Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Jan 2022

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Hong Kong to shut secondary schools from Monday over COVID fears

Hong Kong will suspend face-to-face teaching in secondary schools from Monday until after the approaching Lunar New Year, authorities said, because of a rising number of coronavirus infections in several schools in the Chinese-ruled territory. The government halted classes in primary schools and kindergartens early this month, and imposed curbs, such as a ban on restaurant dining after 6 p.m. and the closure of venues such as gyms, cinemas and beauty salons.
20th Jan 2022 - Reuters

France to unveil timetable for easing COVID restrictions

France will unveil a timetable for easing COVID-19 restrictions later on Thursday, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said, though he cautioned the wave of Omicron infections tearing through the country had not reached its peak. Attal said France's new vaccine pass rules would help allow a softening of rules even as the incidence rate of infections continues to increase.
20th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Ontario schools reopening amid calls for more COVID measures

Schoolchildren in Canada’s most populous province are going back to their classrooms this week, after many parents said they were left scrambling to respond to the Ontario government’s decision earlier this month to delay in-person learning. Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced on January 3 that the province would push back the planned return to in-person classes from January 5 to January 17 due to rising COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations linked to the Omicron variant.
20th Jan 2022 - Al Jazeera

A Million Vaccine Shots Tossed in Indonesia on Short Expiry Date

More than a million Covid-19 vaccine shots expired in Indonesia before they could be given out, as most of them were donated with a short shelf life. Of the 1.1 million doses that were thrown out, about 98% were donated just one to three months away from expiry, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said in parliament.
20th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

New Mexico asks National Guard to teach as COVID shuts schools

New Mexico asked National Guard members and state employees to volunteer as substitute teachers to keep schools and daycare centers open during a surge in COVID-19 infections. State employees and Guard members who take up the call to teach will get their usual pay and be considered on administrative leave or active duty, respectively, according to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.
20th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 20th Jan 2022

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UnitedHealth says Omicron-driven cost impact cushioned by healthcare deferrals

UnitedHealth Group Inc said added costs of testing and treatment related to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases are being offset by postponements of non-urgent healthcare procedures, and the health insurer maintained its 2022 profit forecast. The comments should help allay investor concerns that the steep rise in COVID infections and hospitalizations driven by the Omicron variant of the virus in recent weeks would significantly drive up medical costs for health insurers. Adding to those concerns was a Biden administration initiative requiring insurers to reimburse Americans for up to eight at-home rapid COVID-19 tests per month, while setting no limit for tests, including at-home tests, that insurers must cover if they are ordered or administered by a healthcare provider.
19th Jan 2022 - Reuters

U.S. to distribute 400 million free N95 masks at CVS, Walgreens in COVID fight

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, as the Biden administration tries to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. Snug-fitting N95 face masks, so-called because they filter at least 95% of particulate matter from the air, will be shipped to pharmacies and community health centers this week, the official said, and will be available for pickup late next week. The U.S. government is leveraging the "federal retail pharmacy program" it used for vaccines, the White House said, as well as federally funded health clinics that serve minority groups hit hard by COVID infections and deaths.
19th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Surgeries fear an exodus of GPs as deadline for staff Covid jabs nears

GPs say an exodus of staff due to mandatory coronavirus vaccination is “a significant concern”, with the deadline for health workers to have a first jab just over a fortnight away. From April 1 everyone working in health or social care who has direct contact with patients must have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine. In order to meet the deadline they must have received a first dose by February 3. Vaccination figures for NHS staff working in community settings such as GP surgeries have not been published, but figures based on trusts show that more than 10 per cent of staff in some areas are yet to receive a first dose. Across England 5.7 per cent of staff are unvaccinated.
19th Jan 2022 - The Times

Merck-Ridgeback to supply courses of Covid-19 oral antiviral to UNICEF

Merck (MSD) and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics have entered a supply agreement with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to aid in wider worldwide access for investigational oral antiviral, molnupiravir, for Covid-19. According to the long-term deal, Merck will allocate up to three million courses of the oral antiviral to UNICEF for supply in over 100 low and middle-income nations during the first half of this year on obtaining regulatory authorisations.
19th Jan 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

To Help Battle Covid-19, a Hospital Borrows Tactics From Combat Veterans

At Rush University Medical Center, nurses still talk about their feelings of guilt from the early months of treating Covid-19 patients. How they hadn’t known how to best treat desperate patients. How worried they were about bringing Covid-19 home to their families. Except now they report having more mental and emotional tools at their disposal than they did at the beginning of the pandemic, thanks in large part to the work of Mark Schimmelpfennig, a hospital chaplain who is also an Army veteran. Mr. Schimmelpfennig months ago noticed that phrases nurses were using in conversation sounded like what he had heard from troops who had served in combat zones. The same techniques veterans use to wrestle with combat trauma also could be used by the healthcare profession, he said.
19th Jan 2022 - Wall Street Journal

Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 19th Jan 2022

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COVID-19 concerns force U.N. to prepare tsunami-hit Tonga relief aid at a distance

The United Nations is preparing for distanced relief operations in Tonga to avoid a COVID-19 outbreak in the Pacific island nation that is reeling under the impact of a volcanic eruption and tsunami, an official said on Wednesday. All the homes on one of Tonga's small outer islands have been destroyed and three people have so far been confirmed dead, the government said in its first statement after Saturday's devastating eruption. With communications badly hampered by the severing of an undersea cable, information on the scale of the devastation so far has mostly come from reconnaissance aircraft.
18th Jan 2022 - Reuters

French Covid Infections Hit Record as Patients Fill Up Hospitals

France registered a record number of daily Covid-19 infections as the omicron variant spreads across the country, sending a growing number of patients to hospitals. New cases totaled 464,769 Tuesday, according to data from the public health office. That far surpassed the previous high of 368,149 recorded a week ago. The surge comes as France is poised to require a complete vaccination regimen for many public activities -- from eating in restaurants to attending the theater or getting on an airplane -- saying a recent negative test isn’t good enough anymore
18th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid-19 Infected Lions Prompt Variant Warning in South Africa

Lions and pumas at a zoo in the South African capital of Pretoria got severe Covid-19 from asymptomatic zoo handlers, raising concerns that new variants could emerge from animal reservoirs of the disease,
18th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

South American health networks struggling as Omicron cases rise

The rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant has prompted dire warnings from healthcare workers across South America, as pressure builds at hospitals whose employees are taking sick leave, leaving facilities understaffed to cope with COVID-19. A major hospital in Bolivia’s largest city stopped admitting new patients due to a lack of personnel. One of Brazil’s most populous states cancelled scheduled surgeries for a month. And Argentina’s federation of private healthcare providers told the Associated Press news agency that it estimates about 15 percent of its health workers currently have the virus.
18th Jan 2022 - Al Jazeera

Rising Omicron Infections May Force Idaho to Return to Hospital Rationing

Rising Covid-19 omicron infections could force Idaho to start rationing hospital care again as health care workers fall ill, the state’s top health official warned Tuesday. If the trend continues, “it is likely Idaho will enter crisis of standards of care for a second time,” Dave Jeppesen, director of the state Department of Health and Welfare, said during an online briefing. The state ended rationing Dec. 20. One in four people tested for Covid-19 in Idaho are receiving positive results, the highest statewide positivity rate of the pandemic, Jeppesen said.
18th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 18th Jan 2022

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Omicron Fuels Fresh Surge, Threatening India’s Hospitals Anew

With less than half of India’s population fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and Omicron-variant infections rising rapidly, public-health experts warn that the healthcare system is again vulnerable—months after being overwhelmed by a surge of cases. India reported 141,986 new cases on Saturday, more than six times the number a week earlier. That official Covid-19 case count, like the government’s death tally—which stands at about 480,000—is a vast undercounting, many health experts say. The reproduction rate of the virus—the number of new infections caused by a single contagious person—recently hit 2.69, exceeding last year’s peak of 1.69, a government adviser said Wednesday. The official case count is expected surpass its daily record of 414,000, set in May, before the surge peaks in February.
18th Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

French COVID hospitalisations see biggest jump since Nov 2020

The number of people with COVID-19 in French hospitals rose by 888 to 25,775, the health ministry said on Monday, the biggest one-day increase since early November 2020 - before the start of the country's vaccination campaign. The last time the number of COVID patients was over 25,000 was on Dec. 17, 2020. Health ministry data on Monday also showed that the number of people with COVID-19 in intensive care units rose by 61 to 3,913, after being flat to stable for four days.
18th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Analysis: China's 'zero-COVID' campaign under strain as Omicron surges

China is doubling down on its "zero-COVID" strategy, saying the spread of the potentially milder Omicron variant is no reason to lower its guard amid warnings of economic disruptions and even public unrest as lockdowns drag into a third year. As other countries talk about a transition from "pandemic" to "endemic", China has stepped up policies to stamp out any new outbreak as soon as it arises, sealing off cities, shutting transport links and launching mass testing programmes.
18th Jan 2022 - Reuters on MSN.com

US Covid-19 hospitalizations expected to substantially increase from an already record-high over the coming weeks, expert says

Areas that were among the first to get hit hard by the Omicron variant are starting to see their Covid-19 numbers level off or even improve. But that's not the case for much of the country, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said. "There are parts of the country -- New York, in particular, and other parts of the Northeast -- where we are starting to see a plateau, and in some cases, an early decline in cases," Murthy told CNN on Sunday.
18th Jan 2022 - CNN

Covid-19 news: Falling cases in UK suggests omicron wave has peaked

A fall in coronavirus cases and plateau in hospital admissions across the UK is ‘cautiously good news’ A fall in new coronavirus cases in the UK suggests the wave triggered by the highly-transmissible omicron variant may have passed its peak. On Sunday, 70,924 people in the UK tested positive for coronavirus, according to UK government data. Within the past seven days, 754,054 new cases have been reported – a decrease of 463,043 on the previous seven days. “It does look like across the whole of the country cases do seem to be falling,” Mike Tildesley of the University of Warwick told BBC Breakfast today. “We have had… very, very high case numbers throughout late December and early January – we peaked above 200,000 at one point. We do now seem to be a little bit beyond that,” he said.
17th Jan 2022 - New Scientist

1st kids’ Omicron ward opens with classes, clowns, and doctors bracing for ‘war’

Preparing themselves for an influx of kids battling COVID-19, Israeli doctors have opened the country’s first pediatric Omicron unit. With Omicron spreading fast in schools and other places where kids mix, significant hospitalizations are inevitable, according to Dr. Moshe Ashkenazi, director of the new ward at Sheba Medical Center. “Omicron appears to be less virulent than other variants, but the sheer numbers being infected will mean children being hospitalized,” Ashkenazi told The Times of Israel, adding that the current spiraling numbers bring back vivid memories of the first wave in early 2020. “We have a sense of deja vu from the first wave, and we’re preparing ourselves for a war, just as we did in the first wave,” he said.
17th Jan 2022 - The Times of Israel

Hospital admissions climb as virus spreads - Cayman Islands

Public Health officials said that there are now nine patients in hospital as a result of COVID-19 after three more people were admitted over the last day, reflecting the anticipated knock-on effect from the continued uncontrolled spread of the virus through the community. Another 357 positive tests emerged during the latest results, and officials said that over 5% of the population is now infected with SARS-CoV-2. Interim Chief Medical Officer Dr Autilia Newton reported that eleven of the latest positive cases were among travellers and of the 346 community cases, 19 were in the Sister Islands. Rumours circulated on social media Wednesday of an islandwide lockdown for Cayman Brac because of the recent spike in cases, but officials said these were false.
17th Jan 2022 - Cayman News Service

Fighting Covid-19 in Kibera, one of Africa’s largest informal settlements

Nearly 10 months after a grandmother in England became the first person in the world to get vaccinated against Covid-19 outside of a clinical trial, we were finally able to start vaccinating residents of Kibera, one of Africa’s largest informal settlements. That first jab was a long time coming. In March 2021, the Kenyan government prioritized vaccination as one of the key measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, reduce community transmission, severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths. The informal employment sector had significantly closed, four out of five residents of Kibera and other informal settlements had lost their income, and a majority of households were facing hunger
17th Jan 2022 - STAT News

Australia regulator flags 'significant concerns' of price hike in COVID-19 antigen tests

Australia's competition regulator on Monday said it had "significant concerns" about reports of price gouging of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests and sought information from suppliers, retailers and pharmacy chains about rising costs. Australia is facing a shortage of at-home rapid antigen test kits after authorities urged asymptomatic close contacts to bypass government-funded testing hubs, where high volumes delayed results, and take their own tests. "In the middle of a significant outbreak of COVID-19 in a pandemic, the excessive pricing of rapid antigen tests required to diagnose the illness and protect other members of the public, is of significant concern," the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chair Rod Sims said.
17th Jan 2022 - Reuters

COVID deaths and cases are rising again at US nursing homes

COVID-19 infections are soaring again at U.S. nursing homes because of the omicron wave, and deaths are climbing too, leading to new restrictions on family visits and a renewed push to get more residents and staff members vaccinated and boosted. Nursing homes were the lethal epicenter of the pandemic early on, before the vaccine allowed many of them to reopen to visitors last year. But the wildly contagious variant has dealt them a setback. Nursing homes reported a near-record of about 32,000 COVID-19 cases among residents in the week ending Jan. 9, an almost sevenfold increase from a month earlier, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
17th Jan 2022 - The Associated Press

Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 17th Jan 2022

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Omicron hits Beijing: City records first local case of the highly transmissible variant

An Omicron case has been detected in Beijing, officials in the Chinese capital said Saturday, as the country battles multiple outbreaks of the highly transmissible coronavirus variant ahead of the Winter Olympics. Lab testing found 'mutations specific to the Omicron variant' in the person, Pang Xinghuo, an official at the city's disease control authority, told a news briefing. Officials have sealed up the infected person's residential compound and workplace, and collected 2,430 samples for testing from people linked to the two locations, a Haidian district official said.
16th Jan 2022 - Daily Mail

Exhausted parents navigate a patchwork of U.S. school COVID-19 policies

Jennifer Pierre speaks for millions of American parents when she sums up how it feels to navigate a patchwork of school COVID-19 policies as the pandemic enters a third year. "It's so exhausting," the Sacramento, California, mother said this week. She is happy to see her 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son back in their classrooms after the long months of remote learning that hindered their social development. But even with her school district's strict safety protocols, she worries about whether the surging Omicron variant will lead to further closures and on what grounds those will be decided.
15th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Brazil reels as COVID-19 cases soar; hospitals, economy under pressure

Brazil is suffering a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases as the Omicron variant spreads through the country, putting pressure on health services and weighing on an already sputtering economy. Insufficient testing and a data blackout caused by hackers have made it harder for experts to track the spread of the highly contagious variant in Brazil, but there are increasingly clear signs it is hitting Latin America's largest nation hard. Confirmed cases have almost doubled since last week, with the rolling average for the past seven days surging to 52,500, from 27,267 last Wednesday.
15th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Number of French COVID-19 ICU patients falls, despite record infections

The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units in France has fallen for the second day in a row, despite a record infection rate, health ministry data showed on Friday. France reported 3,895 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care units on Friday, 44 fewer than Thursday, and the second consecutive fall, despite the seven-day moving average of new infections reaching a new high of nearly 294,000 on Thursday. The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 rose by 357 to 24,511, but the week-on-week increase of 13.5% was the lowest since the start of the year.
15th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Australia's worst-hit state says COVID-19 hospitalisations may plateau next week

COVID-19 hospitalisation rates in Australia's most populous state of New South Wales could plateau next week, a top health official said on Friday, as the state suffered record deaths from the virus for a third day. Pressure on hospitals will likely remain for "the next few weeks", the state's health deputy secretary, Susan Pearce, said, though hospitalisation numbers were tracking better than the best-case scenario in an official modelling a week ago. "That is pleasing, but that plateauing is obviously still at a relatively high level of COVID patients in our hospitals and in our (intensive care)," Pearce told a media briefing in Sydney, the state capital.
15th Jan 2022 - Reuters

UK seven-day COVID-19 infections down 33% on week before

The United Kingdom reported 81,713 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, leaving the seven-day tally down by nearly 33% on the previous week. It reported 287 deaths of people who had tested positive for the disease within the previous 28 days. The seven-day total for deaths was up 45% on the week before, following a record spike in infections in recent weeks.
15th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Omicron Slows in Early U.S. Hot Spots, Offering First Hopes of a Peak

The steep rise in new daily Covid-19 cases fueled by the Omicron variant is starting to slow in some early U.S. hot spots, including New York and Chicago, sparking some optimism that a record-breaking spike in cases may be plateauing. Public officials are viewing the data cautiously and aren’t yet declaring victory. Still, some are noting that the trend is appearing to follow similar trajectories that have played out in South Africa and the U.K., where Omicron hit earlier. “There seems to be a slowing down in the major cities that were most initially impacted by the Omicron variant,” said Enbal Shacham, an epidemiologist and associate director of the Geospatial Institute at St. Louis University. “This pattern is similar to what we saw in South Africa and what we were all kind of hoping to see.”
15th Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Stretched Hospitals, Nursing Homes Fear Losing More Staff Over Vaccine Mandate

Strained hospitals and nursing homes said they fear losing workers but would require Covid-19 vaccinations for employees after the Supreme Court allowed federal officials to mandate the shots in healthcare. As the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads across the U.S., sickening patients and workers alike, hospitals and nursing homes have struggled to maintain the staffing levels they need. The vaccination mandate could complicate those efforts if facilities are forced to let go of workers who don’t comply, said healthcare industry officials, who asked for some enforcement leniency to prevent staffing losses during the crunch. Hospitals will now work to balance the vaccine mandate with their staffing needs, said Rick Pollack, chief executive of the American Hospital Association, which is urging regulators to use enforcement discretion.
15th Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Burned by COVID supply crunch, hospitals invest in U.S. mask-making

Two days before Christmas, a cargo ship left Mumbai with a mask-making machine bound for Illinois-based OSF HealthCare, which will use the equipment to make its own N95 masks. It isn't the hospital group's first foray into manufacturing. After COVID-19 border closures in early 2020 choked shipments from Asia, producer of about 80% of the world's medical masks and protective gear, OSF and some other hospital groups started investing in U.S. production of key supplies including masks, gowns and critical pharmaceuticals.
14th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 14th Jan 2022

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NHS leaders call for delay to mandatory Covid vaccine law

The most senior nurses and midwives in England have called for the government to delay its deadline for all NHS staff to be vaccinated against Covid, over fears it could “backfire”. From 1 April 2022 all NHS staff will be required by law to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, meaning all those who have yet to have a first dose will need to have it by February. The government has previously predicted the NHS could lose up to 73,000 staff following the jab deadline and, in an assessment published in December, warned patient care could be impacted.
13th Jan 2022 - The Independent

Hundreds of Millions of Covid Vaccine Doses Risk Going to Waste

Hundreds of millions of Covid-19 vaccine doses purchased by wealthy countries are at risk of going to waste, a new analysis shows, while large parts of the world remain unprotected amid the spread of the omicron variant. About 240 million doses purchased by the U.S., U.K., Japan, Canada and the European Union are expected to go unused and expire by March, London-based analytics firm Airfinity Ltd. said Thursday in a report. The number of potentially wasted doses could climb to 500 million by that point if other countries receiving donated doses don’t have enough time to administer them, it said. “Even after successful booster rollouts, there are surplus doses available that risk going to waste if not shared very soon,” Rasmus Bech Hansen,
13th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Britain's Next cuts sick pay for unvaccinated staff forced to self-isolate

British fashion retailer Next has cut sick pay for unvaccinated staff who must self-isolate due to exposure to COVID-19, it said on Thursday. "It's highly emotive but we have to balance the needs of the business with those of workers and shareholders," said a spokesperson for the group. He said unvaccinated workers who test positive will still receive Next's full rate of sick pay. Next's move follows a similar one by furniture retailer Ikea.
13th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Analysis: India's new COVID-19 rules aim to free up resources but carry risks

India has eased its COVID-19 rules on testing, quarantine and hospital admissions in a bid to free up resources for its neediest people, a strategy hailed by experts even though it carries the risk of a heavy undercount of infections and deaths. The moves will offer a breathing space for healthcare facilities, often overstretched in a far-flung nation of 1.4 billion, as they battle a 33-fold surge in infections over the past month from the highly contagious Omicron variant.
13th Jan 2022 - Reuters

First new COVID-19 tests to arrive in schools week of Jan. 24 - White House

U.S. schools should receive the first additional COVID-19 rapid tests being made available by the federal government in about two weeks, a White House official said, as Washington races to keep classes open amid a record-setting Omicron surge. The new tests must be ordered through state governments, but the White House is also making available lab capacity to support five million monthly PCR tests that schools can order themselves if their states are not being helpful, the official said. Those should arrive in seven to 10 days.
13th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Poorer nations dump millions of close-to-expiry COVID-19 vaccines - UNICEF

Poorer nations last month rejected more than 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines distributed by the global programme COVAX, mainly due to their rapid expiry date, a UNICEF official said on Thursday. The big figure shows the difficulties of vaccinating the world despite growing supplies of shots, with COVAX getting closer to delivering 1 billion doses to a total of nearly 150 countries. "More than a 100 million have been rejected just in December alone," Etleva Kadilli, director of Supply Division at U.N. agency UNICEF told lawmakers at the European Parliament. The main reason for rejection was the delivery of doses with a short shelf-life, she said.
13th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 13th Jan 2022

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Omicron Is Dominant US Variant, Hospitals Face Dark Days as Covid Cases Soar

The highly infectious omicron variant has flushed out the delta strain across the U.S., but the ascendance of the purportedly milder form of Covid-19 has done nothing so far to ease the burden on stretched hospitals. The omicron variant represents about 98% of cases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday. That number is based on data for the week ending Jan. 8 and is a significant increase from just two weeks prior, when omicron accounted for 71.3% of cases. Omicron’s heightened transmissibility coupled with the immunity some have built to combat the delta through vaccination and exposure, have made conditions favor the “more mild” variant, said David Wohl, a professor at the Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. But experts warn that for those who remain unvaccinated or who suffer from other health concerns, infection from any Covid-19 variant is a major concern.
13th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

'Community Champions' are key to increasing Covid vaccine uptake says minister

As areas of Newcastle city centre continue to see low vaccine uptake, the Government minister in charge of the Covid-19 jabs programme has said she hopes investing in "community champions" can help reach people who've previously been hesitant. Speaking to ChronicleLive, Maggie Throup MP - vaccines minister at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) - said the Government was aware of "disparities" in vaccine uptake. She said: "We know there are areas of huge disparity across the country - and also in local geographical areas as well. This is why we have been investing in community champions to go out into their communities and give people advice from someone they can relate to.
12th Jan 2022 - Chronicle Live

Europe Slowly Starts to Consider Treating Covid Like the Flu

Spain is calling for Covid-19 to be treated as an endemic disease, like the flu, becoming the first major European nation to explicitly suggest that people live with it. The idea has gradually been gaining traction and could prompt a re-evaluation of government strategies on dealing with the virus. British Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi on Sunday told the BBC that the U.K. is “on a path towards transitioning from pandemic to endemic.” The omicron variant’s lower hospitalization and death rates despite record infections prompted Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to hold out the tantalizing prospect of Europe moving beyond pandemic-style restrictions on normal life.
12th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

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Vaccination in Africa: Countries Struggle to Give Shots Despite Improved Doses

As shipments of Covid shots ramp up for billions of people left behind last year, and new vaccines make their way to the public, dozens of countries are struggling to turn supplies into inoculations. A dearth of immunization sites in Cameroon, weak communication and Covid denial in the Democratic Republic of Congo and a syringe shortfall in Kenya are among the hurdles complicating rollouts. In Zimbabwe, which initially raced ahead of many peers, complacency and a perception of omicron as less serious have slowed the campaign. Starved for vaccines for most of last year, Covax, the World Health Organization-backed program that aims to tackle vaccine inequity, is now approaching 1 billion doses in shipments. As the focus shifts to increasing immunization in poorer countries, officials worry the rapid spread of the omicron variant could spur the emergence of more shot-evading variants.
12th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid-19 hospitalizations reach record high, HHS data shows

The number of US patients hospitalized with Covid-19 has hit a record high, adding strain to health care networks and pushing states toward emergency staffing and other measures as they struggle to cope. More than 145,900 people were in US hospitals with Covid-19 as of Tuesday -- a number that surpasses the previous peak from mid-January 2021 (142,246), and is almost twice what it was two weeks ago, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. The hospitalization record comes amid a surge in cases fueled by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
11th Jan 2022 - CNN

Australia swamped by Omicron surge as pressure grows on hospitals

Australia's COVID-19 infections hovered near record levels on Tuesday as a surge of infections caused by the Omicron variant put a strain on hospitals already stretched by staff isolating after being exposed to the virus. After successfully containing the coronavirus for most of the pandemic, Australia has been swamped by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant after authorities eased mitigation measures as high vaccination rates were reached. Australia has reported about 1.1 million cases since the pandemic began, with more than half of those in the last two weeks, including nearly 86,000 cases on Tuesday, with two states due to report later.
11th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Omicron surge sweeps through US hospital staff

As COVID-19 cases in the United States soar in the wake of the holidays, led by the highly transmissible Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant, nearly a quarter of hospitals are reporting critical staffing shortages due to workers being sick or off work for quarantine. Meanwhile, federal and states are expanding vaccination activities and policies to protect more people.
11th Jan 2022 - CIDRAP

Health officials let COVID-infected staff stay on the job

Health authorities around the U.S. are increasingly taking the extraordinary step of allowing nurses and other workers infected with the coronavirus to stay on the job if they have mild symptoms or none at all. The move is a reaction to the severe hospital staffing shortages and crushing caseloads that the omicron variant is causing. California health authorities announced over the weekend that hospital staff members who test positive but are symptom-free can continue working. Some hospitals in Rhode Island and Arizona have likewise told employees they can stay on the job if they have no symptoms or just mild ones. The highly contagious omicron variant has sent new cases of COVID-19 exploding to over 700,000 a day in the U.S. on average, obliterating the record set a year ago. The number of Americans in the hospital with the virus is running at about 110,000, just short of the peak of 124,000 last January.
11th Jan 2022 - The Associated Press

From ambulance delays to transit disruptions, COVID-19 absences hit Canada's public services

From delayed ambulances to police shortages, Canadian public agencies hit hard by COVID-19 worker absences have cut back on service, rearranged staff or warned the public that emergency responses may be disrupted. Over the weekend, paramedics in Toronto, Canada's largest city, said there were briefly no ambulances available to respond to emergencies. The city said about 12.8% of its "essential and critical services" staff were off due to COVID-19 as of Monday.
10th Jan 2022 - Reuters

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U.S. Covid-19 Cases Set to Triple Pre-Omicron Record

