those who haven’t been inoculated and the funds collected will be given to Greek hospitals fighting the pandemic.
30th Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

Testing, vaccines, sequencing: experts call for multi-pronged approach to Omicron

As new cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant are uncovered across the globe and threaten to spread in America, US officials are reacting by urging vaccinations and boosters instead of imposing restrictions which have increasingly provoked political fights. But the US should quickly invest in other tools as well, experts said, including testing, genomic sequencing and surveillance, better communication, and a strong focus on global vaccine equity to prevent the emergence of new variants. All of that would prepare America better to deal with a variant that many experts suspect is probably already inside the country, even if undetected so far.
30th Nov 2021 - The Guardian

Omicron was in Netherlands days earlier than first thought

The Netherlands’ RIVM health institute disclosed that patient samples dating from Nov. 19 and 23 were found to contain the variant. It was on Nov. 24 that South African authorities reported the existence of the highly mutated virus to the World Health Organization. That indicates omicron had a bigger head start in the Netherlands than previously believed.
30th Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

Making Covid-19 vaccines mandatory was once unthinkable. But European countries are showing it can work

Earlier this month, Austria took a step once unthinkable for a Western democracy: It announced that Covid-19 vaccinations would become compulsory for its entire population. Up until then, governments around the world had rejected the idea of a universal coronavirus vaccine mandate, opting instead for incentives and other "nudges" to motivate people to get shots. Even in authoritarian states, like China, it is not mandatory policy. Austria's extraordinary move came just days after it introduced a lockdown for the unvaccinated — a restriction that went farther than other European nations in singling out the people who have been driving a worrying surge in hospitalizations.
30th Nov 2021 - CNN

Becton confident its COVID-19 tests will detect Omicron variant

Becton Dickinson and Co (BDX.N) said on Tuesday it was confident that its COVID-19 tests would be able to detect the new coronavirus variant Omicron. The company sells a variety of tests for COVID-19, including antigen and PCR tests. In October, it started shipping at-home rapid COVID-19 tests in the United States that can confirm results using an entirely automated smartphone app. Becton also said it had conducted analyses of the variant using all available genome sequences from the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) — the largest database of novel coronavirus genome sequences in the world.
30th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Mask mandates to tackle Omicron come into force in England

New mask mandates and other measures aimed at curbing the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant came into force in England on Tuesday, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson eyes an expanded booster programme to help increase protection against COVID-19. From Tuesday morning, face masks are compulsory on transport and in shops, banks and hair salons.
30th Nov 2021 - Reuters

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All adults to be offered Covid booster vaccine, says Prof Anthony Harnden

All adults in Britain are to be offered booster jabs to step up the battle against the Omicron Covid-19 variant, a vaccines chief said on Monday. Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), confirmed the booster programme would be extended to 18 to 39-year-olds. Six more cases of the Omicron variant were confirmed in Scotland as health chiefs were racing to trace the contacts of other individuals who got the mutated virus including one person from southern Africa who visited the Westminster borough.
29th Nov 2021 - Evening Standard

COVID passports, vaccines helped EU tourism recovery - U.N.

Widespread use of COVID-19 "passports" and vaccines helped tourism recover faster in the European Union than in other parts of the world in the third quarter of 2021, a U.N. report said on Monday. Globally, international tourist arrivals rose 58% between July and September compared with the same period in 2020, the U.N. World Tourism Organisation barometer said. That was still 64% below the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.
29th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Philippines starts three-day, nine million person COVID jab drive

The Philippines has begun an ambitious campaign to vaccinate nine million people against COVID-19 over three days, as it temporarily suspended a decision to allow fully vaccinated tourists into the country after the emergence of the Omicron variant. The immunisation campaign was scaled back from an earlier target of 15 million shots, but would still be a record in a country where vaccine hesitancy remains an obstacle and there are logistical hurdles to reach people in the sprawling archipelago.
29th Nov 2021 - AlJazeera

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Covid Will Keep Spawning Variants Till the World Is Immune

So far, SARS-CoV-2’s most devastating impacts have been in developed countries. The U.S., U.K. and European Union have accounted for about a third of deaths, compared to their roughly 10% share of the world’s population. However, it’s been in the BRICS grouping of fast-growing middle- income nations where an outsized share of new variants of concern have been isolated and analyzed for the first time. From the original strain in China, to the Delta lineage picked up in India, the Gamma variety isolated in Brazil and the Beta and latest Omicron strains from South Africa, only the U.K.-related Alpha variant has emerged outside these countries.
27th Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

Paris makes mask wearing outdoors mandatory at public gatherings

Paris has made the wearing of face masks outside mandatory again at public gatherings as the COVID-19 infection rate in the French capital soars, police said. The police prefecture said in a statement that masks will have to be worn for gathering in public spaces, at festivals and spectacles, on markets and when standing in line.
26th Nov 2021 - Reuters

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UK public urged to get Covid booster by 11 December if eligible to avoid waning immunity

Ministers are urging millions of Britons to get their Covid booster jab by 11 December to ensure they have “very high protection against Covid by Christmas Day” as new evidence shows the risk of infection increases with the time since the second dose. The fresh warning comes after cases broke records in parts of Europe on Wednesday, with the continent once again the centre of a pandemic that has prompted new restrictions. About 16 million people have had a booster vaccine or a third dose across the UK. Everyone aged 40 and over and the clinically extremely vulnerable are eligible to get a booster six months after their second jab. “If you’re yet to get your first, second or booster dose, please do come forward for the jab as soon as possible,” said Maggie Throup, the vaccines minister.
25th Nov 2021 - The Guardian

Australia will face a new wave of Covid-19 unless booster shot rates skyrocket, expert warns

Australia will face a new wave of COVID-19 cases similar to that currently being seen in Europe unless booster shot rates dramatically increase, a leading epidemiologist has warned. It comes as several European nations have reimposed restrictions and lockdowns after a spike in infections as the continent heads into winter. While case numbers were reducing in Australia as vaccination levels increase, infectious diseases expert Professor Raina MacIntyre said the country should heed the COVID situation overseas to avoid an identical situation next year.
25th Nov 2021 - Daily Mail

France extends COVID-19 booster shots to all adults

France said on Thursday it would make COVID-19 booster shots available to all adults, toughen rules on wearing face masks and ramp up health pass checks as it seeks to curb a fifth wave of infections that risks undermining its economic recovery. The number of infections is doubling every 11 days in France but officials said there was no need to follow Austria's example of reimposing a lockdown. Health Minister Olivier Veran said anyone aged 18 or over would be eligible for booster shots and that the period between full vaccination and the booster jabs would be shortened to five months from six.
25th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Portugal expands booster shots as COVID-19 cases rise

Portugal, one of the world's most vaccinated nations, will give COVID-19 booster shots to a quarter of its population by the end of January, the health secretary said on Wednesday, as authorities try to stop a recent surge in infections. The number of cases in Portugal reached a four-month daily high of 3,773 on Wednesday. Deaths, however, remain far below January levels, when the country faced its toughest battle against COVID-19, and the infection rate is far lower than in most of Western Europe.
25th Nov 2021 - Reuters

EU proposes booster jabs for 2022 travel as COVID cases soar

European Union residents will need to have COVID-19 vaccine booster jabs if they want to travel to another country in the bloc next summer free of tests or quarantines, the European Commission proposed on Thursday. The EU executive also proposed accepting all vaccines approved by the World Health Organization for travel purposes, which would allow non-essential travel to the EU from outside the bloc for people vaccinated with Chinese shots and vaccines made in India. The Commission wants to harmonise rules across the 27 EU nations to allow free movement, a cornerstone of the European Union, but is facing new restrictions as cases break records in Europe and many EU countries roll out booster doses.
25th Nov 2021 - Reuters

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Cyprus to screen children for COVID-19 to 'save Christmas'

Cyprus will include children as young as six in its COVID-19 screening programme and introduce mandatory masks in schools to ward off a surge in the virus, authorities said on Wednesday. Cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus have been ticking up on the eastern Mediterranean island, like elsewhere in Europe, over the past month. By late Tuesday, authorities had recorded 131,028 cases since the pandemic broke out in March 2020, along with 590 deaths.
24th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Biden Administration Asks Appeals Court to Reinstate Vaccine-or-Test Mandate for Big Companies

The Biden administration on Tuesday filed an emergency court motion that seeks the immediate reinstatement of its rules requiring many employers to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly for Covid-19. The Justice Department filed the request with the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which last week was designated as the court that would decide legal challenges filed around the country to the vaccine-or-testing rules. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration earlier this month formally issued the requirements, which apply to businesses with 100 or more employees. The rules cover roughly 84 million workers and are scheduled to take effect Jan. 4.
24th Nov 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

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AstraZeneca chief: Our coronavirus vaccine could protect older people longer than mRNA jabs

The head of AstraZeneca has suggested that the company’s adenovirus vaccine could provide longer-lasting protection against COVID-19 especially in older people than the mRNA vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna. French CEO Pascal Soriot said this could be a reason why the U.K. hasn’t experienced the same high levels of hospitalizations as Europe, where cases have surged in recent months. But he said more data was needed. “It's really interesting, when you look at the U.K., there was a big peak of infections, but not so many hospitalizations relative to Europe,” he told BBC Radio 4. “In the U.K., this vaccine was used to vaccinate older people whereas in Europe initially people thought the vaccine doesn't work in older people,” he said. The pharma chief suggested that this could be because AstraZeneca’s adenovirus vaccine provides a better T cell response than mRNA vaccines. “The antibody response is what drives the immediate reaction or defense of the body when you are attacked by the virus,” Soriot said. “And the T cell response takes a little longer to come in. But it's actually more durable; it lasts longer.” The pharma chief said AstraZeneca’s adenovirus COVID-19 vaccine “has been shown to stimulate T cells to a higher degree in older people.”
23rd Nov 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Pfizer says its Covid vaccine is STILL 100% effective in children ages 12 to 15 four months after the second dose

Pfizer-BioNTech released data on Monday from a long-term analysis of their COVID-19 vaccine in kids aged 12 to 15. There were 30 confirmed symptomatic Covid cases in the placebo group compared to none in the vaccinated group Researchers say this equates to 100% efficacy at least four months after receiving the second dose. The vaccine is currently only fully approved for those aged 16 and older but the companies plan to apply for extended approval in the 12-15 age group soon
23rd Nov 2021 - Daily Mail

Germans Line Up at Vaccine Centers as Booster Push Accelerates

Germany’s sluggish Covid vaccine campaign is rattling back to life, with many snapping up online appointments for shots and others enduring hours of lines in the cold to receive more protection against the coronavirus. Some are taking to Twitter to voice frustration, elation or both at the surge in demand for Covid shots. Comments thanked those hardy enough to brave the elements for a shot, while others criticized authorities for not better organizing the latest inoculation push.
23rd Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

UK employers step up demand for workers vaccinated against Covid

Employers in the UK are following the lead of their counterparts in the US by stepping up demands for staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19, analysis of recruitment adverts reveals. According to figures from the jobs website Adzuna, the number of ads explicitly requiring candidates to be vaccinated rose by 189% between August and October as more firms ask for workers to be jabbed before they start on the job. Out of a total 1.2m job vacancies in the UK on its platform, the number of adverts requiring vaccination increased from 805 in August to 2,161 in September and 2,324 in October.
23rd Nov 2021 - The Guardian

Getting jabs to the unvaccinated has never been more critical

More than ever before, we must look behind the reported Covid-19 numbers in hospitals and communities to understand what is happening in the pandemic. We also need to better understand how the pandemic is playing out among unvaccinated people, and those who have been vaccinated. To the public, the pandemic was and still is a silent pestilence, made visible by the images of patients fighting for their next breath and reporters at intensive care units talking about the fear of patients and the exhaustion of doctors and nurses from behind their fogged visors. This ongoing horror, which is taking place in ICUs across Britain, is now largely restricted to unvaccinated people. Generally, Covid-19 is no longer a disease of the vaccinated; vaccines tend to limit this suffocating affliction, with a few exceptions.
23rd Nov 2021 - The Guardian

Italy allows COVID-19 vaccine booster 5 months after completing the first cycle -minister

Health Minister Roberto Speranza on Monday said it will be possible for the Italians to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster five months after completing the first vaccination cycle. "The booster dose is crucial to better protect ourselves and those around us. After Aifa's (Italy's medicines authority) latest advice, it will be possible to take it five months after completing the first cycle," Speranza wrote on Facebook.
23rd Nov 2021 - Reuters

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Official: More than 90% of fed workers got shots by deadline

More than 90% of federal workers received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Monday’s deadline set by President Joe Biden. Biden announced in September that more than 3.5 million federal workers were required to undergo vaccination, with no option to get regularly tested instead, unless they secured an approved medical or religious exemption. A U.S. official said the vast majority of federal workers are fully vaccinated, and that a smaller number have pending or approved exceptions to the mandate. In all, more than 95% of federal workers are in compliance with the Biden mandate, the official said, either by being vaccinated or having requested an exemption. Workers who are not in compliance are set to begin a “counseling” process that could ultimately result in their termination if they don’t get a shot or secure an approved exception to vaccination.
23rd Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

Covid in Kenya: Unvaccinated to be barred from basic services

Kenyans will be barred from bars, restaurants and public transport from 21 December if they are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19, Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe says. The measures are aimed at increasing the rate of vaccinations ahead of the festive season. Less than 10% of the population is currently vaccinated - about 6.4 million people. This gives more 20 million adults in Kenya just a month to get vaccinated. The AstraZenaca vaccines is the most commonly used vaccine in Kenya and the two doses required to be fully vaccinated are supposed to be given at least six weeks apart.
22nd Nov 2021 - BBC News

EU wants to harmonize validity period of vaccination certificate

The European Commission aims to harmonize the duration of the validity of the COVID-19 vaccination certificate, including the effects of booster shots, Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said on Monday, amid record infection numbers in some EU states. "I fully agree with the urgency, and this is why the European Commission is working with the utmost urgency to strengthen the coordination of free movement, including the length of validity and the role of boosters in the vaccination campaign," she told European lawmakers in Strasbourg
22nd Nov 2021 - Reuters

How COVID shots for kids help prevent dangerous new variants

Cadell Walker rushed to get her 9-year-old daughter Solome vaccinated against COVID-19 — not just to protect her but to help stop the coronavirus from spreading and spawning even more dangerous variants. “Love thy neighbor is something that we really do believe, and we want to be good community members and want to model that thinking for our daughter,” said the 40-year-old Louisville mom, who recently took Solome to a local middle school for her shot. “The only way to really beat COVID is for all of us collectively to work together for the greater good.” Scientists agree. Each infection — whether in an adult in Yemen or a kid in Kentucky — gives the virus another opportunity to mutate. Protecting a new, large chunk of the population anywhere in the world limits those opportunities.
22nd Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

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Europe is learning a crucial lesson -- vaccines work, but they alone won't stop Covid now

As Western Europe's vaccination rollout gained strength in the early part of 2021, many of the region's leaders touted the shots as their immediate route out of the pandemic. Press conferences took on an almost celebratory tone as Presidents, Prime Ministers and Chancellors announced road maps away from Covid-19 restrictions, hailing their country's uptake rates and speaking colorfully about a return to normalcy. But as another Covid-struck winter grips Europe, many of those countries are now reversing course. Ireland introduced a midnight curfew on the hospitality industry earlier this week amid a surge in cases, despite having one of Europe's best vaccination rates. In Portugal -- the envy of the continent, where 87% of the total population is inoculated -- the government is mulling new measures as infections inch upwards.
20th Nov 2021 - CNN

CDC expands COVID booster jab eligibility to all US adults

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded eligibility for COVID-19 booster jabs to all adults in the United States, move that paves the way for millions more Americans to receive additional protection against the virus. The CDC on Friday evening endorsed the advice of a health advisory panel, which earlier voted unanimously to recommend expanding booster eligibility to all Americans aged 18 and older who received their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines at least six months earlier.
20th Nov 2021 - Aljazeera.com

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Australia's Political Capital Is Almost Completely Vaccinated

Almost all eligible citizens in Australia’s “Bush Capital” have had at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine and it is expected to reach full inoculation next month, a milestone that shows just how fast the nation has overcome a slow start to its vaccination rollout. Canberra, one of a number of highly vaccinated cities in the Asia-Pacific region, achieved the feat by relying on education and access to get its citizens to embrace the rollout, according to Andrew Barr, the chief minister of the Australian Capital Territory which oversees the city. Data show the city’s vaccination rate is at 96.8% for eligible people aged 12 and over. In terms of first doses, it’s given more than its population size as estimated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Barr says the real figure is likely to be around 99.9%, with just a few hundred people remaining unvaccinated. He expects a similar threshold for full inoculation to be reached by mid-December.
19th Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

Dutch start coronavirus vaccine booster campaign with the over 80s

The Netherlands started its coronavirus booster vaccination campaign on Thursday, with the over 80s and hospital staff first in line for the top-up jab. The government had planned to roll out the campaign in December but brought it forward two weeks under pressure from both MPs and healthcare experts. Under current government strategy, everyone over the age of 60 will be invited for a booster jab, as will everyone living in residential care and front-line staff. The government decided to back booster jabs following reports which show the efficacy of vaccines does go down among older people over time. Some 44% of current coronavirus hospital patients have been vaccinated but by far the majority are over the age of 70.
18th Nov 2021 - DutchNews.nl

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Stormont ministers approve use of mandatory Covid vaccine passports

Mandatory vaccine passports are set to be introduced in Northern Ireland after Stormont ministers voted by a majority to support the move. The PA news agency understands DUP ministers opposed Health Minister Robin Swann’s proposal at the Executive meeting on Wednesday. However, the other four Executive parties – Sinn Fein SDLP, Alliance and Mr Swann’s UUP – backed the move. Mr Swann wants to see enforceable Covid certification in operation across a range of hospitality settings from December 13.
17th Nov 2021 - Evening Standard

Swedish health agency backtracks on reduced COVID testing

Sweden's Public Health Agency said on Wednesday it would reverse a widely-criticized decision to stop recommending testing for people who are fully vaccinated but show symptoms of COVID-19. COVID-19 testing in Sweden has fallen by some 35% after the health agency announced in October that people displaying symptoms no longer needed to get tested if they were fully vaccinated against the virus. "The Public Health Agency has decided to recommend that the regions offer testing to everyone who is 6 years and older who gets symptoms that may be COVID-19," it said in a statement.
17th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Sweden to introduce COVID vaccine passes for indoors events

The Swedish government plans to introduce a requirement for COVID-19 vaccine passes at indoor events where more than 100 people attend, a step recommended by health officials warning of a rising tide of infections in coming weeks. Infection rates have soared across large swaths of Europe in recent weeks and while Sweden - hard hit at times earlier in the pandemic - has yet to record a similar surge, healthy agency modelling suggests infections will reach a peak in mid-December. The centre-left government was preparing a bill to be put forward to parliament with the aim to having the vaccination passes in effect from Dec. 1, Health Minister Lena Hallengren said.
17th Nov 2021 - Reuters

White House: 10% of kids have been vaccinated in 1st 2 weeks

The White House says about 10% of eligible kids aged 5 to 11 have received a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine since its approval for their age group two weeks ago. At least 2.6 million kids have received a shot, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said Wednesday, with 1.7 million doses administered in the last week alone, roughly double the pace of the first week after approval. It’s more than three times faster than the rate adults were vaccinated at the start of the nation’s vaccination campaign 11 months ago. Zients said there are now 30,000 locations across for kids to get a shot, up from 20,000 last week, and that the administration expects the pace of pediatric shots to pick up in the coming days.
17th Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

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Dutch plan to drop 'corona pass' for unvaccinated faces political push back

The Dutch government's plan to scrap the "corona pass" for people not vaccinated against COVID-19 faced strong opposition in parliament on Tuesday, including from within the ruling coalition. The pass, which grants access to indoor public venues, is now available to people who have been vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19 or have tested negative for the virus. Under a proposal put forward by caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Friday, the last option would be dropped. But in an evening debate, even one of Rutte's own four-party coalition government partners expressed concerns that it would cause social division.
16th Nov 2021 - Reuters

How food can help recovery from Covid-19

Eating advice for people recovering from Covid-19 is now available online. The Recovery Knowledge Hub, external, launched by the University of Plymouth, asks people about their current diet and offers tips and ideas to improve it. The hub is aimed at everyone who wants advice, from the public to professionals and it is free, said the university. "Eating the right diet is crucial to keep well physically and mentally, and a key part of recovery from Covid-19 is to make sure your diet is healthy," said Mary Hickson, professor in dietetics at the university.
16th Nov 2021 - BBC News

Brazil to offer COVID-19 booster shot to everyone older than 18

Brazilian health minister Marcelo Queiroga said on Tuesday the government will offer COVID-19 booster shots to everyone older than 18. Queiroga said the booster shots will be available five months after the second vaccine dose, and there were enough doses for the entire population.
16th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Racial disparities in kids’ vaccinations are hard to track

The rollout of COVID-19 shots for elementary-age children has exposed another blind spot in the nation’s efforts to address pandemic inequalities: Health systems have released little data on the racial breakdown of youth vaccinations, and community leaders fear that Black and Latino kids are falling behind. Only a handful of states have made public data on COVID-19 vaccinations by race and age, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not compile racial breakdowns either. Despite the lack of hard data, public health officials and medical professionals are mindful of disparities and have been reaching out to communities of color to overcome vaccine hesitancy. That includes going into schools, messaging in other languages, deploying mobile vaccine units and emphasizing to skeptical parents that the shots are safe and powerfully effective.
16th Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

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Why two emergency physicians’ kids took part in the Pfizer vaccine trials

Cue the collective sigh of relief from many parents across the country. While the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine has been available for children ages 12 and up since mid-September, as of now 28 million even younger school-age children between the ages of 5 and 11 are eligible to receive it. As an emergency medicine physician and a parent, that reassures me. As a member of the global community, it gives me hope we’ll soon return to some level of normalcy. I acknowledge the personal decision of some parents who don’t want their kids to be vaccinated. Yet as someone whose own children were part of the vaccine’s clinical trials, I feel compelled to share the story of why my wife and I felt confident making that decision with them, and what vaccinating younger children will mean for the fate of the pandemic.
15th Nov 2021 - STAT News

No 10 plans booster jab requirement for people to obtain Covid pass

Ministers are set to require three vaccinations from those eligible for booster jabs in order to qualify as being fully vaccinated in areas where people must prove their status, such as travel or avoiding mandatory isolation. Downing Street sources said the intention was to end up in a place where three jabs, rather than two, was the requirement to obtain a Covid pass showing full vaccination – though currently only over-40s are eligible for the booster. If the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) continues to recommend boosters for all adults six months after their second jab, then the requirement could be in place in England by the early spring.
16th Nov 2021 - The Guardian

U.S. CDC raises COVID-19 travel warnings for Czech Republic, Hungary

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised against travel to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Iceland because of a rising number of COVID-19 cases in those countries. The CDC raised its travel recommendation to "Level Four: Very High" for the three countries, telling Americans they should avoid travel there. The CDC separately lowered its COVID-19 travel advisory to "Level One: Low" for Japan, India, Pakistan, Liberia, Gambia and Mozambique.
15th Nov 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Vaccine certificates now needed to visit theatres, cinemas and concert halls in Wales

People in Wales will now have to prove they are fully vaccinated or have had a negative lateral flow test to visit theatres, cinemas and concert halls after the existing NHS COVID Pass scheme was widened. Proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in the previous 48 hours has been a requirement to enter nightclubs and similar venues in the nation since 11 October. But the Welsh Parliament has now extended the rules to cover cinemas, theatres and concert halls in response to a high level of COVID-19 cases across the country. The guidance on self-isolation had also changed and people are being encouraged to work from home to help bring the coronavirus under control.
15th Nov 2021 - Sky News

Britain to extend COVID booster rollout to over-40s

Britain's COVID-19 booster vaccine rollout is to be extended to people aged between 40 and 49, officials said on Monday, in a bid to boost waning immunity in the population ahead of the colder winter months. Currently all people aged 50 and above, those who are clinically vulnerable and frontline health workers are eligible for boosters, and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said that the rollout would be extended. The advice comes as the UK Health Security Agency released data from a real-world study which found the booster gave over 90% protection against symptomatic COVID-19 for people aged 50 and above.
15th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Norway plans third vaccine dose for all adults, "corona passes"

Norway will offer a third COVID-19 vaccine dose to everyone aged 18 and older and will give municipalities the option of using digital "corona passes" as a way to beat back a surge in COVID-19 infections, the government said on Friday. Norway has so far only given a third dose to those aged 65 and older. "Everyone aged 18 and older will be offered a third dose next year," Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told a news conference.
15th Nov 2021 - Reuters

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Morocco plans additional airport COVID testing amid Europe surge

Morocco will conduct rapid COVID-19 tests to passengers arriving in its airports and ports, and will deny access to any visitor with a positive result, the government said on Saturday. The measure, which strengthens an existing requirement of a negative PCR test 48 hours before departure, aims to protect the country amid a surge of cases in Europe, the government said in a statement. Travelers with positive test must be returned at the cost of the airline that brought them into the country, unless they have a permanent residency document, it said.
13th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Biden vaccine rules are boosting first-time COVID-19 shots - White House

U.S. President Joe Biden's vaccine requirements are prompting more Americans to get COVID-19 shots, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday. "In the past week, we’re averaging nearly 300,000 first shots" per day for people aged 12 and over, Psaki said, up from less than 250,000 first shots per day in mid-July, before Biden first discussed vaccine requirements. Biden announced on Sept. 9 vaccination mandates for workers at federal contractors and said workers at big private employers need to be vaccinated or tested.
12th Nov 2021 - Reuters