The seven-day average of newly reported Covid-19 infections in the U.S. is on track to triple the pre-Omicron record set a year ago, when America saw a quarter million daily cases, as concerns grow over access to and reliability of testing both in the U.S. and Europe, where the highly transmissible Omicron variant has also taken root. Growing demand for tests has led some laboratories to ration access, giving priority to people exhibiting symptoms or who have other underlying health concerns. The University of North Carolina’s microbiology lab, for instance, is restricting tests to those showing Covid-19 symptoms, employees and patients who need a test before undergoing surgery. The University of Washington temporarily closed some of its testing sites last week and is giving appointment priority to people with Covid-19 symptoms or a known exposure, amid growing demand, though health experts worry that asymptomatic people might continue to spread the virus if they are unable to access testing.
10th Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Draghi Says Keeping Schools Open Is Italy's Pandemic Priority

Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the Italian government’s priority is to avoid closing schools and blamed those yet to get vaccinated against Covid-19 for the nation’s pandemic woes. “Most of the problems we have today stem from the fact that there are people who are not vaccinated,” Draghi said at a press conference in Rome on Monday. “It doesn’t make sense to close schools before everything else.” The government successfully challenged in court a decision by the southern Campania region to keep schools closed after the Christmas vacation amid rising infections. Italy recorded more than 100,000 new cases and over 700 new hospitalizations on Monday.
10th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

London hospital boss says he may lose 1000 staff over Covid vaccine mandate

A London hospital leader has said he may lose 1,000 staff to the Covid vaccination mandate, but hopes admissions from the Omicron wave have peaked in in the capital. The chief executive of King’s College hospital NHS trust, Prof Clive Kay, told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme that his organisation was working urgently to encourage staff to come forward for vaccination to avoid redeploying or losing them.
10th Jan 2022 - The Guardian

Hospitals Cut Beds as Nurses Call In Sick With Covid-19

Rising numbers of nurses and other critical healthcare workers are calling in sick across the U.S. due to Covid-19, forcing hospitals to cut capacity just as the Omicron variant sends them more patients, industry officials say. The hospitals are leaving beds empty because the facilities don’t have enough staffers to safely care for the patients, and a tight labor market has made finding replacements difficult. Staff shortages prompted the Mass General Brigham hospital system in Boston to keep 83 beds empty on Friday. The University Hospitals system in Ohio has closed as many as 16% of its intensive-care beds recently, while Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas has shut 30 of 900 beds. “It’s definitely a brutal situation,” said Dr. Joseph Chang, chief medical officer at Parkland, which had more than 500 out of 14,000 employees out sick one recent day.
10th Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Britain puts private health firms on high alert as Omicron threatens NHS

Britain on Monday put the biggest private health companies on high alert to deliver crucial treatments such as cancer surgery should Omicron overwhelm National Health Service hospitals in England. The United Kingdom's death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic stands at 150,154, the world's seventh worst official COVID toll after the United States, Brazil, India, Russia, Mexico and Peru. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has bet on refraining from lockdowns to deal with the Omicron variant which in recent weeks has swept across the United Kingdom, albeit with death rates significantly lower than previous waves.
10th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Schools return amid Omicron havoc, but hopes flicker

European governments are relaxing COVID-19 rules to keep hospitals, schools and emergency services going as the much more contagious but less lethal Omicron variant changes their approach to the pandemic. Even though a record surge in infections has yet to peak in Europe, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the time was right to start evaluating the disease's evolution "with different parameters". The mass return of children to school after the Christmas holidays is evidence that few wish to see a return to the online-only learning that marked some of the early waves of infection. Even as France registered a record seven-day average of almost 270,000 cases a day, it eased testing protocols for schoolchildren, saying too many classes were closed
10th Jan 2022 - Reuters

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HUNDREDS of cars wait for up to three hours for covid tests in Arizona

Arizona citizens are waiting in three or more hour lines for COVID-19 testing. Nearly three in 10 tests are coming back positive statewide this wide, a pandemic high. Before, it has never reached over 20 per cent . Lines are so long that some citizens cannot access their neighborhoods and are being told to find other testing sites
8th Jan 2022 - Daily Mail

COVID: Record number of children admitted to hospital in a single day

A record number of children in England were admitted to hospital with COVID on 3 January, according to government data. Some 157 children were admitted on the Bank Holiday Monday, 110 of whom were aged 5 or younger. The figure surpasses the previous record on 145 admissions on 28 December. In the last seven days, a total of 567 children have been admitted to hospital with COVID.
8th Jan 2022 - Yahoo News UK

CDC reports record number of child COVID-19 hospitalizations

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky reported Friday that there have been a record number of pediatric hospitalizations due to COVID-19 and announced new isolation guidelines for students, staff and teachers to preserve in-person learning in schools. During a media briefing, Walensky cautioned that pediatric hospitalizations are at the highest point they have ever been during the pandemic, even though they are much lower when compared to adults. She said it’s still not clear if the increase is due to a greater burden of disease in children's communities or their lower rates of vaccination. The increase was seen most in children younger than 4, who are ineligible for vaccination, and the data include those admitted to hospitals for reasons other than COVID-19 who then tested positive.
8th Jan 2022 - The Hill

Omicron pushes U.S. COVID hospitalizations toward record high

COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States are poised to hit a new high as early as Friday, according to a Reuters tally, surpassing the record set in January of last year as the highly contagious Omicron variant fuels a surge in the number of cases. Hospitalizations have increased steadily since late December as Omicron quickly overtook Delta as the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the United States, although experts say Omicron will likely prove less deadly than prior variants.
7th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Sweden COVID cases hit new record, pile pressure on healthcare

Sweden set a new daily record for COVID-19 cases for the third time this week, registering 23,877 cases on Jan. 5, health agency data showed on Friday, as a fourth wave swept the country and piled pressure on its healthcare system. The mounting wave of COVID-19 cases is increasingly driven by the more contagious Omicron variant and has seen hospitalisations rise rapidly in many parts of the country, although deaths have remained relatively stable so far.
7th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Covid absences put pressure on England's hospitals

Covid-related staff absences at hospitals in England have risen sharply since Omicron took hold last month, latest figures show. The number of workers off sick for Covid reasons trebled from the beginning of December. The Royal College of Nursing said growing absences meant the situation was "simply not safe." NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said staff were under pressure but were "stepping up". Downing Street said Boris Johnson saw no need for further restrictions despite the staff absences, as England's current measures were "balanced and proportionate". Earlier this week, the prime minister said he hoped England could "ride out" the Omicron wave without more restrictions.
7th Jan 2022 - BBC News

COVID-19: Military medics drafted into London hospitals as NHS grapples with staff shortages

The Royal College of Nursing says the deployment means the government can no longer deny there is a "staffing crisis" within the NHS. Two major incidents have been declared in England because of pressures caused by the spread of COVID-19 - after the Ministry of Defence said Armed Forces personnel would be deployed in London to help in hospitals. Some 200 Armed Forces personnel are being sent to support the NHS in London as hospitals grapple with staff shortages. Military medics will assist NHS doctors and nurses with patient care, while general duty personnel will help fill gaps caused by other absences. And now two major incidents have been declared in England with emergency services saying there is a civil emergency in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
7th Jan 2022 - Sky News

Record numbers of NHS staff quit as frontline medics battle Covid pandemic trauma

More than 27,000 people voluntarily resigned from the NHS from July to September last year, the highest number on record. NHS medics have been quitting in record numbers as staff warned of burnout among an overwhelmed workforce. One worker revealed he battled PTSD and had to quit as an intensive care nurse last year after the trauma of working on Covid wards, with others left in tears due to the strains of the job. Meanwhile, NHS Million, a campaigning website that supports NHS staff said it is receiving a “constant flood” of “disturbing” messages from workers who have spent almost two years working during the pandemic.
7th Jan 2022 - iNews

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An 'awful' month of Covid-19 lies ahead, doctor says, but preventative measures will still be key

While the highly transmissible Omicron variant continues to drive up Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations -- and the numbers are likely to get worse before they get better -- health experts say it's critical Americans continue safe practices to prevent infections. "I don't buy the idea that we are all going to get Omicron and, therefore, just give up trying. I think that's wrong," Dr. Robert Wachter, chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told CNN's Erin Burnett on Wednesday. It's likely that "the next month is going to be awful," he said. But this does not mean that everyone should assume they will catch the virus, he said, noting the pattern of Omicron infections in the UK and South Africa.
6th Jan 2022 - CNN

Australia suffers record COVID cases, straining businesses and supply chains

Fuelled by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, Australia's daily coronavirus infections soared to a fresh peak on Thursday, overwhelming hospitals, while isolation rules caused labour shortages, putting a strain on businesses and supply chains. With Thursday's count still incomplete, Australia so far has reported 72,392 new infections easily exceeding the high of 64,774 set a day earlier. Western Australia is due to post its new cases later. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, facing a federal election before May, is under pressure over his handling of the Omicron outbreak due to stock shortages of antigen tests and hours-long wait times at testing centres.
6th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Staffing Crisis Threatens Plan to Clear U.K. Hospital Backlogs

England’s National Health Service faces an “unquantifiable” challenge to clear a record backlog of patients as a result of the pandemic, rising pressure on emergency departments, and a failure to hire and train enough staff, a committee of U.K. lawmakers said. Close to 6 million patients are waiting for elective care -- a figure that could double by 2025 -- as the crisis caused by Covid-19 weighs heavily on the NHS, according to a report published Thursday by Parliament’s Health and Social Care Committee. Waiting times in emergency departments have also hit the worst levels since records began, with one in four patients waiting longer than four hours to be admitted, transferred, or discharged in October. That’s despite about 4,800 extra doctors and 1,200 more nurses working in the NHS in October 2021 compared to the previous year, according to the latest NHS workforce statistics.
6th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Spike in California virus cases hitting hospitals, schools

California is struggling to staff hospitals and classrooms as an astonishing spike in coronavirus infections sweeps through the state. The fast-spreading omicron variant of COVID-19 is sidelining exposed or infected health care workers even as hospital beds fill with patients and “some facilities are going to be strapped,” Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Wednesday. Some 40% of hospitals are expecting to face critical staff shortages and some are reporting as much as one quarter of their staff out for virus-related reasons, said Kiyomi Burchill of the California Hospital Association. In Fresno County, more than 300 workers at area hospitals were either isolating because of exposure or recovering, said Dan Lynch, the county’s emergency medical services director.
5th Jan 2022 - The Associated Press

US hospitals seeing different kind of COVID surge this time

Hospitals across the U.S. are feeling the wrath of the omicron variant and getting thrown into disarray that is different from earlier COVID-19 surges. This time, they are dealing with serious staff shortages because so many health care workers are getting sick with the fast-spreading variant. People are showing up at emergency rooms in large numbers in hopes of getting tested for COVID-19, putting more strain on the system. And a surprising share of patients — two-thirds in some places — are testing positive while in the hospital for other reasons. At the same time, hospitals say the patients aren’t as sick as those who came in during the last surge. Intensive care units aren’t as full, and ventilators aren’t needed as much as they were before. The pressures are neverthless prompting hospitals to scale back non-emergency surgeries and close wards, while National Guard troops have been sent in in several states to help at medical centers and testing sites.
5th Jan 2022 - The Associated Press

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Scarce At-Home Covid Tests Leave Some Consumers Paying $40 a Pop

High prices for at-home Covid-19 tests are hitting the wallets of U.S. families who need them to get back to school and work — if they can find any to buy at all. One restaurant worker in New York said she paid an acquaintance double the retail price in a sidewalk exchange for a test kit. A mom in Missouri said she’s rationing her last two-pack for if her kids show serious symptoms. Another parent is keeping her daughter home from school, where tests are required before returning after the holiday, until an in-person appointment later this week because the $80 price tag she saw in online community groups was too steep.
5th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

COVID case counts may be losing importance amid omicron

The explosive increase in U.S. coronavirus case counts is raising alarm, but some experts believe the focus should instead be on COVID-19 hospital admissions. And those aren’t climbing as fast. Dr. Anthony Fauci, for one, said Sunday on ABC that with many infections causing few or no symptoms, “it is much more relevant to focus on the hospitalizations as opposed to the total number of cases.” Other experts argue that case counts still have value. As the super-contagious omicron variant rages across the U.S., new COVID-19 cases per day have more than tripled over the past two weeks, reaching a record-shattering average of 480,000. Schools, hospitals and airlines are struggling as infected workers go into isolation.
5th Jan 2022 - The Associated Press

China reports major drop in virus cases in locked-down Xi’an

China on Wednesday reported a major drop in COVID-19 infections in the northern city of Xi’an, which has been under a tight lockdown for the past two weeks that has sharply disrupted the lives of its 13 million residents. The National Health Commission announced just 35 new cases in Xi’an, home to the famed Terracotta Warriors statues along with major industries, down from 95 the day before. Health officials said they have basically achieved the goal of halting community transmission because the new cases were among people already quarantined.
5th Jan 2022 - The Associated Press

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More than 100,000 people hospitalized with Covid-19 in US for first time in nearly four months

More than 103,000 people are currently hospitalized with Covid-19, the first time the total has reached six figures in nearly four months, according to the latest data from the US Department of Health and Human Services. Covid-19 hospitalizations reached a record high of more than 142,000 about a year ago, on January 14, 2021, and last topped 100,000 on September 11. The total fell to about 45,000 hospitalizations in early November, but increased steadily since then, and surged in the last week. Just last Monday, HHS reported 71,000 Covid-19 hospitalizations.
4th Jan 2022 - CNN

Australia regulator to review price hike in COVID-19 antigen tests

Australia's antitrust regulator said on Tuesday it has contacted suppliers of COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits to examine pricing pressures in the market, as calls grow louder for the government to make the tests free amid a severe shortage of the kits. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it will review information received from suppliers, retailers and the public to determine any potential misconduct. Australia approved more than a dozen rapid antigen test kits and a majority of them are from China.
4th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Dutch to reopen schools despite high infection rates

The Netherlands, under a strict COVID-19 lockdown for the past two weeks, will reopen primary and secondary schools on Jan. 10 despite coronavirus infections remaining high, the government announced on Monday. The government stressed that hospital admissions were down considerably since the country went into a lockdown in December, which included schools closing a week earlier than planned for winter holidays. "This is good news for students and it's important for their development and their mental well-being that they can go to school," Education Minister Arie Slob said at a press conference.
4th Jan 2022 - Reuters

UK government seeks to mitigate workforce disruption from Omicron

The British government has asked public sector managers to test their contingency plans against a worst-case scenario of 25% staff absence as part of efforts to minimise disruption from the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. With daily infection numbers at a record high and people who test positive required to self-isolate for at least seven days, the government expects businesses and public services to face disruption in the coming weeks, it said in a statement.
4th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Spanish students to go back to school after Christmas break, despite Omicron

Students at Spanish schools and universities will return to class in-person when the new term begins on Jan. 10, the Health Minister said on Tuesday, ending speculation that record COVID-19 infections might trigger a return to distance learning. Cases have hit new highs since the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus was detected. Omicron accounted for around 43% of cases in the week before Christmas, Spanish health authorities said on Monday. The nationwide infection rate as measured over the past 14 days rose to a new record of 2,433 cases per 100,000 people on Tuesday, a more than 10-fold increase since the beginning of December
4th Jan 2022 - Reuters

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U.S. schools delay openings as Omicron pushes pandemic to record highs

Thousands of U.S. schools delayed this week's scheduled return to classrooms following the holiday break or switched to remote learning as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus pushed COVID-19 cases to record levels. In other school districts, officials pressed on with plans to reopen, including in hard-hit New York City, where one of every three COVID-19 tests over the last week was positive for the virus, according to city data released on Monday. Nationwide, the country is averaging 18% of tests coming back positive, according to the Mayo Clinic.
3rd Jan 2022 - Reuters

English school children to wear masks to tackle Omicron surge

Children in secondary schools in England will be told to wear face coverings when they return after the Christmas holiday next week to tackle a surge in cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said on Sunday. "We want to maximise the number of children in school and college for the maximum amount of time," he said in an article in the Sunday Telegraph. "One of the additional, temporary measures that will help achieve this in light of the omicron surge is recommending face coverings are worn in secondary school classrooms and teaching spaces for the coming weeks – although not for longer than they are needed."
3rd Jan 2022 - Reuters

South Africa Says Its Omicron Wave Has Passed With No Big Spike in Deaths

The South African government said Thursday that data from its health department suggested that the country had passed its Omicron peak without a major spike in deaths, offering cautious hope to other countries grappling with the variant. “The speed with which the Omicron-driven fourth wave rose, peaked and then declined has been staggering,” said Fareed Abdullah of the South African Medical Research Council. “Peak in four weeks and precipitous decline in another two. This Omicron wave is over in the city of Tshwane. It was a flash flood more than a wave.” The rise in deaths over the period was small, and in the last week, officials said, “marginal.”
30th Dec 2021 - The New York Times

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U.S. COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations 'comparatively' low despite Omicron surge, CDC director says

COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations are "comparatively" low as the highly infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday as cases in the United States reached a record high. "In a few short weeks Omicron has rapidly increased across the country, and we expect will continue to circulate in the coming weeks. While cases have substantially increased from last week, hospitalizations and deaths remain comparatively low right now," she said, referring to overall cases.
29th Dec 2021 - Reuters

In under-vaccinated Congo, fourth COVID-19 wave fills hospitals

At the St Joseph COVID Treatment Centre in Kinshasa, patients lie in ramshackle rooms breathing oxygen from old tanks. The clinic has 38 beds, and all but one are occupied. In a backyard littered with medical equipment, tents are needed to cope with the overflow. Democratic Republic of Congo is the least vaccinated country against COVID-19 in the world. Now a fourth wave of the coronavirus threatens to put greater pressure on its rickety health system than at any time during the pandemic. "We have experienced the three previous waves gradually, but in the fourth wave cases have jumped overnight," said Francois Kajingulu, the head of St Joseph. "On Monday we had 5-6 cases and on Saturday we went straight from 30 to 36."
29th Dec 2021 - Reuters

New Omicron variant fills up children's hospitals

A five-fold increase in pediatric admissions in New York City this month. Close to double the numbers admitted in Washington, DC. And nationwide, on average, pediatric hospitalizations are up 48% in just the past week. The highly transmissible Omicron variant is teaming up with the busy holiday season to infect more children across the United States than ever before, and children's hospitals are bracing for it to get even worse. "I think we are going to see more numbers now than we have ever seen," Dr. Stanley Spinner, who is chief medical officer and vice president at Texas Children's Pediatrics & Urgent Care in Houston, told CNN.
29th Dec 2021 - CNN

COVID-19: PCR and lateral flow tests could 'run out' temporarily amid surge in demand, say health officials

Coronavirus tests could be temporarily unavailable to order due to "exceptionally high demand", the UK Health Security Agency has warned. Demand is surging as the more transmissible Omicron variant pushes cases numbers to record levels. Lateral flow and PCR tests were both unavailable for home delivery across the UK via the government website on Wednesday morning.
29th Dec 2021 - Sky News

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Undertakers, rabbis join global fight promoting COVID shots

In Germany, Lutheran pastors are offering COVID-19 shots inside churches. In Israel’s science-skeptical ultra-Orthodox community, trusted rabbis are trying to change minds. And in South Africa, undertakers are taking to the streets to spread the word. The funeral directors' message: “We’re burying too many people.’’ A year after the COVID-19 vaccine became available, traditional public health campaigns promoting vaccination are often going unheeded. So an unconventional cadre of people has joined the effort. They are opening sanctuaries and going door to door and village to village, touting the benefits of the vaccines and sometimes offering shots on the spot.
28th Dec 2021 - Associated Press on MSN.com

U.S. CDC investigating nearly 70 cruise ships hit by COVID-19 cases

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday it was investigating nearly 70 cruise ships after reports of COVID-19 cases on board, as the Omicron variant upended holiday travel over the Christmas weekend. The CDC said COVID-19 cases on 68 ships had met its threshold for an investigation.
27th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Pre-Christmas Omicron surge leads to record new British COVID cases

Britain recorded a record number of new coronavirus cases on Thursday as the Omicron variant swept across the country, with the daily tally reaching 119,789 from 106,122 a day earlier. Many industries and transport networks are struggling with staff shortages as sick workers self-isolate, while hospitals in Britain have warned of the risk of an impact on patient safety. Omicron's rapid advance has driven a surge in cases in Britain over the last seven days, with the total rising by 678,165, government data showed.
23rd Dec 2021 - Reuters

Overwhelmed U.S. Midwest hospitals prepare for worst with Omicron

The rapid spread of Omicron infections has hospitals in the U.S. Midwest "preparing for the worst," with their intensive care units and medical personnel already severely strained from a wave of the potent Delta variant of COVID-19. Indiana, Ohio and Michigan have been hit harder in recent weeks by the virus than any other states. About one in four of their hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data. The impact is even greater in their intensive care units, where COVID-19 patients now account for one-third or more of the beds, according to HHS.
23rd Dec 2021 - Reuters

French kids line up to get vaccine shots as omicron spreads

French schoolchildren clung nervously to their parents as they entered a vast vaccine center west of Paris on Wednesday — then walked excitedly away with a decorated “vaccination diploma,” as France kicked off mass COVID-19 inoculations for children age 5 to 11. It’s not a moment too soon for the French government, which is facing the highest recorded infection rates since the pandemic began but trying to avoid a new lockdown. The health minister said Wednesday that the swiftly-spreading omicron variant is expected to be dominant in France by next week, but ruled out additional restrictions on public life for now. Officials are hoping that a surge in vaccinations will be enough to limit the mounting pressure on hospitals, where COVID-19 patients occupy more than 60% of beds.
22nd Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

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Germany says FOURTH Covid shot needed to tackle Omicron as health minister backs vaccine mandate

Germany has warned a fourth Covid vaccine will be needed to stop the spread of the contagious Omicron variant. Health minister Karl Lauterbach, who has thrown his support behind a vaccine mandate, has ordered 80million doses of a Biontech vaccine which targets Omicron and should arrive in Germany by May. He has also ordered 4million doses of the newly approved vaccine Novavax - seen as more acceptable to vaccine sceptics - and 11million doses of the new Valneva shot, which is waiting for marketing authorisation.
22nd Dec 2021 - Daily Mail

Australian PM says no Xmas lockdown as hospitals coping with rising Omicron

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday ruled out a Christmas lockdown, saying hospitals were coping well with a record surge in COVID-19 cases fuelled by the Omicron variant. Australia is grappling with the more transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus as restrictions ease ahead of the Christmas holidays after higher vaccination levels were reached. "Despite these rising cases, hospitals and health systems remain in a strong position but of course they will be tested," Morrison told reporters in Canberra after an emergency Cabinet meeting.
22nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

U.K. on Edge Heading Into Christmas Overshadowed by Omicron

Boris Johnson has given Britons the Christmas he has long promised -- some light-touch pandemic restrictions but with no limits on family gatherings. The big question is over what comes next. When the U.K. prime minister ruled out tighter restrictions in the coming days, he also urged Britons to be cautious and warned tougher curbs may yet be needed after Dec. 25 if an omicron-fueled wave of Covid-19 infections threatens to overwhelm the National Health Service.
22nd Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

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America’s Mixed Response to the Omicron Variant Comes Down to Geography

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease expert, said Sunday on ABC News that he doesn’t anticipate the U.S. moving toward broad shutdowns, even as some European countries have imposed new restrictions. He also said vaccinated Americans who have received booster shots can feel comfortable traveling this month to see family. The U.S. is now averaging more than 125,000 new Covid-19 cases a day, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The seven-day average for Covid-19 hospital admissions fell 4.8% in the week ended Dec. 18 to 7,501 a day, but hospitalizations are up 49% from a recent low in early November, CDC data show. Deaths increased to a seven-day average of 1,182 a day as of Dec. 17, up 3.6% versus the previous week.
21st Dec 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Biden to pledge 500M free COVID-19 tests to counter omicron

Fighting the omicron variant surging through the country, President Joe Biden announced the government will provide 500 million free rapid home-testing kits, increase support for hospitals under strain and redouble vaccination and boosting efforts. At the White House on Tuesday, Biden detailed major changes to his COVID-19 winter plan, his hand forced by the fast-spreading variant, whose properties are not yet fully understood by scientists. Yet his message was clear that the winter holidays could be close to normal for the vaccinated while potentially dangerous for the unvaccinated. His pleas are not political, he emphasized. He noted that former President Donald Trump has gotten his booster shot, and he said it’s Americans’ “patriotic duty” to get vaccinated.
21st Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

Covid-19 Relief Drives Largest Federal-Grant Increase to States Since 2009

A surge in emergency Covid-19 funds contributed to the largest increase in federal grants to U.S. states since 2009, when Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Federal grants to states rose 37% in fiscal 2020 from the prior year, outpacing the average annual increase of 4% in the prior half-decade, according to a report by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Relative to 2008, the grants climbed 93%, accounting for inflation. The jump was mostly driven by pandemic-related grants, for needs such as coronavirus testing and housing assistance, but Medicaid and other health spending also contributed, and largely fueled the steady growth in funding to states for the past several years.
21st Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

U.S. mulls reducing COVID quarantine time amid Omicron surge

U.S. health authorities are considering reducing the 10-day recommended quarantine period for Americans who test positive for COVID-19 as the Omicron variant tears across the country, White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday. A spike in COVID-19 cases is alarming public health officials who fear an explosion of infections following social mingling over the Christmas and New Year holidays. Omicron now accounts for 73% of U.S. coronavirus infections, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday. Breakthrough infections are rising among the fully vaccinated population, including those who have had a third, booster shot. However, Omicron appears to be causing milder symptoms in those people, some of whom have no symptoms at all.
21st Dec 2021 - Reuters

Europe weighs Omicron curbs as Biden turns to military medics

Countries across Europe considered new curbs on movement on Tuesday while U.S. President Joe Biden appealed to all Americans to get vaccinated to fight the Omicron variant sweeping the world days before the second Christmas of the pandemic. Omicron infections are multiplying across Europe, the United States and Asia, including in Japan, where a single cluster of COVID-19 cases at a military base has grown to at least 180. "If you're not fully vaccinated, you have good reason to be concerned," Biden said at the White House, where he unveiled plans to buy 500 million rapid COVID-19 tests to be distributed for free to Americans who request them starting in January.
21st Dec 2021 - Reuters

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UK medics warn of looming breaking point as omicron spreads

The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review. Omicron infections no less severe based on early UK data. Infections caused by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus do not appear to be less severe than infections from Delta, according to early data from the UK. Researchers at Imperial College London compared 11,329 people with confirmed or likely Omicron infections with nearly 200,000 people infected with other variants
20th Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

Analysis: Rising cases, Omicron highlight holes in Biden's COVID strategy, experts say

Amid a new surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays, President Joe Biden is drawing criticism from health experts, who are calling for more urgency, testing, masking and global vaccine sharing. Biden, a Democrat, took office in January pledging to get the coronavirus under control. He presided over a massive vaccine rollout and passed a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, a sharp contrast with his predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, who downplayed the pandemic's severity, dismissed many preventive measures and undermined health experts.
20th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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New U.S. push for vaccines, boosters to stem 'raging' Omicron

U.S. health officials urged Americans on Sunday to get booster shots, wear masks and be careful if they travel over the winter holidays, as the Omicron variant raged across the world and was set to take over as the dominant strain in the United States. The government is gearing up for the next phase of battle in a two-year fight against a virus that has killed 800,000 people in the United States and disrupted every aspect of daily life. Two U.S. senators, Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, said on Sunday they tested positive for COVID-19 but were experiencing only mild symptom
20th Dec 2021 - Reuters

S. Africa Covid-19 Hospitalizations Fall for First Time in Weeks

South African hospitals reported having slightly fewer Covid-19 patients than yesterday, the first decline in weeks. Still, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, does caution that figures can be skewed by late reporting of admissions. Even so the number could be taken as more evidence that the wave of infections caused by the omicron variant may be slowing. On Friday the South African Medical Research Council said that wastewater analyses showed a decreasing incidence of the virus in Pretoria, the South African capital.
19th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

France Curbs New Year's Eve Partying in a Bid to Shield Hospitals

French officials will curb outdoor revelry on New Year’s Eve in a bid to limit Covid-19 infections that risk overwhelming hospitals, Prime Minister Jean Castex said. “I’m appealing to everyone’s responsibility to find other ways to celebrate than large gatherings, and avoiding moments of conviviality,” Castex said in a televised speech on Friday, as many people in France began their winter vacations. Regional prefects will ban spontaneous parties and ask cities to hold off on fireworks and other celebrations, he said. “I understand the frustration to limit yourselves in such festive moments, but we owe that to our health-care personnel,” Castex said. France closed nightclubs this month, though not bars.
19th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

CDC releases new guidance to allow children exposed to coronavirus to attend school

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new strategy called "test-to-stay" that allows unvaccinated children to stay in school even if they have been exposed to the coronavirus, agency Director Rochelle Walensky said on Friday. "If exposed children meet a certain criteria and continue to test negative, they can stay at school instead of quarantining at home," Walensky said during a press briefing. Some states are already advising their schools to use "test-to-stay" strategies in order to keep more children in class.
17th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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South Korea reimposes COVID-19 curbs amid ‘mayhem’ at hospitals

South Korea says it will reimpose curfews on businesses and tighten social distancing rules as the number of COVID-19 infections and severe cases reach record highs. The measures, announced on Thursday, come a month and a half after the South Korean government eased restrictions under a “Living with COVID-19” policy. But with new daily infections soaring and healthcare workers warning of “mayhem” at hospitals, the government has come under increased pressure to roll back the policy. Under the new rules, which will come into effect on Saturday, gatherings are limited to no more than four people, as long as they are fully vaccinated. Restaurants cafes and bars will also need to close by 9pm and movie theatres and internet cafes by 10pm. Unvaccinated people can only dine out alone, or use takeout or delivery services.
16th Dec 2021 - Al Jazeera English

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U.S. universities move final exams online as COVID-19 spreads anew

A growing number of U.S. colleges and universities were moving final exams online and cancelling non-essential gatherings as the rapidly spreading Omicron coronavirus variant sent people in droves to medical clinics to be tested in scenes reminiscent of the early days of the pandemic. Many schools were reassessing campus policies as confirmed cases of the Omicron variant turned up in at least 36 states, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said at a briefing on Wednesday. The Delta variant remains responsible for the vast majority of cases, she added
15th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Omicron spreading so fast it threatens Britain's hospitals

The omicron variant is spreading so rapidly it has the potential to overwhelm Britain’s hospitals, highlighting the need to strengthen coronavirus restrictions and speed up the delivery of booster vaccine shots, the country’s health minister said Tuesday. Omicron is so transmissible that even if it proves to be less severe than other variants, there is still likely to be a surge in hospital admissions if it goes unchecked, U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid told lawmakers. His comments came as the government rushed to accelerate the national vaccination program, with a goal of offering a booster dose to every adult by the end of December.
15th Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

Africa sees 83% surge in COVID-19 cases in past week

Africa is experiencing its fastest surge in COVID-19 cases this year, with the number up 83% in the past week, although deaths remain low, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday. The spike in cases is driven by the Delta and Omicron variants, the WHO said in a statement. The number of new COVID-19 cases on the continent is currently doubling every five days, the shortest time frame reported this year. Africa’s low inoculation rates have encouraged viral mutations like the new Omicron variant to spread, according to health experts. The continent struggled to obtain vaccine doses until recently, and is facing challenges to distribute them including lack of funds, staff and equipment. As of Monday, only 20 African countries had vaccinated at least 10% of their population, according to the WHO. Some countries, like Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad, have vaccinated less than 1%, data collected by Reuters shows.
15th Dec 2021 - CNBC Africa

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U.K.'s 'Warp Speed' Booster Rollout Is Already Struggling

Boris Johnson’s strategy for tackling a U.K. surge in omicron infections is already facing setbacks, as medics warn of bottlenecks and staffing shortages in the vaccine booster program. The British prime minister promised to ramp up delivery of boosters to “warp speed” to achieve its target of reaching all adults by the end of December, and late Monday announced that hundreds of new vaccine sites would open across the country, including at soccer stadiums and racecourses.
15th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

India stuck with COVID-19 vaccines it can't export

India is struggling to export its surplus of COVID-19 vaccines as logistical hurdles delay their use in many countries despite low levels of inoculation, vaccine producer the Serum Institute of India (SII) and a government official said on Tuesday. The SII, the world's biggest vaccine maker that produces the AstraZeneca, Novavax and Sputnik COVID-19 shots, has already announced plans to temporarily halve output of the AstraZeneca drug until more orders came, including possibly through boosters. read more
14th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Dutch schools to close early for Christmas to limit COVID-19 spread - report

The Netherlands will extend COVID-19 restrictions through the Christmas holidays, including the early closure of schools, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday. The rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which is making up roughly 1% of new infections in the country, "is a reason to be concerned and to be cautious," Rutte said in a televised comments. Elementary schools will close a week early to try to prevent children from infecting older family members during Christmas as hospitals struggle with a wave of COVID-19 patients.
14th Dec 2021 - Reuters

New Australian plant could make 100 million vaccines a year

Australia’s government said Tuesday it plans to start making mRNA vaccines at home with a new plant that could produce up to 100 million doses each year. The announcement came as coronavirus cases in Sydney and surrounding areas jumped, driven in part by the omicron variant. The new factory would be built in Victoria state in a partnership between vaccine manufacturer Moderna and the federal and state governments. It is expected to open by 2024. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was in the country’s national interest to produce vaccines locally.
14th Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

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Omicron cases may already be peaking in South Africa, less than a month after the COVID-19 variant first surfaced

Nearly three weeks after the Omicron variant was first identified by South African scientists, the COVID-19 mutation has whipped across the world, with infections in at least 63 countries. But in South Africa itself, the cases seem to be nearing their peak, and could already be headed for decline. Cases of Omicron in Gauteng, South Africa’s most populous province and home to its biggest city, Johannesburg, rose slightly from a seven-day daily average of 9,645 last Thursday, to 10,131 on Sunday. At the same time, the positivity rate of those being tested and the number of hospitalizations have both been falling. Data from the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases shows positivity rates dropping from 30% to around 15% between Thursday and Saturday, while the number of new hospitalizations fell from 207 to 64 over the same period. “The positivity rate in South Africa has been flattening and now declined for the past two days,” Scott Gottlieb, a senior fellow for the American Enterprise Institute and former FDA commissioner, tweeted on Sunday.
13th Dec 2021 - Fortune

Spain receives first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines for children

Spain on Monday received its first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines for children. The 1.3 million doses made by Pfizer-BioNTech will be shipped to the regions, which are in charge of their own vaccination campaigns, said the Health Ministry. The shots will be administered from December 15, when health authorities are expected to first call in kids from at-risk groups and those ages 10 and 11. But the logistics will vary depending on the region, with some like Catalonia choosing to immunize all children between the ages of five and 11 at the same time.
13th Dec 2021 - EL PAÍS in English

Indonesia to start vaccinating children aged 6-11 against COVID-19

Indonesia will start administering COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged between 6-11 on Tuesday, a health ministry official said, as the Southeast Asian country becomes one of the first in the region to immunise the very young. Indonesia approved China's Sinovac Biotech vaccine for the age group last month and about 26.5 million children have been targeted for vaccination, Maxi Rein Rondonuwu, a senior health ministry official, told a briefing.
13th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Norway bans serving of alcohol in bid to halt Omicron outbreak

Norway will ban the serving of alcohol in bars and restaurants, impose stricter rules in schools and speed up vaccination as part of new efforts to curb the outbreak of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the government said on Monday. "For many this will feel like a lockdown, if not of society then of their lives and of their livelihoods," Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told a news conference.
13th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Exclusive: Senegal expects 400000 COVID-19 vaccines to expire by year-end

At least 200,000 COVID-19 vaccines have expired in Senegal without being used in the past two months and another 200,000 are set to expire at the end of December because demand is too slow, the head of its immunisation programme said on Monday. African governments have been calling for more COVID-19 vaccines to help catch up with richer regions, where vaccine rollouts have been humming along for more than a year. Yet, as the pace of supply has picked up in recent weeks some countries have struggled to keep pace. Logistical problems, the short shelf life of vaccines that arrive from donors, and vaccine hesitancy have all kept doses from reaching arms.
13th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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South Africa says no signal of increased Omicron severity yet

South African scientists see no sign that the Omicron coronavirus variant is causing more severe illness, they said on Friday, as officials announced plans to roll out vaccine boosters with daily infections approaching an all-time high. South Africa alerted the world to Omicron late last month, prompting alarm that the highly mutated variant could trigger a new surge in global infections. Hospital data show that COVID-19 admissions are now rising sharply in more than half of the country's nine provinces, but deaths are not rising as dramatically and indicators such as the median length of hospital stay are reassuring.
11th Dec 2021 - Reuters

NHS website hit by technical problems amid rush to book COVID-19 booster doses - The Independent

The UK's NHS website crashed as people rushed to book COVID-19 booster doses after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said everyone above the age of 18 could get booster shots from Monday, The Independent reported on Sunday. "The NHS website is currently experiencing technical difficulties. We are working to resolve these issues. Thank you for your patience," the report said, citing a statement on the NHS website. The NHS did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
13th Dec 2021 - Reuters

New U.K. Omicron Cases Double as Country Plans Daily Tests

The U.K. confirmed 1,239 new omicron cases on Sunday, almost double the 633 cases reported the day before. Total cases of the latest variant now stand at 3,137, the U.K. Health Security Agency said on Twitter. The spike comes as the country plans to introduce new daily home testing for people who come into contact with someone who has contracted Covid-19.
12th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

Australia shortens wait time for COVID-19 booster doses as Omicron cases rise

Australia said on Sunday it will shorten the wait time for people to receive a COVID-19 booster following a rise in cases of the Omicron variant. Australia had previously said it would offer the booster to everyone over 18 who had had their second dose of the vaccine six months earlier. But with rising cases of the Omicron variant, Health Minister Greg Hunt said the time interval will be shortened to five months after the second dose.
12th Dec 2021 - Reuters

India's top syringe maker asks PM Modi to lift factory shutdown order

Hindustan Syringes and Medical Devices (HMD) has shuttered its factories on the outskirts of New Delhi following the directive from a state pollution control board, triggering concerns of an acute shortage of syringes and needles in India just as its COVID-19 vaccination programme is in full swing. "The closure of needles and syringes manufacturing factories will create disruption in the supply chain," said Rajiv Nath, managing director of HMD, in a letter to Modi's office which was released to media.
11th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Covid: Omicron cases rise 50% in 24 hours as experts warn variant could cause 2,400 hospitalisations

LSHTM modelling suggests Omicron could cause anywhere from between 25,000 to 75,000 deaths. Professor Eleanor Riley says 'a lot of people' could end up in hospital even if Omicron causes milder disease. Health chiefs are urging people to use testing and social distancing to avoid a spike in cases over Christmas. Raigmore Hospital in Inverness had to shut one of its wards after there was a spike of infections in the unit
11th Dec 2021 - Daily Mail

Labour demands ‘Christmas vaccine guarantee’ for pupils in England

Labour has called on the government to give a “Christmas vaccine guarantee” to the hundreds of thousands of eligible children in England who have been unable to receive a Covid vaccination. With recent figures showing that just 44% of children in the 12-15 age group had been vaccinated on 8 December, Bridget Phillipson, the shadow education secretary, said the government needed to make a bigger push to vaccinate the remainder before they returned to school in the new year. “As Omicron cases in the UK are rising, it’s essential that ministers use the Christmas holidays to get the vaccine out to children, preventing continued chaos next term,” Phillipson said.
11th Dec 2021 - The Guardian

Omicron Now Dominant Variant in Cape Town, Wastewater Shows

Omicron is now the dominant coronavirus variant in Cape Town, the South African Medical Research Council said, citing wastewater analyses. The variant was found in 11 of 12 wastewater samples collected in Cape Town on Nov. 30, the council said in a statement on Friday. The delta variant was only dominant at one wastewater plant in the city, it said. People infected with Covid-19 shed viral particles in their feces. While the particles are not infectious, they provide an indication of the prevalence of the disease and can be used to determine which variant is dominant
10th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

South African Covid Hospitalizations at 5,344, 7.6% in ICU

South African hospitals have 5,344 Covid-19 patients of which 7.6% are in intensive care units, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said in a report on Friday. Of the 404 people in ICU, 144 are on ventilators, the institute said. Almost half of the admissions are in Gauteng, the province that includes Johannesburg and Pretoria. The numbers compare with the 4,795 who were in the hospital a day earlier, with 8.3% of those in ICU.
10th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

As COVID surges, Greece pursues unvaccinated with fines and vans

When a mobile COVID vaccination unit arrived at his Greek village, Yiorgos Toumanidis showed up for his booster shot. “I know what it’s like,” said the 71-year-old, who has had the virus. “I spent a month at home with antibiotics … That’s when we understood what’s going on, how dangerous the situation is. I didn’t hesitate. With the first opportunity, I did the vaccine.”
10th Dec 2021 - AlJazeera

Navy medics join COVID fight in hard-hit New Mexico

Dozens of U.S. Navy medics have deployed to New Mexico to treat a Delta variant-fueled surge in COVID-19 patients as part of a military operation to treat virus hotspots across Western and Midwest states. New Mexico is suffering one of the highest levels of new coronavirus infections in the country, its hospitals reaching record capacity levels. Nearly 50 Navy medics are treating COVID-19 patients at the San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, northwest New Mexico, where critical care patient numbers have been over 200% of capacity for weeks
10th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Low staff vaccination tied to nursing home COVID deaths; experimental vaccine targets multiple coronaviruses

Low rates of COVID-19 vaccination among nursing home staff are linked with high rates of coronavirus illness and death among residents, even when residents have been vaccinated, a U.S. study found. Using national data from early June through late August 2021, researchers compared nursing homes with the highest and lowest percentages of vaccinated staff. In communities with high rates of COVID-19, homes with the lowest staff vaccination rates had more than twice as many residents develop COVID-19 and nearly three times as many residents die from it. This was true regardless of vaccination rates among the residents and of other differences between the facilities, the researchers reported on Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine
10th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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Indiana hospitals see record patient count amid virus surge

Indiana hospitals are seeing their highest-ever overall patient counts amid a monthlong COVID-19 surge and the state’s largest hospital system announced Thursday it had enlisted National Guard assistance. Indiana University Health said it sought the support of the six-person National Guard teams for most of its 16 hospitals across the state because the strain on its “team members, nurses and providers has never been greater.” The IU Health system isn’t alone as the number of COVID-19 patients in Indiana hospitals has more than doubled in the past month, with about 2,750 such patients as of Wednesday as about 30 people a day are dying from the illness, according to state health department tracking.
9th Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

US Covid cases surge as vaccine progress slows and Omicron variant sparks fears

For Dr Rina D’Abramo of the MetroHealth System in Cleveland, it’s difficult when patients in the emergency room tell her they have not been vaccinated. “You can hear it in their voice when you say, ‘Are you vaccinated?’” said D’Abramo, who works at a hospital in the Brecksville suburb. “They shrink down and are like, ‘No. Now I know why I need to be vaccinated.’ ” Unfortunately, there are plenty of people in Ohio and the rest of the US too who have not yet learned that lesson, even as infection rates nationally start to surge again amid fears of the possibly highly contagious new Omicron variant. Ohio is one of the states that has seen the largest recent increases in hospitalizations due to Covid as the number of cases climbs across the country. There has been 19% increase in hospitalizations over the past two weeks in the United States, according to a New York Times analysis of data
9th Dec 2021 - The Guardian

U.S. campaign to vaccinate young children off to sluggish start despite abundant supply

The United States rushed millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses for children ages 5 to 11 across the nation, but demand for inoculations for younger kids has been low, more than a dozen state public health officials and physicians said. Of the 28 million eligible U.S. children in that age group, around 5 million have received at least one dose, according to federal data, likely satisfying initial pent up demand from parents who were waiting to vaccinate their kids.
9th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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Omicron reported in 57 countries, hospitalisations set to rise, WHO says

The Omicron variant has been reported in 57 nations and the number of patients needing hospitalisation is likely to rise as it spreads, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday. The WHO, in its weekly epidemiological report, said more data was needed to assess the severity of disease caused by the Omicron variant and whether its mutations might reduce protection from vaccine-derived immunity.
8th Dec 2021 - Reuters

EU expects Europe plants to produce 3.6 billion COVID shots in 2022

Vaccine plants in the European Union are expected to produce 3.6 billion COVID-19 shots next year, out of a global output of more than 20 billion, two senior EU officials said on Wednesday. EU countries are administering boosters after having completed the primary vaccination of nearly 70% of the EU population, whereas in Africa only 7% have been immunised against the coronavirus, EU data show.
8th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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South Africa's Covid Hospital Admissions More Than Double

The daily number of people admitted to hospital in South Africa with Covid-19 more than doubled on Tuesday from a day earlier. According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases 383 people have been admitted to hospital with the disease in the last 24 hours compared with 175 in the preceding period. Of the 13,147 new cases recorded 64% were in Gauteng, the province that includes Johannesburg and Pretoria, compared with 70% of the 6,381 cases the day earlier, according to a statement from the NICD. The positivity rate of tests was 24.9% on Tuesday, down from 26.4% the day earlier. Over the 24 hours 27 deaths due to Covid-19 were recorded, taking the total confirmed death toll in the country since the pandemic began to 90,002.
7th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

Covid Patients in Japan Are Recovering in Robot-Staffed Hotels

Step into the lobby of its east tower, though, and it’s a different world. The only formal greeting guests receive is from Softbank Corp.’s robot, Pepper. They’re given written instructions on their rooms and stay. That’s because the new arrivals all have one thing in common: they’re infected with coronavirus. In Japan, some Covid patients get a hotel booking -- and can enroll in clinical trials during their stay -- with their positive test results. The approach offers a respite for a dysfunctional health care system where individual hospitals are able to opt-out of caring for Covid patients, resulting in a situation where patients are being turned away despite available resources. It’s also aimed at reducing the risk of transmission among inter-generational households when space is at a premium in one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
7th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

Omicron sets back airline industry's recovery hopes

New travel restrictions prompted by the Omicron coronavirus variant have set back the nascent recovery in international flights, creating delays and headaches in some regions, according to airline and airport officials. The flurry of new testing rules and border closings has raised concerns ahead of the important Christmas travel season, but some airline bosses said they hope any backward moves will be short-lived. Global airlines have blamed a patchwork of shifting rules for depressed demand for international travel, which is critical for their return to profit following steep COVID-19 pandemic-related losses in 2020.
7th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Booster shots may be needed to keep fully vaccinated status in Australia in future

A booster dose could be necessary to keep your green Covid-19 vaccination tick in the future, the health department secretary Brendan Murphy says. Booster shots are being rolled out across Australia amid warnings that immunisation from the initial vaccinations wanes with time. The federal government distinguishes these “booster” doses from the third vaccine dose some immunocompromised people need to get a standard level of protection.
7th Dec 2021 - The Guardian

Merck ties up with Thermo Fisher to make its COVID-19 pill in Canada

Drugmaker Merck & Co on Monday announced a deal with Thermo Fisher Scientific to manufacture its experimental COVID-19 pill at the medical device maker's site in Whitby, Ontario. The site will manufacture the pill, molnupiravir, for distribution in Canada and the United Kingdom as well as markets in the European Union, Asia Pacific and Latin America. The Ontario site is one of three manufacturing sites in the world for the pill, which is being developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
7th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Mexico's capital rolls out first COVID-19 booster shots

Mexico City officials will begin offering a third COVID-19 vaccine dose to residents over the age of 60 on Tuesday, officials said, part of a government plan to roll out booster shots. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said last week the third doses would be made available as soon as possible, beginning with elderly people who are more vulnerable to the coronavirus. The first booster shots in the massive capital of nearly 10 million people will be AstraZeneca doses given to residents of the southern Tlalpan neighborhood, officials told a news conference on Monday.
7th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Armed gangs raise risks in vaccinating rural Nigerians

As the emergence of the omicron variant underscores the importance of inoculating more people to prevent new mutations of the coronavirus, Nigeria also is facing a difficult path: Only 3.78 million are fully vaccinated. Going directly to the villagers is one way to overcome any hesitancy they might have in getting the shots, said Bawa. “When you meet them in their home, there is no problem,” he added. “Everybody will take (the vaccine).” On Dec. 1, Nigeria began requiring government employees to be vaccinated or show a negative test for the virus in the past 72 hours. Although authorities emphasize the country is capable of getting the Western-manufactured vaccines to everyone, health care workers in rural areas are struggling, mostly because of delayed government funding.
7th Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

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Nearly 70 ICU medics at Spanish hospital COVID-19 positive after Christmas party

Nearly 70 nurses and doctors working in the intensive care unit at a Spanish hospital have tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a Christmas party, health authorities said on Monday. Sixty-eight medics at the University Regional Hospital in Malaga had been diagnosed with the coronavirus, the Andalusian regional government said. Health authorities said they were investigating the source of the infection but added all 68 attended a Christmas party on Dec. 1 at which 173 people were present.
7th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Suspected Omicron case aboard Norwegian cruise ship is South African crew member

A South African crew member suspected of having the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is among the 17 cases of the virus detected on a cruise ship that disembarked in New Orleans over the weekend, the cruise line said on Monday. U.S. officials are closely monitoring the latest variant, which has been detected in at least a third of states, to try to ascertain its severity amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
7th Dec 2021 - Reuters

South Africa readies hospitals as Omicron variant drives new COVID-19 wave

South Africa is preparing its hospitals for more admissions, as the Omicron coronavirus variant pushes the country into a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday. Omicron was first detected in southern Africa last month and has triggered global alarm as governments fear another surge in infections. South Africa's daily infections surged last week to more than 16,000 on Friday from roughly 2,300 on Monday.
6th Dec 2021 - Reuters

England has community transmission of Omicron variant, health minister says

Britain's health minister said on Monday there is now community transmission of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus across regions of England but it is too early to say if this will "knock us off our road to recovery". Defending the introduction of stricter rules to slow the spread of the virus, Sajid Javid told parliament the government was "leaving nothing to chance" while scientists assessed the variant, which was first reported in South Africa last month. Javid said there are now 261 Omicron cases in England, 71 in Scotland and four in Wales - a total of 336.
6th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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How a Vaccine Side-Effect Database Sowed Doubt in Vaccinations

Midway into the pandemic, University of Alabama epidemiologist Bertha Hidalgo realized her Covid communication strategy needed a makeover. She was skipping basic biology lessons in favor of simply telling people the best ways to moderate their behavior in response to the virus. Instead of helping people better understand the virus, her approach sometimes backfired, introducing more doubt instead of less. “My method was, ‘These are the facts and this is what you need to do,’” she said. What she quickly learned was that people didn't have enough base knowledge to accept what she was presenting as fact.
5th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

Omicron’s Spread Exposes South Africa’s Vaccination Struggles, Public Distrust

South Africa’s sputtering Covid-19 vaccine rollout, hampered first by dose shortages and more recently public distrust, has left many of its 60 million people potentially exposed as the new Omicron variant spreads across the country. In recent days, more people have turned out to get their shots amid warnings from scientists and the World Health Organization about Omicron, which has driven a sharp increase in Covid-19 infections in the country’s most populous province of Gauteng, home to Johannesburg, over the past two weeks.
5th Dec 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Covid Vaccine Inequity Could Get Worse With Omicron Emergence

“Inequity derives from scarcity, and when there’s scarcity those with resources will use their resources to meet their own needs first,” said Richard Hatchett, head of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. “So the question would be -- if this proves to be a really dangerous variant -- will countries rush to secure supplies?” CEPI is discussing the potential deployment of modified vaccines with other partners in Covax, the global vaccine distribution program, he said. Covax is in a more advantageous position than it was early in the crisis when it was still being formed, and any shortage of shots shouldn’t last as long this time, but the concern “is real,” he said. “If the data suggests we really do need to be introducing an omicron vaccine, we’re going to be wanting to move as quickly as we can to secure doses to reduce the inequity that could otherwise potentially emerge,” he said.
4th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

S.African official says children sick with COVID-19 have mild infections

Higher hospital admissions among children during a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections in South Africa that has been driven by the Omicron coronavirus variant should not prompt panic as infections have been mild, a health official said on Saturday. A large number of infants admitted with COVID-19 last month in Tshwane, the metropolitan area that includes the capital Pretoria, raised concerns that the newly identified Omicron could pose greater risks for young children than other variants. Scientists have yet to confirm any link and have cautioned that other factors could be at play.
4th Dec 2021 - Reuters

‘The fire that’s here’: US is still battling delta variant

While all eyes are on the new and little-understood omicron variant that is popping up around the country, the delta form of the coronavirus isn’t finished wreaking havoc in the U.S., swamping hospitals with record numbers of patients in the Midwest and New England. “Omicron is a spark that’s on the horizon. Delta variant is the fire that’s here today,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the state Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Maine, where an unprecedented 334 people were in the hospital with COVID-19 as of midweek. The U.S. recorded its first confirmed omicron infection on Wednesday, in a Californian who had been to South Africa, where the variant was first identified a week ago. Several more cases were reported Thursday — five in the New York City area and one each in Minnesota, Hawaii and Colorado — under circumstances suggesting the variant has begun spreading within the U.S.
3rd Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

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China accelerating research into COVID-19 shots targeting Omicron -state media

China is accelerating research and development of COVID-19 vaccines targeting the Omicron variant, a health official said on Thursday, amid concerns among global scientists that it may spread more quickly than other strains. Mainland China has not detected any Omicron case yet. "We are rapidly pushing forward the research and development of Omicron-specific vaccines based on different technologies," Zheng Zhongwei, who heads a group tasked with COVID-19 vaccine development in China, told state broadcaster CCTV.
2nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

U.S. to require private health insurance companies cover at-home COVID-19 tests

U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday laid out his strategy to fight the Omicron and Delta coronavirus variants over the winter, including free and insurer-funded at-home COVID-19 testing and new requirements for international travelers. The U.S. government will require private health insurers to reimburse their 150 million customers for 100% of the cost of over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests, administration officials said, and make 50 million more tests available free through rural clinics and health centers for the uninsured.
2nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

Dutch say pre-flight tests needed as most COVID passengers from S.Africa were vaccinated

Dutch health authorities on Thursday said most of the 62 people who tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving on two flights from South Africa last week had been vaccinated, lending weight to a call for pre-flight testing regardless of vaccination status. In addition, all 14 passengers who were later found to have been infected with the Omicron variant were vaccinated, health officials said on Thursday.
2nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

Aspen Pharmacare, pursuing J&J vaccine license, aims to shore up local capacity and quash shot inequality in Africa

History is repeating for Aspen Pharmacare. Nearly 20 years ago, as Africa grappled with an HIV epidemic, Aspen pioneered the first generic antiretroviral on the continent. Now, it has a chance to do something similar with Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine. This time, however, the South African drugmaker's contribution could be even more of a "game changer," thanks to the scope of the pandemic and the disproportionate toll it's taken on Africa, an Aspen executive told Fierce Pharma. Aspen earlier this week signed a nonbinding term sheet with two J&J subsidiaries in a bid to license and sell the company's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine in Africa. The potentially "monumental" agreement is big for two reasons, Stavros Nicolaou, Ph.D., group senior executive of strategic trade at Aspen Pharma Group, said in an interview.
2nd Dec 2021 - FiercePharma

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Omicron was in Europe long before travel bans on southern Africa

When South African officials sounded the alarm on the new Omicron variant last Thursday, stocks around the world tumbled and up to 70 countries, including the United States, imposed travel bans and restrictions to southern African countries. The knee-jerk response followed the news that the variant had an unusually high number of mutations, which scientists feared could make it more transmissible and result in immune evasion. Much is still unknown about Omicron, including its origin, severity and its transmissibility. Researchers are also racing to discover if it could displace existing variants and become dominant, as Delta has. Early "indications" show that people who have received the coronavirus vaccine booster are "protected" against the new variant, Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said Tuesday.
1st Dec 2021 - CNN

Children 5 and older now have a coronavirus vaccine. But many parents of younger kids are still anxiously waiting.