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Diabetes problem makes Africa more vulernable to COVID-19 death, says WHO

Death rates from COVID-19 infections are much higher in patients with diabetes in Africa, where the number of people with diabetes is growing rapidly, the World Health Organization said on Thursday. A WHO analysis of data from 13 African countries found a 10.2% case fatality rate in COVID-19 patients with diabetes, compared with 2.5% for COVID-19 patients overall. "COVID-19 is delivering a clear message: fighting the diabetes epidemic in Africa is in many ways as critical as the battle against the current pandemic," said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, in a statement.
11th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Unvaccinated should reflect on their duty to society, Merkel says

People who are still not vaccinated as the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic takes hold in Germany must understand they have a duty to the rest of society to protect others, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.
12th Nov 2021 - Reuters

LAPD Union's Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate Challenge Rejected by Judge

The union representing Los Angeles Police Department officers failed to win a court order blocking a mandate that all city workers be vaccinated against Covid-19. California Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff on Wednesday denied the union’s request for a temporary restraining order on the mandate, which sets a Dec. 18 deadline for vaccination. The judge didn’t give a reason for denying the union’s request for a temporary restraining order. The union will get another shot at blocking the mandate at a Dec. 12 hearing before Beckloff on its request for preliminary injunction. A group of LAPD officers was also previously denied a restraining order in federal court.
11th Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

Thousands of care home staff to lose their jobs as mandatory COVID-19 vaccine deadline passes

As of Friday, all care home workers in England must have been double jabbed, unless they are medically exempt, and the latest NHS figures show more than 60,000 staff have not been recorded as fully vaccinated as of 31 October.
11th Nov 2021 - Sky News

Ukraine to impose mandatory COVID-19 shots for doctors, municipal workers

Ukraine's health ministry has proposed expanding the list of occupations for which COVID-19 vaccinations will be compulsory to cover medical personnel and municipal employees, it said on Thursday. The government already obliges teachers and employees of state institutions and local governments to receive vaccinations, without which they face being suspended from work. The new list of roles that will require vaccination will include medical staff, municipal workers and employees of municipal companies, health minister Viktor Lyashko said.
11th Nov 2021 - Reuters

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Booster jab will be needed for Covid pass in future, Sajid Javid hints

Older people will face restrictions on their freedoms in future if they choose not to have a Covid booster jab, the health secretary has suggested. Sajid Javid hinted the government is considering adopting a crackdown similar to that in France – which will require a third dose in order to be classed as “fully vaccinated” on the country’s health pass.
10th Nov 2021 - The Independent

Belgium to extend coronavirus vaccine boosters to all

Belgium intends to roll out COVID-19 vaccine third jabs for all citizens, a government minister said Wednesday. During an inter-ministerial conference on public health, minsters agreed to develop a “global vision” on third shots, tweeted Wouter Beke, minister of health and family. Details of the booster program will be ironed out at a meeting on November 27, he said, to “give vaccination centers the clarity they demand.”
10th Nov 2021 - POLITICO Europe

Covid-19 news: Booster shots now mandatory for French vaccine passes

French people aged over 65 will have to have a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine to prove they have been fully vaccinated on their health passes from mid-December. The passes show if a person has been immunised, has recently recovered from infection or has recently had a negative test. In France they are needed for many common activities including going to restaurants and bars, libraries, the gym and for long-distance train and plane journeys. President Emmanuel Macron also said yesterday that boosters would be available for people between the ages of 50 and 65 from next month, and that use of health passes would increase. Although infection rates in France are lower than in some other European countries such as Germany, they are rising. Macron said a “fifth wave” of covid-19 had arrived in Europe. “We are not yet finished with the pandemic.”
10th Nov 2021 - New Scientist

Chinese city says it mass tested 30000 for COVID-19 at mega centre, rounded-up runaways

China's southwestern city of Chengdu said on Wednesday it had conducted 30,000 COVID-19 tests on visitors at a mega entertainment centre, and rounded-up those who tried to flee the site, in the second mass screening at a large venue in days. All COVID-19 tests returned negative results, reported the official China Central Television (CCTV) on Tuesday. Those present were required to return home to await their results and not venture outdoors until advised, local authorities in Chengdu said in a notice
10th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Denmark revisits its 'corona pass' as third wave of epidemic looms

Denmark's government on Monday proposed reinstating the use of a digital "corona pass" to be presented when Danes visit indoor bars and restaurants, as the country is entering a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Denmark was one of few countries to lift almost all remaining restrictions in September after having avoided a third wave of infections over spring and summer due to broad lockdown measures imposed since Christmas.
10th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Understanding health care consumer preferences is key to effective Covid-19 vaccination messaging

Health care, like politics, is local. The performance of certain procedures or the prevalence of particular conditions vary from community to community. So do individuals’ preferences on how they choose to obtain care. One thing that doesn’t vary as much is the trust people have in their providers. That’s why throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, apart from mandates, frontline clinicians broadly have had the greatest impact on influencing the adoption of Covid-19 vaccines. Understanding the impact physicians have is particularly important as the country continues to drive vaccine uptake among adults, approach expanding eligibility to those under age 12, and begin the booster phase of Covid-19 vaccines.
10th Nov 2021 - STAT News

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Don't wait on vaccine rules, White House tells companies amid legal fight

The White House on Monday urged employers to go ahead and push worker vaccinations, as legal challenges to President Joe Biden's vaccine rule work their way through the courts. A U.S. federal appeals court issued a stay Saturday freezing the Biden administration's efforts to require COVID-19 vaccines for workers at U.S. companies with at least 100 employees or weekly tests, citing "grave statutory and constitutional" issues with the rule. The ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals comes after numerous Republican-led states filed legal challenges against the new rule, which is set to take effect on Jan 4.
9th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Singapore to start charging Covid patients who are ‘unvaccinated by choice’

Singapore will no longer pay the Covid-19 medical bills for people “unvaccinated by choice”, the government said, as the country grapples with a surge in cases. The government currently covers the full Covid medical costs for all Singaporeans, as well as permanent residents and long-term visa holders, unless they test positive soon after returning home from overseas. However from 8 December, the government said it will “begin charging Covid-19 patients who are unvaccinated by choice”.
9th Nov 2021 - The Guardian

Vaccine Mandate News: Covid Vaccine to Be Mandatory for NHS England Workers

Frontline National Health Service workers in England must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by April 2022, the U.K. government announced. Health Secretary Sajid Javid told Parliament on Tuesday the move was necessary to protect patients and other NHS staff. It follows a separate decision by the government to make vaccines compulsory for care home workers from Nov. 11. Only those frontline NHS workers who can prove they have had two coronavirus vaccinations can be employed, Javid said. Staff who don’t work face to face with patients or are medically exempt will not face mandatory shots.
9th Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

U.S. judge upholds United Airlines' COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees

A U.S. federal judge on Monday ruled United Airlines Holdings Inc can impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on its employees that only provides unpaid leave for workers who are exempted for medical or religious reasons. U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman in Fort Worth, Texas, rejected arguments by employees that the airline was improperly putting them in an "impossible position" by forcing them to choose a vaccine or unpaid leave.
9th Nov 2021 - Reuters

WHO warns of shortage of 1-2 bln COVID vaccine syringes

There could be a shortage of one to two billion syringes needed to administer COVID-19 vaccinations in 2022 which could also impact routine immunisations and undermine needle safety, the World Health Organisation warned on Tuesday. National health authorities should plan their needs well in advance to avoid the "hoarding, panic buying and type of situation" seen early in the pandemic with the lack of personal protective equipment, WHO expert Lisa Hedman said.
9th Nov 2021 - Reuters

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Indonesia to start COVID-19 boosters after 50% of public vaccinated

Indonesia plans to give booster shots to the general public after 50% of its population has been fully vaccinated, its health minister said on Monday, which he expects to happen at the end of next month. Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country and once Asia's COVID-19 epicenter, has inoculated 29% of its population of 270 million people, using a variety of vaccine brands. Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin told a parliamentary hearing the government decided on boosters at the 50% mark due to vaccine inequity concerns at home or abroad.
8th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Chinese city orders COVID tests for visitors to sprawling commercial centre

China's southwestern city of Chengdu on Monday required visitors at a mega entertainment centre to undergo COVID tests, in the country's second mass screening for the coronavirus at a large venue in days. Those who were tested for COVID-19 were required to return home to await their results and not venture outdoors until advised, local authorities in Chengdu said in a notice. It was unclear how many visitors were at the New Century Global Center, which houses numerous shops, offices, a massive water park, and a university.
8th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Proof of vax required as strict mandate takes effect in LA

Yoga studio owner David Gross felt relieved after Los Angeles passed a vaccine mandate that is among the strictest in the country, a measure taking effect Monday that requires proof of shots for everyone entering a wide variety of businesses from restaurants to shopping malls and theaters to nail and hair salons. For Gross, the relief came from knowing he and his co-owner don’t have to unilaterally decide whether to verify their customers are vaccinated. In another part of town, the manager of a struggling nail salon feels trepidation and expects to lose customers. “This is going to be hard for us,” Lucila Vazquez said.
8th Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

Feds urge schools to provide COVID-19 shots, info for kids

The Biden administration is encouraging local school districts to host clinics to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to kids — and information to parents on the benefits of the shots — as the White House looks to speedily provide vaccines to those ages 5 to 11. First lady Jill Biden and Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy are set to visit the Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Virginia, on Monday to launch a nationwide campaign to promote child vaccinations. The school was the first to administer the polio vaccine in 1954. The visit comes just days after federal regulators recommended the COVID-19 vaccine for the age group. The White House says Biden will visit pediatric vaccination clinics across the country over the coming weeks to encourage the shots.
8th Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

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Healthy buildings can help stop Covid-19 spread and boost worker productivity

Healthy buildings have become the latest enticement to bring employees back into the office, and the first step is to make sure ventilation systems are working the way they are supposed to. Improving indoor air quality in offices could add as much as $20 billion annually to the U.S. economy, according to estimates from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “I don’t think business people realize the power of buildings to not only keep people safe from disease but to lead to better performance,” said Joseph G. Allen, Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health associate professor.
6th Nov 2021 - CNBC

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White House Sets Jan. 4 Shots-or-Tests Deadline for Workers

OSHA has issued a federal rule mandating Covid-19 vaccinations or at least weekly testing for workers at U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. The OSHA rules are a key pillar of President Joe Biden’s push to use employer mandates to drive up vaccination totals nationally. Biden already has expanded the rules for federal workers and contractors, which will take effect over the next five weeks, requiring vaccination and offering no alternative for regular testing. The OSHA rules, while less strenuous, essentially extend that push widely into the private sector. Biden—elected in part on a pledge to quell the pandemic—views vaccination as the fastest path to reopening society and the economy, including employer mandates, booster shots and vaccines for kids aged 5 to 11 that began this week. About 80% of U.S. adults have received at least one dose.
4th Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

New York City, union reach agreement on vaccine mandate

New York City's public-sector employee union District Council 37 and the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday reached an agreement on a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for over 55,000 city workers. District Council 37 members who have not provided proof of at least one dose of the vaccine will have the option to resign or take a leave of absence and in both cases, employees will maintain their health benefits, the union said in a statement. Employees without proof of vaccination who have either not submitted an application for an exemption or who have been denied an exemption may be placed on unpaid leave beginning Nov. 1 through Nov. 30, the union said.
4th Nov 2021 - Reuters

How Tyson Foods Got 60,500 Workers to Get the Coronavirus Vaccine Quickly

When Tyson, one of the world’s largest meatpacking companies, announced in early August that all of its 120,000 workers would need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or lose their jobs, Diana Eike was angry. Ms. Eike, an administrative coordinator at the company, had resisted the vaccine, and not for religious or political reasons like many others here in her home state. “It was just something personal,” she said. Now, Ms. Eike is fully vaccinated, and she is relieved that Tyson made the decision for her. The company, she said, “took the burden off of me making the choice.”
4th Nov 2021 - The New York Times

New U.S. COVID testing/vaccine rule excludes outdoor workers

A new U.S. workplace rule that requires tens of millions of Americans to get vaccinated for COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing will exclude employees who work exclusively outdoors, according to regulatory filing by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. An estimated 2.4 million healthcare workers will need to be vaccinated or replaced under a related rule issued by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
4th Nov 2021 - Reuters

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Some Parents Rush to Get Covid-19 Vaccines for Young Kids

Younger children began to get vaccinated against Covid-19, adding to the nation’s defenses against a pandemic that has upended learning and life for kids across three school years. Some hospitals and pediatrician’s offices started giving shots to children between the ages of 5 and 11 on Wednesday, a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended use of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s vaccine for that age group. The Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized a two-dose regimen of the vaccine, in a smaller dosage and different packaging than that used on adults.
3rd Nov 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Canadian employers shed unvaccinated workers, labor lawyers in demand

Canadian employers are firing or putting on unpaid leave thousands of workers who refused to get COVID-19 shots, squeezing an already tight labor market and raising prospects of potentially disruptive legal challenges. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised vaccine mandates as a central part of his successful campaign for re-election in September, setting a precedent that has spread from the public to the private sector.
3rd Nov 2021 - Reuters

Netherlands reintroduces face masks to curb spike in COVID-19 cases

The Dutch government on Tuesday decided to re-impose measures aimed at slowing the latest spike in COVID-19 infections, including the wearing of face masks, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said. The use of a "corona pass", showing proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or recent negative coronavirus test, will be broadened as of Nov. 6 to public places including museums, gyms and outdoor terraces.
3rd Nov 2021 - Reuters

COVID: Face masks compulsory again in some French schools next week

Face masks will again become compulsory from next week for French school kids in 39 regional departments where the COVID-19 virus has been ramping up, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday. French health authorities reported 7,360 daily new COVID-19 infections on October 30, the first time the tally has topped 7,000 since Sept 21
3rd Nov 2021 - Reuters

Unvaccinated Greeks will need a negative COVID test to access services

Unvaccinated Greeks will need to show a negative COVID-19 test to access state services, banks, restaurants and retail shops as cases hit a new daily record on Tuesday, health authorities said. Greece reported 6,700 new coronavirus infections in the preceding 24 hours on Tuesday, breaking a previous single-day record of 5,449 that was recorded on Monday. This took the total infections to 754,451 since the pandemic broke out last year. Some 16,050 people have died of the COVID-19 disease so far in Greece.
3rd Nov 2021 - Reuters

Mandates. A well-organized campaign. No politics. How Puerto Rico’s vaccine drive turned into a success

The leader of the Puerto Rico National Guard was still dealing with the aftermath of a 6.4-magnitude earthquake that displaced thousands of residents in January 2020 when island officials began hearing reports of people falling ill from the new coronavirus. Once again, they turned to Guard Adjutant General José J. Reyes. Much of Reyes’ 37-year career has been in emergency response mode — from 9/11 to the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017 to the earthquake — but he sees all of those events as preparation for this one: helping to plan the island’s Covid-19 vaccination strategy and oversee its rollout.
3rd Nov 2021 - STAT News

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Dutch reintroduce face masks as COVID-19 cases surge

The Dutch government on Tuesday decided to re-impose measures, including the wearing of face masks, aimed at slowing the latest spike in COVID-19 infections, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said. The use of a "corona pass", showing proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or recent negative coronavirus test, would be broadened as of Nov. 6 to public places including museums, gyms and outdoor terraces, Rutte said.
2nd Nov 2021 - Reuters

NYC puts 9,000 workers on unpaid leave as vaccine mandate kicks in

New York City placed 9,000 city workers on leave without pay Monday as its coronavirus vaccine mandate for the public workforce kicked in. The requirement ordered by Mayor Bill de Blasio — one of the most aggressive in the nation — has pushed the vaccination rate among all city workers to 91 percent. But at least 21,000 city workers covered by the mandate remain unvaccinated: 9,000 who have now been barred from working, and another 12,000 who have applied for religious or medical exemptions. The latter group is being allowed to work until decisions on those exemptions are made in the coming days. The total city workforce is roughly 378,000. “This mandate was the right thing to do,” de Blasio said Monday. “We now see it worked.”
2nd Nov 2021 - POLITICO

Shift Covid testing from draconian punishment to empowerment

Public health is at its best when it is pragmatic in the face of complex problems fraught with stigma and uncertainty, like moving in the direction of full vaccination in the face of many Americans’ entrenched or even defiant anti-vaccination sentiment. It is neither insightful nor actionable to so singularly promote vaccination to decision makers who must confront the here and now of various attitudes toward it. Viewing Covid-19 testing as a complementary harm-reduction approach can address the well-being of unvaccinated people while slowly building trust and confidence in Covid vaccines. But making that work requires a radical shift in the way testing is perceived. Many Americans view testing as a draconian intrusion to be feared if not outright avoided. The goal for public health should be to make testing look more like contraceptives: cheap, convenient, ubiquitous, and empowering.
2nd Nov 2021 - STAT News

Covid-19: MPs told to wear face masks in Commons after ‘major’ Covid outbreak in Parliament

MPs have been ordered to cancel face-to-face meetings and events with visitors and start wearing face masks at all times in the Commons due to a major covid outbreak on parliamentary estate. The new rules will be in place for at least two weeks after advice from the UK Health Security Agency, which has warned of a “greater” risk of transmission in parliament. Tours, banquets and other events with outside visitors will be cancelled, while MPs – who had been exempt from face coverings in the Commons – are now being told to to wear them in line with parliamentary staff, contractors and journalists.
2nd Nov 2021 - iNews

From Boeing to Mercedes, a U.S. worker rebellion swells over vaccine mandates

In Wichita, Kansas, nearly half of the roughly 10,000 employees at aircraft companies Textron Inc (TXT.N) and Spirit AeroSystems (SPR.N) remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, risking their jobs in defiance of a federal mandate, according to a union official. "We're going to lose a lot of employees over this," said Cornell Beard, head of the local Machinists union district. Many workers did not object to the vaccines as such, he said, but were staunchly opposed to what they see as government meddling in personal health decisions.
2nd Nov 2021 - Reuters

Austrian army dogs join growing global pack of COVID-sniffers

Austria's army has successfully trained two dogs to sniff out COVID-19, it said on Tuesday, adding to a mass of evidence that dogs can be deployed to identify carriers of the virus. Trials across the world from Thailand to Britain have found dogs can use their powerful sense of smell to detect the coronavirus with a high degree of accuracy, suggesting they could be regularly deployed as an additional line of safety at large events and border entry points. Airports in Finland and Chile began deploying dogs to screen arrivals for COVID-19 last year.
2nd Nov 2021 - Reuters

‘There was no plan’: Throwing spaghetti at the wall to overcome Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy

One or two donuts, a car, $1 million, $25, Super Bowl tickets, french fries. There’s a remarkable range of incentives and other methods devised to overcome Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy. While some of these ideas have stuck like spaghetti thrown against a wall, it’s not clear which are most effective. Even when researchers have demonstrated the success of certain strategies, they haven’t been widely adopted. The White House announced Monday that 70% of adults across the country are now fully vaccinated, and 80% have gotten at least one shot. But progress is slow, as daily vaccination rates remain low compared with the peak in April.
2nd Nov 2021 - STAT News

U.S. to publish rules on private-sector COVID-19 vaccinations, testing in days

The Biden administration said on Monday that a planned rule requiring private-sector employers with 100 or more employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccines or regular testing will be published in the coming days. The Labor Department said the White House Office of Management and Budget had completed its regulatory review of the rule known as an emergency temporary standard (ETS). The White House said in September the rule would cover more than 80 million private-sector employees.
2nd Nov 2021 - Reuters

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Netherlands to impose new coronavirus curbs as infections jump

The Netherlands will impose new coronavirus restrictions this week in a bid to curb a recent surge in infections, health minister Hugo de Jonge said on Monday. "We can't escape having to take new measures", De Jonge said. "The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals is rising fast." De Jonge did not give details of the new measures, which he said would be decided on Tuesday. Broadcaster NOS said the government was likely to require face masks in many public places and broaden the use of a "corona pass" showing proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or recent negative coronavirus test.
1st Nov 2021 - Reuters

Mariners Can Now Get Covid-19 Vaccines at Port After Months Stranded at Sea

Health workers and humanitarian groups at more than 200 ports around the world are making a push to vaccinate thousands of mariners, a population of essential workers that has been largely neglected in the fight against Covid-19. Many of the thousands of global mariners that are unvaccinated have been unable to disembark from their ships and have been stuck aboard, not seeing their families or standing on land for several months. In addition, infections at ports or on ships have disrupted global shipping at a time when bottlenecks are already slowing the world’s economic recovery from Covid-19. Port authorities and nonprofits at some of the world’s busiest ports, including Los Angeles, Rotterdam and Singapore, now offer Covid vaccines to international seafarers. For many of the sailors, it is the first time since the pandemic began that they have been able to get access to vaccines.
1st Nov 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Mayor: 9 in 10 NYC workers vaccinated as deadline nears

Nine in 10 New York City municipal workers received COVID-19 vaccinations as a Monday deadline loomed under a city mandate, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio. De Blasio tweeted Saturday night that 91% of city workers had received the vaccine, which represented a jump from about 83% as of Friday night. Under a city mandate, those who haven’t received at least one dose of the vaccine will be put on unpaid leave starting Monday, raising the possibility of shortages of police, fire and EMS workers. New York has more than 300,000 employees.
31st Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

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More NYC Workers Get Shots; Europe Starts Boosters: Virus Update

Vaccination rates among New York City’s police, fire and sanitation departments rose as workers faced possible suspension on Monday. The city is bracing for service gaps, with tens of thousands of essential public workers still not vaccinated under the mandate imposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
31st Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

Vote, vaccinate and get vouchers: Government incentivises voter turnout

Voters who turnout to cast their ballot can also receive their Covid-19 vaccine and if they are over the age of 60, receive a R100 grocery voucher. Health Minister Joe Phaahla said in a media briefing on Friday that there would be 1 000 vaccination pop-ups at voting stations across the country. “We are very pleased with the partnership with which we've agreed on with the Independent Electoral Commission to vaccinate on election day. The sites will be set up in the voting precinct but outside the area demarcated strictly for voting so that the vaccination site will not interfere with the main purpose of the day,” he said. The vaccination pop-ups will mainly be set up in areas where the uptake of vaccination has not been very good up to now. The list of vaccination sites can be found on the SA Coronavirus website.
30th Oct 2021 - Independent Online

Denmark Will More Than Double Testing as Virus Numbers Rise

Denmark, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, will more than double its testing capacity after the number of virus infections has jumped in recent weeks. Denmark will increase so-called PCR tests to about 150,000 a day from currently 100,000 and will also re-introduce private quick-test facilities, which will be able handle about 100,000 tests daily, health authorities said in a statement on Friday.
29th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

Covid booster jabs offered a month earlier for UK care home residents

Care home residents and some vulnerable people will be able to get their Covid booster vaccine a month early, ministers have announced, in an effort to boost immunity during the winter. Currently the wait between second and third doses is six months, but medics will be able to decide to reduce it to five for care home residents and people who are housebound who are offered their flu jab at that point, so they can receive both vaccines together. For people who are about to receive immunosuppressive treatment that would hinder their immune system, the wait for a booster will be cut even further, to four months.
29th Oct 2021 - The Guardian

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Israel Needs More Jabs, Tourist Safeguards to Avoid Fifth Covid Wave

Israel must do more to break down vaccine resistance and implement tougher safeguards as foreign tourists start returning next month, or risk a fifth Covid-19 wave, public health experts are warning. The increasingly urgent calls will be closely monitored worldwide as Israel has often been ahead of the curve in handling the coronavirus, from sweeping restrictions and vaccine programs to renewed outbreaks as its economy reopened. It’s in the vanguard again with the world’s first widespread booster program, which dramatically brought down a surge in cases generated by the delta variant, but it’s being warned of another critical juncture ahead.
28th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

EU gives go-ahead to NHS Covid pass as proof of full vaccination

All remaining countries on England’s travel “red list” will be removed and vaccines from at least a dozen more countries are to be recognised, ministers are expected to announce in a significant opening up of borders. The move, which the Guardian understands was signed off at a meeting on Thursday afternoon, means no passengers arriving in England will have to quarantine in a hotel at a cost of more than £2,000. However, the red list system will not be abandoned entirely, and countries may be added again in future if concerning new variants emerge.
28th Oct 2021 - The Guardian

News Corp Australia to introduce Covid vaccine mandate for staff

News Corp Australia will not allow anyone who is not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter its buildings next year, joining other big employers including Coles, the Commonwealth Bank and Qantas that have mandated vaccines for staff. Nine Entertainment, publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, is expected to unveil a similar vaccination mandate for its workplaces by 1 December. The News Corp ban on the non-vaccinated will apply to its Holt Street, Surry Hills headquarters, as well as state-based newspapers across the country, Sky News Australia and Foxtel.
28th Oct 2021 - The Guardian

White House signals flexibility over Dec. 8 vaccine deadline

The Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccination deadline will not require immediate action on the part of employers against unvaccinated employees when it comes into force on Dec. 8, the White House coronavirus response coordinator said on Wednesday. Some lawyers previously interpreted President Joe Biden's Sept. 9 executive order and subsequent White House guidance requiring all covered federal contractor employees to be vaccinated by Dec. 8 unless they got a religious or medical exemption.
28th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Hungary to require COVID-19 vaccinations at state institutions