Even with the recent authorization of a coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, many parents and grandparents are still in limbo, anxiously awaiting shots for younger children. Although children are less likely to suffer severe disease, they can still contract and transmit the virus to others. Those who test positive must quarantine — and children may even have to stay home from day care or preschool when their classmates become ill after exposure to the virus. This forces parents to find alternative child care or take time off from work to care for them, which some families say has become common.
1st Dec 2021 - The Washington Post

EU brings forward Pfizer/BioNTech COVID shot for younger children to Dec 13

The European Union-wide rollout of Pfizer (PFE.N) and BioNTech's (22UAy.DE) COVID-19 vaccine version for five- to 11-year-old children will begin Dec 13, one week earlier than previously planned, Germany's health ministry said on Wednesday. "Given the current pandemic situation, this is good news for parents and children. Many are awaiting this eagerly," acting health minister Jens Spahn said in the statement. Germany is due to receive 2.4 million doses for use as a two-dose regimen, the ministry said, adding it has commitment on the new date from the manufacturer.
1st Dec 2021 - Reuters

COVID: France extends suspension of flights from high-risk southern African countries

France has decided to extend until at least Saturday its suspension of flights from southern African countries which have been hit hard by the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus, said French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune. "As of this morning, we have extended the suspension of flights from seven southern African countries until Saturday," Beaune told RTL radio. The Omicron COVID variant - first reported in southern Africa and which the World Health Organization (WHO) said carries a "very high" risk of infection surges - has triggered global alarm, with border closures casting a shadow over a nascent economic recovery from a two-year pandemic
1st Dec 2021 - Reuters

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Rwanda Offers Covid Vaccine Boosters, Joining Few African Nations

Rwanda became one of the few African nations offering coronavirus-vaccine booster doses on Tuesday, according to the nation’s Ministry of Health. The shots will be administered to people 50 years old and above, as well as those as young as 30 years, but with non-communicable diseases, the ministry said in a statement. The exercise begins from the capital, Kigali. Rwanda joins African nations, including Seychelles, Mauritius and South Africa, that are administering booster shots to various categories of people such as the elderly and health-care workers. Nations across the world are quickly moving to give additional doses amid new Covid-19 variants, including the recent Omicron that was first detected in southern Africa.
30th Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

Nine more from Munster test positive for COVID-19 in South Africa

Munster have nine new COVID-19 cases in their camp in South Africa, the Irish rugby team said on Tuesday, taking the total count to 10. Both staff and players have tested positive and will quarantine in a hotel in Cape Town, joining the first player who returned a positive test on Sunday. Welsh side Cardiff also said they had two positive cases over the weekend. Munster did not say if any of the positive tests were for the new Omicron variant of the virus, which was first detected in southern Africa.
30th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Forty-two cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant confirmed in 10 EU states

Forty-two cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant have been confirmed in 10 European Union countries, the head of the EU's public health agency said on Tuesday. Authorities in the 27-nation EU were analysing another six "probable" cases, Andrea Ammon, who chairs the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC), told an online conference organised by the EU's Slovenian presidency. She said the confirmed cases were mild or without symptoms, although in younger age groups.
30th Nov 2021 - Reuters

German and Austrian COVID-19 incidence rate falls, stable in Netherlands

Germany's federal and regional governments agreed on Tuesday to take action to counter a fourth wave of COVID-19, including stepping up the vaccination campaign and restricting contact, especially for unvaccinated people. Facing a surge in cases over the last few weeks and warnings from virologists that exponential growth rates would overload hospitals, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel held video talks with her successor, Olaf Scholz, and regional leaders. "There is agreement that the fourth wave has led to an extremely serious, in some regions dramatic situation in our healthcare system to which federal and state governments will respond jointly and decisively," said government spokesman Steffen Seibert.
30th Nov 2021 - Reuters

COVAX allocates 4.7 mln AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses to N.Korea

The global vaccine-sharing network COVAX has set aside 4.73 million doses of AstraZeneca Plc's COVID-19 shot for shipment to North Korea, one of the very few countries that haven't started vaccination, according to its allocation plan. The plan follows an earlier offer for nearly two million doses of the shot that the reclusive state had rejected due to concerns over side effects, according to a South Korean think-tank
30th Nov 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19 vaccine makers start work on Omicron-tailored shots

BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are working on vaccines that specifically target Omicron in case their existing shots are not effective against the new coronavirus variant, the companies said on Monday. The variant's emergence has triggered a strong global response as countries worried that it could spread fast even in vaccinated populations impose travel curbs and other restrictions. BioNTech SE said it had started work on a vaccine tailored to Omicron, along with partner Pfizer
30th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Spain detects first Omicron case, COVID-19 infections rise

Spain has detected its first case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in a 51-year-old man who arrived from South Africa on Sunday after a layover in Amsterdam, Madrid's regional health authority said on Monday as Spain's overall infection rate rose. The microbiology unit at Madrid's Gregorio Maranon hospital, which sequenced and confirmed the new variant, added in a separate post on Twitter that the patient was in fair condition with mild symptoms.
30th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Britain expands COVID booster programme as eight more Omicron cases found

Britain will offer a COVID-19 booster shot to all adults in a bid to accelerate its vaccination programme amid concern over the new Omicron coronavirus variant, as eight more cases were found in the country. Britain as a whole has reported 11 cases of the new variant, which the World Health Organization said on Monday was likely to spread internationally and posed a very high risk of infection surges
30th Nov 2021 - Reuters UK

Rise in German COVID-19 infections flattens

Germany's federal and regional governments agreed on Tuesday to take action to counter a fourth wave of COVID-19, including stepping up the vaccination campaign and restricting contact, especially for unvaccinated people. Facing a surge in cases over the last few weeks and warnings from virologists that exponential growth rates would overload hospitals, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel held video talks with her successor, Olaf Scholz, and regional leaders.
30th Nov 2021 - Reuters

France registers biggest jump in COVID-19 hospital patients since spring

France registered its biggest jump in coronavirus-related hospital admissions since the spring, health ministry data showed on Monday. The number of patients in intensive care units with COVID-19 jumped by 117 to 1,749 people, the biggest increase since March-April, when the ICU number rose by more than 100 per day on several days. The number of people in hospital with the virus jumped by 470 to 9,860, the biggest one-day increase since March 29. Compared with a week ago, the number of COVID-19 patients was up more than 18%, the biggest week-on-week increase this year.
30th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Brazil and Japan report first cases of the omicron variant

Brazil and Japan joined the rapidly widening circle of countries to report cases of the omicron variant Tuesday, while new findings indicate the mutant coronavirus was already in Europe close to a week before South Africa sounded the alarm. 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. Together with the cases in Japan and Brazil, the finding illustrates the difficulty in containing the virus in an age of jet travel and economic globalization. And it left the world once again whipsawed between hopes of returning to normal and fears that the worst is yet to come.
30th Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

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White House says U.S. agencies can delay punishing unvaccinated federal workers

The White House told federal agencies on Monday they can delay punishing thousands of federal workers who failed to comply with a Nov. 22 COVID-19 vaccination deadline. On Wednesday, the Biden administration said a total of 92% of U.S. federal workers have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Overall, 96.5% of the 3.5 million federal workers were considered to be in compliance with the administration's mandate announced in September because they either were vaccinated or had an exemption request granted or under consideration.
29th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Covid: Booster vaccine rolled out to all over-18s and gap after second jab cut to three months

Booster jabs should now be offered to all over-18s, the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI), has said. The JCVI has also said gaps between the second Covid-19 vaccine and booster shots should be reduced from six months to three months. Although JCVI has advised all adults should now have their boosters, it has said those who are clinically vulnerable should be prioritised and in order of descending age groups, as was done during the second and first phases of the vaccination programme. Over 40s are already eligible to have their boosters. Those who are immunocompromised should be offered another booster, meaning they will have their fourth vaccination.
29th Nov 2021 - The Independent

India's Bharat Biotech resumes exports of COVID-19 vaccine

Indian vaccine maker Bharat Biotech said on Monday it has resumed export of its COVID-19 shot, Covaxin, and has executed long-pending orders in November. The company also said exports to additional countries will commence from December, according to a statement it shared on Twitter. It was not immediately clear whether or not these exports were made under the global vaccine-sharing facility COVAX.
29th Nov 2021 - Reuters

India steps ups COVID-19 testing for international flyers

India will make on-arrival COVID-19 testing mandatory for flyers from more than a dozen countries, including South Africa and Britain where the Omicron variant has been detected, the health ministry said on Monday. The decision will be effective from Dec. 1 and comes after a man who recently returned from South Africa tested positive for COVID-19, though it is not yet clear which strain of the coronavirus he contracted.
29th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Thermo Fisher says its COVID-19 tests accurately detects Omicron variant

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc said on Monday its COVID-19 diagnostic tests can accurately detect the new coronavirus variant Omicron that has prompted several countries to shut their borders. The World Health Organisation (WHO) last week classified the Omicron variant as a SARS-CoV-2 "variant of concern," saying it may spread more quickly than other forms. Thermo Fisher's TaqPath COVID-19 assays can report accurate results even in the case where one of the gene targets is impacted by a mutation, the company said in a statement.
29th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Moderna says Omicron vaccine could be ready by early 2022

Moderna Inc. is having its best two-day rally in a year after the company said a new vaccine to fight the omicron strain of the coronavirus could be ready by early 2022 if required. The stock soared as much as 14% to the highest level in two months, after jumping 21% during Friday’s global risk-asset selloff, to reclaim its place as top performer on the S&P 500 year-to-date. The company mobilized hundreds of workers on Thanksgiving Day last Thursday in order to start work on omicron, Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton said over the weekend.
29th Nov 2021 - AlJazeera

Pfizer boosts Paxlovid manufacturing capacity as Merck’s rival COVID pill hits surprise efficacy setback

The efficacy data for Pfizer’s oral COVID-19 drug now look so appealing that the Big Pharma company is boosting manufacturing capacity even before an expected emergency use authorization from the FDA. Pfizer now expects to make 80 million courses of COVID drug Paxlovid by the end of 2022, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC during a Monday interview. The company previously said it plans to have capacity to make 50 million courses.
29th Nov 2021 - FiercePharma

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S.African doctor says patients with Omicron variant have "very mild" symptoms

A South African doctor who was one of the first to suspect a different coronavirus strain among patients said on Sunday that symptoms of the Omicron variant were so far mild and could be treated at home. Dr. Angelique Coetzee, a private practitioner and chair of South African Medical Association, told Reuters that on Nov. 18 she noticed seven patients at her clinic who had symptoms different from the dominant Delta variant, albeit "very mild".
28th Nov 2021 - Reuters

India’s COVID vaccine exports resume – but others must step up to vaccinate the world

The Indian embassy in Iran recently celebrated the arrival of 1 million doses of Covaxin, a COVID vaccine developed in India by the pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech. Bangladesh, Myanmar and Iran also recently received a million doses each of Covishield, the version of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India, the world’s single largest vaccine producer. These 4 million doses, delivered in early October 2021, were the first to be exported from India in more than six months. Dubbed the “pharmacy of the world”, India has the largest vaccine-production capacity of any country. It therefore has a massive role to play in vaccinating the world. However, up until recently the “pharmacy” has been closed to other countries. Unlike most COVID vaccine producers, India began exporting doses through its “vaccine friendship” initiative – a diplomatic programme based around gifting vaccines to lower-income countries – the same week it began its domestic vaccination programme, back in January 2021. It was soon internationally hailed as a “vaccine superpower”. However, in late March exports ground to a halt, as India’s devastating second wave took hold and all resources were diverted towards its domestic vaccine programme.
27th Nov 2021 - Yahoo Finance

Military sent to Michigan to deal with surge in COVID as Minnesota calls up the National Guard

Michigan is currently the hardest-hit state in the nation, with COVID-19 cases rising 88 per cent in the last 14 days. The governor, Gretchen Whitmer, has requested federal assistance to help in hospitals, and 44 people are being deployed. In Minnesota, another state struggling with a surge in cases, the National Guard is being brought in to take some of the strain off nursing home staff. Nursing homes in the state are now suffering a chronic staffing shortage with 23,000 open long-term caregiver positions as employees seek better paid, less intense jobs or else quit due to vaccine mandates. Governor Tim Walz has deployed 400 members of the National Guard to work as nurses and proposed using $50 million in unspent federal coronavirus relief funding to help these facilities hire and retain staff
26th Nov 2021 - Daily Mail

Shanghai's Flareup Spreads as China Faces a New Covid Outbreak

Shanghai scrapped about one-third of the flights from its busiest international airport on Friday and suspended some hospital services after a handful of Covid infections were detected in the financial hub, showing China’s commitment to stringent curbs to eliminate the virus as winter looms. More than 30% of flights from Shanghai Pudong International Airport were canceled on Friday morning, state broadcaster CCTV reported. Schools were immediately suspended and housing complexes tied to the cases were locked down as local officials embraced strict measures in what may become a protracted battle as cold weather forces more people indoors. Chinese airline stocks declined. Shanghai International Airport Co. Ltd. fell as much as 4%, while Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and China Eastern Airlines Corp. Ltd. dropped at least 2% in Hong Kong.
26th Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

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Logistical challenges hampering Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination drives

As deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa finally pick up, many nations are struggling with the logistics of accelerating their inoculation campaigns, the head of Africa’s disease control body said on Thursday.
25th Nov 2021 - CNBC Africa

Europe Health Agency, in Shift, Urges Faster Covid-19 Booster Rollout as Cases Surge

The head of the European Union’s public-health agency recommended governments accelerate their campaigns to roll out Covid-19 booster shots as case numbers rise rapidly across parts of the bloc. Andrea Ammon, head of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, said on Wednesday that Covid-19 boosters should be offered to everyone over 18 years old, six months after they were first fully vaccinated, with priority given to those ages 40 and older. The ECDC’s recommendations aren’t binding on the governments of EU states, but they help shape health policy. Previously, the agency said boosters weren’t urgent except for the frail and people with compromised immune systems.
25th Nov 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

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Children at lower risk from COVID, vaccines should go to poor - WHO

As children and adolescents are at lower risk of severe COVID-19 disease, countries should prioritise adults and sharing vaccine doses with the COVAX programme to bring supplies to poorer countries, the World Health Organisation said on Wednesday. Some rare cases of heart inflammation called myocarditis have been reported in younger men who received vaccines based on mRNA technoloy - Pfizer BioNtech and Moderna - but these were generally mild and responded to treatment, it said. Although that risk had not been fully determined, it was less than the risk of myocarditis linked to SARS-CoV-2 infection, it said.
24th Nov 2021 - Reuters

South Korea's Enzychem to make Indian drugmaker Cadila's COVID-19 shot

South Korea's Enzychem Lifesciences would make at least 80 million doses of India's homegrown DNA COVID-19 vaccine from Cadila Healthcare, the Indian drugmaker said on Wednesday. As part of the deal, Cadila will transfer the DNA vaccine technology to Enzychem, which will make and sell the vaccine, ZyCoV-D, within its territory under the Cadila trademark. Cadila will get license fees and royalty payments, the company said in a filing to stock exchanges.
24th Nov 2021 - Reuters

South Africa delays COVID vaccine deliveries as inoculations slow

South Africa has asked Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer to delay delivery of COVID-19 vaccines because it now has too much stock, health ministry officials said, as vaccine hesitancy slows an inoculation campaign. About 35% of South Africans are fully vaccinated, higher than in most other African nations, but half the government's year-end target. It has averaged 106,000 doses a day in the past 15 days in a nation of 60 million people. Earlier this year the programme was slowed by insufficient doses. Now deliveries have been delayed due to oversupply, making the country an outlier in the continent where most are still starved of vaccines. Nicholas Crisp, deputy director-general of the Health Department, told Reuters that South Africa had 16.8 million doses in stock and said deliveries had been deferred.
24th Nov 2021 - Reuters

African company works to replicate Moderna's COVID vaccine, without permission, to address unequal access

There are huge gaps in the availability of COVID-19 vaccines between different countries. Just 10% of people in Africa have received a single dose, compared to 63% across North America or 62% in Europe. CBS News correspondent Debora Patta found a start-up in South Africa that hopes to redress that imbalance by reverse engineering one of the major U.S.-made vaccines, making it easier to store, and then producing it independently. A pair of nondescript warehouses in a dusty part of Cape Town is the unlikely home of a medical revolution. Inside the airlocked, sterile rooms, Patta found a band of rebels in white lab coats who are passionate about using science to change the world.
24th Nov 2021 - CBS News

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Israel begins giving COVID shots to children age 5 to 11

Israel on Tuesday began administering the coronavirus vaccine to children age 5 to 11. The country recently emerged from a fourth COVID wave, and daily infections have been relatively low for the last few weeks. But Health Ministry statistics show that a large share of the new infections have been in children and teenagers.
23rd Nov 2021 - The Independent

Covid patients in ICU now almost all unvaccinated, says Oxford scientist

Covid-19 is no longer a disease of the vaccinated, the head of the Oxford jab programme has said. The “ongoing horror” of patients gasping for breath in hospital is now “largely restricted” to people who are unvaccinated, according to Prof Sir Andrew Pollard. Even though the more transmissible Delta variant continues to infect thousands, most of those who are fully vaccinated will experience only “mild infections” that are “little more than an unpleasant inconvenience”.
23rd Nov 2021 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Take a lateral flow test before you visit busy places this Christmas, says government

The government is advising people to take a COVID-19 test before they spend time in "crowded and enclosed spaces" this winter. The Cabinet Office had previously advised people to take two lateral flow tests a week, especially if they have school-age children or are meeting clinically vulnerable people. Now the public is being told to take rapid lateral flow tests "if it is expected that there will be a period of high risk that day". It does not state what a high-risk scenario may be, but it could be an activity such as Christmas shopping in busy high streets or shopping centres. The Cabinet Office website says: "You are at higher risk of catching or passing on COVID-19 in crowded and enclosed spaces, where there are more people who might be infectious and where there is limited fresh air
23rd Nov 2021 - Sky News

Dutch COVID-19 patients transferred to Germany as hospitals struggle

The Netherlands started transporting COVID-19 patients across the border to Germany on Tuesday to ease pressure on Dutch hospitals, which are scaling back regular care to deal with a surge in coronavirus cases. A patient was transferred by ambulance from Rotterdam to a hospital in Bochum, some 240 km (150 miles) east, on Tuesday morning, and another would follow later in the day, health authorities said. The number of COVID-19 patients in Dutch hospitals has swelled to its highest level since May in recent weeks and is expected to increase further as infections jump to record levels.
23rd Nov 2021 - Reuters

Covid antivirals could be pandemic game-changers. But Americans might struggle to access them

Antiviral drugs for treating Covid-19 have been hailed as a pandemic “game-changer” — a tool that could, perhaps, finally help life return to normal. But basic gaps in the U.S. health system could mean that two new treatments from Pfizer and Merck won’t make much of a difference after all. The companies’ treatments, which haven’t yet received emergency authorization, could make a Covid diagnosis dramatically less threatening. But in practice, before receiving the pills, patients may need to jump through a series of hoops that often prevent Americans from accessing care: Recognizing their symptoms, taking a test, getting a prescription from a clinician, and filling the prescription at a pharmacy. “Our routine medical systems are not really set up for this,” said Céline Gounder, a physician and NYU professor who served on President Biden’s Covid advisory board in the months before his inauguration. “These are medications that need to be started within three days of developing symptoms. It can take you longer than three days to get an appointment.”
23rd Nov 2021 - STAT News

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Israel starts vaccinating young children as coronavirus cases rise

Israel began rolling out Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds on Monday hoping to beat down a recent rise in coronavirus infections. A fourth wave of infections that hit Israel in June began subsiding in September. But over the past two weeks the "R", or reproduction rate of the virus, that had remained below one for two months began climbing and has now crossed that threshold, indicating the virus could again be spreading exponentially. Daily cases have also crept up over the past few days, with half the confirmed infections presently among children age 11 and younger.
23rd Nov 2021 - Reuters

‘Supercharge booster vaccines,’ NHS boss Vin Diwakar pleads, as London cases rise

A health chief has called for the jabs race to be “supercharged” to get more people protected against Covid-19 as bookings for boosters were opened to those in their forties. Dr Vin Diwakar, medical director for the NHS in London, issued the appeal as official figures showed there have been 18,049 confirmed coronavirus cases in the capital in just four days. There were 4,536 announced yesterday and it is the first time since late July when daily totals have risen above 4,000 for four consecutive days. More than 1,489,000 Londoners have already had a booster, or third jab for some vulnerable groups, with uptake understood to be particularly high among people in their seventies and even higher among care home staff.
22nd Nov 2021 - Evening Standard

Revealed: Over 600 babies born premature and needing critical care to mothers hospitalised by Covid-19

More than 600 babies have been born prematurely and needing critical care to mothers hospitalised by Covid-19, The Independent can reveal — as women are warned they are up to three times more likely to have an early birth with the virus. The figures, which cover 17 months of the pandemic, prompted calls for the government to make pregnant women of all ages eligible for Covid-19 booster jabs. Concern about pregnant women avoiding the vaccine has pushed chief medical officer Chris Whitty to urge mothers-to-be to get fully jabbed, with take-up rates in this group as low as 15 per cent last month.
22nd Nov 2021 - The Independent

Hungarians line up for shots as COVID surges across Europe

People were lining up for COVID-19 shots outside Budapest's main hospitals on Monday as Hungary for the first time offered vaccinations without prior registration amid a surge in new infections. Europe has again become the epicentre of the pandemic, accounting for half of global cases and deaths, and protests turned violent in the Netherlands and Belgium over the weekend over new curbs on movement. Austria entered its fourth national lockdown on Monday after tens of thousands marched against new restrictions. Germany is debating making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory.
22nd Nov 2021 - Reuters

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China's BioKangtai begins first shipment of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 shot

AstraZeneca Plc's (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccine partner in China, Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products (BioKangtai) (300601.SZ), has begun its first shipment of the shot, sending more than four million doses to Indonesia, BioKangtai said on Friday. Including the first batch, BioKangtai plans to send over eight million doses of the China-made AstraZeneca shot, branded as KconecaVac, to Indonesia this month, Zhang Qian, general manager at BioKangtai's international affairs department, said in a video interview with local media.
20th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Facing new COVID wave, Dutch delay care for cancer, heart patients

Dutch healthcare officials said on Friday they have begun delaying operations for some cancer and heart patients to free up space in intensive care units during a record wave of COVID-19 infections. "These are cancer patients that should actually be operated on within six weeks of diagnosis, and that won't be met in all cases. It's also heart patients," said a spokesperson for LCPS, the national organisation that allocates hospital resources. "It's horrible, of course, for the patients." The National Institute for Health (RIVM) reported a record of more than 23,000 new cases in the previous 24 hours on Thursday, compared with the previous daily high of around 13,000 reached in December 2020.
20th Nov 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

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Spain expands booster shot programme as COVID-19 cases rise

Spain is now offering third doses of COVID-19 vaccines to people aged 60 and over, expanding the booster shot programme from the previous age threshold of 70 as infections rise, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday. Spain has fully vaccinated 79% of its population, and started the campaign to administer booster shots last month, including for cancer patients, nursing home residents and other vulnerable groups.
18th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Greece calls up private doctors as COVID-19 cases surge

Greece on Thursday ordered private sector doctors in five regions in the north of the country to assist its health system as it grapples with a surge in COVID-19 infections. The government had called on private sector doctors to help out earlier this month, as Greece's public hospitals and intensive care wards have been overwhelmed by rising infections in recent weeks. The requisition order, published in the official government gazette, is effective for a month.
18th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Dutch weigh options to slow rising COVID-19 infections among children

Virologists in the Netherlands have proposed extending holidays over Christmas to slow a surge in COVID-19 cases among children that has forced half of schools nationwide to send classes home, but the government said it wanted to keep them open. The National Institute for Health (RIVM) reported a record number of over 110,000 cases in the week to Nov. 16, an increase of 44% from the previous seven days. The strongest rise was among children aged 4-12.
18th Nov 2021 - Reuters

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Spain Plans Booster Shots for Health Workers, Elderly as Covid Cases Rise