Hungary's government will require employees at state institutions to be vaccinated against COVID-19 after a jump in new coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff told a briefing on Thursday. Gergely Gulyas also said that private company employers will also be empowered to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for employees if they believe that is necessary and mask wearing will be mandatory on public transport from November 1.
28th Oct 2021 - Reuters

As ‘test to stay’ gears up nationwide, Massachusetts’ ‘rocky’ rollout raises questions

Massachusetts is drawing praise and even imitation for its “test-to-stay” approach to keep kids in school during the Covid-19 pandemic. But the realities of the policy’s implementation have been less than rosy, overburdening school nurses and requiring the National Guard be sent in to counter personnel shortages. Test to stay allows students to attend in-person classes and partake in extracurricular activities provided they test negative every day — an option aimed at keeping more kids in class, more often. In other states, many schools are choosing to quarantine all students who come into close contact with someone who tests positive, which has amounted to tens of thousands of missed days of school for people who have not been infected with the virus. The approach has been heralded as a “success” and a “simple solution.” This month, there are even some indications that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will endorse test to stay. On Oct. 13, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters during a press briefing that the agency was working with states to evaluate test to stay as a “promising potential new strategy for schools,” and that guidance would be forthcoming.
28th Oct 2021 - STAT News

Beijing city mandates COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for some workers

Beijing city is demanding a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot for some key workers, making it the first key Chinese metropolis to publicly articulate a booster mandate, as the country combats a fresh outbreak caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant. Having vaccinated about 76% of its 1.41 billion population with complete doses as of Oct. 23, China is pushing eligible people to get an additional injection, in a bid to strengthen immunity. Key workers for construction sites, including cooks, security guards and cleaning personnel, can only be hired if they have received a booster dose, Ding Sheng, vice director at Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, said on Thursday.
28th Oct 2021 - Reuters

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Merck strikes deal for global access to COVID-19 medication

US drugmaker Merck has announced a deal that could see generic versions of its experimental oral COVID-19 treatment for people infected with the disease widely distributed in poorer countries. The global Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), which is backed by the United Nations, said on Wednesday it had signed a voluntary licensing agreement with Merck to facilitate affordable worldwide access for its antiviral medicine molnupiravir.
27th Oct 2021 - Al Jazeera English

After FDA nod, Israel gears up to start vaccinating 5- to 11-year-olds

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was slated to meet Wednesday with top health officials to weigh moving toward approving the Pfizer COVID vaccine for children ages 5-11. The meeting, which will include Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and the ministry’s top coronavirus advisers, comes after a panel at the US Food and Drug Administration voted Tuesday evening to endorse giving low doses of the Pfizer vaccine to children. The FDA’s advisory panel voted unanimously, with one abstention, that the vaccine’s benefits in preventing COVID-19 in that age group outweigh any potential risks — including a heart-related side effect that’s been very rare in teens and young adults who get a much higher dose.
27th Oct 2021 - The Times of Israel

COVID-19: Over 80,000 12 to 15-year-olds have booked vaccinations in England

More than 80,000 children aged between 12 and 15 have booked to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations in England. Some 2.5 million letters will be sent out this week inviting parents to book a jab for their child through the national booking service. And more than 100 existing vaccination centres have opened their doors for this age group. While vaccines have been available to 12 to 15-year-olds in England since 20 September, the rollout has so far mostly taken place in schools.
27th Oct 2021 - Sky News

Covid-19 UK: Top Government adviser hints No10 could drop mass testing from January

Professor Lucy Chappell says mass testing could be ditched in January next year Department of Health chief scientific adviser says system is being reconsidered Professor Andrew Pollard called for testing in schools to be ditch this winter. But with 74.8 per cent of over 16s now fully vaccinated, the Prime Minister has revealed when the borders will finally come down. He told Parliament on Wednesday: 'By the end of the year, Mr Speaker, I fully anticipate that we'll be able to achieve seeing international visitors, including backpackers, Mr Speaker, who are double-vaccinated, being able to come back to Australia.'
27th Oct 2021 - Daily Mail

COVID-19: NHS Test and Trace failed in its 'main objective', highly-critical report from committee of MPs finds

NHS Test and Trace has failed to achieve its "main objective" of helping break chains of COVID transmission and allowing people to return to normality despite being given an "eye-watering" amount of money, a highly-critical report from MPs has said. According to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the programme's outcomes have been "muddled" and a number of its goals have been "overstated or not achieved". Test and Trace was developed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to test the public and trace the contacts of positive coronavirus cases.
27th Oct 2021 - Sky News

Enforcement of indoor vaccine mandates proves uneven in US

Go out for a night on the town in some U.S. cities and you might find yourself waiting while someone at the door of the restaurant or theater closely inspects your vaccination card and checks it against your photo ID. Or, conversely, you might be waved right through just by flashing your card. How rigorously vaccination requirements are being enforced varies from place to place, even within the same state or city. Proof of vaccination is required in several American cities to get into restaurants and bars, enjoy a concert or a play, catch a movie or go to a ballgame. Ticket agents dutifully ascertain the vaccination status of everyone passing through the turnstile at pro sports venues in some cities from Seattle and New York, and restaurant hosts do the same in many places.
26th Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

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Opinion | Young Kids Should Get the Covid Vaccine. Here’s Why.

Vaccines to protect young children from Covid-19 are likely soon on their way. An advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to recommend that the agency authorize the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for those ages 5 to 11. Why do we need to vaccinate young children against Covid-19? It’s an understandable question. While many parents have anxiously awaited the opportunity to get their children vaccinated, others are hesitant. There are questions about side effects, as with any drug, especially considering the lower risk of severe disease for children with Covid-19 compared with that of adults. But just because Covid-19 is sickening and killing fewer children than adults does not mean that children are or have been free from risk.
26th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

Spurred on by COVID-19 onslaught, Romanians make up for lost vaccine time

As ambulance sirens continuously pierce the air of Romanian cities as they rush COVID-19 patients to already full hospitals, queues are starting to form at vaccination centres. Daily COVID-19 inoculation numbers have reached pandemic highs this month in the European Union's second-lowest vaccinated country, as Romanians respond to dramatic death rates and newly enforced restrictions. In the capital Bucharest, Elena Serban, a 51-year-old garment worker had postponed getting the vaccine because she did not have health problems that would have threatened her if she got infected. Now, she has done it for safety.
26th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Vietnam to vaccinate children against COVID-19 from next month

Vietnam will begin inoculating children against COVID-19 with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from next month, the health ministry said on Tuesday, as the Southeast Asian country begins reopening its schools following months of lockdown. Children aged 16 and 17 will be offered the shot with parental consent, initially "in the areas that had been under movement restrictions and densely populated areas where the infection risks are high," the ministry said in a statement. So far, just 22% of Vietnam's population of 98 million have been fully vaccinated, Average daily COVID-19 infections have fallen below 3,600 over the past week from almost 12,000 last month but schools in some areas, including in the capital Hanoi and in Ho Chi Minh City - an epicentre of the epidemic - remain closed.
26th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Number of Washington workers getting shots continues to grow

The latest state and city of Seattle data shows the number of government workers getting vaccinated against COVID-19 continues to increase amid mandates. According to updated figures released by the Office of Financial Management, about 275 more Washington state employees have been verified as having gotten their shots since last week’s Oct. 18 deadline, The Seattle Times reported. Gov. Jay Inslee had ordered state and school employees, as well as hundreds of thousands of health care workers, to be fully vaccinated by that date or lose their jobs. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine imposed similar policies. The figures released Monday also show slightly fewer state workers left or were fired over the mandate than agencies had originally reported.
26th Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

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Vaccine Cash Incentives Don't Work, US Study Shows

Financial incentives and other nudges by local governments and employers have failed to increase Covid-19 vaccinations among Americans who are hesitant about getting the shot, a new study shows. What’s more, financial incentives and “negative messages” actually decreased vaccination rates among some groups, underscoring fears about a public backlash, according to the paper circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The pace of Covid-19 vaccinations climbed rapidly earlier this year as availability increased, with millions of adults getting the jab each day. However, that pace has slowed sharply. In the last week in the U.S., an average of about 800,000 doses per day were administered.
25th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

U.S. to invest $70 mln to boost access to COVID-19 tests

The Biden administration said it will invest $70 million to boost the availability and lower costs of rapid, over-the-counter COVID-19 tests in the United States, as it looks to ease a nationwide shortage that drove up testing costs. High demand for the tests from U.S. employers amidst the Delta variant surge, especially with the U.S. government mandating large employers to have their workers inoculated and tested weekly, pushed up costs for state and local testing programs.
25th Oct 2021 - Reuters

First vaccine dose could alleviate long Covid symptoms, study suggests

A first vaccine dose appears to alleviate symptoms in long Covid sufferers, a new study has suggested, although it is unclear whether this improvement lasts until a second dose. People aged 18 to 69 who had received a first dose were 12.8 per cent less likely to report that they were still experiencing persistent symptoms, according to experimental findings published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). A second dose was associated with a further 8.8 per cent drop, with “statistical evidence” of a sustained improvement afterwards.
25th Oct 2021 - The Independent

COVID-19: Millions of booster jab invitations being sent out as government resists more calls for Plan B

Two million eligible people will be invited to receive a COVID-19 booster jab from the NHS this week, as the government seeks to see off a sharp rise in cases without introducing Plan B measures. Calls for the reintroduction of masks, social distancing and working from home continued over the weekend, but ministers have so far shown no sign of doing so despite fears over the pressure on hospitals.
25th Oct 2021 - Sky News

How to talk to your younger kids about the Covid-19 vaccine

Next, I had her look at photos of medical needles. She reported that she didn't like the pictures, but she could handle looking at them. We continued this gradual approach until she gave "vaccines" to an orange (parental supervision required even with toy needles). What she was doing is exposure therapy, learning to tolerate her discomfort and gradually build up to getting her own vaccine. Using exposure to cope with needle phobia requires time and professional guidance, but many adults are eager to get the Covid-19 vaccine for their vaccine-hesitant little ones as soon as it becomes available. These folks might not have the time or the resources to take a gradual approach to helping their kids overcome this fear, but they need help just the same.
25th Oct 2021 - CNN

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Vaccines alone will not end pandemic, warns WHO

The World Health Organization has warned that the vaccine alone will not be able to lift the world out of the pandemic. WHO Spokesperson Margaret Harris told Times Radio that the problem is focusing on one thing and that the vaccine isn't going to get us out of this. "We really have to do other measures," she said. Ms Harris said people "have got to be serious about not crowding". "We have still got to be looking at wearing the masks, when you're indoors particularly," she said. She added that the rest of the world must be vaccinated to stop new Covid variants from developing.
23rd Oct 2021 - RTE.ie

Singapore to Limit Workplace Access for Unvaccinated People

Singapore is set to restrict access to the workplace for those who are unvaccinated from January unless they test negative daily as part of plans to resume normal activities in the pandemic.
25th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

Gottlieb says kids could start getting COVID-19 vaccine as soon November 4-5

Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb predicted Sunday on "Face the Nation" that the Biden administration could begin rolling out COVID-19 vaccines for children as soon as November 4, right after panel of Centers for Disease Control panel will decide whether to grant emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11. Gottlieb said the Biden administration is making the effort to push the vaccine directly into pediatricians' offices. Pfizer, which Gottlieb is on the board, is developing a small tray that carries 10 vials at a time and a storage container that is small enough for small-to-medium sized pediatrician's office to stock the vaccine and deliver it.
24th Oct 2021 - CBS News

Vaccine passport: Provinces issuing proof for travel

In Canada, instead of issuing a singular federal national COVID-19 vaccine passport, the federal government says that each province and territory will be responsible for issuing a “standardized pan-Canadian” vaccine passport that Canadians can use when travelling. The proposed system means that, as is currently the case, provincial vaccine credentials will continue to be the main way that Canadians will have to show their vaccination status. Each province's system is supposed to have a “common” look and feel, with the expectation that by next month all Canadians will have access to their vaccine credentials from their province or territory, as proof of vaccination will soon be needed in order to board a plane or train in this country.
24th Oct 2021 - CTV News

Calls for home COVID vaccinations drive for highly vulnerable before Australia opens up

In Australia, people unable to leave home for health reasons urgently need a simple way to book COVID vaccinations amid concerns vulnerable people are falling through the cracks, experts say. Disability Advocacy Network Australia chief executive Mary Mallett said, for people who could not leave home to get a shot, vaccines were "all the more essential" because their conditions often put them at higher risk. In September, People With Disability Australia and another 60 organisations penned an open letter demanding people with disabilities be prioritised for home vaccines.
24th Oct 2021 - ABC.Net.au

The Unlikely Outsiders Who Won the Race for a Covid-19 Vaccine

Uğur Şahin and Stéphane Bancel were long underestimated by investors and scientists. But when Covid-19 threatened the globe, these two unknowns had a solution.
23rd Oct 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Tunisia imposes COVID-19 vaccine pass on Tunisians and all foreign visitors

Tunisia is imposing COVID-19 vaccine passes on Tunisians and all foreign visitors, a presidential decree showed on Friday. Officials, employees and users are required to show a card proving inoculation against the coronavirus to access public and private administrations, according to the decree. The pass will also be required to enter cafes, restaurants, hotels and tourist establishments, it said. The decree showed that the jobs of employees who did not receive vaccination in the public and private sectors will be suspended until the vaccine pass is presented.
23rd Oct 2021 - Reuters

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Relying on Covid vaccines won't be enough - face masks will help us cope in a difficult winter

With Covid-19 controls, it can feel like déjà vu, all over again. Covid-19 cases are on the rise, and the UK now has one of the highest rates in the world. Stress on the NHS is of real concern to many, resulting in calls from health chiefs for increased restrictions. The recent news that a sub-type of the delta variant appears to be spreading across England is a reminder that evolution may move the goalposts yet again, even though this particular sub-type does not appear to cause more serious disease and is not at this point considered a variant of concern. Adding to those concerns is considerable uncertainty regarding the possible impact that seasonal influenza and other respiratory infections may have on hospitals. A combination of even moderate levels of Covid-19 hospitalisations plus flu could result in a very difficult winter indeed. On the other hand, the impact of Covid-19 measures themselves means that the demands for a return to normalcy are strong, with re-implementation of any measures needing to be considered in light of the difficult trade-offs.
21st Oct 2021 - iNews

Covid-19 Herd Immunity Proves Elusive in U.K.

The U.K., in an experiment watched by the world, lifted most Covid-19 restrictions in the summer, wagering that immunity from vaccinations and prior infections would keep the virus at bay. Three months later, the British experience shows that, in the face of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus, herd immunity is elusive. Covid-19 cases and deaths have risen in recent weeks as winter has begun to close in. The bottom line: Reliance on immunity, which is imperfect to begin with and wanes over time, doesn’t guarantee a quick victory over Delta. Lifting restrictions “was done on the hope that the vaccinations and natural immunity were going to win pretty quickly,” said Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London. “What it’s shown is that that alone doesn’t work.”
21st Oct 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Feature: Pakistani experts call for safety measures adherence, aggressive vaccination drive to beat back COVID-19

Talha Hashmi, a medical practitioner at the Benazir Bhutto Hospital in Rawalpindi, has spent comparatively quiet and peaceful days at his workplace as fears of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic subside in Pakistan with a substantial decrease in the number of new daily infections recently. Hashmi said there were times when he was working extra hours and night shifts in the isolation ward of the hospital reserved for COVID-19 patients after the outbreak. "It was extremely challenging for us (healthcare workers). It was not only the deadly virus we were fighting, but also the fear and anxiety surrounding the disease as health experts were not sure how it behaves exactly due to its novelty... and there was no vaccine, inciting severe panic among people." "Hospitals were overwhelmed with coronavirus patients throughout the country. There was a chaotic situation. At one point, my hospital even stopped taking more patients due to the unavailability of beds and shortage of oxygen. Turning down patients who needed urgent medical assistance was the most painful and unforgettable moment of my life," Hashmi said.
21st Oct 2021 - Xinhua

Three in five Australian GPs say vaccine rollout changes among biggest Covid challenges

Almost three out of five GPs reported managing patient expectations about vaccinations to be one of the most challenging issues of the pandemic, with multiple changes to vaccine eligibility requirements leaving many people confused and overwhelmed, the president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Dr Karen Price, said. In her foreword to the college’s Health of the Nation report, published on Thursday, Price said: “Unfortunately, some of these patients took their frustrations out on general practice staff”. “Differing eligibility requirements across jurisdictions added to the strain.”
21st Oct 2021 - The Guardian

More people are getting boosters than new Covid-19 vaccinations. And others could soon become eligible for an additional shot

The number of people in the US looking to boost their Covid-19 vaccinations has surpassed the tally of those looking to begin them as booster doses from more drug makers may soon be available. There are 1.3 times as many boosters administered each day compared with first shots, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. And the number could grow, as the CDC's vaccine advisory committee prepares to meet Thursday to discuss booster doses for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, as well as mixing and matching boosters and original doses among the drug makers.
21st Oct 2021 - CNN

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U.S. workers face layoffs as U.S COVID-19 vaccine mandates kick in

Thousands of unvaccinated workers across the United States are facing potential job losses as a growing number of states, cities and private companies start to enforce mandates for inoculation against COVID-19. In the latest high-profile example, Washington State University (WSU) fired its head football coach and four of his assistants on Monday for failing to comply with the state's vaccine requirement. The coach, Nick Rolovich, had applied for a religious exemption from the mandate earlier this month.
20th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Canada to require COVID-19 vaccinations for federal lawmakers, some MPs to miss out

Canada's House of Commons will require all 338 lawmakers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 when they return to work next month, potentially locking out some members of parliament from the official opposition Conservatives. Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau narrowly won re-election last month, saying he would insist on vaccine mandates for federal workers, people traveling domestically, and his own candidates.
20th Oct 2021 - Reuters

All Australians to be offered Covid-19 booster jabs - as nation reaches 70% double dose rate

Mr Hunt would not confirm whether or not Australians will need to prove they've had a third jab in order to travel internationally. 'I will follow medical advice on that and I won't speculate on passports. That is very much medical question with the science to flow over the coming months,' he said. It comes as Australia achieves the 'key milestone' of a 70 per cent double vaccination rate in over 16s. Professor Kelly said he would wait for further scientific advice before deciding the timeframe between second and third doses.
20th Oct 2021 - Daily Mail

Serbia introduces COVID-19 passes for indoor cafes and restaurants

Serbia will make a COVID-19 "health pass" mandatory for access to restaurants, cafes and bars in the evenings, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Wednesday, as the country struggles with persistently high numbers of coronavirus infections. As of Oct. 23, people who want to visit indoor cafes, hotels and restaurants after 10 p.m., will need to show a pass - a digital or paper certificate showing someone has been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from the virus. Serbia, which has a population of 6.7 million, is struggling with a daily average of around 6,000 cases of COVID-19. So far, it has reported over 1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9,214 deaths.
20th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Bulgaria makes COVID 'health pass' obligatory for leisure activities

Bulgaria will make a COVID-19 "Green Certificate" mandatory for indoor access to restaurants, cinemas, gyms and shopping malls, the health minister said on Tuesday, as the country struggles with a rising number of coronavirus infections. The health pass - a digital or paper certificate showing someone has been vaccinated, tested negative or recently recovered from the virus - was originally conceived to ease travel among European Union states. As of Oct. 21, people who want to visit indoor public spaces including cafes, hotels, concert halls, museums and swimming pools should show such a health pass, interim Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov told reporters
20th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Melbourne welcomes vaccinated Sydney residents without quarantine

Travel restrictions between Sydney and Melbourne, Australia's largest cities, eased on Wednesday as Victoria opened its borders to fully vaccinated residents from New South Wales amid a rapid rise in immunisation levels. With cases trending lower in New South Wales, including Sydney, residents will be allowed quarantine-free entry into Victoria for the first time in more than three months. Travellers from Melbourne who wish to enter Sydney, however, must undergo a two-week home quarantine.
20th Oct 2021 - Reuters

NYC requiring vaccine for cops, firefighters, city workers

New York City will require its entire municipal workforce to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be placed on unpaid leave, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday, an ultimatum that ensures a fight with some unions representing employees, including police officers and firefighters, who have refused the shots. The Democrat gave approximately 46,000 unvaccinated city employees until Nov. 1 to get their first vaccine dose, and he offered an incentive: City workers who get a shot by Oct. 29 at a city-run vaccination site will get an extra $500 in their paycheck. “My job as your mayor is to keep this city safe, keep this city healthy. And vaccination is the way,” he said.
20th Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

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‘Make a gesture of humanity’: Pope Francis urges drug makers to release Covid-19 vaccine patents

Amid controversy over global access to Covid-19 vaccines, Pope Francis lent his moral authority to the debate and urged drug makers to make their intellectual property available so that other companies can manufacture enough shots for low and middle-income countries. In a video address to the World Meeting of Popular Movements, the Pope made a simple, straightforward plea: “I ask all the great pharmaceutical laboratories to release the patents. Make a gesture of humanity and allow every country, every people, every human being, to have access to the vaccines. There are countries where only 3% or 4% of the inhabitants have been vaccinated.” His remarks came as the pharmaceutical industry continues to resist pressure at the World Trade Organization to agree to a temporary waiver of intellectual property for Covid-19 medical products. Despite support from the Biden administration, a proposal made a year ago has stalled amid objections from the European Union and some countries where several large drug makers are based.
18th Oct 2021 - STAT News

Covid-19: Face coverings compulsory in NI for autumn/ winter

Wearing face coverings in crowded indoor spaces will remain a legal requirement in Northern Ireland throughout autumn and winter. It is part of the executive's winter Covid contingency plans, outlined on Tuesday. First Minister Paul Givan said there would also be a "focus on flexible and hybrid working" in workplaces. He also set out a range of options if Covid cases rise sharply or hospital pressures become "unsustainable". Mr Givan said potential measures included deploying Covid vaccine passports in "higher risk settings", if considered appropriate.
19th Oct 2021 - BBC News

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Why Are U.K. Covid Cases So High Compared to the Rest of Europe?

Surging Covid cases in the U.K. have left the country behind the rest of Europe with former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb calling for urgent research into a mutation known as delta plus. Britain, faster to reopen and relax restrictions than other European countries, reported the highest daily jump in new cases on Sunday since mid-July. Weekly deaths from the virus topped 800 for each of the past six weeks, higher than in other major western European nations, according to Bloomberg’s tracker.
18th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

UK lab investigated for false negative Covid tests is not fully accredited

The private laboratory that is under investigation for potentially issuing more than 40,000 false negative Covid tests was not fully accredited to perform the work, contrary to assurances made by health officials. The UK’s independent accreditation service, Ukas, told the Guardian on Monday that neither Immensa Health Clinics Ltd nor its sister company, Dante Labs, had ever been accredited by the service, and that it had informed the Department of Health that statements suggesting otherwise were incorrect. The UK Health Security Agency announced on Friday that it was suspending operations at Immensa’s laboratory in Wolverhampton pending an investigation into concerns that at least 43,000 people with coronavirus had been wrongly told their swabs tested negative for the virus.
18th Oct 2021 - The Guardian

Enforcement of Covid-19 vaccine passports comes into effect in Scotland

Enforcement of Scotland's controversial Covid-19 vaccine passport scheme has come into effect. Proof of full vaccination is required to enter nightclubs and large events as part of the Scottish Government's efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus and increase vaccine take-up. The measures technically came into effect from October 1, but an 18-day grace period was announced following backlash from affected industries and significant problems with the new app. The policy will now be enforceable for nightclubs, strip clubs and unseated indoor events with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor events with over 4,000 and any event with more than 10,000 people. Scots will have to show proof they have had both vaccine doses, with a paper copy of the certificate or a QR code on a new app, although the latter has been plagued with problems since its launch. More than 700,000 people had downloaded the app, and a further 750,000 people have a paper copy of their vaccination status.
18th Oct 2021 - ITV News

The political fight over COVID-19 vaccine mandates is deepening

The science is clear: Vaccines are a safe and effective way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from the coronavirus, and vaccine mandates are an effective tool in promoting widespread vaccinations. Still, the battle to inoculate the nation against the coronavirus has reached a fever pitch in recent months. President Biden has focused on getting as many Americans as possible vaccinated against the coronavirus, most notably rolling out wide-reaching vaccine mandates for government employees and for businesses with more than 100 workers.
18th Oct 2021 - NPR

Vaccines, masks? Japan puzzling over sudden virus success

Almost overnight, Japan has become a stunning, and somewhat mysterious, coronavirus success story. Daily new COVID-19 cases have plummeted from a mid-August peak of nearly 6,000 in Tokyo, with caseloads in the densely populated capital now routinely below 100, an 11-month low. The bars are packed, the trains are crowded, and the mood is celebratory, despite a general bafflement over what, exactly, is behind the sharp drop. Japan, unlike other places in Europe and Asia, has never had anything close to a lockdown, just a series of relatively toothless states of emergency.
18th Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

Russian regions introduce QR codes for entry to public venues as COVID-19 cases hit record

Many Russian regions on Monday announced plans to keep cafes, museums and other public venues open only to those who have recently recovered from COVID-19, have proof of inoculation with a Russian vaccine or a negative coronavirus test, as new cases in the country hit a record. The round of unpopular measures that limits freedoms in Russia comes as the number of daily COVID-19 infections reached an all-time high of 34,325 despite the state-driven vaccination programme.
18th Oct 2021 - Reuters

How the Covid-19 booster shots could make the vaccination gap worse

"We're all triply-vaccinated!" friends gleefully told me last week, as they invited me to their home for dinner. They were thrilled. I had rarely seen such big smiles since the Covid-19 pandemic began. These are important developments, but they arrive at a time when major challenges remain, since about 66 million American adults have still not yet been fully vaccinated. Forty-six percent of Whites, 49% of Hispanics and 54% of Blacks in the country have not yet gotten a single shot. While my friends were delighted to receive extra protections and invite other people to dinner, much of the country remains wary. To overcome the growing pandemic, we as a nation must all now push to address this widening gap.
18th Oct 2021 - CNN

Should COVID-19 vaccines be mandatory?