Spain will roll out Covid-19 booster shots to health workers and people older than 60, as the country seeks to contain a surge in infections that’s hitting across Europe. The move, which will be discussed with authorities in autonomous regions, aims to protect vulnerable groups, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday. He said the country’s high vaccination rates of about 80% has so far shielded the former hot spot from the worst of the latest wave of the pandemic. Spain’s 14-day average infection rate has climbed 67% in two weeks to 82 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, but it remains well below countries like Germany and Austria, where less than 70% of the people are vaccinated.
18th Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

‘An absolute scandal’: UK threw away 600,000 vaccine doses after they passed expiry date

The UK threw away more than 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine after the life-saving jabs were allowed to pass their expiry date, The Independent can reveal. In what has been described as an “absolute scandal”, the government failed to donate the doses to poorer countries struggling to access Covid vaccines – despite previous promises to redistribute supplies that were deemed surplus to requirements in the UK. The doses were no longer needed in Britain after the decision was made in May to stop offering the AstraZeneca vaccine to younger age groups because of concerns over rare blood clotting. This left an excess of vaccines, 604,400 of which eventually expired in August before being destroyed at the end of the month, according to data obtained by a Freedom of Information request. Labour said it was “staggering that such a colossal quantity of life-saving jabs were allowed to go to waste”, while Oxfam said it was “disgraceful” that doses were destroyed while health workers on the front line in poorer countries remained unprotected against Covid-19.
17th Nov 2021 - The Independent

Biden administration seeks to boost Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing to increase global supply

The Biden administration is seeking to boost Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing to increase the global vaccine supply, particularly in developing nations, as the US continues its efforts to share more vaccines abroad. "We are prepared to offer vaccine manufacturers who have demonstrated the capability to make mRNA vaccines substantial government resources to help them expand their domestic infrastructure and capacity (such as facilities, equipment, staff, or training) in order to make an additional 1 billion doses of vaccine available per year," an administration official said. The official added, "In the short term, this would make a significant amount of Covid-19 vaccine doses available at cost for global use, and in the long term, it would help establish sustained domestic manufacturing capacity to rapidly produce vaccines for future threats. We hope companies will take us up on this plan to help get more people here at home and around the world vaccinated."
17th Nov 2021 - CNN

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NHS boss Amanda Pritchard reveals health service is preparing a yearly Covid booster programme

Amanda Pritchard said the NHS is putting plans in place for yearly booster jabs JCVI recommended booster programme should be extended to all over-40s Ms Pritchard urged people to take up vaccination invitations 'as soon as possible'
16th Nov 2021 - Daily Mail

More than 10,000 Australians have filed coronavirus vaccine injury claims

Taxpayers are facing a hefty bill for rare but significant coronavirus vaccine injuries, with at least 10,000 people planning to claim under the federal government’s no-fault indemnity scheme. Services Australia is building an online portal, to be launched next month, for uncapped claims above $5000 from those who suffered injury and loss of income due to their COVID-19 vaccine, with compensation for medical costs and lost wages to be paid by the government.
16th Nov 2021 - Sydney Morning Herald

Nigeria plans mass vaccination drive, considers booster shot

Nigeria will start a mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign later this week, aiming to inoculate half of its targeted population by the end of January, government officials said. Africa's most-populous country has a goal to vaccinate 111 million people to reach herd immunity. Under the initiative to start on Friday, 55 million doses or more than a million a day will be administered. The country has to date vaccinated only 2.9% of those eligible to get vaccines.
16th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Russia to lift COVID-19 ban on flights to Brazil, Argentina, other countries from Dec. 1

Russia will lift its COVID-19 ban on flights to countries including Bangladesh, Brazil, Mongolia, Costa Rica and Argentina from Dec. 1, the government coronavirus task force said on Tuesday. The government stopped normal commercial flights abroad when the pandemic struck last year, but it has since been gradually relaxing the restrictions. The flight bans dealt a heavy blow to Russia's airlines.
16th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Greek health sector workers protest as hospitals struggle with COVID spike

Greek public health sector workers protested in Athens over pay and conditions on Monday as hospitals struggled with a new surge in COVID-19 cases and authorities considered further restrictions.The protesters said they were underpaid, overworked and understaffed. They called for more hirings, for the government to include them on a list of hazardous professions which receive hazard pay benefits, and for private doctors to be ordered to help. A decision by the government to suspend unvaccinated health sector workers has increased staff shortages, they said. Greece made vaccinations mandatory for nursing home staff in July and for healthcare workers in September.
16th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Hospitals in Slovak east fill up as COVID wave rages, new law tightens rules

Hospitals in Slovakia, one of Europe's least-vaccinated nations, have been filling up with coronavirus patients, with the northeastern region of Presov reporting almost no spare intensive care beds, authorities and hospitals said on Monday. President Zuzana Caputova has signed a law allowing the government to force unvaccinated people to test twice a week before attending work in the worst-affected regions and keep them out of restaurants and other services. The country of 5.5 million was not planning a national lockdown, however.
16th Nov 2021 - Reuters

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Many Logistics Firms Are Avoiding Covid-19 Vaccine Requirements Amid U.S. Mandate Debate

Freight transportation companies are cautiously stepping around a Covid-19 vaccination requirement while trade groups fight the federal mandate in court. Companies including United Parcel Service Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and others that manage warehouse staffers, truck drivers and other employees across logistics networks in general aren’t requiring employees outside of some office workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Many firms say they are encouraging staffers to get vaccinated while mandating protection measures in workplaces. The federal mandate, which is slated to go into effect Jan. 4, exempts workers who are exclusively outdoors and don’t report to a workplace where they interact with others. So it may leave out many truck drivers but not the office and warehouse workers who help move goods from factories to stores and residences.
15th Nov 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

OSHA, South Dakota pork plant settle coronavirus complaint

Federal workplace safety regulators announced Monday that they have reached an agreement with Smithfield Foods to settle a contested citation of the company’s coronavirus safety measures during a massive outbreak last year at a South Dakota pork processing plant. Under the agreement, Virginia-based Smithfield Foods will develop a plan to prevent infectious diseases at meatpacking plants nationwide and pay a $13,500 fine. Smithfield’s Sioux Falls plant was one the nation’s worst COVID-19 hotspots during the early days of the pandemic. By June 16, 2020, four workers were dead and nearly 1,300 had tested positive for the virus, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. After an investigation, the federal agency said Smithfield did not do enough to space workers out or provide other safety measures such as face coverings or physical barriers.
15th Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

Israel says children aged 5-11 can receive COVID-19 vaccine

Israel said on Sunday that children aged five to 11 would be eligible for vaccination against COVID-19, and that a starting date for the campaign would be made public within days. The decision, announced by the Health Ministry, followed approval by its expert panel on vaccinations last week, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use of Pfizer's (PFE.N) and BioNTech's vaccine for the age group at a 10-microgram dose. The original shot given to those aged 12 and older is 30 micrograms. Pfizer and BioNTech have said their vaccine showed 90.7% efficacy against the coronavirus in a clinical trial of children aged five to 11.
15th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Australia aims to vaccinate children under 12 against COVID-19 from January

Australia, quickly becoming one of most-vaccinated nations against COVID-19, will likely start administering the shots for children under the age of 12 in January, officials said on Sunday. Health Minister Greg Hunt said medical regulators are still reviewing the health and safety data for the vaccinations to be administered for children between the ages of five and 11 and are unlikely to decide this year. "The expectation that they have set is the first part of January, hopefully early January," Hunt told the Australian Broadcast Corp's Insiders programme. "But they're going as quickly as possible."
15th Nov 2021 - Reuters Australia

Pressure on Dutch hospitals mounts as COVID cases break records

Dutch hospitals are feeling the strain from a surge in COVID-19 patients but the worst has yet to come, the head of the country's hospital association said on Monday. The number of COVID-19 patients in Dutch hospitals increased to around 2,000 on Monday, including almost 400 in intensive care, reaching the highest level since May. With almost 250 new admissions every day, the hospitals are set to pass last winter's peak of around 2,800 coronavirus patients in little over a week, the LNAZ association’s head, Ernst Kuipers, told lawmakers.
15th Nov 2021 - Reuters

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As the U.S. Races to Vaccinate Kids Against Covid-19, Some Countries Hold Back

The U.S. is at the forefront of the race to vaccinate young children. Many governments elsewhere are treading more cautiously. In Mexico, the president says he won’t be held hostage by vaccine makers and there are no plans to inoculate under-18s except those at risk. In many parts of Africa, rollouts are going so slowly that vaccinating children is a distant ambition. Some governments are waiting to see how the campaign in the U.S. goes before moving ahead. The U.S., where children between 5 and 11 are getting shots for the first time this month, isn’t alone: Children as young as 3 are being vaccinated in countries such as Colombia, Argentina and China.
13th Nov 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

More than 10,000 COVID-19 booster breakthroughs - cause for concern?

The Pfizer vaccines were not evaluated for preventing infection, but rather symptomatic or severe disease and death. And when it comes to these statistics at least for now, the vaccines seem to be doing their job. The percentage of people testing positive for the virus has declined from an aveage of more than 5% to just 0.56%. And hospitalisations have gone down too, hitting only 200 people on Friday with 20% of the patients in only a mild condition.
13th Nov 2021 - The Jerusalem Post

German Vaccines Lag, Cases Spike, With Troops on Standby to Help

Germany is being battered by a fourth Covid wave, with low vaccination rates in its eastern states a big reason the virus has regained a foothold. The four regions registering the lowest vaccination rates -- Saxony, Thuringia, Brandenburg, and Saxony-Anhalt -- are all in the formerly communist East. No state in eastern Germany has an inoculation level that exceeds the nationwide rate of 67.5% fully vaccinated, with the exception of once-divided Berlin, according to health ministry data. Germany’s military will put as many as 12,000 troops on standby to help overburdened health clinics and to speed the rollout of booster vaccines, Der Spiegel reported Saturday
13th Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

Japan adding more hospital beds in plan for next virus surge

The Japanese government’s preparations for the next virus surge include adding thousands more hospital beds to avoid a situation like last summer when many COVID-19 patients were forced to stay home, even while dependent on oxygen deliveries. Even though Japan has a reasonable health insurance system and the world’s largest number of beds per capita, COVID-19 patients were admitted to only a fraction of the beds, mostly at public, university and major private hospitals. The government has provided subsidies to lure more hospitals to treat such patients, but progress is slow, triggering calls for tougher measures in an emergency.
12th Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

'Caregivers are getting burned out by the pandemic': Labor shortages are taking a huge toll on nursing homes

The U.S. is experiencing one of its worst labor shortages in decades. It’s likely the reason why your pizza took longer than usual to get delivered or why your flight may have been canceled. And it’s also the reason why you’re probably going to have a tough time getting a friend or loved one into an assisted living facility or nursing home, and why you may be more concerned about a vulnerable family member currently residing in one. Since the beginning of the pandemic, some 221,000 people have left the industry. That amounts to a 14% drop in employment, according to a report published by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, trade organizations that collectively represent some 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country. Among all health-care sectors, nursing homes have lost the most jobs since before the pandemic, according to the report, which is based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
12th Nov 2021 - MarketWatch

Experts optimistic Spain will avoid sixth coronavirus wave despite surge in cases across Europe

Despite the success of Spain’s Covid-19 vaccination drive – 88.9% of the over-12 population is fully vaccinated, according to the Health Ministry – there are growing concerns about the delicate situation in many other European countries. Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, which have lower vaccination rates than Spain, on Thursday reported the highest daily number of coronavirus cases seen since the beginning of the pandemic. Fatalities for Covid-19 are also rising in these countries. The question many are asking now is if Spain is on the brink of a sixth wave.
12th Nov 2021 - EL PAÍS

No takers for second dose? Adopt the Singapore model

With many yet to take the second dose of vaccine even after completing the mandatory gap of 84 days after the first dose, health experts are clamouring for adopting the Singapore model where particllay vaccinated citizens are not allowed to visit public places.
12th Nov 2021 - Bangalore Mirror

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Ellume's COVID-19 home test recall most serious, FDA says

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classified the recall of Ellume's over-the-counter COVID-19 home test as Class 1, the most serious type of recall, after the Australian diagnostic test maker removed some of its tests from the market last month. Ellume had cited higher-than-acceptable false positive test results for SARS-CoV-2 as the reason for the recall. A 'false positive' indicates that a person has the virus when they actually do not.
11th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Chinese city Dalian halts frozen food trade after COVID-19 cases

Chinese port city Dalian has ordered all businesses handling imported chilled and frozen foods to suspend operations after an outbreak of COVID-19 that began last week. The city on China's northeast coast has reported more than 80 COVID-19 cases over the past week, with the first in a warehouse worker in the Zhuanghe area of the city on Nov. 4. Local authorities issued the order on Monday, state-backed newspaper Global Times reported on Thursday.
11th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Moderna offers COVID-19 shot at $7 to African Union - Africa CDC head

Moderna Inc has offered to sell its COVID-19 vaccines to the African Union at $7 a shot, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control John Nkengasong said on Thursday, half the price paid by the United States earlier in the year. It is also a substantial discount to what other buyers like the European Union have agreed this year, part of a broader trend for drugmakers to sell at lower prices to lower income countries. "I am happy to say that a dose of the Moderna vaccine will be $7. That is what is being offered to us," Nkengasong told a weekly virtual media briefing.
11th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Canada's new COVID-19 epicenters are more remote, less vaccinated and less resourced

Canada's coronavirus epicenters are shifting from dense urban zones to more rural or remote areas that have lower vaccination rates and fewer public health resources. Some of those areas were spared in earlier waves of the pandemic and are now forced to contend with a widely spreading virulent strain of the coronavirus with fewer options at their disposal to deal with the surge. Canada has high overall vaccination rates but pockets of hesitancy allow the virus to spread.
11th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Beijing city imposes COVID restrictions on conferences, events

Authorities in Beijing city imposed new curbs on conferences and events after confirming on Thursday six locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, including individuals who had attended conferences in person in the city. Beijing city has reported fewer than 50 COVID-19 local symptomatic infections in the current outbreak that led to over 1,000 local cases since mid-October, but has taken tough measures to block potential routes of further transmission under China's zero-tolerance policy. The city is also the host of the Winter Olympics in February.
11th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Nepal to vaccinate all adults by mid-April: Health minister

Nepal will obtain enough vaccines to immunise all adults against COVID-19 by mid-April and is focusing on getting doses into remote mountainous areas of the Himalayan nation, says the health minister. The government will hire workers and set up vaccination centres to meet the target, Health Minister Birod Khatiwada told The Associated Press in an interview on Wednesday. “We are going to meet our target or even exceed our goal because we are already getting enough vaccines,” said Khatiwada, who was appointed last month. “We are going to hire more health workers so they are able to reach all remote corners of the country and set up new vaccine centres to reach all the population.” Nepal’s immunisation campaign began in January with vaccines donated by neighbouring India but stalled when India faced a devastating surge of COVID-19 and halted vaccine exports.
11th Nov 2021 - AlJazeera

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WHO highlights that Europe is only region with rising COVID cases and deaths, as Russia overtakes U.S. for most fatalities in a week

The World Health Organization highlighted Wednesday that Europe was the only region showing rising cases and deaths from the coronavirus-borne illness COVID-19 in the latest week, led by Russia, where low vaccine take-up is believed to be responsible for about 1,200 deaths a day. Russia counted 281,305 new cases in the week to Nov. 7, according to the agency’s weekly epidemiological update, or 371.4 new cases per 100,000 residents. There were 8,276 new fatalities in Russia in the week, or 5.7 new deaths per 100,000 residents, little changed from the prior week. Russia set yet another one-day record death toll on Wednesday of 1,239, and is now leading the world by weekly deaths for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the Moscow Times reported.
10th Nov 2021 - MarketWatch

Two Million Ellume Covid Tests Recalled on False Positive Risk

Ellume Ltd. is recalling 2.2 million at-home Covid-19 tests because they risk returning false positives, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said. The regulator classified the action on Wednesday as a class I recall, the most serious kind, saying it has received 35 reports of false positives from the test made by the Australian company. Incorrect results could lead a person to wrongly receive Covid-19 treatments or isolate when they don’t need to, the FDA said. “The Ellume team offers its sincere apologies for the stress or difficulties people may have experienced due to a false positive result,” a company spokesperson said in an email. “We have and will continue to work diligently to ensure test accuracy, in all cases.”
10th Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

Germany coronavirus: Record rise prompts warning of 100,000 deaths

One of Germany's top virologists has warned that a further 100,000 people will die from Covid if nothing's done to halt an aggressive fourth wave. Case numbers have soared and Germany on Wednesday registered its highest rate of infection since the pandemic began, with almost 40,000 cases in a day. "We have to act right now," said Christian Drosten, who described a real emergency situation. Doctors in the intensive care Covid ward at Leipzig University Hospital warn this fourth wave could be the worst yet.
10th Nov 2021 - BBC News

Singapore will stop covering the medical bills of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients

Singapore's government has been covering the medical bills of COVID-19 patients throughout the pandemic. But it says unvaccinated people will soon be on their own. Those who are "unvaccinated by choice" will have to start paying for their own COVID-19 treatment starting Dec. 8, the Ministry of Health announced on Monday, citing the strain they are putting on the nation's health care system. "Currently, unvaccinated persons make up a sizeable majority of those who require intensive inpatient care, and disproportionately contribute to the strain on our healthcare resources," it said in a statement.
10th Nov 2021 - NPR

Thailand offers COVID-19 vaccines to migrant workers

Thailand will set aside up to 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for foreign workers as it prepares to welcome them back to the country to help ease a labour shortage, a government minister said on Wednesday. The government plans to allow workers from neighbouring Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos to re-enter the country beginning next month and fill up shortages in big exporting industries such as food and rubber production. Workers will be placed in a two-week quarantine and during that time the vaccines will be administered, Labor Minister Suchart Chomklin said. They will also be tested for COVID-19.
10th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Guinea starts vaccinating children against COVID-19 with Pfizer, Moderna

Guinea will begin vaccinating children aged 12-17 against COVID-19 with a consignment of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on Wednesday, the health ministry said. Most African countries have been reliant on the COVAX vaccine sharing initiative for doses, and have inoculated only a small fraction of their populations. Guinea received a quantity of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in late October and early November, the National Agency for Health Security said in a statement. It did not say how many doses were received or from where.
10th Nov 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19 surges expand in Europe

At least three countries, all with low vaccination rates, reported new daily record highs for deaths: Russia, Ukraine, and Bulgaria, according to media reports. Russia recently ended a week-long non-working period, and federal officials said it's too soon to tell if the step helped cut transmission, according to the Washington Post, which said less than 40% of the country is fully vaccinated. Cases are on the rise, however, even in countries with robust vaccine uptake. In the Netherlands, where cases have been rising since early October, the adult vaccination level is about 85%. A hospital group in the southern province of Limburg today urged the government to take stronger measures, warning that they are out of space and staff and that other areas may soon face similar situations, according to Reuters.
10th Nov 2021 - CIDRAP

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In vaccine-wary Latvia, bodies pile up in hospital morgue

In an inconspicuous building of the main hospital in the Latvian city of Daugavpils, bags containing the bodies of dead COVID-19 patients lie on the ground of a makeshift morgue, held here as city gravediggers clear space for new graves. Latvia, one of the least vaccinated countries in the European Union, is facing its most severe outbreak of COVID-19 yet. In Daugavpils, where vaccine uptake is especially low, deaths have soared.
9th Nov 2021 - Reuters

New vaccine campaigns target rural Americans to address disparities

In the United States, there is a renewed campaign to vaccinate rural Americans due to the stark difference in Covid-19 cases and deaths among those living in less-populated areas compared with towns and cities. Rural residents are now twice as likely to die from Covid-19 as Americans in metropolitan areas. Yet rural areas tend to lag at least 10% behind metropolitan areas when it comes to vaccination – and this hesitancy is exacerbating already existing health issues. “Rural populations are older, they’re sicker and they’re poorer,” said Fred Ullrich, research analyst at the RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis and co-author of a report on Covid’s disproportionate burden on rural communities.
9th Nov 2021 - The Guardian

Bangladesh's Beximco to sell first generic version of Merck COVID-19 pill

A Bangladeshi drugmaker will soon begin selling the world's first generic version of Merck's COVID-19 pill, molnupiravir, which has been touted as a potential game-changer in the fight against the pandemic. Beximco Pharmaceuticals will first sell generic molnupiravir in Bangladesh before considering exports based on global regulatory approvals, it said on Tuesday. The generic version has received emergency use authorisation from Bangladesh's drug regulators.
9th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Morgues, hospitals struggle with COVID-19 deaths in Romania

The morgue in Romania’s main hospital has no space for the dead any more. In a stark illustration of the human cost of the coronavirus surge sweeping the nation, bodies of COVID-19 victims, wrapped in black plastic bags, line a hallway of the hospital in the capital, Bucharest. Hundreds of people have been dying each day for the past two months in Romania. The country has been among the hardest-hit in the current virus onslaught raging through Central and Eastern European nations, where far fewer people have been vaccinated than in Western Europe.
9th Nov 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Global COVID-19 total tops 250 million infections

At a World Health Organization (WHO) media briefing on Nov 4, the group's COVID-19 technical lead, Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, said virus activity is rising in places where it shouldn't be—in countries with ample vaccine and tools to fight the pandemic. She urged world leaders and health officials to channel their grief and anger over the pandemic's grim totals into actions to bring transmission under control and cut severe impacts and deaths. "The trajectory of the pandemic is in our hands. It has always been in our hands. What happens now and into 2022 is up to us," she said. In Europe, currently the world's main hot spot, Russia's week-long work stoppage designed to curb virus transmission has ended, but cases are still near record daily highs. Meanwhile, Germany's 7-day incidence rate climbed to its highest level of the pandemic, according to the latest update from the Robert Koch Institute. Health officials are facing the prospect of postponing some surgeries, and some regions are already transferring patients to cope with increased burden on hospitals from COVID-19 patients.
9th Nov 2021 - CIDRAP

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'This is far worse than January – the vaccine hasn't saved us this time'

“We should all be rated inadequate.” The call HSJ received on Sunday lunchtime from one of the most respected chief executives in the NHS carried an air of desperation.
8th Nov 2021 - Health Service Journal

Australia begins vaccine booster rollout as more curbs ease in Sydney

Australia began administering booster shots of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine on Monday as millions of people in its largest city, Sydney, woke up to more freedom amid an accelerating immunisation drive. Australia's vaccination rate has picked up pace since July, after widely missing its initial targets, when its southeast was hit by a third wave of infections triggered by the highly infectious Delta variant forcing months-long lockdowns. Sydney and Melbourne, its largest cities and worst hit by the Delta wave, have been racing through their inoculations before gradually relaxing restrictions. Life returned close to normal on Monday in New South Wales, home to Sydney, as the state nears its 90% dual-dose vaccinations in people above 16.
8th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Japan has zero daily COVID-19 deaths for first time in 15 months - media

Japan recorded no daily deaths from COVID-19 for the first time in more than a year on Sunday, local media said. Prior to Sunday, there had not been a day without a COVID-19 death since Aug. 2, 2020, according to a tally by national broadcaster NHK. COVID-19 cases and deaths have fallen dramatically throughout Japan as vaccinations have increased to cover more than 70% of the population.
8th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Navajo Nation reports 60 more COVID-19 cases, no deaths

The Navajo Nation has reported 60 more COVID-19 cases but no new deaths. The latest numbers released Sunday pushed the tribe’s totals to 37,411 confirmed COVID-19 cases from the virus since the pandemic began more than a year ago. The known death toll remains at 1,498. The tribe reported no COVID-related deaths 23 times in a 35-day span before reporting five deaths on Thursday and one death on Friday along with 88 new cases. Based on cases from Oct. 15-28, the Navajo Department of Health issued an advisory for 58 communities due to uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.Tribal officials still are urging people to get vaccinated, wear masks while in public and minimize their travel.
8th Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

China’s Army Furnishes Foreign Militaries With Covid-19 Vaccines

In Zimbabwe, where just 18% of the population are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the armed forces have a surplus of shots thanks to a gift from a powerful benefactor: China’s People’s Liberation Army. In the Philippines, another PLA donation has helped the majority of service members get vaccinated. In Ethiopia, where the Biden administration is levying fresh sanctions over alleged atrocities committed in an offensive against Tigray rebels, the PLA has delivered 300,000 Covid-19 vaccines to government troops. The People’s Liberation Army has rapidly expanded vaccine donations to military forces this year across four continents. Chinese Defense Ministry figures show that as of September, it had made more than 30 deliveries to about two dozen countries.
8th Nov 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Health Minister Joe Phaahla urges South Africans to vaccinate before 'imminent' fourth wave

Health Minister Joe Phaahla has urged South Africans to vaccinated against Covid-19 pandemic “ahead of the imminent fourth wave that could hit the country soon.” Speaking at the Gomora Informal Settlement in Pretoria over the weekend, Phaahla described the life-saving vaccines as the only hope of long-term success in eradicating the coronavirus. “We are not oblivious to the fact that we are not yet out of trouble. The virus is still in our midst and every day we record a number of infections,” the minister said. He added: “We have all learned over the last 20 months that it is not over. There is going to be another resurgence of the infection and, therefore, we must be ready and protect all our people.” While South Africa had sufficient stock to inoculate citizens, Phaahla said the government was still struggling to reach people.
8th Nov 2021 - iol.co.za

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U.S. braces for surge of vaccinated international travelers

The United States is expecting a flood of international visitors crossing its borders by air and by land on Monday after lifting travel restrictions for much of the world's population first imposed in early 2020 to address the spread of COVID-19. United Airlines is expecting about 50% more total international inbound passengers Monday compared to last Monday when it had about 20,000. And Delta Air Lines Chief Executive Ed Bastian has warned travelers should be prepared for initial long lines.
7th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Sydney to further ease COVID-19 curbs on Monday as vaccinations pick up

Australia's largest city of Sydney will further ease social distancing curbs on Monday, a month after emerging from a coronavirus lockdown that lasted nearly 100 days, as close to 90% of people have got both doses of vaccine, officials said. Although limited to people who are fully inoculated, the relaxation in the state of New South Wales, home to Sydney, lifts limits on house guests or outdoor gatherings, among other measures. "We're leading the nation out of the pandemic," said state premier Dominic Perrottet, as he called for a "final push" to reach, and even surpass, a milestone of 95% vaccinations.
7th Nov 2021 - Reuters

New Zealand's daily coronavirus cases cross 200 for first time in pandemic

New Zealand's 206 new daily community infections on Saturday carried it past the double-hundred mark for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic, as the nation scrambles to vaccinate its population of 5 million. The most populous city of Auckland, which reported 200 of the new cases, has lived under COVID-19 curbs for nearly three months as it battles an outbreak of the infectious Delta variant, although restrictions are expected to ease on Monday
6th Nov 2021 - Reuters

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Europe Is Covid Epicenter Once Again As Cases Surge, WHO Says