Governments across the world are turning to vaccine mandates as the Delta variant continues to wreak havoc and vaccine uptake in some communities begin to slow down. New Zealand – which has abandoned its COVID-Zero strategy amid persistent infections – introduced last week a “no jab, no job” policy for doctors and teachers, while neighbouring Fiji says all of its public and private sector workers are liable to lose their jobs if they fail to get fully inoculated by November.
18th Oct 2021 - Al Jazeera English

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Wits extends deadline for comments on proposed compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations

The deadline for comments on the Wits University's proposed compulsory vaccination policy has been extended by a week. Spokesperson Shiron Patel said the deadline was extended to Friday 22 October, and that more than 300 comments had been received so far, mostly in favour of the policy. The university is proposing compulsory vaccination against Covid-19, unless in exceptional circumstances. "There are also meetings taking place with various constituencies, including other student groupings, residences, organised labour, professional and academic staff, administrative staff, suppliers and retailers, etc," Patel said.
16th Oct 2021 - News24

Songkhla adopts stricter Covid screening

Authorities in Songkhla have toughened screening measures in areas adjacent to the three southernmost border provinces in hopes of bringing down stubbornly high rates of Covid-19 infections. People travelling from Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat will have to show proof of coronavirus vaccination, negative test results or other documents if they wish to enter Songkhla, governor Jetsada Jittarat said on Saturday. Songkhla on Saturday reported 621 new coronavirus cases, the third highest in the country behind Bangkok (1,077) and Yala (664). The new infections raised the cumulative provincial total to 39,296, with deaths at 171. The number of daily infections in Songkhla has been between 400 and 600 a day, which is partially a reflection of high levels of mass testing by health workers in many areas.
16th Oct 2021 - Bangkok Post

'Swab hubs' for arriving tourists

Bangkok is set to reopen to fully vaccinated international visitors next month with "swab hubs" being set up to test tourists upon their arrival in the capital. Bangkok governor Pol Gen Aswin Kwanmuang said that the government has laid down a policy to reopen the country on Nov 1 and precautions include testing and quarantine measures. As for the shortening of nighttime curfew hours starting on Saturday, City Hall will wait for an official announcement of the easing of virus curbs to be published in the Royal Gazette, Pol Gen Aswin said, adding that details regarding countdown events will then be discussed.
16th Oct 2021 - Bangkok Post

Italy Implements Tough Covid-19 Mandate for Workers, Prompting Protests

In one of the toughest anti-Covid-19 regimes in the Western world, Italy now requires all private and public sector workers to have a so-called green pass. The policy has kicked in amid unresolved questions on how it will be enforced and whether Italy will have enough testing kits to meet the expected surge in demand by millions of unvaccinated people who want to guarantee access to their workplace. The new requirement positions Italy, where 85% of people over the age of 12 have received at least one shot, as a test case for how hard Western countries can push their populations to get vaccinated.
16th Oct 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Covid-19 Precautions Prompt Backlash on College Campuses

Life on college campuses is as close to pre-pandemic normalcy as it has been in 18 months, but as the semester progresses with few interruptions, some students are pushing back, calling the mitigation measures schools have imposed an overreach. Student complaints include objections to restrictions on their travel on and off campus, increased surveillance and what they consider erosion of civil liberties. Student-led petitions have prompted some schools to drop the use of location-tracking apps and requirements to wear sensors that monitor vital signs. At the core of their concerns is a fear that universities are constructing a bureaucracy designed to control a generation just coming of age.
16th Oct 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

43,000 in UK may have received false negative Covid-19 test results

British health officials said on Friday that 43,000 people may have been wrongly told they do not have the coronavirus because of problems at a private laboratory. The UK Health Security Agency said the Immensa Health Clinic Ltd. lab in Wolverhampton, central England, has been suspended from processing swabs after the false negatives. Will Welfare, the agency’s public health incident director, said it was working “to determine the laboratory technical issues” behind the inaccurate tests.
15th Oct 2021 - South China Morning Post

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What’s the latest advice on the type of mask I should wear?

What’s the latest advice on the type of mask I should wear? It depends on your situation, but health officials say it should cover your nose and mouth, and fit snugly so there aren’t any gaps on the sides of your face. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also says to pick masks with two or more layers and a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out the top. It suggests holding your mask up to check if it blocks light, which means the fabric will probably filter out more particles. If you want added protection, experts also suggest wearing two masks or pairing them with a mask fitter to ensure they don’t leave any gaps.
14th Oct 2021 - Reuters

COMMENTARY: What can masks do? Part 1: The science behind COVID-19 protection

Confusion continues to abound over the effectiveness of masks to protect people from COVID-19, and recent news stories touting imperfect studies are only compounding the situation. First, there was confusion and then intransigence about the modes of transmission, with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) insisting for many months after SARS-CoV-2 emerged that the virus was transmitted only by large droplets or hand contact. Only fairly recently did those agencies finally recognize that inhalation of small infectious particles in the air ("aerosols") is a more important mode of transmission. That was followed by substantial misinformation and misunderstanding about the role of cloth face coverings, surgical masks, and respirators in preventing SARS-CoV-2 spread. Then we had misunderstandings and poor messaging about the efficacy of different interventions, the effectiveness of one intervention versus another, and why interventions should be considered in a particular order or hierarchy.
14th Oct 2021 - CIDRAP

How do you vaccinate a small African nation? Rwanda’s health minister explains

An outlier in Africa’s slow rollout, Rwanda has raced ahead and vaccinated more than 90 per cent of adults in its capital. Minister of Health Dr Daniel Ngamije tells the Evening Standard’s Vaccine for the World project how Rwanda did it
14th Oct 2021 - Evening Standard

Covid vaccines for US children are coming but challenge will be persuading parents

Covid vaccines for children aged five to 11 are inching closer to authorization in the US, with possible availability as soon as early November, and experts are already looking to the next hurdle: actually getting the shots in those young arms. Only one-third of parents plan to vaccinate their children as soon as the vaccines are ready, the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation has found. Another third of those surveyed want to wait and see how the rollout goes. “What’s going to be actually more challenging, beyond having the infrastructure to be able to administer the Covid-19 vaccines, is ensuring that parents feel comfortable vaccinating their children,” Syra Madad, an infectious disease epidemiologist and ​​senior director of the System-wide Special Pathogens Program at NYC Health + Hospitals, told the Guardian. About half of children 12 and older have been vaccinated in the months since the vaccines were given the green light for those ages.
14th Oct 2021 - The Guardian

Australians can test themselves for Covid-19 at home in two weeks

Rapid antigen tests have been used extensively in countries around the world They have finally been approved for use at home in Australia from November 1 States and territories will decide how residents can use the tests
14th Oct 2021 - Daily Mail

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Do COVID vaccines prevent transmission of the virus?

But do vaccines actually limit the spread of the virus? A large study, not yet peer-reviewed, led by a team at Oxford University and looking specifically at the Delta variant has shown that both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines do indeed reduce transmission of the disease. The study looked at almost 150,000 contacts who were traced from nearly 100,000 initial cases of COVID. The initial COVID-positive cases contained a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people and the aim was not only to see which groups were most likely to pass on the virus, but also which of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines were most effective in reducing transmission.
13th Oct 2021 - Al Jazeera English

WHO chief urges COVID-19 vaccine sharing to make mass coverage 'reality'

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday urged countries and companies controlling the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to prioritize supply to the vaccine sharing program COVAX in order to meet vaccination targets. "We're working with leaders to support the prioritization and planning that's needed to make 40% coverage a reality with aggressive and ambitious action," he said at a media briefing.
13th Oct 2021 - MSN.com

The Covid report lays bare Test and Trace failings – Dido Harding’s mistakes won’t be forgotten

When the damning Parliamentary report into the Covid pandemic was published today, there was quiet pride within the NHS that its own performance was largely the subject of praise. Many of the best things about the state’s response to the virus, from the vaccine rollout to new treatments to agile management, were down to the health service. But there was also a sense of relief, as most of the heaviest criticism was directed at not just the government and scientific advisers but also at ‘NHS Test and Trace’ (which should really have been called ‘DHSC Test and Trace’, as Matt Hancock’s Department of Health and Social Care ran it, not the NHS). Some in the health service, who have long resented their brand being used and abused by Dido Harding’s controversial unit, pointedly remarked today that she had tried – and failed – this summer to become chief executive of the NHS itself. Or, as one insider put it: “We dodged a bullet there.”
13th Oct 2021 - iNews

Blackstone in London Sets Vaccine Rule to Work in Office

Blackstone, the giant private equity firm, will require employees who want to work in its London office to be vaccinated beginning next week, as the American company takes a more forceful approach to vaccinations than many other businesses in Britain. Across the United States, vaccine mandates, which require employees to be inoculated to remain in their jobs, are becoming increasingly common ahead of a rule by President Biden that will apply to companies with more than 100 employees. But in Britain, data protection and employment discrimination laws have prevented companies from mandating their own “no jab, no job” policies and have made it harder to physically separate unvaccinated workers. Instead, companies have been advised to encourage vaccinations rather than enforce them.
13th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

U.S. COVID-19 vaccine rates up thanks to mandates; cases and deaths down -officials

Vaccination rates against COVID-19 in the United States have risen by more than 20 percentage points after multiple institutions adopted vaccine requirements, while case numbers and deaths from the virus are down, Biden administration officials said on Wednesday. White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters that 77% of eligible Americans had received at least one shot of a vaccine. Vaccination rates went up thanks to mandates put into place by private businesses, healthcare systems, social institutions and state and local governments, he said in a briefing.
13th Oct 2021 - Reuters

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Returning to school with covid safety precautions

More than a month into the 2020-2021 school year — despite a surge in coronavirus cases and bitter political fights over vaccine and mask mandates — most American schoolchildren are back in the classroom. And while the political battles may continue, it looks like the students are there to stay. Last month, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona testified before Congress that 96 percent of public schools have reopened for in-person instruction. And in places where schools are offering virtual programs, most families are nonetheless opting for face-to-face learning.
12th Oct 2021 - The Washington Post

Rapid Covid Tests Can Beat Pandemic: Harvard's Michael Mina

The 37-year-old epidemiologist, immunologist, and physician says it didn’t have to be this way: Workplaces, schools, event spaces, and more that have been desolate for better than a year could have stayed open—and safely—with a technology that’s been here all along. Mina has been an early and tireless champion of inexpensive, do-it-yourself SARS-CoV-2 antigen tests that can return a positive or negative result in about 15 minutes, arguing for their wider deployment in op-ed articles, on Twitter, and in conversations with health authorities.
12th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

Covid Spread Was 8% Lower In Democrat-Led States Than GOP Because Of Stricter Restrictions, Study Finds

The peer-reviewed study, led by researchers at Binghamton University, determined a Public Health Protective Policy Index (PPI) that measured the “stringency” of states’ public health policies and analyzed those findings in relation to states’ Covid-19 transmission and the governors’ partisan affiliation. The researchers looked at Covid-19 rates and policies between March and November 2020, as well as when specific states’ Covid-19 cases peaked. Democratic-led states had a PPI that was approximately 10 points higher on average than states with GOP governors, though the study notes some Republican-led states like Maryland, Vermont and Massachusetts had stricter measures that were closer to the Democratic states.
12th Oct 2021 - Forbes

COVID-19: Parents of secondary school and college students urged to ensure their children test regularly and get vaccinated

The education secretary and health secretary have written to parents of secondary school and college students, urging them to ensure their children are testing regularly and also encouraging them to get vaccinated against coronavirus. The letter from Nadhim Zahawi and Sajid Javid comes after official estimates showed that around 270,000 secondary pupils had COVID-19 in the week to 2 October.
12th Oct 2021 - Sky News

New Zealand seeks to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations amid persistent cases

New Zealand expects to administer a record 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses in a single day during a mass immunisation drive on Oct. 16, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, as she seeks to accelerate inoculations before easing curbs in Auckland. Ardern on Tuesday urged the country's population over 12 years of age "to roll up sleeves for New Zealand and help make us (one of) the most vaccinated and therefore protected countries in the world". Some 2.44 million, or 58% of the population over 12, have been fully vaccinated so far.
12th Oct 2021 - Reuters

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WHO advises a third COVID shot for users of Chinese vaccines

The World Health Organisation recommended that people over 60 receive an additional dose of the shots made by Chinese vaccine makers Sinopharm and Sinovac, citing evidence in studies in Latin America that they perform less well over time. Observational data on Sinopharm and Sinovac shots “clearly showed that in older age groups ... the vaccine performs less well after two doses”, said Joachim Hombach on Monday (Tuesday AEDT) secretary of the independent panel of experts who held a five-day closed-door meeting last week.
12th Oct 2021 - Sydney Morning Herald

COVID-19 vaccine trial participants to be offered additional doses

The government has announced the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants in England will be offered additional approved vaccine for international travel to countries which currently only accept vaccination records with approved for deployment COVID-19 jabs. Although the UK recognises those who are in COVID-19 vaccine trials as fully vaccinated for the purpose of certification, most other countries do not currently recognise clinical trial volunteers who have not had a vaccine that is approved for deployment. As such, the government will now offer these volunteers two additional doses of an approved vaccine, allowing them to gain the necessary certification status to travel abroad with more ease.
11th Oct 2021 - PharmaTimes

New Zealand makes COVID vaccines mandatory for doctors, teachers

New Zealand says it will soon require most of its healthcare workers and teachers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The new vaccine mandate, announced on Monday, compels doctors, pharmacists, community nurses and other healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated by December. Teachers and other workers in the education sector must be fully vaccinated by January. “We can’t leave anything to chance so that’s why we are making it mandatory,” said Chris Hipkins, New Zealand’s education minister who is also in charge of the country’s COVID-19 response. ”It’s not an easy decision, but we need the people who work with vulnerable communities who haven’t yet been vaccinated to take this extra step,” he added.
11th Oct 2021 - Al Jazeera English

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Singapore expands quarantine-free travel, eyes COVID-19 'new normal'

Singapore is opening its borders to more countries for quarantine-free travel as the city-state seeks to rebuild its status as an international aviation hub, and prepares to reach a "new normal" to live with COVID-19. From Oct. 19 fully vaccinated people from eight countries, including Britain, France, Spain and the United States, will be able to enter the island without quarantining if they pass their COVID-19 tests, the government said on Saturday. The announcement marks a major step in Singapore's strategy to resume international links.
9th Oct 2021 - Reuters

The coronavirus pandemic is far from over

The goal for all countries is to make it to the blue section of the chart and stay there. Countries and territories in this section have reported no new cases for four weeks in a row. Currently, that is the case for five out of 188 countries and territories. How has the COVID-19 trend evolved over the past weeks? The situation has deteriorated slightly: 65 countries have reported more cases in the past two weeks compared with the previous 14 days. What is the current COVID-19 trend in my country? Based on the newly reported case numbers — which can reflect local outbreaks as well as the countrywide spread — in the past 28 days, countries and territories classify as follows:
9th Oct 2021 - DW (English)

NSW hits ‘impressive’ vaccination target as 580 new Covid cases recorded

Almost 90 per cent of eligible NSW residents have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. The state is expected to reach the milestone within the next two days. Premier Dominic Perrottet applauded NSW residents coming forward for their jabs. However, he said some Sydney postcodes were languishing at less than 50 per cent double-dose rates. “Vaccination is incredibly important. We know it keeps people safe, particularly those in vulnerable communities,” Mr Perrottet said. “To be in a position as we come close to a 90 per cent first-dose vaccination rate is impressive.”
9th Oct 2021 - Perth Now

Boosters, employer mandates drive increase in US vaccines

The number of Americans getting COVID-19 vaccines has steadily increased to a three-month high as seniors and people with medical conditions seek boosters, and government and employer mandates push more workers to take their first doses.
8th Oct 2021 - Associated Press on MSN.com

Nearly 2million over-50s have yet to first Covid vaccine, despite booster drive kicking off already

As many as 2million people over the age of 50 in England still haven't had a single Covid vaccine, official figures suggest. MailOnline's analysis of NHS vaccination data means about one in 10 of those who were prioritised in the jab rollout still haven't come forward. Up to 127,288 over-80s remain unvaccinated, despite the programme opening to them as the very first age group last December. Age is the one of the biggest single risk factors for Covid. Yet, the analysis shows there are as many as 249,727 un-jabbed people in their 70s in England.
9th Oct 2021 - Daily Mail

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Companies face pressure to act on vaccine mandates even as they wait for clear rules.

Last month, President Biden asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to write rules that would require companies with more than 100 employees to mandate coronavirus vaccinations or weekly testing. But with OSHA still going through a lengthy rule-making process, which could take several more weeks, the White House is urging companies to act now. Several big employers have imposed mandates since Biden’s announcement, including 3M, Procter & Gamble and the airlines American, Alaska and JetBlue. IBM said on Thursday that it will require all of its U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8, regardless of how often they come into the office. It will allow for “limited” medical or religious exceptions.
7th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

IBM Vaccine Mandate: Unvaxxed Employees Will Be Suspended in December

International Business Machines Corp. said all of its U.S.-based employees must be vaccinated by Dec. 8 or be put on unpaid suspension. The Armonk, New York-based company told workers that because it’s a government contractor, it’s required to adhere to President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors. IBM said the new mandate will apply to all U.S. employees regardless of where they work or how often they go into a company office and will offer “limited” medical or religious exemptions. The decision was prompted by “the continued spread of Covid-19, local clinical conditions around IBM sites, and the reality that vaccines are readily available nationwide,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement.
7th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

Canada imposes COVID-19 vaccine mandate on federal workers, transportation

Canada will place unvaccinated federal employees on unpaid leave and require COVID-19 shots for air, train and ship passengers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday, as he unveiled one of the world's strictest vaccine mandate policies. Federal employees will be required to declare their full vaccination status through an online portal by Oct. 29. Workers and passengers age 12 and older on trains, planes and marine transport operating domestically - which are federally regulated - must show they have been inoculated by Oct. 30.
7th Oct 2021 - Reuters Canada

Los Angeles will require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine for indoor establishments

By next month Los Angeles will require residents and visitors to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to eat, drink, or shop in indoor establishments across the city. Under this mandate, eligible patrons will need to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, coffee shops, stores, gyms, spas or salons. People attending large, outdoor events will also need to show evidence of either vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test to attend the event. Proof of vaccination includes a vaccination card issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a photo of both sides of the card, documentation from a health care provider, or a digital record of vaccination issued by California, another state or country.
7th Oct 2021 - NPR

Biden administration boosts at-home COVID-19 test supply

President Joe Biden today announced he is investing $1 billion dollars to quadruple the national supply of at-home COVID-19 tests by December. "We will have a 200 million test supply by December," said Jeff Zients, COVID-19 coordinator, during a White House press briefing. "At the same time we are increasing the supply of at-home tests, we are expanding access to free testing. Every American, no matter their zip code, can access free testing." Zients said the Biden administration was also focused on expanding the number of free, community-based testing sites to 30,000 across the country, including 20,000 sites at pharmacies. Earlier this week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Acon home test, an antigen test that provides results in less than 15 minutes. Zients said the Acon test will increase the home-testing supply significantly.
6th Oct 2021 - CIDRAP

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UK readying payment systems to charge for rapid COVID-19 testing -sources

Britain is aiming early next year to be ready to start charging for some previously free COVID-19 tests, two sources close to the health service said, a step one described as driven by the finance ministry's desire to rein in spending. The government and health officials have said that rapid testing, via easy-to-use lateral flow tests, is crucial for tracking the spread of COVID-19, with regular testing of those without symptoms identifying around a quarter of all cases.
7th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Canada to put federal workers who refuse COVID-19 vaccination on unpaid leave

Canada will place unvaccinated federal employees on unpaid leave and require COVID-19 shots for air, train and ship passengers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday, as he unveiled one of the world's strictest vaccine mandate policies. Federal employees will be required to declare their full vaccination status through an online portal by Oct. 29. Workers and passengers age 12 and older on trains, planes and marine transport operating domestically - which are federally regulated - must show they have been inoculated by Oct. 30.
6th Oct 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19 infections dropping throughout the Americas, more vaccine needed, says health agency

The number of new COVID-19 infections has been dropping over the past month throughout the Americas, even though only 37% of the people in Latin America and the Caribbean are fully vaccinated, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said. PAHO also said it has closed vaccine supply agreements with Sinovac and AstraZeneca for the delivery of 8.5 million doses this year, and with China's Sinopharm for next year. Jamaica, Nicaragua and Haiti have yet to reach even 10% vaccination coverage, PAHO said.
6th Oct 2021 - Reuters

‘Complex EU’ leads Europe to diverge from US on coronavirus vaccine booster

The world's two leading medicines regulators have reached different decisions on a third dose of the BioNTech/Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine — and it’s partly because of the complexity of the EU, according to the European Medicines Agency. On September 22, the U.S. FDA authorized the use of the vaccine as a third, or booster, dose for all over 65s, and only those over 18 who are at greater risk from infection, such as those with underlying illnesses or frequently exposed to the virus, like health workers. By contrast, the European Medicines Agency said on Monday that the third dose can be given to all healthy people over 18 at least six months after their second dose.
6th Oct 2021 - POLITICO Europe

Los Angeles requires proof of vaccination to enter many businesses, one of the nation’s strictest rules.

Los Angeles will require most people to provide proof of full coronavirus vaccination to enter a range of indoor businesses, including restaurants, gyms, museums, movie theaters and salons, in one of the nation’s strictest vaccine rules. The new law, which was approved by the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday, will allow people with medical conditions that do not allow them to be vaccinated, or who have a sincerely held religious objection, to instead show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within the preceding 72 hours. It will take effect on Nov. 4, which city officials have said should give the city and businesses enough time to figure out how the rule should be enforced.
6th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

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Schools could be big battleground in coronavirus vaccine mandate fight

The resistance to coronavirus vaccine mandates isn’t quite what it’s been cracked up to be. As businesses, hospital systems and governments have moved forward with such mandates, many of the earliest test cases have gained compliance numbers well north of 90 percent. As The Post’s Philip Bump wrote last week, the numbers suggest many supposed never-vaxxers were actually in the “I’ll get it if required” camp. But that doesn’t mean vaccine mandates won’t hit roadblocks in the months ahead. And one increasing prospect seems most likely to truly test people’s true opposition to the mandates: schools requiring them. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Friday became the first governor to say that his state would mandate fully approved vaccines for schoolchildren when they are available. (The Pfizer vaccine is fully approved only for children 16 and older and authorized for emergency use for children 12 to 15.)
5th Oct 2021 - The Washington Post

Western Australia mandates COVID-19 vaccine for miners, natural gas workers

Western Australia said that it would require all employees that work with natural resources to have a first COVID-19 shot from December to help protect vulnerable Indigenous communities as the country begins opening up. People working in mining, oil and gas exploration are required to have their first dose by Dec. 1 and must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 1, the government said. The mandate also applies to any workers flying in and out of remote sites and any visitors to these operations, it said. "The new directions will address the risks posed by movement of resources sector workers... to and from regional and remote locations in WA, with many sites and operations located at or near remote Aboriginal communities," State Premier Mark McGowan said
5th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Ireland coming 'close to suppressing' Covid - Nolan

In Ireland, the population seems to have come close to suppressing Covid-19 and "we're in a good place" in relation to lifting the remaining restrictions by 22 October, NPHET's Prof Philip Nolan has said. The Chair of NPHET's Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group said suppressing the virus is down to very high levels of vaccination and the adherence to public health measures. Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, he said: "We're fortunate with our very high level of vaccinations and frankly the very sensible manner in which each and every one of us is taking the precautions, we seem to have come close to suppressing what is a very transmissible virus."
5th Oct 2021 - RTE.ie

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The US is turning a corner in its fight against Covid-19, Fauci says. But it's still too early to let our guard down

As Covid-19 numbers gradually improve, health experts have an urgent message: Don't get cocky and relax. "We can't get overconfident. Every time we do and we put our guard down ... we get another surge with another variant," said Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, a viral researcher and internal medicine physician. "So yes, things are better. But they're far from over." On average, 107,312 new cases were reported each day over the past week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, the lowest since August 5.
4th Oct 2021 - CNN

New York’s largest health care provider fires 1,400 unvaccinated employees.

Northwell Health, New York State’s largest health care provider, announced on Monday that it had fired 1,400 of its employees who refused to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to a spokesman, Joe Kemp. New York’s effort to require the state’s more than 650,000 hospital and nursing home workers to get vaccinated went into effect last week, prompting tens of thousands of employees who had held out to get their shots. But others filed a flurry of lawsuits, and courtrooms across the state are determining when and how to allow exemptions to the mandate. So far the number of workers in New York who have walked away from their jobs is relatively small, and not likely to result in the staff shortages that have imperiled harder-hit parts of the country during the Delta variant’s rise.
4th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

N.Y.C.'s Teacher Vaccine Mandate Prompts Thousands of Last-Minute Shots

New York’s requirement that virtually everyone who works in the city’s public schools be vaccinated against the coronavirus compelled thousands of Department of Education employees to get at least one dose of a vaccine in the past week, leading to extremely high vaccination rates among educators, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. About 95 percent of all full-time school employees have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, the mayor said, including 99 percent of principals, 96 percent of teachers and 94 percent of non-education staff. Roughly 43,000 doses total have been administered since the mandate was announced in late August, including more than 18,000 shots that were given to staff members since Sept. 24.
4th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

Israel requires COVID-19 booster shots for stricter "green pass"

Israel on Sunday piled pressure on its vaccinated citizens to get a booster shot by making only those who received their third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine eligible for a "green pass" allowing entry to restaurants, gyms and many other venues. Israel was an early adopter of Pfizer/BioNtech booster shots -- administering them to members of risk groups in July and by the end of August to anyone above the age of 12. Its campaign is being watched closely by other countries. The new green pass is being issued to those who received three shots or recently recovered from COVID-19, replacing a previous system that required just two shots. It raises the bar for what the government considers full immunization
4th Oct 2021 - Reuters

More community colleges are mandating coronavirus vaccination

One by one, Maryland’s community colleges are starting to require students to get vaccinated against the coronavirus — months after the state university system adopted a sweeping vaccine mandate. But Virginia’s community colleges are not requiring student vaccination. Instead, they are encouraging it. That includes Northern Virginia Community College, where the first lady, Jill Biden, teaches English on the Alexandria campus. The difference between policies in the neighboring states illustrates a quiet debate that has been unfolding nationally among the public two-year colleges. These schools, hit hard by enrollment drops during the pandemic, have been slower on the whole to embrace vaccine mandates than four-year colleges and universities.
4th Oct 2021 - The Washington Post

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Studies provide insights into COVID vaccine hesitancy

Two JAMA Network Open studies yesterday that looked at COVID-19 vaccine acceptance in minority groups and opinions around less-preferred vaccines provide clues for how officials might better encourage immunization. The first study, involving 13 focus groups, reaffirmed a lack of communication and trust among racially and ethnically diverse communities in the United States. The second study examined the effect of emphasizing different data around the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccines: People were more interested in uptake when they were presented with the vaccines' effectiveness against death versus their effectiveness against symptomatic infection.
1st Oct 2021 - CIDRAP

Air New Zealand to require COVID-19 vaccination for international travelers

Air New Zealand, the flag carrier airline of New Zealand, said on Sunday it will require passengers on its international flights to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, in what is one of the world's strictest policies for travellers. "Being vaccinated against COVID-19 is the new reality of international travel – many of the destinations Kiwis want to visit are already closed to unvaccinated visitors," Air New Zealand's Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran said. New Zealand plans to reopen its international borders, which have been closed since March 2020 to anyone who is not a New Zealand citizen, early next year.
3rd Oct 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: Irish vaccine passports 'accelerated' jab uptake

Covid-19 vaccine uptake in the Republic of Ireland "would have been much lower" without the vaccine passport scheme, an immunology expert has said. Prof Kingston Mills from Trinity College Dublin said it was "a big incentive" for people to get jabbed. When indoor hospitality reopened in July, the Irish government said people had to be vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid-19 to get in. That requirement will be removed from 22 October. The EU Digital Covid Certificate, enables people to show proof of their vaccination status, or if they recently had a negative PCR test or recently recovered from the disease.
3rd Oct 2021 - BBC News

In Portugal, There Is Virtually No One Left to Vaccinate

Portugal’s health care system was on the verge of collapse. Hospitals in the capital, Lisbon, were overflowing and the authorities were asking people to treat themselves at home. In the last week of January, nearly 2,000 people died as the virus spread. The country’s vaccine program was in a shambles, so the government turned to Vice Adm. Henrique Gouveia e Melo, a former submarine squadron commander, to right the ship. Eight months later, Portugal is among the world’s leaders in vaccinations, with roughly 86 percent of its population of 10.3 million fully vaccinated. About 98 percent of all of those eligible for vaccines — meaning anyone over 12 — have been fully vaccinated, Admiral Gouveia e Melo said.
2nd Oct 2021 - The New York Times

Alaska Air to require COVID-19 vaccine for employees

Alaska Air Group has told its 22,000 employees they will be required to get a COVID-19 vaccination. There are some exceptions to the policy, which has shifted since last month, The Seattle Times reported. In an email Thursday evening to all Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air employees, the Seattle-based company said employees will now be required to be fully vaccinated or approved for a reasonable accommodation. Officials said the new police would be in accordance with the White House executive order that requires all federal contractors to have their workers vaccinated. It replaces an Alaska policy which paid vaccinated employees $200 and required regular testing for others. At that time, Alaska said that 75% of its employees had been vaccinated.
2nd Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

Indonesia Eyes 10000-Strong Event in Test of Life With Virus

As many as 10,000 people attended the opening ceremony of Indonesia’s first major sports event since its worst Covid-19 outbreak -- a test of its strategy of living with the virus. The national sporting week called PON started Saturday at the newly renovated stadium in the eastern city of Jayapura, with the number of spectators meeting the 25% maximum capacity set by the domestic affairs ministry. Spectators have to be tested before entering the venue, wear masks and maintain social distancing, according to the ministry. Normal activities are starting to return in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy as its coronavirus cases and deaths are brought under control. That’s a stark contrast to just a month ago, when the country was reporting the world’s highest number of coronavirus deaths each day. The country added 1,414 cases on Saturday and 89 deaths from the virus.
2nd Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

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What Science Knows Now About the Risk of Covid-19 Transmission on Planes

Fliers have yearned for reliable data on the risks of air travel since the pandemic began. Recent research on Covid-19 transmission on flights suggests that airlines could adopt new policies to better protect their passengers. Scientists have found a sharp increase in possible spread during in-flight meal service when everyone has masks off. They’ve also learned more about the importance of precautions during boarding and deplaning. The chances of viral spread aboard planes remain very low. But papers published in medical journals suggest they may not be as low as suggested earlier in the pandemic. “It’s still, at this point, safe to travel if you take proper precautions,” says Mark Gendreau, chief medical officer at Beverly Hospital near Boston and an expert in aviation medicine. “I do think it could be safer.”
30th Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

California Mandates Boost Vaccination Rates Among Health Care Workers

California’s requirement for all health care workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, which took effect Thursday, appears to have compelled tens of thousands of unvaccinated employees to get shots in recent weeks, bolstering the case for employer mandates. In a survey of more than a dozen of the state’s major hospital systems, most health care employers reported vaccination rates this week of 90 percent or higher, with hundreds — and in some cases, thousands — more workers in some systems opting to be vaccinated, rather than to apply for limited medical or religious exemptions, since Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration issued the health order Aug. 5.
30th Sep 2021 - The New York Times

France orders anyone aged 12 and older to show Covid 'health pass' to enter public sites in bid to stave off winter coronavirus flare-up

Policy is an extension of 'health pass' already in place for adults for two months The pass proves vaccination, a recent negative test or a recovery from the virus French President Macron introduced the pass for adults in July, sparking rallies But it also triggered millions of people to get the jab after holding out for months
30th Sep 2021 - Daily Mail

Malaysia makes COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for government employees

Malaysia said on Thursday it would now be mandatory for all federal government employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with exceptions only to be allowed on health grounds. The announcement comes as the country looks to boost vaccination rates with the aim of inoculating 80% of the population by the end of the year. Malaysia has one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in Southeast Asia, with 61% of its 32 million population already fully vaccinated. In a statement, the Public Service Department said vaccinations would be made compulsory for federal staff in order to boost public confidence and ensure government services can be delivered smoothly.
30th Sep 2021 - Reuters

How Denmark beat Covid and lifted all restrictions, and the lessons the UK can learn

Denmark appears to have defeated Covid-19, with low infection rates, 75 per cent of the population fully vaccinated and normality returning after all restrictions were lifted this month. The country is recording 367 new infections on average each day compared with 34,241 in the UK. Crucially, the Danes had the “highest level of optimism” and “lowest levels of concern” of eight countries including the UK surveyed in the Hope Project, a global initiative led by Danish universities.
30th Sep 2021 - iNews

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YouTube to remove misinformation videos about all vaccines

YouTube is to remove videos that spread misinformation about all vaccines, as it steps up a crackdown on harmful content posted during the coronavirus pandemic. From Wednesday, the video streaming site, which has already banned Covid jab falsehoods, will take down content that contains misinformation such as claiming any approved vaccine is dangerous, causes chronic health defects or does not reduce spread of disease. Under previous guidelines, the platform demoted – effectively hiding from view – videos that spread misinformation about non-Covid vaccines or promoted vaccine hesitancy. Last year, YouTube implemented a ban on Covid vaccine misinformation videos, which has led to 130,000 pieces of content being taken down since then. YouTube, which is owned by Google, has removed a total of 1m videos for spreading general Covid falsehoods since the pandemic broke out.
29th Sep 2021 - The Guardian

Covid-19 in South America: Vaccine Rollout Led to Big Drop in Cases

South America, exceptionally hard-hit by Covid-19, is seeing a sudden drop in cases and deaths, apparently from rapid and thorough vaccines on the heels of a horrific wave that provided antibodies to those it didn’t kill. Over a seven-day period, the continent now makes up 6% of cases and 9% of deaths, the lowest since the start of the pandemic. At its peak in June, it represented 38% of global infections and 44% of fatalities. One peculiarity of the continent is that the delta variant upending plans from Asia to the U.S. hasn’t found traction there. It had similarly contagious mutations, known as gamma and lambda, and their presence may be keeping delta at bay and extending immunity. This is distinct from Mexico, Central America and Cuba, where delta has taken hold and the other two hadn’t.
29th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Tanzania: Samia Calls for Mass Education on Coronavirus Vaccine

President Samia Suluhu Hassan urged religious leaders to help educate their members about coronavirus and vaccine currently administered freely and voluntarily across the country. Addressing clerics and bishops of the Anglican Church of Tanzania at the church's 50th anniversary held in Dodoma, President Samia it is important for the citizen to be well informed about the vaccine. "Vaccine helps reduce complications as well as mortality," she said. "We have to use all means necessary and vaccine is one of them." Apparently some church members had managed to develop a locally made-vaccine claimed to battle coronavirus. President Samia hailed the initiative insisting that her administration would help verify the efficacy of the vaccine with health authorities before mass production. "Let me congratulate the youth from this church who are trying to get a vaccine... We will help send some samples to international institutions for testing and if approved it can be allowed so that more people will get vaccinated," she noted.
29th Sep 2021 - AllAfrica.com

Vatican orders all staff to be vaccinated or undergo regular Covid-19 testing

The Vatican made the announcement on Tuesday to staff, according to reports. Even the most senior members of the Catholic Church will not be exempt. The Pope has made the Catholic Church's stance on vaccinations clear. Francis himself was vaccinated in January and has called it a 'moral duty.' On Monday, Pope Francis emphasised the need for attention to be given to other diseases after Covid-19 has taken up most resources for almost two years
29th Sep 2021 - Daily Mail

Americans Are Getting Covid-19 Boosters—No Questions Asked

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have authorized a third shot of the vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE for a wide swath of the U.S. population. Anyone over age 65 is eligible for a booster shot, as is anyone over 18 with a pre-existing condition predisposing the person toward a severe case of Covid-19. Also eligible are those with a job or living situation that poses a higher risk of contracting Covid-19. Boosters for all patients must be given at least six months after an initial Pfizer vaccine course. Patients who received initial doses of the vaccines made by Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson aren’t eligible yet. Approval of a booster regimen for those patients is expected in the coming months. The FDA did amend its emergency-use authorization in August, however, to allow a third Moderna dose for immunocompromised people.
29th Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Employer vaccine mandates convert some workers, but not all

Businesses that have announced vaccine mandates say some workers who had been on the fence have since gotten inoculated against COVID-19. But many holdouts remain — a likely sign of what is to come once a federal mandate goes into effect. Even before President Joe Biden’s Sept. 9 announcement that companies with more than 100 workers would have to require vaccinations, dozens of companies, including Amtrak, Microsoft, United Airlines and Disney issued ultimatums to most workers. And smaller companies in New York, San Francisco and New Orleans have been required to implement mandates for customers and workers. Some mandates seem to have converted hesitant workers, but employers are still dealing with holdouts. United said late Tuesday it will begin terminating 593 employees over the next few days for refusing to get vaccinated. Other companies are offering alternatives, including weekly testing or working remotely or away from other staff.
29th Sep 2021 - The Associated Press

AT&T mandates COVID-19 vaccination for union-represented employees

AT&T Inc said on Wednesday it would require its union-represented employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before entering their work location, following a similar mandate for its management employees last month. The U.S wireless carrier, one the largest employers of union-represented workers, said the Communications Workers of America linked employees must be fully vaccinated by Feb. 1, 2022. CWA represents more than 150,000 employees at AT&T. Other major companies including Facebook Inc, Google and Microsoft Corp have also mandated vaccinations for employees as the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus drives up infections in the United States.
29th Sep 2021 - Reuters

United says nearly 600 staff face termination for vaccine refusal

United Airlines has said that nearly 600 US-based employees faced termination after failing to comply with the carrier’s vaccination policy. In early August, the company became the first US carrier to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all domestic employees, requiring proof of vaccination by Monday. The carrier said it would start on Tuesday the process of firing 593 employees who decided not to get vaccinated. “This was an incredibly difficult decision but keeping our team safe has always been our first priority,” Chief Executive Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart told employees in a memo. The workers can save their jobs if they get vaccinated before their formal termination meetings, the company officials said.
29th Sep 2021 - AlJazeera

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Vaccine Mandate Leads Thousands of New York Health Workers to Get Vaccinated

When New York State officials issued a sweeping coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers in August, they expressed confidence that it would pressure reluctant doctors, nurses and support staff to get the shot. On Monday, as the deadline for vaccinations for about 600,000 nursing home and hospital workers arrived, it seemed that bet had proved to be at least partially correct. With just days or even hours to spare, thousands of health care workers got inoculated, according to health officials across the state.
28th Sep 2021 - New York Times

Ford says U.S. salaried employees required to disclose COVID-19 vaccination status

Ford Motor Co became the second Detroit automaker to ask U.S. salaried employees to reveal their vaccination status against COVID-19 in a bid to comply with wider federal guidelines. Ford said salaried employees were required to submit their vaccination status against COVID-19 by Oct. 8 but the process was voluntary for its hourly employees represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. The automaker's move comes as the Biden administration pursues sweeping measures to increase vaccination coverage in the United States, while pushing large employers to have their workers inoculated or tested weekly
28th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Brazil to give COVID-19 booster shots to people over 60 years old

Brazil will provide COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to all its people over 60-years-old, Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said on Tuesday. Queiroga said in a tweet that the decision comes in line with progress in the country's vaccination program. About 7 million Brazilians could get the booster shot under these conditions, he said. Brazil had already started giving booster shots to people over 70-years-old and healthcare workers. According to Health Ministry data, about 600,000 booster shots have been administered up to now.
28th Sep 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Scotland delays enforcement of vaccine passport scheme

Scotland's new vaccine passport scheme for entry into nightclubs and large events will not be enforced until two weeks after it is introduced. From 5am on Friday, people going to venues open after midnight with alcohol, music and dancing will need proof they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said venues which fail to obey the new rules will not face punishment for another 17 days. Ms Sturgeon said she had made the change after listening to the "reasonable concerns of business".
28th Sep 2021 - Sky News

New York can move forward with coronavirus vaccine mandate for school workers, judges say

A federal appeals court Monday made way for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) to implement a coronavirus vaccine mandate for all school employees, ruling against four educators who had sued to stop it. The court decision marks a major victory for the nation’s largest school system, which employs 150,000 people and educates over 1 million students in a city gutted by the coronavirus last year. Unlike most other cities, New York’s mandate does not allow employees to submit to regular testing as an alternative to getting a vaccine. The city’s mandate would have required all school employees to show proof of at least one shot by midnight Monday. But on Friday, a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit issued an injunction temporarily halting the requirement.
28th Sep 2021 - The Washington Post

Covid-19: Unlocking options 'limited' by jab passport delay

In Northern Ireland, a delay by the executive in agreeing a Covid-19 vaccine certification policy has "significantly limited" the options for easing restrictions, the health minister has said. In a letter to the first and deputy first ministers, Robin Swann said he was frustrated by the lack of progress. He asked as a "matter of urgency" that the Executive Office brings forward a paper "without further delay". He said people would lose out if that did not happen. The absence of vaccine certification could leave them disadvantaged "when they travel to neighbouring jurisdictions where such schemes are mandatory", he said
28th Sep 2021 - BBC News

People in the Northeast could prevent a Covid-19 surge like the one in the South by following these measures, Fauci says

As weather grows colder and children spend more time in school, a surge of Covid-19 cases like the one in the South could be in store for the Northeast, but it is not too late to get ahead of it, Dr. Anthony Fauci said. "It is within our power, and within our grasp, to prevent that from occurring," Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Monday. The way to do it, he said, is by utilizing mitigation measures such as wearing masks indoors and in schools, as well as increasing vaccination rates. The idea of vaccine mandates for schools and businesses has sparked debate through much of the country, but with the spread of the Delta variant, more leaders are adopting such methods.
28th Sep 2021 - CNN

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Want to help prevent more variants down the road? Get vaccinated, CDC director says

Adequate rates of vaccination can help prevent the rise of new mutations that could force people to get booster after booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine, the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday. The CDC and the US Food and Drug Administration recommended booster shots for many Americans last week to help preserve their immunity. But that doesn't necessarily mean people will need to keep getting boosters. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told CBS's "Face the Nation."
27th Sep 2021 - CNN

Chile Begins Vaccinating Young Children With Sinovac Vaccine

The Chilean government began vaccinating children ages 6 to 11 as it moves forward with one of the most advanced Covid-19 prevention campaigns in Latin America. Children will get shots made by Sinovac Biotech Ltd following Chile’s approval for emergency use earlier this month. The government will begin giving shots in schools, and Health Undersecretary Paula Daza attended a ceremony in Santiago to mark the beginning of the vaccination campaign.
27th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Why Does Biden's Vaccine Mandate Have a Testing Loophole?

President Joe Biden’s new vaccine mandate for large businesses is a strange one, in that it does not actually make vaccines mandatory for the roughly 80 million Americans it’s aimed at. Tucked plainly into the rule is a singular and obvious opt-out: Unlike federal employees and contractors, those in the private sector can test for the coronavirus on an at-least-weekly basis, a no-jab alternative that makes the White House’s decision quite a bit gentler than it could have been. “It’s a stick, but it’s sort of a soft stick,” Julia Raifman, a health-policy researcher at Boston University, told me.
27th Sep 2021 - The Atlantic

COVID-19 vaccine rollout for people living with disability 'seriously deficient', royal commission report finds

ustralian states and territories should not ease COVID restrictions until all people with disability have been given the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, according to the disability royal commission. In its draft report, released on Monday, the inquiry described the vaccine rollout as "seriously deficient" and recommended the federal government use its best endeavours to "ensure people with disability and support workers are fully vaccinated before any easing of restrictions".
27th Sep 2021 - ABC News

Recovered COVID patients will require vaccine dose to receive Green Pass

The Health Ministry announced on Sunday that, from October 3, when a number of new restrictions will be introduced, recovered COVID-19 patients will be required to get a single coronavirus vaccine dose in order to be eligible to receive a Green Pass. Under the current Green Pass rules, entry to certain businesses and events is limited to those with proof of vaccination, recovery from COVID-19, or a negative test result. The new rules mean that some 1.2 million Israelis who have been diagnosed with the virus since the start of the pandemic, along with those who have a positive serological test showing high antibodies, will need at least one vaccine shot to qualify for the Green Pass.
26th Sep 2021 - The Times of Israel

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NYC Temporarily Blocked From Imposing School Vaccine Mandate

New York City’s school system, the largest in the U.S., has been temporarily blocked from imposing a mandate forcing teachers and other staff from getting vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a ruling from a federal judge. That mandate is scheduled to go into effect on Monday at midnight. Late Friday, a judge from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit referred the case to a three-judge panel “on an expedited basis.” The hearing will take place on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
26th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

El Salvador to begin giving third dose of COVID-19 vaccine

El Salvador will begin administering a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to various groups including the elderly, healthworkers and people with underlying health conditions, President Nayib Bukele said on Friday. The Central American nation of roughly 6.4 million people has obtained some 12 million vaccines since February. Third shots would be given to people including those aged over 60, frontline health staff, teachers, the armed forces, police and firefighters, as well as Salvadorans with pre-existing health problems, Bukele said on Twitter.
25th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Brazil approves COVID-19 booster shots for healthcare workers

Brazil has approved booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines for "health professionals," with preference given to the Pfizer shot, Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said on Friday. The boosters will only be given to people six months after they complete initial round of COVID-19 vaccination, Queiroga said in a Twitter post.
25th Sep 2021 - Reuters

White House says millions of government contractors must be vaccinated by Dec. 8

The White House said on Friday that millions of federal contractors must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8 and that the administration will add clauses to future government contracts mandating inoculations. President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Sept. 9 requiring federal contractors to mandate vaccinations, but many U.S. companies with federal contracts have awaited formal guidance from the White House before moving forward.
24th Sep 2021 - Reuters

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Does My Mask Protect Me if Nobody Else Is Wearing One?

There is also plenty of evidence showing that masks protect the wearer even when others around them are mask-free. The amount of protection depends on the quality of the mask and how well it fits. During a hotel outbreak in Switzerland, for instance, several employees and a guest who tested positive for the coronavirus were wearing only face shields (with no masks); those who wore masks were not infected. And a Tennessee study found that communities with mask mandates had lower hospitalization rates than areas where masks weren’t required.
23rd Sep 2021 - The New York Times

Covid-19 Vaccines Can Be Updated for the Delta Variant. Here’s How.

Scientists are working to develop shots that would target the Delta variant specifically. The mRNA platform behind some vaccines might make this process relatively straightforward, according to Matthew Johnson, senior director of product development at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. Vaccines work by exposing the body to a harmless version or portion of a virus. This teaches our immune systems to recognize and fight the real virus if our bodies become infected with it. The mRNA-based vaccines developed for Covid-19—including the two made by Moderna Inc. and by Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE —rely on the outer spike proteins of the new coronavirus to prime our immune defenses. Spike proteins stud the outer surface of the virus and help it latch onto and infect healthy cells.
23rd Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

The Vaccinated Aren't ‘Just as Likely’ to Spread COVID

For many fully vaccinated Americans, the Delta surge spoiled what should’ve been a glorious summer. Those who had cast their masks aside months ago were asked to dust them off. Many are still taking no chances. Some have even returned to all the same precautions they took before getting their shots, including avoiding the company of other fully vaccinated people.
23rd Sep 2021 - The Atlantic

Aged care staff sacked in regional Australia for refusing to get Covid-19 vaccination

Aged care facilities struggling after exodus of anti-vaxxers are forced out. All staff must be fully vaccinated in order to work with the vulnerable group. Outstretched regional homes are particularly under pressure from the new rules
23rd Sep 2021 - Daily Mail

Japan to double COVID-19 vaccine donations to other countries to 60 mln doses

Japan plans to give other countries 60 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Thursday, doubling the target from the previous pledge of 30 million doses. "Today, I am pleased to announce that, with additional contributions, Japan will provide up to approximately 60 million doses of vaccine in total," Suga said in a pre-recorded video message at the U.S.-hosted Global COVID-19 Summit.
23rd Sep 2021 - Reuters

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Why the NFL Wants Its Personnel to Get Covid Tests—Even When They’re Vaccinated

Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel woke up one August morning feeling mostly fine, but just a little bit off. His throat was sore, and his ear ached. It could have easily been explained by a long summer day at training camp barking at players. Yet when Vrabel arrived at the team facility that morning, he asked for a coronavirus test. Vrabel, who is vaccinated against Covid-19, waited in his car until the result came back. It was positive. So was a follow-up test. And so instead of possibly exposing colleagues and players, he was placed into isolation. It was a model response for an organization like the NFL—or for anybody trying to conduct business as usual—in the age of vaccines. As mass mandatory testing recedes as a containment strategy, monitoring symptoms and voluntary testing is now a front line of defense.
22nd Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

NYC's Vaccine Mandate for Teachers Is Cleared by State Judge

New York City’s requirement for teachers to be vaccinated was cleared by a state judge following a legal challenge from labor unions. New York State Supreme Court Justice Laurence L. Love removed a temporary restraining order he had imposed to stop the vaccine mandate from being enforced while the case is being litigated. Love dismissed the unions’ argument that the mandate violates the due process rights of teachers and staff, saying state and federal courts have “consistently held” that a mandatory vaccine requirement doesn’t impede such rights and is within the government’s power.
22nd Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

United says more than 97% of U.S. employees are vaccinated

United Airlines said more than 97% of its U.S. employees have been vaccinated ahead of the company's Sept. 27 deadline for staff vaccination. The airline has taken a tough stance on employees who decline to get vaccinated and became the first U.S. carrier in early August to announce it would mandate vaccines for employees.
22nd Sep 2021 - Reuters

UK to send 1m Pfizer vaccine doses to South Korea in swap deal

One million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are being sent from the UK to South Korea as part of a swap deal. South Korea will return the same “overall volume of doses” before the end of the year, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said. The initiative will help South Korea hit its target of administering a second dose to 70% of its population by the end of October, the DHSC said. The first batch of doses is due to be shipped within weeks.
22nd Sep 2021 - The Guardian

Panama to give immunocompromised people third COVID-19 vaccine shot

Panama will offer a third COVID-19 vaccine dose to moderate and severely immunocompromised people starting this week, Health Minister Luis Sucre said. The decision follows similar moves by other Latin American countries such as Ecuador and Chile, which are already giving a booster vaccine dose to people at risk, for instance those with immunodeficiencies or the elderly. Among those eligible to get an extra shot during the first phase of the Panamanian plan are people undergoing cancer treatment and transplants, as well as those who received stem cells in the last two years or suffer from an advanced or untreated HIV infection.
22nd Sep 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19 vaccines for teenagers: conversations and consent

On 13 September, the UK chief medical officers recommended that all 12-15 year olds be offered a single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech covid-19 vaccine.1 This followed a previous recommendation by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation2 not to offer covid-19 vaccines to healthy 12-15 year olds. The UK now joins a growing list of countries offering vaccination to those aged 12 and over, but it is providing only one dose rather than the two given in other countries because of concerns about rare side effects such as heart inflammation. The health benefits of covid-19 vaccination are small in this age group since covid-19 infection is not a serious threat to their health.5 However, the chief medical officers’ decision was influenced by the wider benefit of reducing further disruption to education. Parents are understandably concerned about vaccine safety. It’s not yet clear how schools and healthcare professionals will cope with delivering up to 2.6 million covid-19 vaccines, answering parents’ questions,6 and supporting teenagers to make informed decisions.
22nd Sep 2021 - The BMJ

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Opinion | I Ran the CDC. Here’s How to Prove That Americans Are Vaccinated.