The World Health Organization warned that a surge of coronavirus cases in Europe and Central Asia has pushed the region back as the epicenter of the pandemic. There are now 78 million cases in the European region, which is more than infections reported in Southeast Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Western Pacific and Africa combined, according to the WHO. Last week, Europe and Central Asia accounted for almost half of the world’s reported deaths from Covid-19. The outbreak has accelerating in Europe over the last four weeks as colder temperatures lead to more socializing indoors, while many countries have eased restrictions. The WHO has repeatedly said that the pandemic is not yet over, and that governments should keep public-health measures such as mask-wearing along with vaccinations.
4th Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

First elementary school-age kids receive coronavirus vaccine

Hugs with friends. Birthday parties indoors. Pillow fights. Kids who got their first coronavirus shots Wednesday said these are the pleasures they look forward to as the United States enters a major new phase in fighting the pandemic. Health officials hailed shots for kids ages 5 to 11 as a major breakthrough after more than 18 months of illness, hospitalizations, deaths and disrupted education. Kid-size doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine cleared two final hurdles Tuesday — a recommendation from CDC advisers, followed by a green light from Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
4th Nov 2021 - The Washington Post

Turkey to start booster shots for Pfizer COVID vaccine recipients -minister

Turkey will begin administering boosters to people who have received two shots of the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Wednesday. Turkey has already administered a third dose to more than 11.2 million people who received two doses of the vaccine developed by China's Sinovac, whose efficacy rate officials believe falls faster. In a statement after meeting with his science council, Koca said the booster shots for Pfizer/BioNTech recipients would begin on Thursday with the elderly, those with chronic illnesses, health workers and those in other high-risk jobs.
4th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Factbox: Countries rush to buy Merck's experimental COVID-19 pill

While the drug's approval in the United States is still pending, Britain on Thursday became the first country in the world to approve the pill. Last week the company reached a deal with the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool that will allow more companies to manufacture generic versions of the pill with a royalty-free licence applying to 105 low- and middle-income countries. So far Merck has agreed to license the drug to several India-based generic drugmakers.
4th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Vienna bans the unvaccinated from restaurants as national cases surge

The City of Vienna said on Thursday it is banning people not vaccinated against COVID-19 from cafes, restaurants and events with more than 25 people, pre-empting measures that are likely to be introduced across Austria soon as infections are surging. Roughly 64% of Austria's population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. That matches the European Union average but is also among the lowest rates in western Europe. Many Austrians are sceptical about vaccines, a view encouraged by the far-right Freedom Party, the third biggest in parliament.
4th Nov 2021 - Reuters

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COVID-19 has retreated across the Americas, regional health agency says

COVID-19 deaths and infections have declined across the Americas for the 8th consecutive week, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday, warning that a very high percentage of hospitalized cases now are unvaccinated people. In North America, all three countries reported drops in weekly cases and deaths, and there has been a notable decline in hospitalizations in the United States and Canada, PAHO said, with similar declines in South and Central America.
3rd Nov 2021 - Reuters

France reports more than 10000 new COVID cases for 1st time in two months

French health authorities reported 10,050 daily new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, the first time the tally has topped 10,000 since Sept 14. In another sign the virus is ramping up again, hospitalisations for the disease are up by 84, at 6,764, a rise unseen since Sept 6. The cumulative total of new cases now stands at 7.18 million. The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care rose by 5 in 24 hours to 1,096 and by 58 over a week.
3rd Nov 2021 - Reuters

Biden says vaccines for children will be available at about 20000 locations

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday there will be enough COVID-19 vaccines by next week for children and these shots will be available at about 20,000 locations around the country. The United States has started administering the COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 5 to 11, the latest group to become eligible for the shots that provide protection against the illness.
3rd Nov 2021 - Reuters

Covid cases are surging in countries such as Romania and China – and scientists say the UK can learn from them

Countries around the world are reintroducing measures such as mask-wearing and work-from-home orders to curb a surge in Covid cases, which experts say the UK should also be doing instead of relying on vaccines alone. The Netherlands became one of the first countries in western Europe to bring back masks, while Russia said an order for people not to go to work for a week from 30 October could be extended after it reported a record 1,178 Covid daily deaths on Tuesday. China’s zero-Covid policy has allowed it to quickly quell local outbreaks but not stop them entirely, while increased cases in Romania and Ireland has seen authorities reimpose or extend measures for several weeks.
3rd Nov 2021 - iNews

S.Korean teens drive up COVID-19 cases ahead of full school reopening

South Korea said on Wednesday it would ramp up COVID-19 testing at schools after a sharp rise of infections among children, weeks ahead of a plan to fully reopen schools nationwide. The surge comes as new social distancing rules aimed at a phased return to normal came into effect on Monday as a part of the country's plan to gradually move toward living with COVID-19 on the back of high vaccination rates.
3rd Nov 2021 - Reuters

U.S. begins effort to vaccinate young children against COVID-19

Seven-year-old Gael Coreas stuck out his left arm fearlessly to receive his first COVID-19 shot at a health clinic in the nation's capital on Wednesday, wincing briefly as cameras flashed to capture the moment. Coreas was in the first cohort of young children to be inoculated as the United States on Wednesday began administering the COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 5 to 11, the latest group to become eligible for the shots that provide protection against the illness to recipients and those around them.
3rd Nov 2021 - Reuters

In vaccine-sceptic Ukraine, one spa town bucks trend

Ukraine is battling record COVID-19 deaths and low vaccine uptake but the spa town of Morshyn is an exception. In Morshyn, 74% of 3,439 adult residents are double vaccinated, more than triple the national average, and currently only three people have been hospitalised with COVID-19. The town, which gives its name to a popular mineral water brand, has come to national attention at a time when hospitals in Ukrainian cities are filling up with COVID-19 patients and the country had to import medical oxygen from Poland.
3rd Nov 2021 - Thomson Reuters Foundation

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Colorado at Risk of Running Out of Hospital Beds This Month

Colorado could come close to running out of hospital beds in late November or early December if Covid-19 infections accelerate, officials warned Tuesday. An estimated 1,900 of the state’s roughly 2,000 beds could be occupied under a worst-case scenario, Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, said during an online news briefing. At the current pace, hospitalizations are projected to peak at 1,500, Herlihy said. An estimated 1-in-51 state residents are contagious, Governor Jared Polis said during the briefing, imploring Coloradoans to get vaccinated. Polis said the delta variant is “like a laser-guided missile.”
2nd Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

Prisons are facing staff shortages as correctional officers quit over 'unsafe working conditions,' fear of contracting COVID-19 and vaccine mandates

Prisons across the U.S. are reporting staffing shortages as correctional officers retire and quit in droves. Some, such as Lance Lowry, of Texas, have quit due to the increased risk of COVID-19 for prison employees. Other workers report bad working conditions including 'understaffing, poor pay and poor benefits.' Unions warn that correctional officers will leave over vaccine mandates with just 63% vaccinated or planning to be as of early October. States are trying to offers incentives including hiring bonuses, better pay at critical units and extra time off for staff who refer new hires
2nd Nov 2021 - Daily Mail

COVID-19: Earlier close for test sites in England sparks fears most deprived won't be able to check symptoms

Coronavirus testing centres have reduced their opening hours due to "limited demand" in the evenings, prompting fears the most disadvantaged won't be able to get tests. From 1 November onwards, NHS Test and Trace sites in England are closing two hours earlier - at 6pm instead of 8pm. The government claims "recent analysis has shown there is limited demand for PCR testing between 6pm and 8pm" and the decision "provides the best possible value for taxpayers' money". People "unable to attend PCR test appointments before 6pm" can also get home testing kits delivered, it adds. But Dr Deepti Gurdasani, clinical epidemiologist at Queen Mary University, says it will affect those who are worse off.
2nd Nov 2021 - Sky News

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Latvia gets ventilators, other aid from EU countries amid COVID spike

Latvia has received shipments of emergency medical equipment from the Netherlands, Finland, Hungary and Sweden as it fights the worst surge in new COVID-19 cases in the European Union amid a low take-up of vaccinations. The Baltic country of 1.9 million people filed a request last week to the European Union for more than 130 ventilators and hundreds of vital signs monitors, BNS news agency said. Latvian hospitals were treating 1,526 coronavirus patients on Sunday, their highest number ever, the public broadcaster said. One large Riga hospital, the PSKUS, converted its hallway into a makeshift ward on Monday to treat patients, news portal Delfi reported.
1st Nov 2021 - Reuters

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Takeda eyeing early 2022 rollout of Novavax's COVID-19 shot in Japan - CEO

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co, the Japanese partner for Novavax Inc's COVID-19 vaccine, is preparing to seek regulatory approval for a roll out in Japan early next year, its top executive said on Friday. Novavax delayed filing for U.S. approval to the end of this year, and Politico reported this month that the Maryland-based company has faced production and quality problems. The drugmaker filed for conditional authorisation to British regulators on Wednesday and with Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration on Friday
30th Oct 2021 - Reuters

As vaccination mandate looms, New York prepares for shortage of firefighters, police

New York City officials on Friday were preparing for shortages of firefighters, police officers and other first responders as a showdown looms between the city and its unvaccinated uniformed workforce, who face a 5 p.m. deadline to be immunized. De Blasio, who announced the mandate nine days ago, said officials would manage any staffing gaps with overtime and schedule changes and by enlisting private ambulance companies to cover for the city's paramedics.
30th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Singapore Turns F1 Pit Building Into Temporary Hospital for Covid Patients

Singapore’s large F1 pit building, normally used for the high-profile Grand Prix races that have been canceled a second year running due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is being converted into a medical facility for coronavirus patients, the Straits Times reported. The building has been identified as a suitable temporary venue because it has ready facilities and isn’t being used for F1 race activities, Ong Ling Lee, director of sports at the Singapore Tourism Board, told the Straits Times, adding that the place had been used for swab tests last year.
29th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

Moderna to supply 56.5 mln more doses of its COVID-19 shot to vaccine alliance GAVI

Moderna Inc announced a pact with the GAVI vaccine alliance to supply a further 56.5 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in the second quarter of next year to low- and middle-income countries. The vaccine maker said the doses will be in addition to an earlier commitment to supply 60 million doses in the second quarter of 2022 to GAVI, which co-leads the COVAX facility for equitable distribution of COVID-19 shots around the world. The COVAX facility, backed by the World Health Organization and GAVI, has delivered some 400 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 140 low- and middle-income countries, but several countries run the risk of failing to meet WHO's target of 40% vaccination coverage by year-end
29th Oct 2021 - Reuters

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India's Optimus Pharma seeks approval to produce generic Merck COVID-19 pill

Indian bulk drugs manufacturer Optimus Pharma is seeking domestic regulatory approval to produce a generic version of Merck & Co's oral COVID-19 treatment molnupiravir, the company's top executive told Reuters on Thursday. If granted emergency use approval, the company could scale up production to 80 million capsules a month and is targeting a price of 40 cents per capsule, said D. Srinivasa Reddy, managing director at the Hyderabad-based company.
28th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: global vaccine production is a mess and shortages are down to more than just hoarding

In March 2021 drug manufacturers predicted that 12 billion doses of covid-19 vaccine, enough to fully immunise at least 70% of the world’s population, could be manufactured by the end of the year.1 That assessment was confirmed in September in a report by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations,2 though it also warned that “most doses in the production queue are already allocated” to high income countries. At the time of writing, only 1.3% of people in low income countries have received their jabs. Seventy countries have yet to vaccinate 10% of their populations, and 30 countries—including much of Africa—have vaccinated fewer than 2%.3 In Latin America, only one in four of the population has received a dose of covid vaccine.
28th Oct 2021 - The BMJ

Sixty million vaccine doses to be made on Teesside if regulator gives approval

Sixty million doses of the Novavax coronavirus vaccine will be produced on Teesside if approval is given by the UK's medicine regulator. The manufacturer has submitted final data on the vaccine to the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) - and anticipates a "positive decision". If successful, it would mean all 60 million doses of the vaccine Britain has ordered would be produced by Fujifilm in Billingham. Stanley Erck, Novavax president, said: "This submission brings Novavax significantly closer to delivering millions of doses of the first protein-based Covid-19 vaccine, built on a proven, well-understood vaccine platform that demonstrated high efficacy against multiple strains of the coronavirus." According to the results of a phase three trial, announced in March, the jab offers 100% protection against severe disease, including all hospital admission and death.
28th Oct 2021 - ITV News

India: over 100 million people fail to turn up for second Covid vaccine

More than 100 million Indians have not turned up for their second coronavirus vaccine dose, official data showed, raising concerns of a resurgence in the disease despite a relatively low infection rate. Apart from leaving these people at risk of catching Covid-19, their “vaccine truancy” endangers India’s target of inoculating all adults by 31 December, a target that is in any case unlikely to be met owing to the earlier shortage of vaccines at the start of the inoculation campaign. “We have seen this complacency with tuberculosis patients. They start taking the drugs and after a few weeks, they feel better so they stop even though they have to take them for six months,” said Bhavna Dewan, a health worker in Nainital. “It’s a similar mentality with the vaccine. I’m sure they feel one dose is enough because no one is falling ill.”
28th Oct 2021 - The Guardian

Exclusive: Tens of millions of J&J COVID-19 shots sit at Baltimore factory

An estimated 30 million to 50 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ.N) COVID-19 vaccine made early this year sits idle in Emergent BioSolutions Inc's plant in Baltimore awaiting a green light from U.S. regulators to ship, two sources familiar with the matter said. Emergent, a contract drug manufacturer, is waiting for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve release of those doses. The agency must still inspect and authorize the plant before Emergent can ship newly manufactured drug substance, one of the sources said.
28th Oct 2021 - Reuters

EU set to produce over 3.5 billion COVID vaccine doses in 2022 - chief executive

The European Union will produce more than 3.5 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines next year, the head of the bloc's excutive, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, said on Thursday. She added that the majority of these vaccines will be shipped abroad.
28th Oct 2021 - Reuters

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Province of British Columbia to offer COVID-19 booster shots to all residents

British Columbia will begin offering COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to everyone over the age of 12 from January, officials said on Tuesday, becoming the first major Canadian province to significantly widen eligibility for boosters. People over the age of 70 as well as indigenous people over 12 will be invited to book shots sooner than the new year, said Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province's medical officer of health. Residents of long term and assisted living are already eligible.
27th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Sweden to extend COVID booster shots to all aged 65 or above

Sweden will start offering COVID-19 booster shots to people aged 65 or older as well as many care workers and plans to gradually extend the third jabs to most Swedes in the coming months, the government said on Wednesday. The booster shots of mRNA vaccine will be gradually extended to cover all people in the Nordic country aged 16 or older during the winter and spring, Health Minister Lena Hallengren told a news conference.
27th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Miami private school scraps policy to send home vaccinated students after funding threatened

A Miami private school known for its aggressive stance against coronavirus vaccines is abandoning an attendance policy that would have forced students to stay home for 30 days after each dose. Centner Academy reversed course less than two weeks after announcing the controversial policy, spurred by a letter from the Florida Department of Education warning that the pre-K-8 private school could lose state funding if it pursued the post-vaccination attendance plan.
27th Oct 2021 - The Washington Post

Facebook is having a tougher time managing vaccine misinformation than it is letting on, leaks suggest

Facebook has touted the resources it has dedicated to tackling Covid-19 and vaccine misinformation, even scolding US President Joe Biden for his harsh criticism of the company's handling of the issue. In doing so, it claimed that "more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet." But internal Facebook (FB) documents suggest a disconnect between what the company has said publicly about its overall response to Covid-19 misinformation and some of its employees' findings concerning the issue.
27th Oct 2021 - CNN

Vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 could be available as soon as the first week of November

An independent panel of vaccine experts said Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration should grant emergency authorization to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to children 5 to 11 years old. The decision comes amid a nationwide effort to make vaccines available to this group of 28 million children by the first week of November, according to the Biden administration.
27th Oct 2021 - The Washington Post

My daughter was bullied at school for having the Covid jab. No wonder UK take-up is low

I’m worried that part of the reason for a slow uptake of the vaccine among 12 to 15-year-olds is that their issues around it are not being addressed adequately: there’s a sense that they are just being tacked on at the end of the successful adult rollout. They need to be addressed directly and clearly, and their concerns listened to. I’ve seen a lot of “what I need to know about my child and the vaccine” articles for parents in recent weeks, but there don’t seem to be many equivalents for 12 to 15-year-olds to read themselves. Reels and videos on social media help, particularly those made by people in the same age group, but surely there needs to be more official – and factchecked – dedicated communications for teens who may have concerns about the vaccine.
27th Oct 2021 - The Guardian

High Covid-19 case rates are 'partly down to more tests'

Do not “bash the UK” for its high Covid-19 case rates compared with other countries, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group has said, as some of the difference is simply because of more testing. Professor Sir Andrew Pollard told MPs that while transmission rates were clearly high, comparisons with other nations did not take into account different testing regimens. This might partly explain why UK case rates are four times those in Germany and eight times those in France. “If you look across western Europe, we have about ten times more tests done each day than some other countries per head of population,” Pollard told the Commons science and technology committee. “We do have a lot of transmission at the moment but it’s not
27th Oct 2021 - The Times

Sturgeon: Cop26 does pose threat of increased Covid-19 infection

Nicola Sturgeon has announced almost £500 million of further funding to help in the fight against Covid – as she warned that the Cop26 international climate conference “inevitably” poses a risk of increased transmission of the virus. With delegates from across the world now starting to arrive in Scotland ahead of the UN climate summit, the Scottish First Minister said the coronavirus situation remained “fragile”. While cases in Scotland had been declining, Ms Sturgeon said this had now levelled off, with the most recent figures showing a “slight increase”.
26th Oct 2021 - Evening Standard

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Pediatric Covid Hospital Visits Plunge in U.S. as Schools Reopen

Hospital admissions are declining sharply among U.S. children with Covid-19, even more than adults, quieting concerns for now that the return to school could trigger a major uptick in viral transmission. Daily pediatric admissions with confirmed Covid have fallen 56% since the end of August to an average of about 0.2 per 100,000, according to Department of Health and Human Services data. Among adults, new admissions fell 54% to 2.1 per 100,000 in the same period, the data show.
26th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

Denmark’s Covid Contamination Rate Rises After Restrictions End

Denmark, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, has registered a rise in Covid-19 cases with several key indicators showing that the virus has accelerated in the past month. The reproductive rate of the virus, known as the R rate, is now 1.2, up from 1 a week ago, which means the virus is spreading, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke tweeted on Tuesday.
26th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

Becton Dickinson begins selling new at-home rapid COVID-19 test

Becton Dickinson and Co has partnered with Amazon.com Inc to begin shipment of a new at-home rapid COVID-19 test that can confirm results using an entirely automated smartphone app. The BD Veritor At-Home COVID-19 Test, which was authorized by U.S. regulators in August, also automatically reports results to federal and state public health authorities. "One of the unique things about this test is that it's really the very first test to actually have an interpreted digital result," said Dave Hickey, president of Becton Dickinson's life sciences business.
26th Oct 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

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Hong Kong: Stuck between rock and virus hard place

Hong Kong is stuck in indefinite isolation. Despite recording low single-digit daily infections, counting just 213 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began, and securing Chinese and Western vaccines early in large quantities, entry into Asia’s top financial hub remains tightly controlled. Arrivals are generally required to spend 14 to 21 days of quarantine in a government-approved hotel, where rooms as small as 140 square feet leave occupants barely enough room to sweat through a yoga workout.
25th Oct 2021 - Reuters

S.Africa's Aspen aims to sharply increase COVID-19 vaccine capacity

South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare is aiming to ramp up its COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing capacity to 1.3 billion doses a year by February 2024, up from a current annual output of around 250 million doses, the company's CEO told Reuters on Monday. Aspen is doing the final stages of manufacturing for Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ.N) COVID-19 vaccine under a so-called "fill and finish" deal, but CEO Stephen Saad said in an interview that the companies were close to announcing a broader deal for Aspen to produce J&J's COVID-19 shot under licence.
25th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Ministers to ramp up Covid vaccine rollout as hospitalisations rise

Two million people who are eligible for a Covid booster vaccine in England will receive their invitation this week as ministers seek to intensify the rollout. The government has launched a media blitz encouraging people to get a booster jab, amid mounting concern over the speed of the vaccination rollout as Covid hospitalisations rise. NHS England said on Sunday that more than 5 million people had had a third jab since the vaccination programme began administering them last month. About 7.5 million people have already been invited by text, email and letter, encouraging them to book through the national booking service. Two million more will receive invitations this week
25th Oct 2021 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Exclusion zones around schools could be used to stop 'idiot' anti-vaxxers, health secretary says

Exclusion zones around schools could be used to prevent "idiot" anti-vaxxers from targeting children with their "vicious lies", the health secretary has said. Sajid Javid said the protesters are doing "so much damage" and it was "heartbreaking" that three children were injured during a recent protest after COVID-19 vaccines were opened up to 12-15-year-olds. He told Sky News' Kay Burley: "You've got, frankly, these idiots outside their school spreading vicious lies. "It is becoming a growing problem as time goes by."
25th Oct 2021 - Sky News

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Romania revives COVID-19 restrictions as hospitals struggle

Dr Petruta Filip is working 100-hour weeks at a Bucharest hospital which, like hospitals throughout Romania, is struggling under an onslaught of COVID-19 patients in a country with worryingly low vaccination rates. The European Union country of around 19 million people has only 35 percent of its adults fully vaccinated compared with a European Union average of 74 percent. It is the second-least vaccinated nation in the 27-nation bloc. That is crippling Romania’s creaking healthcare system, which is also facing record-high death and infection numbers. Romania has reported more than 1.5 million cases of the coronavirus, including at least 44,000 deaths, since the pandemic began.
24th Oct 2021 - Al Jazeera English

South African Paediatric Association welcomes Covid-19 vaccines opening to young teens

To vaccinate or not? That is the question that parents of children from the age of 12 upwards are asking, now that the youngsters are eligible for Covid-19 jabs. Dr Joe Phaahla, the minister of health announced on Friday that children aged between 12 and 17, will be able to get the one dose of the Pfizer vaccine from Wednesday. He said the decision was taken following recommendations from the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC). “We believe that this will come in handy as the schools start their examinations, and for some that have already advanced towards concluding the academic year and studying to prepare for the next academic year,” he said. Those over the age of 18 get two shots of the Pfizer vaccine but the youngsters get a single jab as per recommendations from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).
24th Oct 2021 - Independent Online

Here's Why Developing Countries Can Make mRNA Covid Vaccines

Across the developing world, hundreds of millions of people are unable to get a vaccine to protect themselves from the ravages of Covid-19, and millions of them have already become infected and died. Depending on wealthy nations to donate billions of doses is not working, public health experts say. The solution, many now believe, is for the countries to do something that the big American mRNA vaccine makers say is not feasible: Manufacture the gold-standard mRNA shots themselves.
23rd Oct 2021 - The New York Times

As Russia's COVID-19 toll surges, a Siberian hospital struggles to cope

The beds at the intensive care unit at this Siberian hospital rarely stay empty for long. Doctors at Hospital No. 2 in the Russian city of Biysk are having to cope with an unprecedented surge of coronavirus patients, many of whom are unvaccinated. Doctors at the hospital have to work up to three 24-hour shifts in a row. The work is much harder than during the first wave of the pandemic last year, deputy chief doctor Olga Kaurova said. "Last year we kept the numbers at 23-24 people. Today we have 65 people in intensive care," Kaurova told Tolk Channel, a local media outlet, on Wednesday. "Most of our patients in the ICU are not vaccinated."
23rd Oct 2021 - Reuters

Analysis: Vaccinated Singapore shows zero-COVID countries cost of reopening

Few are left to inoculate in wealthy Singapore after a vigorous campaign achieved a level of coverage envied by many nations battling the coronavirus pandemic, but a record surge in deaths and infections gives warning of risks that may still lie ahead. Despite mask mandates, strict social curbs and COVID-19 booster doses available for over a month, infections in the Asian city-state's latest outbreak, driven by the Delta variant, took the death toll to 280, up from 55 early in September. "Singapore may potentially experience two to three epidemic waves as measures are increasingly relaxed," said Alex Cook, a disease modelling expert at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
23rd Oct 2021 - Reuters

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NHS Wales chief executive on Covid-19, winter, and whether restrictions could be reintroduced

The chief executive of the Welsh NHS has laid bare the significant challenges facing the health and social care system this winter. Dr Andrew Goodall, who is set to leave his role at the end of October, said the coming months could prove to be the most difficult in the careers of many frontline staff. His comments come following the publication of the NHS winter plan which focuses on protecting people against Covid-19 and other respiratory viruses while trying to cope with mounting demand for elective and emergency care. We sat down with Dr Goodall at the Welsh Government's offices in Cathays Park to talk about some of the biggest issues facing the Welsh NHS and how the plan will help.
21st Oct 2021 - Wales Online

Pharmacists call to be involved in Covid-19 booster vaccine rollout

The chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has said that there are no plans to extend the vaccine booster programme to the under-40s “any time soon”, but that it will go ahead for vulnerable groups. There was not any evidence about waning immunity for young people and that included healthcare workers, he said. The issue would remain under review by the National Immunisation Advisory committee (Niac). Speaking on he told RTÉ radio’s Today show Dr Holohan denied that he was “anti” antigen tests. “It’s not the test I dislike, it’s how it’s applied.” “Our nearest neighbours, the UK, are probably the most prolific users of antigen tests, and have the greatest challenge in terms of infection that the Western world has seen”, he said. Dr Holohan said he was particularly concerned about cases where parents were using the tests when they had symptomatic children and when there was a negative result they then sent the children to school.
21st Oct 2021 - The Irish Times

Covid Scotland: Tenfold increase in vaccine wastage rate

In April, some 0.3 per cent of vaccine stock was wasted. This figure increased to 2.5 per cent in July, and 3.2 per cent in September. In total over 60,000 doses have been thrown away since April. This figure does not include wastage at GP surgeries or in vaccine clinical trials. The top reason for doses being discarded in September (46 per cent) was excess stock, meaning vaccinators coming to the end of a shift or job and having surplus vaccines, which cannot be used or returned to storage. The second most common reason was doses expiring (44 per cent). Some vaccine wastage is accepted as inevitable during a large-scale vaccine rollout, and the programme has so far kept below the Scottish Government target of 5 per cent wastage.
21st Oct 2021 - The Scotsman

Schools should stay open as greatest risk of Covid transmission is in households, research finds

Despite Delta being more transmissible than earlier Covid-19 variants, in Australia few children and adolescents who get the virus have severe symptoms, and schools should only be closed under exceptional circumstances, a research analysis from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has found. However, the analysis reveals children and adolescents living with some pre-existing health conditions, including obesity, and those living in disadvantage, low socioeconomic communities or those with minority ethnic status have an increased risk of severe disease. The analysis also said ventilation is important and mental health surveillance is needed across both primary and secondary schools.
21st Oct 2021 - The Guardian

Opinion | Will Covid Really Change the Way We Work?