This month, President Biden announced a comprehensive plan to reinvigorate America’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. A big part of this plan hinges on mandating the vaccination of millions of federal workers. Employees of companies with more than 100 staff members will have to provide proof of vaccination or test negative for the coronavirus at least once a week. The businesses and other institutions that must enforce these mandates will have to verify vaccination status and test results to make this system work. Even before the plan was announced, a number of state and local governments and school districts and more than 1,000 colleges and universities adopted at least some vaccination requirements for employees and students. But without a unified approach to verify compliance, ideally through federal leadership, verification will be inaccurate, inconsistent and potentially insecure.
21st Sep 2021 - The New York Times

DC school, childcare workers must get covid vaccine, no test option

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said Monday that all teachers and school staff and early child-care workers in the District must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Nov. 1, eliminating a testing option for these professionals who regularly interact with children who are often too young to be vaccinated. The mayor’s initial vaccine requirement — which included a testing option — did not apply to public charter or private school workers nor day-care employees. But this stricter mandate applies to these nongovernment employees.
21st Sep 2021 - The Washington Post

New Zealand increases fines for COVID-19 rule breakers

New Zealand on Friday announced higher fines of up to NZ$12,000 ($8,400) for individuals breaching coronavirus restrictions amid concerns that the current outbreak may spread beyond Auckland to other regions due to people breaking rules. "Our success has been really based on the fact that people by and large have been compliant," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference.
21st Sep 2021 - Reuters

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Slow but steady has seen the EU win out in the vaccine race

In March, WHO compared Europe’s Covid vaccine rollout unfavourably with the UK’s, calling it “unacceptably slow”. As late as April, only 11% of the bloc’s population had received at least one shot, compared with 29% in the US and 46% in Britain. But last week, according to Our World in Data, the picture looked different. Nine EU countries, including Portugal, Spain, Ireland, France, Belgium and Italy, have now administered one or both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine to a larger share of their populations than the UK, with a further five having overtaken the US.
20th Sep 2021 - The Guardian

Gordon Brown calls for urgent action to avert ‘Covid vaccine waste disaster’

More than 100m Covid vaccine doses are due to expire and be “thrown away” unless global leaders urgently share surplus supplies with the world’s poorest countries, Gordon Brown has warned. The “staggering” number of stockpiled “use now” jabs will be of no use to anyone by December, according to a new report from the research group Airfinity. The former prime minister said the failure of Boris Johnson, Joe Biden and EU leaders to agree on a plan to distribute the spare doses meant the world was facing a “vaccine waste disaster”. Brown has sent Airfinity’s research to leading politicians, including the US president, the UK prime minister, and senior figures in Brussels, before a global vaccine summit on Wednesday.
20th Sep 2021 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Booster jab invitations to 'strengthen wall of defence' will be sent out across England this week

More than a million people in England will receive an invitation to book their COVID-19 booster jab. Texts will be sent out on Monday, while letters will be posted to those who are eligible for a third coronavirus vaccine dose later in the week, NHS England said. Around 1.5 million people will be contacted and encouraged to use the National Booking Service. Those eligible for booster jabs include those aged 50 and over, people living and working in care homes for the elderly and frontline health and social care workers.
20th Sep 2021 - Sky News

Qatar wants mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for all World Cup footballers

World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar are pushing to make it mandatory for all players who compete at next year’s tournament to have had both Covid-19 vaccinations. The Qatari government has already announced that any fans who attend the tournament next November will need to be fully vaccinated, and now that ruling could also extend to the players – and coaching staffs – taking part too. According to The Athletic, Qatari medical authorities have been in talks with FIFA and other stakeholders in an effort to ensure all participating players are double jabbed.
20th Sep 2021 - Metro.co.uk

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COVID-19: Top scientist says ministers should have improved PCR testing system rather than 'abandoning it entirely'

A top scientist who advises the government says ministers should have improved the COVID testing system for international travel rather than "abandoning it entirely". Professor Stephen Reicher, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours, which feeds into the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said the removal of the need for a PCR COVID test will impact on the UK's ability to spot dangerous infections coming into the UK.
19th Sep 2021 - Sky News

Led by the nose: Meet the UAE's COVID-19 sniffer dogs

Police in Dubai have built up a special unit of 38 sniffer dogs that can detect COVID-19 from human sweat samples with 92% accuracy, the supervisor of the training programme told Reuters. Dubai Police trained the cohort, which includes German Shepherds, Labradors, Cocker Spaniels and Border Collies, to recognise the scent of COVID-19 using samples of sweat from people with confirmed infections, collected by holding a swab in an armpit for a few minutes.
19th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Coronavirus: plans to end free rapid tests in England ‘reckless’

England’s coronavirus testing strategy has been been criticised as “reckless” amid plans to end the free provision of rapid tests and relax the monitoring of cases from abroad. Families and businesses will have to pay for lateral flow tests from next year in an overhaul of Downing Street’s approach to the pandemic. More than 95m of the 30-minute tests have been used since they were made freely available in England from April. Reported to cost £5-£30 each, they have identified more than 620,000 cases, mostly in people without symptoms but who could still transmit the virus. Mayors, teaching unions and directors of public health said charging for lateral flow tests was a “backward step” that threatened to throw schools back into chaos, accelerate the spread of the virus and deepen health inequalities.
17th Sep 2021 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Italy makes vaccine passport compulsory - workers can be fined and suspended without pay

Italy is to become the first European country to make a vaccine passport system compulsory for all workers. Proof of vaccination, a negative test or recent recovery from infection must be provided or staff will be suspended without pay and face a fine. However, they cannot be sacked. The law set to apply to both public and private employees from 15 October after the Italian government approved the measures on Thursday.
17th Sep 2021 - Sky News

Covid-19: How Native Americans led the way in the US vaccination effort

Data from the US CDC show that Native American groups—American Indians and Alaska Natives—have consistently had the best vaccination records since covid-19 vaccination in the US began in early 2021. The CDC’s daily tracker for 13 September showed that 47.5% of American Indians and Alaska Natives were fully vaccinated.1 This compared with 41.8% of Asians, 37.8% of white Americans, and 29.9% of African Americans. The American Indian/Alaska Native group has maintained its lead since the beginning of vaccination in the first dose category as well. Community leaders ascribe this success to two things: first, the US government’s decision to allow Native American communities to control vaccine distribution; and second, traditional ethnic values including respect for elders, “community first” philosophies, and a willingness to trust science—so long as it’s presented by community members themselves.
17th Sep 2021 - The BMJ

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Italy Is First EU Country to Require Covid Pass for All Workers

Italy will require all workers to have a valid Covid passport, as the government led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi moves to set the toughest vaccination requirements in Europe. A cabinet meeting Thursday approved the measure, which applies to all public and private-sector workers and will come into force Oct. 15. Workers faces fines of as much as 1,500 euros ($1,763) for noncompliance, while employers who fail to check their workers may have to pay as much as 1,000 euros. The wider use of the passports -- dubbed Green Passes -- had met fierce opposition from right-wing parties including Matteo Salvini’s League, which backs Draghi’s government.
16th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

United says about 90% staff vaccinated ahead of company deadline

United Airlines Holding said on Thursday 95% of its management was fully vaccinated and about 90% of all employees had uploaded proof of shots ahead of the company's Sept. 27 deadline for staff vaccination. United has taken a tough stance on employees who decline to get vaccinated and became the first U.S. carrier in early August to announce it would mandate vaccines for employees.
16th Sep 2021 - Reuters

France suspends 3000 health staff as Europe targets vaccine refusal

Hospitals, care homes and health centres have suspended around 3,000 workers across France for failing to comply with mandatory COVID vaccination, the government said on Thursday, as countries around Europe weigh how far to go to combat the pandemic. While Italy is set to announce later on Thursday that proof of vaccination or a negative test will be compulsory for all workers, going further than any other country in the region, the Netherlands plans a similar step - but only to go to bars or clubs.
16th Sep 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Vaccine booster programme begins as NHS starts giving third jabs

The NHS has started rolling out COVID-19 booster jabs. Over 50s, people in care homes, frontline health and social care workers and vulnerable people between 16 and 49 are among those who will be offered a third dose. At least six months must have passed since the second jab. Hospital hubs began giving third doses to health and social care workers on Thursday, NHS England said, with other eligible people now being identified.
16th Sep 2021 - Sky News

Spain to give COVID-19 booster dose to nursing home residents

Spain will give a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to nursing home residents, organ transplant recipients and other vulnerable groups, the Health Ministry said on Thursday. Cancer patients undergoing chemo or radiotherapy and people with health conditions that require immunosuppressive treatment would also be eligible for a booster dose, the ministry said.
16th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Virgin Australia to require COVID-19 vaccinations for staff

Virgin Australia said on Thursday it will require all its staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19, in line with domestic rival Qantas Airways and a growing number of airlines in the Asia-Pacific region. Pilots, cabin crew and airport workers will need to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15, while other staff will have until March 31, 2022, Virgin said, aligning its dates with Qantas. "We also remain supportive of any government-led measures to ensure travellers are vaccinated," Virgin Chief Executive Officer Jayne Hrdlicka said.
16th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Majorities in new poll support requiring proof of vaccine to fly, enter arenas

A majority of people in the U.S. support requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to board airplanes or enter indoor arenas, a new Monmouth University poll shows. The poll found 59 percent of Americans said people should need to show proof of vaccination to be able to get on an airplane, while 55 percent say they support the measure for indoor arenas. Forty-six percent of people support requiring proof of vaccination to attend events at outdoor arenas.
16th Sep 2021 - The Hill

Beyond ‘vaccinopia’: Rapid tests should play a larger role in Biden’s Covid-19 plan

America is suffering from a serious case of vaccinopia: an inability to look beyond shots in arms when considering how to manage the pandemic. This was made clear by President Biden’s new Covid-19 plan, which emphasizes vaccine mandates while providing insufficient support for rapid tests, which we believe to be the most promising — and most underused — tool in the armamentarium against the coronavirus. We are strong proponents of the Covid-19 vaccines, which have proven to be impressively effective and safe. In an ideal world, every eligible American would have been vaccinated by now. But we do not live in an ideal world. Covid-19 vaccination has become so politicized that a broad, societal consensus on its merits seems all but impossible. As many as one in five eligible Americans may continue to decline vaccination. Vaccine mandates could change that, but their immediate impact will be blunted by the inevitable legal challenges and the months-long process of delivering millions of vaccinations and waiting for sufficient immunity to develop.
16th Sep 2021 - STAT News

Can kids be harmed wearing masks to protect against COVID?

Can kids be harmed wearing masks to protect against COVID? No, there is no scientific evidence showing masks cause harm to kids’ health despite baseless claims suggesting otherwise. The claims are circulating on social media and elsewhere just as virus outbreaks are hitting many reopened U.S. schools — particularly those without mask mandates. Among the unfounded arguments: Masks can foster germs if they become moist or cause unhealthy levels of carbon dioxide. But experts say washing masks routinely keeps them safe and clean.
16th Sep 2021 - The Associated Press

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Pope urges COVID inoculations, says vaccines are humanity's friends

Pope Francis said on Wednesday he was puzzled why so many people, including some cardinals in Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, have refused to get inoculated against COVID-19. "It is a bit strange because humanity has a history of friendship with vaccines," he said aboard the plane returning from Slovakia, responding to a question from a reporter about the reasons for vaccine hesitancy. "As children (we were vaccinated) for measles, polio. All the children were vaccinated and no one said anything," he said.
16th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Fed regional banks mandate COVID-19 shots for employees

The U.S. Federal Reserve in Washington and the regional Fed banks will now require all of their nearly 23,000 employees be vaccinated against COVID-19. The Philadelphia Fed informed its staff of the new mandate in a memo on Wednesday, making it the last of the 12 regional Fed banks to make vaccination a requirement of employment. The Fed Board in Washington will also require its employees to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 30, a spokesperson for the U.S. central bank told Reuters on Wednesday.
15th Sep 2021 - Reuters

New US immigrants required to get coronavirus vaccine, USCIS says

The United States will require new immigrants to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus as part of its routine medical examination, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on Tuesday. The measure goes into effect on Oct. 1. Most people applying to become a permanent resident in the United States are required to receive the immigration medical examination “to show they are free from any conditions that would render them inadmissible under the health-related grounds,” according to USCIS. The announcement comes after the Biden administration last week unveiled a sweeping set of vaccination mandates, requiring federal employees to get immunized against the coronavirus, and ordering businesses with more than 100 employees to require vaccinations or weekly testing
15th Sep 2021 - The Washington Post

WHO aims for 30 percent of needed Africa COVID jabs by February

The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners have said they hope to provide Africa with about 30 percent of the COVID-19 vaccines the continent needs by February, badly missing the 60 percent vaccination coverage goal that African leaders had once hoped for this year. Out of 5.7 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines administered around the world so far, only 2 percent have been in Africa.
14th Sep 2021 - AlJazeera

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Travel vaccine mandate could segregate society, experts warn

Experts have warned mandating vaccines for travel could be problematic and promote segregation, as the Federal Government prepares to trial vaccine passports for international travel. A new study published by the Medical Journal of Australia found mandatory vaccines must be backed by strong justification before being rolled out by the government. Championing the research, a string of leading health professionals found a general population mandate could cause resentment and mistrust in government and public health agencies.
14th Sep 2021 - 9News.com.au

Dutch expected to ease COVID-19 measures, introduce 'corona' pass

The Dutch government is expected to ease COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday, mirroring other countries in Europe, and introduce a "corona" pass, showing proof of vaccinations, that will allow eating out and admission to cultural events. Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Cabinet is expected to lift social distancing requirements from Sept. 25. Likely remaining in place are a mask requirement for public transportation and schools, and a recommendation that people work from home when possible
14th Sep 2021 - Reuters

New Zealand looks to boost COVID-19 vaccinations as new cases ease

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has asked New Zealanders to get vaccinated as soon as possible, as it was the only way to beat the spread of coronavirus and see curbs lifted in the biggest city of Auckland. Tuesday's 15 new infections in New Zealand were a drop from Monday's figure of 33, but about 1.7 million people will stay in lockdown in Auckland until next week, as the government battles to hold down a cluster of the highly infectious Delta variant. "The vaccine is the best tool we have in our toolbox and our ticket to greater freedom," Ardern told a news conference. "The more people who are vaccinated, the fewer restrictions you have to have."
14th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Ukrainian government announces vaccine passports

The Ukrainian government has decided to introduced COVID-19 "vaccine passports" verifying citizens' vaccination status, the health ministry said. The passports will allow businesses such as cinemas, gyms, theatres and swimming pools to operate without social distancing requirements if all visitors and at least 80% of staff at the venues are at least partially vaccinated, the ministry said in a statement.
14th Sep 2021 - Reuters

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Slovenia tightens access to indoor spaces due to COVID-19

Slovenia will, from this week, require that all people who enter indoor spaces, with few exceptions, be vaccinated against COVID-19 or show negative tests unless they have had the disease in the previous six months,
13th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Manulife Joins Banks With Vaccine Mandate for Canadian Employees

Manulife Financial Corp. will require employees in Canada to provide proof of their vaccination status by the end of October and will force unvaccinated staff to undergo regular Covid-19 testing before they work in its offices. Employees who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons must provide a note from a licensed health care professional, Manulife Canada Chief Executive Officer Mike Doughty said in a memo Monday. Those refusing the shots for religious reasons must make a written attestation.
13th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Even the Swiss Are Tightening the Screws on the Unvaccinated

Switzerland, which has stood out among European neighbors for its generally more laissez-faire approach to the pandemic, is joining the ranks of countries now increasing pressure on the unvaccinated. With hospitals filling up and inoculations lagging the rest of Western Europe, the government is doing what just a few weeks ago one of its members termed “bizarre” by requiring vaccine certificates for public activities. As of Monday, residents of one of the world’s wealthiest countries will have to show passes to enter restaurants, cinemas and fitness centers. They must attest to having been jabbed, tested or recovered from the virus.
13th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

More than half of Americans support vaccine mandates for workplaces, classrooms and sporting events

Americans have grown more supportive of coronavirus vaccine mandates for workers, students, and in everyday public life, according to a new CNN poll. The shift comes amid renewed worries about the pandemic and a continued partisan divide over the efforts to combat it. The public is split about evenly, 51% to 49%, on whether requiring proof of vaccination for everyday activities is an acceptable way to increase the vaccination rate, or an unacceptable infringement on personal rights. But there's greater backing for requiring vaccines in many specific instances. More than half of Americans now say they support requiring vaccinations for office workers returning to the workplace (54%), students attending in-person classes (55%) and patrons attending sporting events or concerts (55%), although fewer (41%) support requiring vaccinations for a shopper to enter a grocery store.
13th Sep 2021 - CNN

Australia's NSW state says coronavirus vaccination pace slows

The government of the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) said the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations had slowed as first-dose coverage neared 80% and urged the unvaccinated to get shots soon or risk missing out on freedoms when curbs ease. Premier Gladys Berejiklian has promised to relax some restrictions for the state's 8 million residents once two-dose vaccination rates hit 70%, expected to be around the middle of next month. So far, about 46% of the state's adult population has been fully vaccinated, above the national average of 42%. "For those of you who choose not to be vaccinated, that is your choice, but don't expect to do everything that vaccinated people do when we hit 80%," Berejiklian said
13th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Australia Plans Digital Border Pass for Vaccinated Travelers

Australia is developing a digital border pass to show the vaccination status of travelers in a step toward further reopening its international border. The government awarded Accenture Plc the tender to deliver the pass that will replace the current Covid-19 travel declaration form and incoming passenger card. It “will support the safe re-opening of Australia’s international borders” Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said in a statement.
13th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

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Unvaccinated Americans Are 11 Times More Likely to Die of Covid, C.D.C. Reports

Three studies that drew data from different U.S. regions evaluated the protective power of the vaccines. One looked at more than 600,000 virus cases in 13 states, representing about one quarter of the U.S. population, between April and July, and concluded that individuals who were not fully vaccinated were far more susceptible to infection and death from the virus. They were 4.5 times more likely than vaccinated individuals to become infected, 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die from the coronavirus, the study found.
10th Sep 2021 - The New York Times

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Biden to Require All Federal Workers, Government Contractors Be Vaccinated Against Covid-19

All employers with 100 or more employees would have to require their workers to be vaccinated or undergo at least weekly Covid-19 testing under a new plan by President Biden to curb the spread of the pandemic, senior administration officials said. The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the coming weeks plans to issue an emergency temporary standard implementing the new requirement, which will cover 80 million private-sector workers, officials said. Businesses that don’t comply can face fines of up to $14,000 per violation, they said. The employers will also have to give workers paid time off to get vaccinated or to recover from any side effects of getting vaccinated.
9th Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate Guide: Which US Employers Are Requiring Inoculation

To mandate, or not to mandate? That is the question facing corporations right now as they weigh the pros and cons of requiring a Covid-19 vaccine for employees. The answers, so far, are all over the place. A Bloomberg compilation of policies of more than 100 big companies found that about half have implemented a vaccine mandate for at least some of their U.S. staff, but the requirements vary widely. For many, the measure applies to anyone entering a U.S. office—but that can leave wide swaths of the workforce unaffected. Walmart Inc., for instance, hasn’t required its more than 1 million store and warehouse workers to get jabbed. For roughnecks on oil rigs, it might depend where they’re drilling.
9th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Massive numbers of new COVID–19 infections, not vaccines, are the main driver of new coronavirus variants

It’s natural to wonder if highly effective COVID-19 vaccines are leading to the emergence of variants that evade the vaccine – like dark peppered moths evaded birds that hunted them. But with just under 40% of people in the world having received a dose of a vaccine – only 2% in low-income countries – and nearly a million new infections occurring globally every day, the emergence of new, more contagious variants, like delta, is being driven by uncontrolled transmission, not vaccines.
9th Sep 2021 - The Conversation

Vaccine passports planned to be used for some events in Scotland from October 1

The new SNP-Green government clinched its first major parliamentary victory when a controversial scheme to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs and large scale events was passed by its coalition majority.
9th Sep 2021 - The Scotsman

Covid-19 vaccines in South Africa: Free football tickets for fans with jabs

South African football fans who are vaccinated can get free entry to watch the national team play Ethiopia in a World Cup qualifier next month, the country's football association says. Its head Danny Jordaan said the deal would apply to half the tickets. It is subject to an agreement with the government and depends on how many fans show up, according to the News24 site. The government is concerned about growing anti-vaccine sentiment in the country. Only 10 million people have been inoculated against Covid-19, and the government says this needs to reach 40 million for population immunity.
9th Sep 2021 - BBC News

Amazon.com to cut cost of COVID-19 PCR test kits

Amazon.com said it will cut the cost of its direct-to-consumer COVID-19 PCR Test Collection kit to $36.99, a $3 price reduction. The U.S. retailer said the price cut reflects its costs for selling the FDA-approved kit and is the result of a public-private partnership with the Biden administration. The White House said Thursday that Amazon, Walmart , and Kroger will sell at home rapid COVID-19 tests at-cost for the next three months.
9th Sep 2021 - Reuters

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Coronavirus vaccine passports to be rolled out in October

Australia will begin issuing coronavirus vaccine passports from next month as preparations to restart international jetsetting continue. Travel is not expected to start until vaccination coverage for people aged 16 and over reaches 80 per cent, which is likely months away. The first international immunisation certificates are set to be rolled out in October with the federal government also working with other countries to determine which vaccines will be recognised.
8th Sep 2021 - PerthNow

Covid-19: Further push to vaccinate students in 'jabbathon'

There is to be a further push to vaccinate more students at campuses in Northern Ireland. The health minister Robin Swann announced details of the plan on Wednesday. The initiative - termed "jabbathon" - will involve 60 walk-in clinics across 30 campuses giving first jabs to students in universities and Further Education colleges.
8th Sep 2021 - BBC News

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How to protect children under 12 from Covid-19, according to Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci says there's an important step adults can take to protect children who are too young to be vaccinated against Covid-19. "The way you protect children who, because of their age, cannot get vaccinated yet is to surround the children -- be it friends, family, school teachers, personnel in the school -- surround the children with vaccinated people," the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told CNN on Sunday.
7th Sep 2021 - CNN

Covid-19 Testing Is Keeping Some Students in School and Out of Quarantine

Some schools are trying a new plan to keep students safely in the classroom: Rather than quarantining children who have an in-school contact with a positive case, they are testing them. A lot. The method keeps children in school after exposure to a classmate or teacher who tested positive for Covid-19 if they test negative at least every other day. Known as test-to-stay, the approach is a higher transmission risk than keeping exposed students at home, but some public-health experts and educators say the trade-off is worth it to avoid missed days in class.
7th Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Israel's Covid Surge Shows the World What's Coming Next

Epidemiologists say cases among the over 30s are already declining thanks to the boosters and restrictions on bars and restaurants to the fully vaccinated. The highest rate of new cases in recent weeks is among children under the age of 12, according to Ran Balicer, chair of the expert advisory panel to the government. There’s also a record level of testing. “Waning immunity is a real challenge that every country needs to prepare a contingency plan to tackle,” said Balicer, who is also chief innovation officer for Israeli health maintenance organization Clalit. The data coming from Israel in the coming weeks will allow the world to assess the efficacy of the booster shot program, he said.
7th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

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COVID: Doctor calls for 12-year-olds to be allowed to overrule parents on coronavirus vaccine

Some children as young as 12 should be allowed to overrule their parents on whether they have the COVID vaccine, a senior doctor has said. Dr David Strain, a clinical lead for COVID services, told Sky News he believed there were 12-year-olds "mature enough" to decide to have the coronavirus jab without the consent of their legal guardians. Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has said parental consent will be required if the government decides that all 12 to 15-year-olds should be offered the jab
6th Sep 2021 - Sky News

Telstra joins Qantas and Virgin planning to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for its staff Australia

Telstra has joined Qantas and Virgin Airlines in mandating coronavirus vaccines for all staff, with a cut-off date before employment termination. The telecommunications giant sent a memo to its 28,960 staff members on Monday morning saying frontline workers must have had their first jab by October 15th and their second by November 15th or face having their contracts torn up. The mandate refers to the 8,300 staff members who work instore and as technicians who regularly come face-to-face with their customers
6th Sep 2021 - Daily Mail

New Zealand COVID-19 cases steady ahead of decision on easing curbs

New Zealand reported 20 new cases of COVID-19 for a third day in a row on Monday, ahead of a decision on whether coronavirus restrictions would be eased in most of the country. All new cases were in Auckland, the epicentre of the current outbreak, and took the total number of infections to 821. The government is set to decide on Monday whether coronavirus restrictions enforced in the country will be eased
6th Sep 2021 - Reuters

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What Vaccinated People Need to Know About Breakthrough Infections

If you’re vaccinated, you should think about a number of variables, including your overall health, where you live and the risks you take.
5th Sep 2021 - The New York Times

England's schools must be made safe: An open letter to the education secretary

We write as researchers, parents, and educators concerned about the impact of the pandemic on children’s education. Like you, and in agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO), we recognise the importance of schools staying open over the autumn and in the longer term. However, as the WHO also notes, schools must be made safe by adopting measures to minimise transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We are therefore writing to express our concerns about the lack of mitigations for children and educational staff, and the subsequent risk to children from covid-19 as schools reopen in England this September. We offer nine evidence based recommendations to reduce new infections in children.
4th Sep 2021 - The BMJ

New Zealand sees success in curbing Delta outbreak as new cases plunge

New Zealand reported 28 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, a big drop compared to the last few days, as authorities said the country was breaking the chain of transmission of the highly infectious Delta variant of coronavirus. Authorities said 27 new cases were in Auckland and one was in Wellington. Friday's numbers were lower than 49 new cases reported on Thursday and 75 the day before.
4th Sep 2021 - Reuters

As COVID surges, more Florida school districts revolt against governor's mask rules

In a scene replayed across the United States, angry parents and activists streamed into a meeting of the Florida's Lake County school board on Thursday where it considered whether to mandate mask-wearing for students and staff due to COVID. Some opponents of the mask proposal brandished signs that read “Let Our Children Breathe.” Even with Florida seeing a record number of coronavirus cases, one attendee called the pandemic "overblown." Another was escorted out by deputies after yelling at board members. The proposal would require staff and students to wear masks for 14 days at schools with COVID positivity rates at or above 5%. But Florida's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, effectively banned similar mandates in July.
4th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Ex-UK PM Brown accuses West of 'moral outrage' over COVID vaccine stockpiling

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown accused rich countries of committing a "moral outrage" by stockpiling COVID-19 doses while poor countries are struggling to get supplies. Brown, who is a United Nations special envoy, called on U.S. President Joe Biden and other Group of Seven leaders to urgently ship vaccines from warehouses in America and Europe to Africa. Western countries are hoarding nearly 300 million shots while only 70 million people in Africa have so far been vaccinated, Brown said in an opinion piece published in the Sunday Mirror newspaper, citing research by data firm Airfinity.
4th Sep 2021 - Reuters

More Companies Weigh Penalizing Employees Without Covid-19 Vaccinations

Companies unwilling to require employees to get vaccinations are increasingly considering healthcare-benefit surcharges and other more aggressive measures to make their workplaces safer from Covid-19, employment and benefit experts say. What started as a campaign of encouragement and lobbying by many employers is now turning into a more forceful effort, with businesses considering measures that penalize employees who remain unvaccinated.
3rd Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Opinion | Doctors should be allowed to give priority to vaccinated patients when resources are scarce

I’m going to come right out and say it: In situations where hospitals are overwhelmed and resources such as intensive care beds or ventilators are scarce, vaccinated patients should be given priority over those who have refused vaccination without a legitimate medical or religious reason.
3rd Sep 2021 - The Washington Post

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Enforcing Vaccine Mandates Is Messy Business

U.S. companies of all sizes have enacted vaccine requirements for employees in recent weeks. They are finding that setting a policy is more straightforward than enforcing it. Questions and complications are popping up as employees and managers apply the new rules to once-routine business activities such as travel, trade shows, office socializing and interactions with vendors and clients, executives say. The consulting and accounting firm Deloitte LLP recently told employees they will need to be vaccinated to attend voluntary workshops and events at the firm’s leadership training facility near Dallas, called Deloitte University.
2nd Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

More than 500,000 children tested positive for Covid-19 in 3 weeks. Experts say school mask mandates are needed

US states that saw some of the country's worst Covid-19 case rates over the past week also reported the highest number of new vaccinations per capita, data published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. Tennessee, which reported the country's worst Covid-19 cases rate, had the sixth-best rate of new vaccinations per capita in the US over the past week. The state's hospitals are "under increasing strain from the highly contagious Delta variant," Tennessee's health department wrote on Twitter Thursday, adding in a statement that the strain was continuing to fuel an increase in infections.
2nd Sep 2021 - CNN

Opinion | We Work at the A.C.L.U. Here’s What We Think About Vaccine Mandates.

Do vaccine mandates violate civil liberties? Some who have refused vaccination claim as much. We disagree. At the A.C.L.U., we are not shy about defending civil liberties, even when they are very unpopular. But we see no civil liberties problem with requiring Covid-19 vaccines in most circumstances. While the permissibility of requiring vaccines for particular diseases depends on several factors, when it comes to Covid-19, all considerations point in the same direction. The disease is highly transmissible, serious and often lethal; the vaccines are safe and effective; and crucially there is no equally effective alternative available to protect public health.
2nd Sep 2021 - The New York Times

Vaccinations Mandatory for Barclays Staff in New York

Barclays Plc is the latest bank in the U.S. to keep unvaccinated staff at home for the time being. “As we continue inviting our colleagues back to our offices in New York, we made a decision to focus initially on those already vaccinated,” Barclays said in an emailed statement. Banks are bringing more staff back to their premises around the world after more than a year of working from home.
2nd Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Draghi Says Italy Will Eventually Make Vaccine Compulsory

Italy will eventually make vaccination compulsory, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said at a press conference in Rome on Thursday. Italy will also start administering a third vaccine shot from later this month, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said, adding that the campaign will start from those with a weak immune system. Speranza stressed that vaccination is already required for health workers, and that this requirement could be expanded to other groups.
2nd Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

What can employers do if workers avoid COVID-19 vaccines?

What can employers do if workers avoid COVID-19 vaccines? They can require vaccination and fire employees who don't comply, or take other actions such as withholding company perks or charging extra for health insurance. Businesses for months have been encouraging workers to get vaccinated, in some cases offering incentives like time off or gift cards. But more are taking a harder stance and requiring vaccinations for any remaining holdouts, a push that has gained momentum since Pfizer’s vaccine recently received full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
2nd Sep 2021 - The Independent

Coronavirus vaccine mandates are causing people to search for religious exemptions

The rules around religious exemptions for coronavirus vaccines vary widely, state by state, institution by institution. But experts on religious freedom court cases believe lawsuits will become more common as vaccine mandates become more prevalent. With no nationally consistent way of navigating religious exemptions, some churches have offered parishioners templates to download. Other leaders, however, have said they will not provide exemptions.
2nd Sep 2021 - The Washington Post

US university students face back-to-campus vaccine mandates

Legal precedent suggests that universities can mandate vaccinations, but not every COVID-19 vaccine has received full approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, leaving a legal grey area.
2nd Sep 2021 - AlJazeera

Vaccine passports linked to COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in UK and Israel

A new study from Imperial College London has found a link between COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and a perceived lack of free will over vaccine passports. The findings, taken from surveys of 1,358 people across the UK and Israel – two highly vaccinated countries – found that people who feel their sense of autonomy, or free will, is unmet by government incentives like vaccine passports are less likely to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
2nd Sep 2021 - Imperial College London

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CDC asks the unvaccinated not to travel this weekend and says even vaccinated need to weigh the risk

Due to the surge of Covid-19 cases, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking unvaccinated Americans not to travel during the Labor Day holiday weekend. The US is surpassing an average of 160,000 new cases a day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. With the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant and many students returning to the classroom for a new academic year, the rise is concerning officials and health experts. "First and foremost, if you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House Covid-19 Response Team Briefing on Tuesday.
1st Sep 2021 - CNN

France starts COVID-19 booster shot campaign for the elderly

France on Wednesday started administering booster shots of COVID-19 vaccine to people over 65 and those with underlying health conditions as the delta variant spreads in the country. France is the first big EU country to introduce widespread booster shots, and several other European countries are expected to follow suit.
1st Sep 2021 - The Independent

COVID-19: Scotland to require vaccine passports for nightclubs and large events, Nicola Sturgeon says

Nicola Sturgeon says that while events covered by the scheme "matter to our economy, and to our cultural and social life", they are "not essential services".
1st Sep 2021 - Sky News

Vaccinations in rural India increase amid supply concerns

India has dramatically increased COVID-19 vaccination rates in its vast rural hinterland, where around 65% of the country’s nearly 1.4 billion people live. But supply constraints remain for the world’s largest maker of vaccines and experts say it’s unlikely India will reach its target of vaccinating all adults by the end of the year. India opened shots for all adults in May. But the campaign faltered in villages due to vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. That started changing in mid-July and of the nearly 120 million shots administered in the past three weeks, around 70% were in India’s villages — up from around half in the initial weeks of May.
1st Sep 2021 - The Associated Press

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No 10 to press on with plans for Covid vaccine passports in England

Downing Street has said the government will press ahead with plans to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs and other crowded indoor venues in England from the end of next month. Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson was asked on Tuesday about reports suggesting ministers could back away from the proposal in the face of objections from Conservative MPs, but said there was no change to the policy. “We set out broadly our intention to require vaccination for nightclubs and some other settings. We will be coming forward in the coming weeks with detail for that,” he said
31st Aug 2021 - The Guardian

Perspective | Coronavirus vaccines work. But this statistical illusion makes people think they don't.

In real-life Israel, as of Aug. 15 — using Morris’s summary of official data — 301 fully vaccinated people had an illness severe enough to require hospitalization. They represented just 53 out of every million fully vaccinated Israelis. At the same time, 214 hospitalized people were not vaccinated. Those people made up a much bigger fraction of the smaller population of unvaccinated people: 164 out of every million. So an unvaccinated Israeli is about three times as likely to end up in the hospital as their vaccinated compatriot.
31st Aug 2021 - The Washington Post

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Virgin Australia moves to make coronavirus vaccines mandatory for all staff

Virgin Australia is moving to make coronavirus vaccines mandatory for all staff from November 15. The airline will begin a consultation process between employees and unions, arguing the vaccine is "necessary" to keep workers, customers and "the wider Australian community safe". It follows a decision by Qantas to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for staff, also by November 15.
30th Aug 2021 - 9News

Lancaster firm announces global launch of PPE which 'kills Covid on contact'

Lancaster-based ViraCoat Limited has announced the global launch of a new range of antiviral and antimicrobial personal protective equipment (PPE) masks which begin to kill the Covid-19 virus SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses on contact.
30th Aug 2021 - Lancaster Guardian

Covid-19 vaccine pass plan for Hong Kong ‘could backfire’

Any policy perceived as making inoculations mandatory could leave some residents more suspicious of shots, health and economic experts say. Patrick Nip, the minister in charge of city’s inoculation programme, raised the idea on Sunday
30th Aug 2021 - South China Morning Post

Even Xbox is telling you to get the Covid-19 vaccine

Microsoft is using the Xbox social media accounts to promote getting vaccinated and dispelling myths surrounding it. There are already plenty of people urging others to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, be they doctors, celebrities, or those who unfortunately caught it. And now even Microsoft is pushing it through the Xbox social media channels. Recently, the official Xbox Twitter account posted ‘The power of play makes us heroes in new worlds every day. You can be a hero in real life too by getting vaccinated against Covid-19, protecting yourself & the people around you.
30th Aug 2021 - Metro.co.uk

Brazil Overtakes U.S. in First-Dose Count After Vaccine Drive

About 63% of Brazilians have now received at least one dose, versus 62% of people in the U.S., according to Bloomberg’s Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker. Countries including Germany, France and the U.K. have vaccinated at least 65% of the population with one shot, the data show. While Brazil was late to start administering vaccines, deploying the first shots in mid-January and often struggling with shortages, the campaign has gained momentum. Relying on a de-centralized public health-care system that’s known for excelling in mass immunizations, the country has regularly deployed more than 2 million jabs a day this month, according to the 10-day moving average compiled by Bloomberg.
30th Aug 2021 - Bloomberg

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Ingestion of livestock drug for COVID-19 treatment prompts warning from medical health professionals

Ivermectin, a deworming drug for cows and horses, has been used as a COVID-19 treatment method in Arkansas after lawmakers promoted it on social media. The Arkansas Poison Center reported that 24 people called this year after they ingested the drug. Americans have flocked to take Ivermectin despite warnings from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) not to, because of the danger it poses to human health. An overdose of Ivermectin can cause severe effects in humans ranging from gastrointestinal issues to severe seizures, and even death
29th Aug 2021 - Daily Mail on MSN.com

Coronavirus masks: Masks should be worn by primary school children says Professor Luke O'Neill

Immunologist Luke O’Neill is calling for primary school children to wear masks in the classroom in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Primary school students are not mandated to wear masks upon return to school this year with officials viewing it as too challenging for young children and a potential source of stress for pupils. Currently, secondary school students must wear masks at school when indoors. Prof O’Neill believes that if mask wearing in primary schools was even “30pc effective” then it would have a “significant impact” on breaking the chains of transmission in the younger age groups.
29th Aug 2021 - Independent.ie

Fauci backs COVID-19 vaccine mandate for U.S. school children

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said on Sunday he supports COVID-19 vaccine mandates for children attending schools as the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus continues to fuel a surge in cases in the nation. "I believe that mandating vaccines for children to appear in school is a good idea," Fauci told CNN’s "State of the Union" program. "We've done this for decades and decades, requiring polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis" vaccinations.
29th Aug 2021 - Reuters

Vaccinating 12 - 15-year-olds could save up to 6,500 lives, doctors say, as pressure grows on jab watchdogs to give the go-ahead

A new study by Exeter University says vaccinating 12 -to 15-year-olds is urgent Claim it would cut the number of Covid deaths and hospitalisations by a fifth UK vaccine watchdogs under pressure to approve the roll-out of jabs for children
29th Aug 2021 - Daily Mail

Kraft Heinz to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for office employees

Kraft Heinz Co said on Friday all U.S. employees will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to offices in January, as the fast-spreading Delta variant batters the United States. The packaged-food maker's announcement comes days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE vaccine, a certification that public health officials hope will convince unvaccinated Americans that the shot is safe and effective.
29th Aug 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Some Hotels Are Mandating Vaccines. Will Others Follow?

Accommodations such as PUBLIC Hotel, Equinox Hotel and Wythe Hotel, all in New York City, Urban Cowboy Lodge in Big Indian, N.Y., a hamlet in the Catskill Mountains, and Pilgrim House in Provincetown, Mass., are among the first in the United States to announce that they will require evidence of vaccination, via a physical card or a digital verification, from their guests. The precedent for hotels requiring vaccination is already being set beyond the contiguous United States.
27th Aug 2021 - The New York Times

In Britain, Young Children Don’t Wear Masks in School

The potential harms exceed the potential benefits, he said, because seeing faces is “important for the social development and interaction between people.” The British school system is different than the American one. But with school systems all over the United States debating whether to require masking, Britain’s experience during the Delta surge does show what happened in a country that relied on another safety measure — quarantining — rather than face coverings for young children.
27th Aug 2021 - The New York Times

Covid Spreads in Clusters. We Need to Track Them.

A fourth surge of Covid-19 is filling hospitals around the United States, fueled by the relaxing of mitigation measures, the more transmissible Delta variant and lagging vaccination rates. In states and counties where Delta is surging, contact tracers are overwhelmed. But monitoring the spread of the virus remains vital to getting it under control. The public health response to a Covid-19 outbreak in Provincetown, Mass., in July offers an object lesson in how Delta changes the playing field and what’s needed to manage the pandemic’s next phase
27th Aug 2021 - New York Times

Apple Pushes Staff to Get Vaccinated

Apple Inc. is making its strongest push yet for employees to get vaccinated, urging all U.S. workers to get shots as soon as possible now that the Food and Drug Administration has started formally approving the injections. The iPhone maker launched a new internal web page, sent a memo to employees and is hosting internal talks as part of the campaign. “Apple is asking everyone who has access to the vaccine and is able to get vaccinated to do so as soon as you can,” the company said in the memo, which was sent to staff Thursday evening.
27th Aug 2021 - Bloomberg

Florida Schools’ Covid-19 Mask Mandates Upheld by Judge

A Florida judge said school districts could impose mask mandates and that Gov. Ron DeSantis had overstepped his authority when he banned such rules. Judge John Cooper of the Second Judicial District in Tallahassee sided with parents of school children who had challenged a July executive order by Mr. DeSantis and a subsequent state rule that forbid school districts from implementing mask requirements that don’t allow parents to opt out their children. In an oral ruling Friday, Judge Cooper said the defendants, including the governor and the state Department of Education, improperly sought to draw authority for their actions from a state law enacted earlier this year, dubbed the parents’ bill of rights, which aimed to protect parents’ ability to make decisions regarding their children’s education and health.
27th Aug 2021 - Wall Street Journal

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Jha outlines ways to make schools safe from coronavirus

School districts across the country need to follow four rules to ensure that students and their teachers remain protected from the coronavirus this fall, pandemic expert Dr. Ashish Jha said. They are: Vaccinations for all who are eligible; proper ventilation and related mitigation measures in buildings; regular testing; and masks, he said Thursday in the latest edition of the “COVID: What Comes Next” podcast hosted by The Providence Journal. “For me this is personal,” said Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, because he has children in public schools, said.
26th Aug 2021 - Associated Press on MSN.com

Rite Aid to offer free COVID-19 testing to students in New York

Drugstore chain Rite Aid Corp said on Thursday it would be offering free COVID-19 tests to students in public schools in New York state before or at the start of the upcoming school year. The announcement comes as students in the United States prepare to head back to classes, while the country grapples with stemming the recent surge in cases caused by the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
26th Aug 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Campaign launched to encourage students to get tested regularly when schools return

The aim of the campaign is to persuade parents, secondary school and college students to take part in voluntary asymptomatic COVID-19 testing, with ministers saying regular testing will help to minimise disruption to pupils' learning in the weeks and months to come.
26th Aug 2021 - Sky News

100,000 more COVID deaths seen unless US changes its ways

The U.S. is projected to see nearly 100,000 more COVID-19 deaths between now and Dec. 1, according to the nation’s most closely watched forecasting model. But health experts say that toll could be cut in half if nearly everyone wore a mask in public spaces. In other words, what the coronavirus has in store this fall depends on human behavior. “Behavior is really going to determine if, when and how sustainably the current wave subsides,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. “We cannot stop delta in its tracks, but we can change our behavior overnight.”
26th Aug 2021 - The Associated Press

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India rushes teacher vaccinations as some physical classes resume

India will supply millions of additional COVID-19 vaccine doses to its states to try to inoculate all school teachers by early next month, the health minister says, as the country gradually resumes physical classes. The pandemic has hit the country of 1.35 billion people particularly hard and hundreds of millions of its students have been stuck at home for months, with little or no access to online education for a majority of the poor.
25th Aug 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Massachusetts issues mandate requiring masks in schools

Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeff Riley issued new regulations Wednesday requiring all public school students ages 5 and above, and all staffers, to wear masks indoors while at school. All visitors are also expected to wear masks in school buildings. Masks are not required when outdoors. The regulations take effect immediately and come a day after the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education gave Riley the authority to issue a mask mandate for K-12 public schools. The requirement will remain in place until at least Oct. 1 and could be revised in light of new public health data.
25th Aug 2021 - Associated Press

UPS mandates COVID-19 vaccination for employees in some U.S. locations

United Parcel Service Inc said on Tuesday it would require employees in certain U.S. locations to be vaccinated when they return to the office, as COVID-19 cases rise across the United States due to the fast-spreading Delta variant. The decision comes after the U.S. drug regulator on Monday granted full approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, a move that is expected to spur a string of similar mandates from corporate employers.
25th Aug 2021 - Reuters

Goldman Sachs to mandate COVID vaccine for staff, visitors at U.S. offices -memo

Goldman Sachs Group Inc told employees on Tuesday that anyone entering the investment bank's U.S. offices, including clients, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 starting immediately, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.
25th Aug 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Lufthansa to demand COVID-19 shots for crew

Germany's Lufthansa will require the crew on its planes to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, the airline said on Wednesday.
25th Aug 2021 - Reuters

Air Canada mandates COVID-19 vaccination for all employees

Air Canada said on Wednesday it would require all employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as the fast-spreading Delta variant drives an increase in infections. The move by Canada's largest carrier was in line with a government mandate that workers in the transportation sector be vaccinated by the end of October and follows similar moves by other major companies, including United Airlines
25th Aug 2021 - Reuters

Delta Air Lines to add $200 monthly health insurance charge for unvaccinated staff

Move aimed at pushing employees to get COVID vaccines. United Airlines mandated shots for its employees. Comes amid surge in Delta variant infections
25th Aug 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: PCR test providers warned by competitions watchdog not to break law in crackdown on 'rip-off prices and bad service'

The government announced earlier this week that it would be warning 82 companies that they face being removed from the verified test providers list if they advertise misleading prices.
25th Aug 2021 - Sky News

Goldman Sachs to require all people entering its offices to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19

Goldman said the new policy starts Sept. 7 and applies to everybody, including employees and clients, according to a memo sent Tuesday to U.S. workers. Those who aren’t fully vaccinated by then will have to work from home, according to a person with direct knowledge of the memo.
25th Aug 2021 - CNBC

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N.Y.C. Educators Must Be Vaccinated by September, de Blasio Says

New York City will require all Department of Education employees to have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by Sept. 27, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. The announcement represents a major step in the effort to fully reopen the country’s largest school district next month, and a significant escalation of the mayor’s push to vaccinate more New Yorkers. Mr. de Blasio has put reopening city schools at the center of his plan to help New York recover from the pandemic. The mayor is eager to reassure anxious parents and educators that schools will be safe this year despite an uptick in cases in the last two months linked to the Delta variant, especially since the city is no longer offering a remote learning option.
24th Aug 2021 - The New York Times

NHS Covid pass still not recognised in some EU countries

British tourists face difficulties in proving their vaccine status in Europe following a delay in linking the NHS Covid pass to the EU’s system due to gaps in the British government’s application to Brussels. An IT tie-up would ensure automatic recognition across the 27 member states of the information held on the NHS app, facilitating both international travel and access to hospitality where proof of vaccine status is required. The UK government made an application to link up to the EU’s digital certificate on 28 July but the European Commission has held off on giving its approval as it has sought extra technical information from Whitehall, the Guardian understands. While at least 19 EU countries, including major tourist destinations such as France and Spain, have unilaterally accepted the NHS app as proof of vaccine status, difficulties remain for some travellers from England and Wales due to the lack of pan-EU recognition.
24th Aug 2021 - The Guardian

University of Minnesota mandates COVID-19 vaccinations

The University of Minnesota will require all students to get vaccinated against COVID-19. President Joan Gabel and Jakub Tolar, dean of the university medical school, issued a news release Monday hours after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully approved the Pfizer version of the vaccine saying shots will be mandatory and students will receive an email in the next few days with instructions on how to confirm their vaccination status. The mandate is effective at University of Minnesota campuses in the Twin Cities, Crookston, Duluth, Morris and Rochester. Faculty and staff members will be required to inform the university of their vaccination status. Gabel and Tolar called the FDA’s approval a “milestone” in managing COVID-19.
24th Aug 2021 - Associated Press

ACLU sues over South Carolina ban on school mask mandates

The plaintiffs allege that the ban on mask mandates disproportionately affects students with underlying health conditions or disabilities, who are at risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract COVID-19. South Carolina legislators included a provision in the state’s general budget, passed in June, that prevented school districts from using state funding to require masks in schools. But some school districts and cities have disregarded the ban and gone forward with implementing a school mask mandate. The ban on mask mandates is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, the plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit.
24th Aug 2021 - The Associated Press

Greece announces new restrictions for those not vaccinated

Greece’s health minister announced plans on Tuesday to impose new testing requirements and attendance restrictions on people who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19. The measures include requiring weekly or twice-weekly testing for unvaccinated workers, and allowing access to certain indoor venues only to those who are vaccinated or have a certificate verifying they have recovered from COVID-19 in the last six months. Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said the new measures weren’t punitive, but “what we must do as a responsible state.”
24th Aug 2021 - The Associated Press

SWISS introduces mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for crews

SWISS is making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for its entire flying personnel from mid-November onwards, for operational reasons and under its duty of care towards its employees. Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is making vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory for all its flying personnel from 15 November onwards. The action has been taken in response to national entry restrictions worldwide, which are seeing an increasing insistence on proof of such vaccination for air crews, too. Hong Kong recently became the first SWISS destination to demand – with immediate effect – proof of COVID-19 vaccination for crews arriving from certain countries, Switzerland included.
24th Aug 2021 - Swiss International Airlines