The U.S. economy is in the throes of what’s been called the Great Resignation: Workers are quitting their jobs at or near the highest levels on record since tracking began in 2001. The attrition is particularly acute in the hospitality sectors, but it isn’t limited to low-wage industries. As of August, more than 10 million jobs sat open, causing businesses to reduce their hours and change how they operate. As my colleague David Leonhardt has said, what the economy is now experiencing is not a labor shortage so much as it is a shortage of workers who are willing to accept the terms employers are used to offering them. “It’s like the whole country is in some kind of union renegotiation,” Betsey Stevenson, a University of Michigan economist who was an adviser to President Barack Obama, told The Times. “I don’t know who’s going to win in this bargaining that’s going on right now, but right now it seems like workers have the upper hand.”
21st Oct 2021 - The New York Times

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Gates Foundation to spend $120 mln to speed access to generics of Merck COVID-19 pill

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said on Wednesday it would spend up to $120 million to kick-start development of generic versions of Merck & Co's (MRK.N) oral COVID-19 treatment to help ensure lower-income countries have equal access to the drug. The aim is to reduce the gap between when wealthy countries have access to the antiviral medicine, molnupiravir, and when the rest of the world can benefit from it. "To end this pandemic, we need to ensure that everyone, no matter where they live in the world, has access to life-saving health products," Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, said in a statement
20th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Waning vaccine immunity helping drive up UK infections, suggesting herd immunity unreachable, say scientists

Waning immunity from vaccines is a key cause of rising infections – but it is not the only factor, scientists say. The number of new Covid infections recorded in the past week has increased by 16 per cent against a backdrop of falling immunity among those who received their second jab a few months or longer ago. A growing number of studies have found that immunity begins to fall within a few months, although jabs continue to provide good protection, especially from more severe cases.
20th Oct 2021 - iNews

As COVID-19 engulfs Romania, funeral homes struggle to keep up

As an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 fatalities engulfs Romania, funeral home owner Sebastian Cocos is struggling to source coffins and keep up with a faster pace of burials. But for him, nothing brings home the scale of what is currently the world's deadliest epidemic more than the mourners who keep returning. "There were families who buried up to four people in two weeks, and that is not easy," he told Reuters. Based in the central city of Ploiesti, Cocos is also president of a national funeral home association.
20th Oct 2021 - Reuters

‘Vital’ at-home Covid pills could be given to vulnerable people this winter

Antiviral drugs that help to cut the risk of hospitalisation and death from Covid could be made available to vulnerable people this winter. It’s hoped the pills will be made available to the elderly and those with weakened immune systems who have recently tested positive for the virus or come into contact with an infected individual. Patients would take the drug at home, ideally before they fall ill. The antivirals, provided by Merck and Pfizer, have been secured in a government deal. But they will need to be approved for use by the UK’s medicines regulator before they are offered to patients via the NHS. Eddie Gray, chair of the antivirals taskforce, said the pills would help to support the NHS and the UK’s vaccination programme over the coming months, with infections and hospitalisations expected to further rise.
20th Oct 2021 - The Independent

Premier League reveals 68% of players are fully vaccinated against Covid

The Premier League says that 68% of its players are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 after concerns over a lack of take-up. Estimates had earlier placed the number of double-jabbed players at less than 50%, with a number of managers, including Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp, calling on top-flight players to comply. The Premier League has released official figures for the first time, which show 81% have had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. The league said it would “continue to work with clubs to encourage vaccination among players and club staff”.
20th Oct 2021 - The Guardian

Tokyo aims to lift COVID-19 curbs on restaurants as cases fall - media

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is aiming to ease COVID-19 restrictions on bars and restaurants next week as infections continue to decline, the Jiji news service said on Wednesday. The easing will be announced as early as Thursday and would apply to businesses that are certified as following anti-infection measures, Jiji reported, citing informed sources. Representatives for the Tokyo government did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Reuters.
20th Oct 2021 - Reuters

New Zealand's daily COVID-19 cases fall, some classrooms to reopen

Daily COVID-19 cases in New Zealand fell on Wednesday after a record jump the day before, with most infections still in Auckland as the Delta variant of the coronavirus continues to affect the country's biggest city. Authorities reported 60 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, of which 56 were in Auckland, taking the total number of cases in the current outbreak to 2,158. There have been 28 deaths in total since the pandemic began and 43 people are currently hospitalised because of the virus.
20th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: More visits allowed to Northern Ireland care homes

Covid-19 visiting restrictions in care homes in Northern Ireland are being eased from Wednesday. Up to four people from no more than two households can now visit, with a maximum of four such visits per week allowed. However, the easing of restrictions may not fully apply if the care home has an active Covid-19 outbreak. The arrangements are set out in the Department of Health's Visiting With Care - A Pathway document. More clarity has been provided around visits from clergy, and further advice added around how residents can be facilitated to leave their care home.
20th Oct 2021 - BBC News

Kenya Lifts COVID-19 Curfew as Infection Rates Ease, President Says | World News | US News

Kenya lifted a nationwide curfew on Wednesday that has been in place since March 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced. The East African nation, which has a population of 54 million, has recorded 252,199 infections since the pandemic erupted and 5,233 COVID-19 deaths, health ministry data shows.
20th Oct 2021 - U.S. News & World Report

UK hospitals on the edge as government resists fresh COVID measures

Britain's health minister Sajid Javid on Wednesday resisted calls from doctors for a return of restrictions to halt a rising wave of COVID-19 infections, but gave a stark warning they would be brought back if people did not take up vaccination offers. Britain reported 223 new deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday, the highest daily figure since March, and cases are the highest in Europe, with nearly 50,000 new infections reported on Wednesday. The government's plan is to rely on vaccines and drugs to limit the impact of the virus this winter, instead of bringing in restrictions or any more lockdowns, having already shut the economy three times
20th Oct 2021 - Reuters UK

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Mix-and-Match Covid Boosters: Why They Just Might Work

Immunizations typically consist of two or more doses of the same vaccine. The Moderna vaccine, for example, is administered in two identical shots of mRNA, separated by four weeks. A double dose can create much more protection against a disease than a single shot. The first dose causes the immune system’s B cells to make antibodies against a pathogen. Other immune cells, called T cells, develop the ability to recognize and kill infected cells. The second shot amplifies that response. The B cells and T cells dedicated to fighting the virus multiply into much bigger numbers. They also develop more potent attackers against the enemy.
19th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

New York City Schools Data Shows Few Covid Cases

When roughly one million public school students returned to classrooms in New York City last month amid the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, families and educators expressed profound concern. But for the past five weeks, case counts have remained low. The average weekly positive rate among students in public schools is 0.25 percent — well under the city’s daily average rate of 2.43 percent. Experts, however, say the city may not be testing enough students.
19th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

Seniors are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. So far, 1 in 7 have gotten a booster shot of vaccine

As the US tries to stave off another Covid-19 surge this winter, health experts encourage anyone who is eligible to get a booster dose of vaccine do so. About 10.7 million people have received a booster shot, including roughly 15% of seniors ages 65 and up, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So far, only the Pfizer vaccine has been authorized for use as a booster for certain high-risk groups who received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago, the US Food and Drug Administration said. Advisers to the FDA recently recommended booster doses for some people who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
19th Oct 2021 - CNN

UK faces calls for ‘Plan B’ with virus cases high and rising

Life has returned to normal for millions in Britain since coronavirus restrictions were lifted over the summer. But while the rules have vanished, the virus hasn’t. Many scientists are now calling on the government to reimpose social restrictions and speed up booster vaccinations as coronavirus infection rates, already Europe’s highest, rise still further. The U.K. recorded 43,738 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, slightly down from the 49,156 reported Monday, which was the largest number since mid-July. New infections have averaged more than 44,000 a day over the past week, a 16% increase on the week before. Last week, the Office for National Statistics estimated that one in 60 people in England had the virus, one of the highest levels seen in Britain during the pandemic.
19th Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

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UK Covid cases near 50,000 in one day as No 10 warns of ‘challenging’ winter

Downing Street has warned of “challenging” months ahead as UK coronavirus cases reached their highest level since mid-July. The reported number of Covid cases in the UK increased steadily through October and reached 49,156 on Monday, the highest reported since 17 July and a 16% rise in new cases over the past week. The figure is only 19,000 cases short of the peak number of cases ever recorded in the UK. On 8 January 2021, 68,053 new cases were reported at the height of the most devastating wave of the pandemic last winter. The prime minister’s official spokesperson said a rise in coronavirus cases was expected over the winter and that the government would keep a “close watch” on the statistics.
18th Oct 2021 - The Guardian

Russia's Low Vaccination Rates Leads to Record-Breaking Toll

After Sofia Kravetskaya got vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine last December, she became a pariah on the Moscow playground where she takes her young daughter. “When I mentioned I volunteered in the trials and I got my first shot, people started running away from me,” she said. “They believed that if you were vaccinated, the virus is inside you and you’re contagious.” For Ms. Kravetskaya, 36, the reaction reflected the prevalent mistrust in the Russian authorities that has metastasized since the pandemic began last year. That skepticism, pollsters and sociologists say, is the main reason only one third of the country’s population is fully vaccinated, despite the availability of free inoculations.
18th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

Thailand to cease Sinovac vaccine use when stocks end this month

Thailand will stop using the COVID-19 vaccine of China's Sinovac when its current stock finishes, a senior official said on Monday, having used the shot extensively in combination with Western-developed vaccines. Thailand used over 31.5 million Sinovac doses since February, starting with two doses to frontline workers, high-risk groups and residents of Phuket, a holiday island that reopened to tourists early in a pilot scheme.
18th Oct 2021 - Yahoo News

Burundi starts COVID jabs; just North Korea, Eritrea remain

One of the world’s last three countries to administer COVID-19 vaccines started giving out doses on Monday as the East African nation of Burundi launched its national campaign. The vaccinations started in the commercial capital, Bujumbura, though health workers told The Associated Press that barely more than a dozen people had received doses by mid-afternoon. Recipients included the ministers of health and security. Only North Korea and the Horn of Africa nation of Eritrea have not administered any COVID-19 vaccines, according to the World Health Organization. Burundi’s previous government under the late President Pierre Nkurunziza had been criticized for taking the pandemic lightly.
18th Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

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Slightly more than half of migrant workers in Jurong dorm vaccinated or have verified status, says MOM

Fifty-five per cent of the migrant workers at Westlite Jalan Tukang dormitory have verified their vaccination status or have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Saturday (Oct 16), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said. The remaining 45 per cent are pending verification or have yet to receive a Pandemic Special Access Route (PSAR) or World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing Procedure (WHO EUL) vaccine, said MOM in a statement on Saturday. The two PSAR-approved vaccines are the ones made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. These are also among the WHO EUL vaccines, which include AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm, Sinovac and Covishield.
16th Oct 2021 - CNA

Singapore Covid: Airline websites crash as borders set to open

Singapore's borders have effectively been closed for 21 months, so news that the rules will finally be relaxed has sent residents rushing for a ticket out. From 19 October, people will be able to travel freely from Singapore to ten countries around the world, without quarantine and with fewer swab tests, as long as they are vaccinated. By 15 November, one more country - South Korea - will be added to the list. "The cabin fever was just driving us crazy. There's no demarcation between leisure and work here," Low Ka Wei, a corporate communications executive, told the BBC.
16th Oct 2021 - BBC News

India reopens for foreign tourists after 19 months as COVID ebbs

India has reopened to fully vaccinated foreign tourists travelling on chartered flights in the latest easing of its coronavirus restrictions as infection numbers decline. Foreign tourists on regular flights will be able to enter India starting from November 15, officials said on Friday. It is the first time India has allowed foreign tourists to enter the country since March 2020 when it imposed its first nationwide coronavirus lockdown. It is unclear whether arriving tourists will have to quarantine but they must be fully vaccinated and test negative for the virus within 72 hours of their flight.
16th Oct 2021 - Al Jazeera English

U.S. to lift restrictions Nov 8 for vaccinated foreign travelers

The White House on Friday will lift COVID-19 travel restrictions for fully vaccinated international visitors starting Nov. 8, ending historic restrictions that had barred much of the world from entering the United States for as long as 21 months. The unprecedented travel restrictions kept millions of visitors out of the United States from China, Canada, Mexico, India, Brazil, much of Europe and elsewhere; shrunk U.S. tourism; and hurt border community economies. They prevented many loved ones and foreign workers from reuniting with families.
16th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Zimbabwe bars unvaccinated civil servants from work

Zimbabwe will bar unvaccinated government workers from reporting for duty from Monday as part of efforts to fight COVID-19, an official circular showed. The southern African country has, as of Oct. 14, recorded 4,655 COVID-19-related deaths from 132,251 infections since March 2020. Although the country was one of the first on the continent to vaccinate against COVID-19, less than 2.5 million people out of its 15 million population have been fully vaccinated.
15th Oct 2021 - Reuters

U.S. will accept mixed doses of vaccines from international travellers

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said late on Friday that it will accept mixed-dose coronavirus vaccines from international travelers, a boost to travelers from Canada and other places. The CDC said last week that it would accept any vaccine authorized for use by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization. "While CDC has not recommended mixing types of vaccine in a primary series, we recognize that this is increasingly common in other countries so should be accepted for the interpretation of vaccine records," a CDC spokeswoman said.
15th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Biden’s Moderna Vaccine Double-Cross

Moderna has already pledged 500 million doses to Covax, the World Health Organization-backed group distributing donated vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. But progressives want the White House to use the Defense Production Act (or other means) to make Moderna share its intellectual property with the world. In a letter to Dr. Kessler on Tuesday, 12 Democrats in Congress, led by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, asserted that the government may have the right to confiscate Moderna’s IP because it has received “huge sums of public funding from American taxpayers.” The feds have held Moderna “‘by the hand on a daily basis,’” they said.
14th Oct 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

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Coronavirus: Unions call for improved vaccine rollout

A global coalition of more than 350 trade unions is renewing calls for politicians to waive the patents on Covid vaccines. They say that failing to do so would compound supply chain crises and inflict "economic self-harm". It comes as the World Trade Organization (WTO) tries to broker a compromise at a meeting in Geneva. Critics argue that accelerating the rollout of vaccines is more complex than just the waiving of patents. The dilemma being discussed at the WTO meeting centres on finding the best way to ensure the most widespread and equitable way of vaccinating the whole world from coronavirus and ending the pandemic. Successfully doing so would allow the removal of restrictions that have impaired economic growth.
14th Oct 2021 - BBC News

Hungary will receive technology to produce Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine -foreign minister

Hungary will receive technology this year to produce Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine at a Hungarian plant currently under construction, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Moscow on Thursday according to a foreign ministry statement. This would be the first concrete step towards making the vaccine in the European Union, even though it is not yet approved in the bloc. The Sputnik V vaccine, widely used in Russia and approved for use in more than 70 countries, is still undergoing a review by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency.
14th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: NHS facing exceptionally difficult winter - Chris Whitty

The NHS faces an "exceptionally difficult" winter whether there is a Covid surge or not, England's chief medial officer Prof Chris Whitty says. GPs in England are being told to see more patients face-to-face as ministers unveil a £250m winter rescue package. But the doctors' union says the package shows "a government out of touch with the scale of the crisis." The British Medical Association adds doctors will be "horrified" by the idea the plan will save them when it could "sink the ship altogether"
14th Oct 2021 - BBC News

COVID-19 cases surge among children after schools reopen - but drop among adults

Coronavirus infections among children increased in England last month after schools reopened, a study has found. The surge kept overall cases high even as COVID-19's prevalence among adults fell, the research showed. The epidemic was estimated to be growing among those under 17, with an R number estimated at 1.18, according to the REACT-1 study led by Imperial College London.
14th Oct 2021 - Sky News

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Australia's CSL reaffirms commitment to making AstraZeneca COVID vaccine

Australian biotech CSL said on Thursday it was committed to its agreement for the production of about 50 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine into 2022. The announcement came after a media report said the British drugmaker's vaccine, Vaxzevria, will no longer be manufactured in Australia due to demand for vaccines of Pfizer and Moderna. Pfizer and Moderna have established a market dominance by using mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine technology to fight the pandemic.
14th Oct 2021 - Reuters

English school return spurred COVID in children, but cases fell in adults - study

COVID-19 infections in children in England rose in September after schools returned from summer holidays, helping to keep cases high even as there was a fall among adults, a large prevalence study showed on Thursday. The REACT-1 study, led by Imperial College London, is the latest to find that more children are getting infected with COVID-19 following the reopening of schools at the start of September. Infection numbers in Britain are currently much higher than in other western European countries, with more than 30,000 new cases reported every day this month, but have not risen above summer levels following the return of schools in England despite the higher infection rates in children.
14th Oct 2021 - Reuters UK

Ivermectin Demand Sends Sales Soaring for Foreign Generic Drugmakers

Before the pandemic, Taj Pharmaceuticals Ltd. shipped negligible amounts of ivermectin to Russia for veterinary use. But over the past year it’s become a popular product for the Indian generic drug maker: Since July 2020, Taj Pharma has sold $5 million worth of the pills for human use in India and overseas. That’s a bonanza for a small family-owned company with an annual revenue of about $66 million.
13th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

'It's not Satanism': Zimbabwe church leaders preach vaccines

Apostolic groups that infuse traditional beliefs into a Pentecostal doctrine are among the most skeptical in Zimbabwe when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, with an already strong mistrust of modern medicine. Many followers put faith in prayer, holy water and anointed stones to ward off disease or cure illnesses. While mandates — a blunt no vaccine, no entrance rule — is the way to go for some, there’s a subtler approach for the Apostolic and other anti-vaccine Pentecostal groups, partly, but not only, because they are deeply suspicious of vaccines.
13th Oct 2021 - Associated Press

Back from the brink: how Japan became a surprise Covid success story

Just days after the Tokyo Olympics drew to a close, Japan appeared to be hurtling towards a coronavirus disaster. On 13 August, the host city reported a record 5,773 new Covid-19 cases, driven by the Delta variant. Nationwide the total exceeded 25,000. Soaring infections added to resentment felt by a public that had opposed the Olympics, only to be told they could not watch events in person due to the pandemic. Hospitals were under unprecedented strain, the shortage of beds forcing thousands who had tested positive to recuperate – and in some cases die – at home. The then prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, who had ignored his own chief health adviser in pushing ahead with the Games, was forced to step down amid stubbornly low approval ratings. A state of emergency in the capital and other regions that had been in place for almost six months looked likely to be extended yet again.
13th Oct 2021 - The Guardian

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Merck aims to double supply of Covid-19 antiviral pill on rising demand

Merck plans to double manufacturing capacity for its antiviral pill to treat Covid-19 next year as governments scramble to procure a treatment that a late-stage trial showed cuts hospital admission and death rates in half. The mounting demand for Merck’s drug, the first oral treatment shown to prevent severe disease in vulnerable people with coronavirus, is a sign that it could trigger the same kind of worldwide rush faced by makers of early Covid-19 vaccines. Merck, which this week asked US regulators to authorise use of the drug called molnupiravir, told the Financial Times it had secured deals with Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and South Korea to supply doses in the past week and is in talks with several other governments.
12th Oct 2021 - Financial Times

WA's health sector vaccine mandate puts pressure on overstretched bush hospitals

Almost two weeks after Western Australia's health sector vaccine mandate took effect, just a small number of staff losses is increasing pressure on struggling hospital wards and fanning tension between burnt-out workers. Health authorities have confirmed frontline staff have been removed from rosters for refusing to have at least one dose since the rules came into force at the start of the month. The nurses union, which supports the mandate, has accused health bureaucrats of not preparing for the inevitable loss of staff at a time when hospitals in WA's remote north are already being pushed to the brink due to a nurse shortage.
12th Oct 2021 - ABC.Net.au

Bangladesh plans to vaccinate 80 mn people against Covid by next January

Bangladesh aims to administer Covid-19 vaccines to nearly half of its population by next January. Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the Bangladeshi government is working to vaccinate 80 million people by December and January, Xinhua news agency reported, citing the Bangladesh's state-run news agency BSS. The minister said the government is considering vaccinating children aged between 12 and 17 years. Bangladesh has already announced a target of vaccinating 80 per cent of its population by 2022. The South Asian country has so far got nearly 70 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.
12th Oct 2021 - Business Standard

Sydney COVID-19 cases ease further as focus shifts to reviving economy

Sydney's COVID-19 cases fell to the lowest in two months on Tuesday as authorities rolled out support measures for businesses, shifting their focus to rejuvenating the economy after the city exited a nearly four-month lockdown a day earlier. Pubs, cafes and retail stores reopened in New South Wales (NSW), home to Sydney, on Monday after vaccination levels in the state's adult population crossed 70%. New daily infections in the state fell to 360 on Tuesday, the majority in Sydney, marking a steady downward trend.
12th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Back to school: How are pupils being kept Covid-safe?

Face coverings are no longer compulsory in schools in England or Wales, although they are recommended in crowded spaces like school buses. However head teachers and health officials can ask staff and pupils to wear masks on school premises in response to local circumstances. Schools in Trafford, Cambridgeshire and West Yorkshire have already reintroduced face coverings. Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi confirmed that mask-wearing in all English schools could be made compulsory again under the government's winter contingency "Plan B".
12th Oct 2021 - BBC News

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1 in 5 critically ill coronavirus patients is pregnant, unvaccinated, England says

Unvaccinated pregnant women account for nearly 20 percent of the most critically ill coronavirus patients requiring lifesaving care in England in recent months, according to the country’s National Health Service. “Since July, one in five covid patients receiving treatment through a special lung-bypass machine were expectant mums who have not had their first jab,” the NHS said in a statement Monday. Out of all women between the ages of 16 and 49 being treated with a therapy called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation — used only when a patient’s lungs are so damaged by the virus that a ventilator cannot maintain oxygen levels — pregnant women make up almost a third, up from just 6 percent at the start of the pandemic.
11th Oct 2021 - The Washington Post

The rate of Covid-19 cases is dropping nationally but rising in these 5 states

The big picture for Covid-19 in the US is looking a little brighter as new infections and hospitalizations decline. "That's the good news. And hopefully it's going to continue to go in that trajectory downward," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "But we just have to be careful we don't prematurely declare victory in many respects. We still have around 68 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated that have not yet gotten vaccinated," Fauci said Sunday. "If you look at the history of the surges and the diminutions in the cases over a period of time, they can bounce back."
11th Oct 2021 - CNN

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Italy widens COVID-19 vaccine booster campaign to frail and over 60s

Italy has decided to provide a booster shot of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine to frail people regardless of their age as well as people aged 60 and over, the health ministry said on Friday. The booster dose would be available on condition that at least six months have passed since people completed their primary vaccination cycle, the ministry said in a statement. The European Union's drugs regulator said on Monday people with weakened immune systems should get a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna but left it to member states to decide if the wider population should have a booster
9th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Wasted COVID vaccine doses in Louisiana swell to 224,000

Louisiana’s problem of wasted COVID-19 vaccine shots continues to balloon, with about 224,000 doses thrown out across the state as health providers can’t find enough residents willing to roll up their sleeves. The number of trashed doses has nearly tripled since the end of July, even as Louisiana grappled with a fourth, deadly surge of the coronavirus pandemic during that time that led to increased interest in the vaccines. The latest data provided to The Associated Press by the Louisiana Department of Health showed 223,918 doses of the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been thrown out.
9th Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

7% of Israel’s serious COVID cases had three vaccine shots

Some 7% of Israel’s serious and critical COVID-19 cases were vaccinated with three shots of the coronavirus vaccine, according to data released Friday morning by the Health Ministry. However, the number of new daily cases is declining and the government voted to roll out the Green Class outline in several green cities on Sunday to help keep children out of isolation. “I cannot say that 7% is a lot,” Health Minister Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash told The Jerusalem Post. “The vaccine, even the third shot, does not work at 100%. It is 95% effective.”
9th Oct 2021 - The Jerusalem Post

COVID-19: Calls for stronger safety measures in schools amid pupil infection surge

Education unions have called for the reintroduction of extra safety measures in schools after official estimates showed around 270,000 secondary pupils had COVID-19 last week. The demand for action came as an expert warned about the level of coronavirus circulating among older children. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that around one in 15 children in school years 7 to 11 in England are estimated to have had COVID-19 in the week to 2 October. This was the highest positivity rate for any age group and up from one in 20 during the previous seven-day period.
9th Oct 2021 - Sky News

Russians flock to Serbia for Western-made COVID-19 vaccines

When Russian regulators approved the country's own coronavirus vaccine, it was a moment of national pride, and the Pavlov family was among those who rushed to take the injection. But international health authorities have not yet given their blessing to the Sputnik V shot. So when the family from Rostov-on-Don wanted to visit the West, they looked for a vaccine that would allow them to travel freely — a quest that brought them to Serbia, where hundreds of Russian citizens have flocked in recent weeks to receive Western-approved COVID-19 shots.
9th Oct 2021 - The Independent

Pfizer shots offered to Novavax trial volunteers so they can travel

Britain announced that it will offer new vaccinations to thousands of people who volunteered for trials of the Novavax coronavirus vaccine, which hasn’t yet been approved for use in any country. About 15,000 people in Britain got Novavax shots as part of a clinical trial. While Britain recognises them as vaccinated, most countries don’t, meaning they can’t travel. Britain’s health department said on Friday that more than 15,000 participants would be given two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The government says it plans to expand the offer to about 6000 British participants in trials of other vaccines that also haven’t been approved for use. Britain has appealed to other members of the Group of 20 nations to classify clinical trial volunteers as vaccinated, but most haven’t done so.
9th Oct 2021 - Sydney Morning Herald

More organ transplant centers require patients to get Covid-19 vaccine or bumped down waitlist

A Colorado kidney transplant candidate who was bumped to inactive status for failing to get a covid-19 vaccine has become the most public example of an argument roiling the nation's more than 250 organ transplant centers. Across the country, growing numbers of transplant programs have chosen to either bar patients who refuse to take the widely available covid vaccines from receiving transplants, or give them lower priority on crowded organ waitlists. Other programs, however, say they plan no such restrictions — for now.
9th Oct 2021 - CNN

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Hospital system says it will deny transplants to the unvaccinated in 'almost all situations'

A Colorado-based health system says it is denying organ transplants to patients not vaccinated against the coronavirus in “almost all situations,” citing studies that show these patients are much more likely to die if they get covid-19. The policy illustrates the growing costs of being unvaccinated and wades into deeply controversial territory — the use of immunization status to decide who gets limited medical care. The mere idea of prioritizing the vaccinated for rationed health resources has drawn intense backlash, as overwhelmingly unvaccinated covid-19 patients push some hospitals to adopt “crisis standards of care,” in which health systems can prioritize patients for scarce resources based largely on their likelihood of survival.
6th Oct 2021 - The Washington Post