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4 measures applied together can limit Covid-19 transmission in schools

The results of the model are clear. Four clear and important measures must be implemented in parallel to minimize the chances of school-related outbreaks. Require vaccination. The currently authorized Covid-19 vaccines are safe and incredibly effective against Covid-19. Though they have not yet been authorized for use in those under age 12, ensuring that every eligible individual within a school is vaccinated is one of the best ways to protect the entire school population. Wear masks. If someone in a school has been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the best way to minimize others’ exposure is to ensure that all individuals are wearing masks. This is especially important given that some individuals may not show any symptoms but can still transmit the virus. Increase ventilation. Early in the pandemic, researchers learned that the major form of SARS-CoV-2 transmission is through droplets, and sometimes even aerosols. Get tested. The Delta variant is two to three times more transmissible than previous versions of SARS-CoV-2. Until children under the age of 12 can be vaccinated, it is impossible in elementary school settings to achieve herd immunity through vaccination.
23rd Aug 2021 - STAT News

Coronavirus: Young long Covid sufferers lead vaccine drive

Young people have shared stories of the debilitating effects of long Covid as they urge others to get jabbed. A new NHS video features the experiences of three previously healthy people as part of a drive to encourage vaccine uptake. Quincy Dwamena, 31, said he delayed his jab and "ended up being hospitalised and thought I was going to die". It comes as the government says it has met its target of offering all 16 and 17-year-olds in England a Covid jab. More than 360,000 people in this age group in England have now been given a first dose of the vaccine.
23rd Aug 2021 - BBC News

NYC mandates vaccinations for public school teachers, staff

All New York City public school teachers and other staffers will have to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, officials said Monday, ramping up pandemic protections as the nation’s largest school system prepares for classes to start next month. The city previously said teachers, like other city employees, would have to get the shots or get tested weekly for the virus. The new policy marks the first no-option vaccination mandate for a broad group of city workers in the nation’s most populous city, though Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that coaches and students in football, basketball and other “high-risk” sports would have to get inoculated before play begins.
23rd Aug 2021 - Associated Press

Chevron begins COVID-19 vaccination mandates

U.S. energy companies are moving to requirethat employees receive COVID-19 vaccinations as infection rates rise across the United States and energy workers, according to health surveys, remain among those most reluctant to get inoculations.
23rd Aug 2021 - Reuters

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Classrooms in England to get air quality monitors to help combat Covid

Classrooms in England are to be fitted with air quality monitors when state schools and colleges reopen after the summer holidays, in an effort improve ventilation and combat the spread of Covid. The decision announced by the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, comes after a vociferous campaign by school staff unions for better ventilation, with research suggesting that the Covid virus mainly transmits via airborne particles, making enclosed spaces likely breeding grounds for infection. Starting in September, the Department for Education (DfE) will spend £25m on providing 300,000 CO2 monitors to alert staff and students if CO2 levels rise, meaning that fresh air is failing to circulate.
21st Aug 2021 - The Guardian

San Francisco's new rule: Proof of vaccine or no dining in

San Francisco became the first major city in the nation to require proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 on Friday for people dining inside restaurants, working out in gyms or attending indoor concerts
22nd Aug 2021 - ABC News

Popular blue surgical face masks do NOT stop people from being infected with COVID-19

University of Waterloo researchers find most cloth masks are only 10% effective. Researchers warn most cloth masks do not cover the face properly. N95 or KN95 masks were found to be the most effective at filtering aerosols. Study also found that even 'moderate ventilation' matches the best of masks in terms of protection against COVID-19. Mask debate remains contentious in the country as delta variant spreads
22nd Aug 2021 - Daily Mail

Lockdowns or vaccines? 3 Pacific nations try diverging paths

Cheryl Simpson was supposed to be celebrating her 60th birthday over lunch with friends but instead found herself confined to her Auckland home. The discovery of a single local COVID-19 case in New Zealand was enough for the government to put the entire country into strict lockdown this past week. While others might see that as draconian, New Zealanders generally support such measures because they worked so well in the past. “I’m happy to go into lockdown, even though I don’t like it,” said Simpson, owner of a day care center for dogs that is now closed because of the precautions. She said she wants the country to crush the latest outbreak: “I’d like to knock the bloody thing on the head.”
22nd Aug 2021 - The Associated Press

Coronavirus Australia: Vaccinated Australians to be allowed back into pubs, restaurants and gyms

Fully vaccinated NSW residents could soon be able to get the jump on lockdown. NSW preparing to introduce vaccine passport system when jab targets reached. Gladys Berejiklian is expected to unveil her so-called Freedom Plan next week. The proposal could see outdoor dining, gyms and beer gardens open back up. But the jab passport plan is not likely to come into effect until early October
20th Aug 2021 - Daily Mail

The Big-Government-Conservative War on Masks

Crises have the power to expose tensions within ideologies, and the current pandemic has made some of those in contemporary American conservatism vividly apparent.
20th Aug 2021 - The Atlantic

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Op-Ed: As a doctor in a COVID unit, I’m running out of compassion for the unvaccinated. Get the shot

My patient sat at the edge of his bed gasping for air while he tried to tell me his story, pausing to catch his breath after each word. The plastic tubes delivering oxygen through his nose hardly seemed adequate to stop his chest from heaving. He looked exhausted. He had tested positive for the coronavirus 10 days ago. He was under 50, mildly hypertensive but otherwise in good health. Eight days earlier he started coughing and having severe fatigue. His doctor started him on antibiotics. It did not work. Fearing his symptoms were worsening, he started taking some hydroxychloroquine he had found on the internet. It did not work.
17th Aug 2021 - Los Angeles Times

Australians aged 16-39 can get Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine from August 30, Prime Minister announces

All Australians will be able to get the Pfizer vaccine from August 30, PM said. The move has raise fears that many will cancel AstraZeneca appointments. Scott Morrison urged young Australians to get any vaccine they can right now. As of Thursday 28.2 per cent of Australians over 16 have been fully vaccinated
19th Aug 2021 - Daily Mail

Biden calls for schools to be allowed COVID mask mandates

US President Joe Biden continues to be at odds with governors who are outlawing school mask mandates as the country's Delta (B1617.2) surge continues, ordering the Department of Education to support schools seeking such mandates. COVID-19 hospitalizations for children, meanwhile, have hit a new record, up 30% from the nation's previous peak. Overall, the United States reported 137,815 new COVID-19 cases and 1,145 deaths yesterday, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. This brings the country's total cases to 37,198,723, including 624,567 deaths.
19th Aug 2021 - CIDRAP

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Delta surging in areas of low COVID-19 vaccine coverage - WHO

Circulation of the Delta variant in areas of low vaccination is driving transmission of COVID-19 around the world, World Health Organization officials said on Wednesday. "Many of the places around the world where Delta is surging -- even in countries that at a national level have high levels of vaccination coverage -- the virus, the Delta variant itself, is really circulating in areas of low level of vaccine coverage and in the context of very limited and inconsistent use of public health and social measures," WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove told an online news briefing.
18th Aug 2021 - Reuters

U.S. will extend COVID-19 transport mask mandate through Jan. 18

President Joe Biden's administration confirmed late on Tuesday it plans to extend requirements for travelers to wear masks on airplanes, trains and buses and at airports and train stations through Jan. 18 to address ongoing COVID-19 risks. A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokesperson confirmed the extension, first reported by Reuters. "The purpose of TSA’s mask directive is to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation," the spokesperson said
17th Aug 2021 - Reuters

Australia’s Qantas tells employees: no jabs, no jobs

Qantas Airways Ltd says it will require all its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of its broader commitment to safety, in line with other airlines globally. Pilots, cabin crew and airport workers will need to be fully vaccinated by November 15, while other staff will have until March 31, 2022, the airline said on Wednesday.
18th Aug 2021 - AlJazeera

In Florida, Some Vaccine Skeptics Are Changing Their Minds

In a rural stretch of northeastern Florida where barely half the people have gotten a coronavirus shot, Roger West had no problem telling others he was "adamantly anti-vaccination." The co-owner of the Westside Journal weekly newspaper used his voice as a columnist to widely share his doubts about the vaccine and his mistrust of the health experts in the U.S. who have been urging everyone to get it. "I do not trust the Federal Government," West wrote recently. "I do not trust Dr. Fauci, I do not trust the medical profession, nor the pharmaceutical giants."
18th Aug 2021 - NPR

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Snap national lockdown in New Zealand over single virus case

New Zealand’s government has taken drastic action by putting the entire nation into a strict lockdown for at least three days after finding a single case of coronavirus infection. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday invoked some of the stirring rhetoric she used early in the pandemic by urging the “team of five million” – New Zealand’s population – to go hard and early in trying to eliminate the latest outbreak.
17th Aug 2021 - Aljazeera

DA won't prosecute for governor's student mask opt-out order

An order by the Tennessee governor letting parents opt their children out of following mask rules at school has drawn defiance from officials in Memphis and Nashville, including a pledge Tuesday from Nashville’s district attorney not to prosecute teachers and school officials for flouting the carveout during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not long after Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s directive came down Monday, officials with Metro Nashville Public Schools and Shelby County Schools in the Memphis area pledged to keep enforcing their school mask requirements for students and others just as they have been. The resistance in the face of rising COVID-19 cases coincides with fights in states like Florida, where some districts are requiring masks despite a ban by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
17th Aug 2021 - Associated Press

West Virginia University requiring masks indoors

West Virginia University is requiring masks to be worn in classrooms and labs for the next 30 days, saying not enough students and employees have submitted proof of vaccination against the coronavirus
17th Aug 2021 - ABC

‘Masks work’: experts on how to navigate Delta when you’re vaccinated

The Covid-19 vaccine was supposed to bring life back to normal. Then came the Delta variant. Real-world data collection continues, but it’s clear that the vaccines do offer significant protection against becoming infected by Delta. They offer even greater protection against severe illness: Among states that are reporting breakthrough cases of Covid-19, fully vaccinated people made up no more than 5% of overall hospitalizations.
17th Aug 2021 - The Guardian

Vaccinate Kids Under 12 to Protect Us All From COVID-19

It’s easy to argue for vaccinating adults and teenagers against COVID-19. Some think it’s harder to make the case for kids under 12 years of age, and for understandable reasons. Much of the world remains unvaccinated, kids have generally been much less affected by the coronavirus, and we don’t yet have a thorough understanding of the risks versus the benefits. Still, if we weigh all the pros and cons, the argument for immunizing young children is much stronger than the argument against.
17th Aug 2021 - The Atlantic

Among France’s poorest, once-lagging vaccine rates jump

The poorest region in mainland France has managed to dramatically speed up its COVID-19 vaccination campaign in recent weeks, notably by opening walk-in pop-up centers to reach out to people where they live and work. The multicultural, working-class region of Seine-Saint-Denis, north of Paris, initially struggled in getting the word out about vaccines to a population where many are immigrants who don’t speak French or lack access to regular medical care. But offering vaccinations at a highly visible location wth easy access seems to be doing the trick.
17th Aug 2021 - The Associated Press

India COVID vaccinations near record, new cases at five-month low

India has administered more than 8.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the past 24 hours, government data shows, close to its all-time record and speeding up a campaign to inoculate all eligible adults by December. The surge in inoculations came alongside a sharp decline in daily new infections that fell to 25,166, the lowest since March 16, the health ministry said on Tuesday.
17th Aug 2021 - AlJazeera

Amid new virus surge, Florida skeptics reconsider vaccines

In a rural stretch of northeastern Florida where barely half the people have gotten a coronavirus shot, Roger West had no problem telling others he was “adamantly anti-vaccination.” The co-owner of the Westside Journal weekly newspaper used his voice as a columnist to widely share his doubts about the vaccine and his mistrust of the health experts in the U.S. who have been urging everyone to get it. “I do not trust the Federal Government,” West wrote recently. “I do not trust Dr. Fauci, I do not trust the medical profession, nor the pharmaceutical giants.” But something happened to change his mind: Two of West’s close friends became ill with the virus, and a third died. Rattled and stressed, he prayed for guidance. Then, when his mother and another relative both urged him to get vaccinated, he took it as a sign from God. West drove to the Winn Dixie supermarket and rolled up his sleeve for the first of two injections of the Moderna vaccine.
17th Aug 2021 - The Associated Press

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COVID-19: ASDA and National Express offer rewards for young people getting vaccine

Asda and National Express are among a number of firms set to offer rewards to young people getting a COVID jab. Free Now taxis, lastminute.com and Better leisure centres will also offer incentives for those booking in for a vaccine. Uber, Bolt and Deliveroo have already said they will offer discounted rides and meals for customers who get the jab to help boost vaccine uptake.
16th Aug 2021 - Sky News

Coronavirus Australia: How young Australians under 30 can get Covid vaccines - Pfizer, AstraZeneca

Thousands of young Australians will finally get the chance to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as New South Wales is set to roll out new Pfizer jabs across transmission hotspots in Sydney. Anyone aged 16 and over will be eligible to book a priority vaccination appointment from Monday, if they work in authorised industries and live in one of nine government areas of concerns. That means freight, distribution, delivery or bus drivers, as well as construction workers, meat workers, food workers and disability, health and aged care workers, will all be able to jump the Covid jab queue and get their first shot between August 16 and 22.
16th Aug 2021 - Daily Mail

Businesses tempt Covid vaccine shy with vouchers and discounts

Asda, National Express and lastminute.com are among companies that will offer incentives to customers who get vaccinated against coronavirus. The group of businesses join Uber and Bolt, the taxi companies, and the takeaway service Deliveroo, which have said they will give discounted rides and meals to customers who have had a jab.
16th Aug 2021 - The Times

More companies to offer Covid-19 jab-linked incentives

More of the country’s best known businesses will offer rewards to customers who are vaccinated against Covid-19. Asda lastminute.com, National Express Free Now taxis and Better leisure centres are among those offering incentives to encourage younger people to get vaccinated. Uber Bolt and Deliveroo have already said they will offer discounted rides and meals for customers who get a Covid-19 jab, to help boost vaccine uptake.
16th Aug 2021 - Evening Standard

Indian state brings COVID vaccines to migrant workers’ doorstep

As a health worker swabs the skin on his arm with an alcohol wipe and prepares the syringe, Kartik Biswas feels an overwhelming sense of relief. He is finally about to receive his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as part of a drive by the southern Indian state of Kerala to inoculate some of the country’s most marginalised people: migrant workers.
16th Aug 2021 - Al Jazeera English

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How to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination in San Francisco or anywhere in California

The state of California keeps a record of your coronavirus vaccination - that's how they know how many people have gotten their shots statewide. You can check your personal vaccine record by going to the California Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record on your mobile phone or computer.
14th Aug 2021 - KGO-TV

First to vaccinate and first to party, Israel now mulls lockdowns

Naftali Bennett was honest with Israelis when he announced the measure on Wednesday: the government was trying to cushion the blow. On August 1, it had started offering people over 60 a third shot of the Pfizer vaccine, embarking on its own public health experiment as it tumbled into an unpredictable fourth wave. “We have to raise hospital capacity to buy time until the vaccination campaign goes into effect and starts to stem the outbreak,” Bennett said.
13th Aug 2021 - Financial Times

IBM to allow only fully vaccinated to return to U.S. offices from Sept. 7

International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) said on Friday that it would allow only fully vaccinated U.S. employees to return to offices, which are set to open from Sept. 7, given the rapid spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19. "We will still open many of our U.S. sites, where local clinical conditions allow, the week of Sept. 7. However, the reopenings will only be for fully vaccinated employees who choose to come into the office," Chief Human Resources Officer Nickle LaMoreaux said in a memo sent to employees.
13th Aug 2021 - Reuters

Canada Will Require All Air Travelers To Be Vaccinated In A Broad New Policy

All passengers and workers on commercial air flights in Canada will soon have to prove they've been vaccinated against the coronavirus. Canada's government will also require all federal workers to be vaccinated, citing a "dynamic public health situation" due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new travel vaccination policy will apply to passengers and workers in the federally regulated air, rail and cruise ship sectors. It will be enacted "as soon as possible in the fall and no later than the end of October," the Canadian Treasury Board said on Friday.
13th Aug 2021 - NPR

Evening Standard Comment: Stop the PCR rip-off

Travellers are well-acquainted with being ripped off. From £3.50 miniature bottles of water at train stations to sun cream at airports costing more than printer ink. But the great PCR test swindle takes some beating. Many companies are charging more than £200 per test, threatening to render international travel a luxury only for the well-off. While the average test costs around £75, that it still significantly more than France, where it is about €50 (£42). Indeed, in many circumstances, tests are costing several times more the price of a flight.
13th Aug 2021 - Evening Standard

We Studied One Million Students. This Is What We Learned About Masking.

For more than a year, we’ve worked with North Carolina school districts and charter schools, studying the rate of new Covid cases, the efficacy of mitigation measures such as masking and the increased risks of participating in school-sponsored sports. We have learned a few things for certain: Although vaccination is the best way to prevent Covid-19, universal masking is a close second, and with masking in place, in-school learning is safe and more effective than remote instruction, regardless of community rates of infection.
11th Aug 2021 - Yahoo! Voices

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LA joins NY in requiring vaccine passports for customers

The LA City Council directed its city attorney on Wednesday to draft legislation requiring customers show proof of at least one vaccine dose to enter. The legislation also includes retail establishments, making it more restrictive than one announced in New York City last week. It is not yet clear how places such as grocery stores will be affected. It comes as average of 3,422 new cases were recorded in LA over the past week, a 10.9 percent increase over the previous week Reaction was mixed, with some calling the measure overreaching, while business leaders asked for more enforcement details. It came a day after California announced it was mandating teachers get vaccinated or submit to covid-19 tests
12th Aug 2021 - Daily Mail

Covid-19: Vaccine portal for 12 to 15-year-olds in Ireland opens

More than 50,000 children in the Republic of Ireland aged between 12 and 15 have signed up to get a Covid-19 vaccine. Registrations opened for the age group on Thursday. The Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) said more than 42,000 children had been signed up by mid-morning, Irish broadcaster RTÉ reported. Around 280,000 children will be eligible for immunisation with a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Children need consent from a parent or guardian, either when registering online, or at the vaccination centre.
12th Aug 2021 - BBC News

COVID-19: Calls for more employers to give staff paid time off so they can have their coronavirus vaccine

There are calls for more employers to allow staff paid time off to get their COVID-19 vaccinations. Research by conciliation service Acas found that one in four companies is not giving staff paid time off to get their jabs - and nor do they have any plans to allow this. Susan Clews, Acas chief executive, said: "The vaccine rollout programme has gone well and our survey reveals that most employers have allowed staff paid time off to get the jab, but a quarter have not.
12th Aug 2021 - Sky News

NHS Covid-19 app engineer talks updates, the 'pingdemic' and data

The NHS Covid-19 app will be updated next week to allow people to add their vaccination status to skip isolation. The update, which will come into effect on Monday (August 16), will mean those who are double jabbed won’t have to isolate if they are ‘pinged’ by the app. App users will instead by able to include their vaccination status on the app and will be advised to order a PCR test if they’ve come into contact with someone who has tested positive. The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed this week that from August 16, people who are double jabbed or aged under 18 will no longer be legally required to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive case of Covid-19.
12th Aug 2021 - Digital Health

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COVID cases could have been prevented by better ventilation, says leading aerosol scientist

Schools, shopping centres and restaurants have become the epicentres of Victoria’s dangerous Delta clusters, but a respected aerosol scientist says some of this spread could have been prevented with improved ventilation of classrooms and public venues. As Melbourne’s sixth lockdown looks set to be extended beyond Thursday, Distinguished Professor Lidia Morawska said carbon dioxide monitors should join QR codes and masks as standard measures used by business to help stop or reduce the severity of COVID-19 outbreaks.
12th Aug 2021 - The Age

Health experts demand global vaccination campaign to end pandemic

More than 175 public health experts, scientists and activists on Tuesday demanded that President Biden take urgent steps to confront the global spread of the coronavirus, warning that without immediate action to inoculate the rest of the world, newer variants are likely to emerge — including ones that may evade vaccines’ protection. “We urge you to act now,” the experts wrote in a joint letter to senior White House officials Tuesday and shared with The Washington Post. “Announcing within the next 30 days an ambitious global vaccine manufacturing program is the only way to control this pandemic, protect the precious gains made to date, and build vaccine infrastructure for the future.”
11th Aug 2021 - The Washington Post

Get vaccinated or face weekly Covid tests, California teachers and staff told

California will become the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly Covid testing, as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns about the highly contagious delta variant, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday. Newsom announced the new policy at a San Francisco Bay Area school that reopened earlier this week to in-person classes. Many California schools are back in session, with others starting in the coming weeks.
11th Aug 2021 - The Guardian

Delta COVID-19 strain still troubling 'world's most vaccinated country'

The surge in COVID-19 cases in Iceland - where nearly all the tiny country's population is vaccinated - holds lessons for countries like Australia, an infectious disease expert says. Iceland has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, with 96 per cent of women and 90 per cent of men aged 16 or older having had at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine. A total of of 86 per cent of the country's 357,000 population has been inoculated.
11th Aug 2021 - 9News

Survey: About half of parents holding off on covid vaccines for their children

As schools prepare to open for a third straight pandemic-strained year, about half of parents are holding off on coronavirus vaccinations for their children, taking a wait-and-see attitude or, for many, outright opposing the shots, a new survey finds. The Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds significant barriers to increasing vaccination among children ages 12 to 17, who have the lowest rates of any age group at 41 percent. Large shares of parents of unvaccinated children say they fear the long-term effects of the vaccine as well as serious side effects. Many parents who are vaccinated are still holding off on inoculating their children, the survey found.
11th Aug 2021 - The Washington Post

Melbourne extends COVID lockdown; 'no jab, no job' in Sydney

Melbourne to remain in lockdown until Aug 19. New South Wales records 344 cases Outbreak threatens second recession in 2 years. Sydney construction workers can get back to jobs - if vaccinated
11th Aug 2021 - Reuters

Airlines split on COVID-19 vaccine mandates for employees

In a bid to encourage companies to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for employees, President Joe Biden will meet with United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby and other business owners who have announced mandates today at the White House. Joining Kirby will be the CEO of Kaiser Permanente, the president of Howard University, and a small business owner from South Carolina. The four people represent a major company, a healthcare system, a university, and a small business, the Wall Street Journal reports.
11th Aug 2021 - CIDRAP

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High trust in doctors, nurses in US, AP-NORC poll finds

Most Americans have high trust in doctors, nurses and pharmacists, a new poll finds. Researchers say that trust could become important in the push to increase COVID-19 vaccinations, as long as unvaccinated people have care providers they know and are open to hearing new information about the vaccines. At least 7 in 10 Americans trust doctors, nurses and pharmacists to do what’s right for them and their families either most or all of the time, according to the poll from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
10th Aug 2021 - Associated Press

Don’t let children under 12 slip through the cracks in the fight against Covid

In the latest evolution, new guidance from the CDC recommends that all children attending K-12 schools wear masks — even those who are vaccinated. This shift was aimed at protecting children under 12, who cannot yet be vaccinated. As public health professionals and parents of children under 12 ourselves, we welcome this change, which recognizes that guidelines need to take into account the situation of people who are not protected by vaccination. Policies must continue to ensure the safety of vulnerable people in our communities. It is not just a moral imperative: If we fail to protect all individuals in our communities, efforts to control the pandemic will always fall short.
10th Aug 2021 - STAT News

Florida, Texas schools defy governors' bans on mask mandates as COVID cases soar

School districts in Florida and Texas are bucking their Republican governors' bans on requiring masks for children and teachers as coronavirus cases soar in conservative areas with low vaccination rates. The Broward County school board in Florida on Tuesday became the latest major district to flout an order by Republican Governor Rick DeSantis outlawing mask requirements in that state, prompting the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, to say it was considering supporting the school districts financially if DeSantis retaliates against them by withholding funds from officials' salaries.
10th Aug 2021 - Reuters

Germany to end free COVID tests from Oct. 11 - sources

The German government will stop offering free coronavirus tests from Oct. 11 in a bid to encourage more people to get vaccinated amid concerns about a rise in new cases, sources close to talks with the federal states said on Tuesday.
10th Aug 2021 - Reuters

Bangladesh vaccinating Rohingya refugees amid virus surge

Bangladesh’s government and aid agencies started vaccinating Rohingya refugees Tuesday as a virus surge raises health risks in the sprawling, cramped camps where more than 1 million people who fled Myanmar are sheltering. The highly transmissible delta variant is driving an infection surge across Bangladesh, with around 20,000 infections and 200 deaths recorded so far in Cox’s Bazar district, the southern region bordering Myanmar where the refugee camps are located. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said a national positivity rate of around 30% indicates the spread of COVID-19 is much higher, especially with cramped conditions and the risks faced by many people living in the refugee camps.
10th Aug 2021 - The Associated Press

Pentagon plans to make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory for US troops

The Pentagon plans to make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory for US troops by mid-September, as the country grapples with a rise in cases caused by the spread of the contagious Delta variant. “To defend this nation, we need a healthy and ready force,” wrote Lloyd Austin, defence secretary, in a memo to US forces released on Monday. Some vaccines against other diseases are already mandatory.
9th Aug 2021 - Financial Times

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Covid 19 coronavirus: Vaccine passports on their way for Kiwis

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says that the Government will be issuing Covid-19 vaccine passports to allow Kiwis to travel around the world. "Yes," she replied when asked by TVNZ Breakfast as to whether New Ze