England urged to step up vaccinations to avoid winter Covid surge

The distribution of Covid boosters for the most vulnerable people and second shots of vaccine for teenagers should be accelerated to help prevent a winter surge of coronavirus overburdening the NHS, a senior scientist has said. Prof Neil Ferguson said England’s vaccine strategy had been “cautious” in recent months, with many teenagers having only one jab, and boosters for the most vulnerable people given no sooner than six months after their second dose. Ferguson said it was unclear whether the winter would bring another substantial wave of infections, but with new cases already high, at about 30,000 a day, even a moderate rise could put the NHS under pressure.
6th Oct 2021 - The Guardian

Hospitalization rates are down across the US, but these 8 states still have fewer than 15% of ICU beds available

The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to require patrons at indoor spaces such as restaurants, gyms and movie theaters to show proof of full Covid-19 vaccination -- starting November 4. The ordinance will also apply to personal care establishments such as spas and hair salons, as well as city buildings. And while the measure doesn't go into effect until next month, businesses must display advisory notice of the requirement by October 21. Individuals with medical or religious exemptions must provide a form declaring that. People who do not meet those requirements can use the outdoor spaces of a business and will be allowed in the covered spaces to use restrooms or pick up takeout orders.
6th Oct 2021 - CNN

Swindon site to produce Covid-19 vaccines, PM says

Doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine are to be made in Swindon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced. It will be made at the Thermo Fisher Scientific site and production is expected to start in 2022. The firm already makes the vaccine at its facility in Monza, Italy. A statement from Pfizer said that regulatory approval, transfer of technology and on-site development work means production cannot immediately begin. It added: "The support from Thermo Fisher - one of more than 20 contract manufacturers across four continents that are - or will be - helping manufacture the vaccine is an example of our efforts to deliver the vaccine to people around the world as quickly as possible."
6th Oct 2021 - BBC News

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Arizona can't use COVID money for anti-mask grants, feds say

The Biden administration on Tuesday ordered Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to stop using the state’s federal pandemic funding on a pair of new education grants that can only be directed to schools without mask mandates. In a letter to Ducey, the Treasury Department said the grant programs are “not a permissible use” of the federal funding. It’s the latest attempt by the Biden administration to push back against Republican governors who have opposed mask mandates and otherwise sought to use federal pandemic funding to advance their own agendas. Ducey, a Republican, created the grant programs in August to put pressure on school districts that have defied the state’s ban on mask mandates.
5th Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

English Schools Drop Mask Mandates, but Questions Rise Along With Cases

England took a high-stakes gamble when it sent millions of students back to school last month with neither vaccines nor a requirement to wear face masks, even as the coronavirus continued to course through the population. On Tuesday, the country’s Education Department issued its latest report card on how the plan is working: 186,000 students were absent from school on Sept. 30 with confirmed or suspected cases of the virus, 78 percent more than the number reported on Sept. 16, and the highest number since the pandemic began. Yet to hear many parents tell it, the bigger risk would have been to force the students to keep wearing masks or, worse, to keep them home.
5th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

Rapid COVID-19 tests increasingly scarce, pricey as demand from employers jumps

Surging demand for COVID-19 tests from U.S. employers has exacerbated a nationwide shortage of rapid tests in recent weeks and is driving up costs for state and local testing programs, according to industry executives and state officials. Testmakers including Abbott Laboratories, Quidel Corp and LumiraDX Ltd are scaling up production to meet rising demand. But significantly boosting test output will take weeks to months, half a dozen industry executives told Reuters, making the tests harder to procure in the near term.
5th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Thai Red Cross delivers COVID-19 vaccines to Thailand's vulnerable migrant workers

The Thai Red Cross Society kicked off a vaccination campaign on Tuesday for migrant workers, one of the country's most vulnerable groups that has been largely left behind in the broader COVID-19 inoculation rollout. About 300 workers received their first doses along with a small number of undocumented refugees as part of a campaign due to run until the end of the month that is initially targeting 5,000 workers. "The more migrant workers we're able to vaccinate, the better for the Thai people, too," said Tej Bunnag, secretary-general of the Thai Red Cross Society.
5th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: November vaccines 'likely' for 12 to 15-year-olds

It is likely to be November before most schools in Northern Ireland begin to vaccinate 12 to 15-year-old pupils. Letters and consent forms for the Covid-19 vaccine are expected to be sent to parents of eligible children in mid-to-late October, according to the Public Health Agency (PHA). The UK's four chief medical officers have recommended healthy 12 to 15-year-olds be offered one vaccine dose. Vaccinations for pupils in Scotland and England are already taking place. However, the approach being taken by each nation differs.
5th Oct 2021 - BBC News

India begins delivering Covid-19 vaccines by drone

In India, the vast landscape, difficult terrain and remote location of some of its population has presented challenges for the coronavirus vaccine drive. Officials in the vast nation have come up with a unique solution to deliver the vaccine to such areas; by drafting in drones. The drones can travel up to 22 miles and could bring the country closer to its target of vaccinating each of its 950 million adults by the end of this year. The system has already been used to transport Covid vaccines from a hospital in north east state of Manipur to a health centre on Karang Island, which lies 10 miles away in the middle of a lake.
5th Oct 2021 - ITV News

At a rural ICU, Covid-19’s summer surge put telehealth to the test

On the surface, there’s little about Whitfield Regional Hospital that would make it a safety net for Alabama’s sickest Covid-19 patients. It has a small ICU with eight beds, and no critical care doctors on staff. The rural hospital has spent decades focused on caring for the community surrounding Demopolis, population 7,000, in the heart of the state’s Black Belt. But over the summer, Whitfield became an unlikely landing pad for critically ill Covid-19 patients from across the entire state — with the help of a team of telemedicine specialists calling in from more than 100 miles away. As Covid-19 swept through unvaccinated communities, every ICU bed in the state was full for weeks on end — including those at the state’s largest hospital, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
5th Oct 2021 - STAT News

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Coronavirus: BioNTech CEO says new vaccine will be needed in 2022

The CEO of BioNTech, the company that paired with Pfizer to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, told The Financial Times on Sunday that a new vaccine formula will probably be needed by the middle of next year, as new variants to the virus are likely to emerge. Ugur Sahin, who co-founded BioNTech, said that the variants seen now are not so different from the original virus as to evade the protection that the current vaccine offers. However, Sahin warns that new variants will emerge that will be able to evade vaccines and booster shots. “This year [a different vaccine] is completely unneeded,” he said. “But, by mid-next year, it could be a different situation.”
4th Oct 2021 - KIRO Seattle

Signs of encouragement as US sees drop in Covid cases and hospitalizations

The United States has seen a dramatic drop in the number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks, a trend that epidemiologists see as an encouraging sign that the Delta wave of the virus has peaked nationally. The seven-day average of daily new cases in America dropped from about 151,000 on 14 September to about 106,000 on 29 September, a 29% decrease, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
4th Oct 2021 - The Guardian

Largest COVID-19 PCR provider announces expansion of ‘cube’ labs

The UK’s largest laboratory diagnostics company, Randox, has announced a nationwide expansion of ten new adaptive ‘cube’ laboratories across Great Britain, with facilities that provide a rapid and cost-effective model to expand laboratory provision.
4th Oct 2021 - PharmaTimes

Pregnant Women Benefit from Getting the COVID-19 Vaccination

The number of women who were pregnant and also hospitalized for COVID-19 increased from 10% to 15% in late August 2021 and early September 2021, which is more than double the percentages of a year earlier, results of a study posted in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology show. "If they are exposed and infected, they run a higher risk of severe illness from this most recent Delta variant," Emily Adhikari, MD, medical director of perinatal infectious diseases at Parkland Health and Hospital System, said in a statement. "Pregnant women should get immunized as soon as possible." Investigators found that these findings are the first objective evidence of the number and severity of illness in pregnant individuals alongside the spike in the Delta variant.
4th Oct 2021 - Pharmacy Times

Senegal records fewest daily COVID-19 cases since outbreak began

Senegal on Monday logged only two new daily COVID-19 infections, the lowest number since the pandemic reached the country and two months after the rate of new cases hovered at record highs, the health ministry said on Monday. "Two cases were recorded today, the lowest ever recorded," said health ministry spokesperson Ngone Ngom. "They were in the past seven, 10 cases, but from the top of my head I think this is the lowest." While the number of COVID-19 infections has been relatively low in Senegal compared with elsewhere, the West African nation is emerging from its deadliest wave yet. Twenty thousand of its 73,800 cases and 250 of its 1,860 deaths were recorded in July alone.
4th Oct 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Amber list and UK's traffic light system for international travel scrapped as rules simplified

The UK's traffic light system for travel has been scrapped and replaced with just two categories - countries on the red list and everywhere else. The number of countries on the red list - currently 54 - is expected to be cut to as few as nine, with places such as South Africa, and Mexico expected to become available to quarantine-free travel. People arriving in the UK fully vaccinated against COVID-19 - and everyone under 18 - will also see changes.
4th Oct 2021 - Sky News

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Britain’s Covid infection rate is one of the worst in the world, data reveals

Britain’s current Covid infection rate is by far the highest in western Europe and is only exceeded by a handful of countries around the world, latest research reveals. The UK’s average daily reported cases on stood at 52 per 100,000 population on Friday, according to the respected Johns Hopkins University in the US. That puts the country 14th out of more than 200 states in a global list of Covid infection rates – well above the likes of the US, Canada and the whole of western Europe, as well as other former global “hotspots” such as India and Brazil. A total of 191,771 people tested positive for Covid in England in the week to 22 September, a rise of 18 per cent on the week before, it was revealed on Thursday.
2nd Oct 2021 - Evening Standard

Covid cases rise as UK schools return and furlough scheme ends

The number of daily new Covid infections in the UK has risen in the past month after the removal of most pandemic restrictions and as schools and offices reopened, fuelled by the Delta variant. The latest daily figures up to 30 September show that 36,480 people tested positive for Covid-19 across the UK, an increase from the start of the month. The government said a further 137 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, bringing the UK total to 136,662. Almost 49 million people have had a first shot of a coronavirus vaccine, about 90% of the adult population. Almost 45 million – about 83% – have had a second.
2nd Oct 2021 - The Guardian

Indonesia’s pandemic-fuelled problem: Mounds of medical waste

The overpowering stench is the first thing that I notice, filling my nose and making my eyes water. Then I see the mountains of rotting waste. This is Burangkeng, one of Indonesia’s largest landfills, in the city of Bekasi some 30km from the capital, Jakarta. On the surface it looks like any other large dumpsite, but among the regular rubbish lies a growing amount of toxic medical waste. From blood-filled drip lines to masks, medical gloves and COVID-19 tests. All hidden in plain sight.
2nd Oct 2021 - Al Jazeera

India imposes retaliatory COVID restrictions on British nationals

Fully vaccinated British nationals arriving in India will be subjected to a 10-day mandatory quarantine, in response to similar measures imposed on Indian nationals. The move comes after India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla called Britain’s decision not to recognise the Indian version of the AstraZeneca vaccine, known as Covishield, “discriminatory”. He had warned of reciprocal measures should London fail to reconsider.
2nd Oct 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Return to Covid restrictions as hundreds of schools told to ‘prepare for bubbles’

At least two councils have told schools to reintroduce some Covid measures as cases threaten to spiral out of control. Schools in Staffordshire have been issued with new guidance including the reintroduction of classroom bubbles and face coverings in crowded places after infections increased by nearly a third in the past week. Wolverhampton secondary school pupils have also been told to wear masks in communal areas as councils take it upon themselves to tackle the latest outbreaks. All compulsory measures were scrapped by the government for the start of the latest term, with schools able to operate mostly as normal.
2nd Oct 2021 - Metro

Flu's Return Will Shape the Pandemic's Impact in Coming Months

Charting the course of the pandemic during the coming months is likely to involve a more traditional winter nuisance: the flu. As countries from Italy to Canada lift restrictions, travel resumes and colder temperatures set in, influenza will probably start circulating as well. That’s after measures to thwart Covid-19 such as masks and ventilation kept the flu at bay for the past year and a half. Efforts have already been under way to lessen the potential strain on health systems dealing with both illnesses. A U.K. study released late Thursday showed that it’s safe for people to get Covid and flu shots at the same time, which might help increase vaccine uptake and cut down on appointments as the country rolls out booster doses.
1st Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

Japan's restaurants, bars welcome back drinkers as COVID-19 controls ease

Typhoon winds and rain dampened what might have been a more celebratory mood in Tokyo on Friday, as restaurants were allowed to sell alcohol and stay open later following the lifting of the latest COVID-19 state of emergency. Japan is cautiously easing restrictions that have prevailed across much of the nation for almost six months. New COVID cases in Tokyo totalled 200 on Friday, a sharp drop from more than 5,000 a day in August amid a fifth wave driven by the infectious Delta variant that brought the medical system to the brink. The restrictions, intended to blunt infections by reducing mobility and interaction, have been particularly tough on the service sector.
1st Oct 2021 - Reuters

S.Korea extends social distancing curbs as COVID-19 cases rise in Seoul

South Korea extended social distancing curbs to combat the coronavirus pandemic on Friday for two weeks, offering more incentives to people to get vaccinated as it battles thousands of new cases each day, particularly in the capital. The rapid resurgence in the greater Seoul area prompted authorities to extend distancing restrictions until Oct. 17, including a ban in the region on dining out after 10 p.m. and gatherings of more than two people after 6 p.m. The country recorded 2,486 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), with the daily tally having topped 3,000 for the first time last week.
1st Oct 2021 - Reuters

NBA vaccination rate reaches 95 percent

As a few notable NBA players continue to make headlines for their anti-vaccination stances, the vast majority of the league has been vaccinated against COVID-19. NBA executive director Michele Roberts revealed this week that over 90 percent of the league's players are fully vaccinated, while ESPN reported Thursday that 95 percent of players have now received at least one shot. Still, the topic of vaccinations has become hot-button. The NBA mandated that all team employees except for players must be vaccinated, and there is tension within the league about that difference.
1st Oct 2021 - Reuters

EXCLUSIVE White House presses U.S. airlines to quickly mandate vaccines for staff

The White House is pressing major U.S. airlines to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for employees by Dec. 8 - the deadline for federal contractors to do so - and is showing no signs of pushing back the date, four sources told Reuters on Friday. White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients spoke to the chief executives of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines on Thursday to ensure they were working expeditiously to develop and enforce vaccine requirements ahead of that deadline, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
1st Oct 2021 - Reuters

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U.S. Frackers Fear Vaccine Mandate Will Worsen Worker Crunch

American frackers, already struggling to hire enough workers, are concerned that the coming U.S. vaccine mandate will worsen the situation at a time of rising oil and gas prices. Many of the truckers, rig hands and roustabouts who used to work in Texas and other oil patch regions found other jobs after crude prices crashed last year during the onset of the pandemic. Oil-field service companies, which employ most of the ground-level workers who drill and finish wells, say many remaining employees are skeptical about Covid-19 vaccination, and some have warned they would quit before getting shots. The proposed mandate doesn’t require companies to terminate employees who don’t comply, but those workers would be subject to frequent testing. Some companies are concerned that such testing would frustrate unvaccinated employees and motivate them to leave their jobs.
30th Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

In Well-Vaccinated Maine, Covid-19 Still Fills Hospitals With the Unvaccinated

The Delta variant is finding clusters of unvaccinated people even in some of the best-vaccinated parts of the country, such as Maine. A Covid-19 surge in the New England state has filled hospitals and put dozens of mostly unvaccinated people on ventilators, setting records for the state. The problem, public-health experts say, is the variant’s high transmissibility combined with the relaxation of precautions such as wearing masks. Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations have also flared among mostly unvaccinated people in Vermont and western Massachusetts, highlighting the risk Delta poses even in states with the best track records for getting shots in arms. “The Delta variant is so much more contagious that it doesn’t need much kindling to continue to burn,” said Dora Anne Mills, chief health improvement officer at nonprofit health system MaineHealth.
30th Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

End of Covid-19 Jobs Program to Test U.K. Recovery

European capitals spent big on wage subsidies to prevent job losses at the start of the pandemic. A U.K. experiment in preventing mass layoffs is coming to an end, in a test of how quickly economies can reabsorb workers idled by the pandemic and wean companies off government support. The closure Thursday of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme marks the first big move by a European government to step back from the emergency economic policies in place since the virus swept the continent last year.
30th Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

CDC urges COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an official health advisory, encouraging COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant and lactating Americans, as well as those considering pregnancy. According to CDC data, only 3% of pregnant women have been vaccinated against COVID-19, and vaccination rates vary markedly by race and ethnicity. Pregnant Asian Americans have the highest coverage (45.7%), while only 15.6% of Black pregnant women are vaccinated. "Pregnancy can be both a special time and also a stressful time—and pregnancy during a pandemic is an added concern for families," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH. "I strongly encourage those who are pregnant or considering pregnancy to talk with their healthcare provider about the protective benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine to keep their babies and themselves safe."
29th Sep 2021 - CIDRAP

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COVID-19: Cruise ship industry faces calls to prevent spread of infectious diseases after pandemic

The billion dollar industry is being urged to carry out "more monitoring" of the major health impacts that cruising can potentially cause for passengers.
29th Sep 2021 - Sky

Roll-out of Covid-19 boosters to NI care homes gets underway

Health Minister Robin Swann has welcomed the roll-out of the Covid-19 booster jab programme in Northern Ireland. Health Trust vaccinator teams are bringing the boosters to care home residents and staff as part of a planned programme. The minister said the roll-out will be on phased basis, as the booster vaccine dose is to be offered no earlier than six months after receipt of the second dose. “I very much welcome the fact that vaccinator teams are providing vital vaccine booster doses to care home residents and staff," said Robin Swann. “This will give added and important protection for some of the most vulnerable people in our society as we head towards winter." The Health Department said the wider booster dose programme will begin in October for those eligible.
29th Sep 2021 - ITV News

Algeria to start Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine production Wednesday

Algeria will start production of COVID-19 vaccine Sinovac in partnership with China on Wednesday with the aim of meeting domestic demand and exporting the surplus, the prime minister's office said on Tuesday. The government has said production capacity will stand at 1 million, 2 million and 3 million doses in October, November and December respectively, before reaching 5 million doses per month from January. The North African country has been importing vaccines, mainly Sinovac, since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020.
29th Sep 2021 - Reuters

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Behind Israel’s Swift Rollout of Covid-19 Vaccine Boosters

In late July, dozens of Israeli scientists and government health officials were locked in a marathon video call where they examined new data indicating that the effectiveness of the Covid vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE was waning. Infections from the new Delta variant were increasing, and growing numbers of people were falling seriously ill, even those who had had both shots of the vaccine. Lives were potentially on the line. Within days of the midnight vote that decided to distribute a third shot, the first of millions of booster shots were administered, months before the U.S. or any other country would take the same step. “It was a really tough discussion,” said epidemiologist Gili Regev-Yochay, who presented key research on the effectiveness of booster shots. “[But] it was a decision that was reached essentially with one voice.”
28th Sep 2021 - Wall Street Journal

Defying Delta: Back to school goes better than feared

School for children in many nations has been underway for more than a month and fears the Delta coronavirus variant would derail in-person learning have largely proven unfounded. In a dozen countries with high vaccination rates in Asia, Europe and the United States, case rates that surged in August have mostly fallen back, according to local data and officials. The jury is out on how much this is due to seasonal factors amid a global decline in cases, and how much it is linked to vaccinations and other preventative measures. Public health experts say they will continue to watch for signs of an increase in cases as winter approaches.
28th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Egypt allows immediate COVID-19 vaccination amid fourth wave

Egypt is now providing immediate COVID-19 vaccinations at youth centres across the country without prior online registration, a step aimed at encouraging vaccinations and relieving pressure on hospitals and health units amid a fourth wave of infections. Nearly 270 youth centres are now open for citizens to get the vaccines, the health ministry said, bringing the total number of vaccination sites across the country to 1,100. The move is part of the "Together We Are Assured" campaign, launched by the health ministry in mid-September, that allows citizens to register and receive vaccinations immediately after complaints of a large time difference between the two steps.
28th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Hospitals fear staffing shortages as vaccine deadlines loom

Hospitals and nursing homes around the U.S. are bracing for worsening staff shortages as state deadlines arrive for health care workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. With ultimatums taking effect this week in states like New York, California, Rhode Island and Connecticut, the fear is that some employees will quit or let themselves be fired or suspended rather than get the vaccine. “How this is going to play out, we don’t know. We are concerned about how it will exacerbate an already quite serious staffing problem,” said California Hospital Association spokesperson Jan Emerson-Shea, adding that the organization “absolutely” supports the state’s vaccination requirement.
28th Sep 2021 - The Associated Press

Two Europes: Low vaccine rates in east overwhelm ICUs

Around 72% of adults in the 27-nation European Union have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but a stubbornly low uptake of the shots in some eastern EU nations now risks overwhelming hospitals amid a surge of infections due to the more contagious delta variant. Bulgaria and Romania are lagging dramatically behind as the EU’s two least-vaccinated nations, with just 22% and 33% of their adult populations fully inoculated. Rapidly increasing new infections have forced authorities to tighten virus restrictions in the two countries, while other EU nations such as France, Spain, Denmark and Portugal have all exceeded 80% vaccine coverage and eased restrictions.
28th Sep 2021 - Associated Press

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Global vaccines project to revamp rules after Britain got more than Botswana

In March, as wealthy Britain led the world in vaccination rates and almost half its people had received a shot, the organisation meant to ensure fair global access to COVID-19 vaccines allotted the country over half a million doses from its supplies.
27th Sep 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

New U.S. travel rules close door on those fully vaccinated with Russia's Sputnik V

The United States announced last week that it would soon open its doors to foreign travelers vaccinated against the coronavirus, loosening restrictions for broad swaths of global visitors for the first time since the pandemic began. But the new rules, set to take effect in November, appear to also shut out many people who consider themselves to be fully immunized — including millions who have received two doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Hundreds of thousands of Russians could be directly affected. Despite frosty diplomatic relations and limited demand for international travel, roughly 300,000 Russians visited the United States in 2019, the last year for which figures are available, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
27th Sep 2021 - The Washington Post

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To Reach Vaccine Holdouts, Scientists Take a Page From Digital Marketing

Public-health researchers seeking new ways to persuade vaccine holdouts to take coronavirus shots are turning to the strategies of the digital marketing industry to figure out how to win over the reluctant. Companies that use online ads to sell products try out various colors, phrases, typefaces and a whole host of other variables to determine what resonates with consumers. So why not, the thinking goes, apply the same sort of A/B testing to figure out how best to promote vaccines?
26th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Logistics, Staff Shortage Hurt Indonesia's Vaccination Progress

A shortage of healthcare workers and logistical flaws are hampering Indonesia’s efforts to inoculate its people against Covid-19, leaving the world’s largest archipelago trailing its neighbors despite being among the first in Southeast Asia to start the program. Only 17.9% of Indonesia’s 270 million people are fully vaccinated, behind almost every major economy in the region, according to Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. About 32% have received their first dose, placing the nation among the bottom four on the list.
26th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

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Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine offered to Ayrshire children aged 12 to 15 as NHS tackles Covid cases

Schoolkids in Ayrshire are now being offered the Covid-19 vaccine. Youngsters aged 12 to 15 can receive a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech inoculation following a decision by Scottish Ministers to accept advice from the four UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs). Children should either attend a local drop-in vaccination clinic from today or await appointment details to arrive by post. Appointed clinics for this age group will begin on Wednesday. NHS Ayrshire & Arran's Public Health Director, Lynne McNiven, said: “The roll out of the Covid-19 vaccine to all young people aged 12-15 marks a significant milestone in the vaccination programme.
23rd Sep 2021 - Daily Record

Alaska, overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, adopts crisis standards for hospitals

Alaska, which led most U.S. states in coronavirus vaccinations months ago, took the drastic step on Wednesday of imposing crisis-care standards for its entire hospital system, declaring that a crushing surge in COVID-19 patients has forced rationing of strained medical resources.
23rd Sep 2021 - Reuters

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COVID-19 creates dire US shortage of teachers, school staff

One desperate California school district is sending flyers home in students’ lunchboxes, telling parents it’s “now hiring.” Elsewhere, principals are filling in as crossing guards, teachers are being offered signing bonuses and schools are moving back to online learning. Now that schools have welcomed students back to classrooms, they face a new challenge: a shortage of teachers and staff the likes of which some districts say they have never seen. Public schools have struggled for years with teacher shortages, particularly in math, science, special education and languages. But the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problem. The stress of teaching in the COVID-19 era has triggered a spike in retirements and resignations.
23rd Sep 2021 - The Associated Press

Supplier Contracts Get Revamped After Covid-19 Disruptions

Pandemic-driven strains in supply chains are triggering changes in contract terms between suppliers and their manufacturing and retail customers as companies try to address the risks and added costs brought on by persistent delays and disruptions. Procurement experts say that when drafting new contracts and renewing existing ones, companies increasingly are seeking to add provisions that cover the impact of pandemics or epidemics and accelerating inflation. The moves come as commodity costs and shipping prices have soared far faster during the past two years than considered in traditional contract terms. A fourfold increase in container shipping rates has made ocean freight for some shippers more expensive than the products they are shipping.
22nd Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

A North Carolina-based health care system has suspended hundreds of employees for not getting a Covid-19 vaccine

A North Carolina-based health care provider announced Tuesday it has suspended hundreds of employees for not meeting the company's Covid-19 vaccine requirements.
22nd Sep 2021 - CNN

Unvaccinated should get priority for an effective early covid-19 treatment, some officials say

Faced with a new federal push to conserve a highly effective covid-19 treatment, some officials are urging health-care providers to put the unvaccinated first. Demand for once-obscure monoclonal antibodies has skyrocketed as federal authorities and particularly Republicans such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis promote the treatment’s success at preventing mild or moderate covid-19 cases from escalating to hospitalization. The Biden administration moved last week to take over distribution of the therapy, drawing an outcry in Southern states that have used the treatments heavily and will probably have to cut back. The recommendation to prioritize the unvaccinated — who are far more likely to be hospitalized — comes after intense backlash to the idea of penalizing the unvaccinated while rationing hospital care.
22nd Sep 2021 - The Washington Post

Between Covid-19 and the flu, health care professionals are bracing themselves for the winter ahead, expert says

The current pace in Covid-19 vaccinations is the slowest it has been since July, according to data released Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The latest data comes as flu season is around the corner, which could increase death tolls and put more of a strain on hospitals that are already struggling with an influx of patients and depleted resources. More than 312,000 people have initiated the vaccination process -- or getting their first shot -- over the last week, CDC data shows. That's a 7% drop from last week and a 35% drop from the previous month. An average of 742,703 doses are being administered each day and about 182 million people, or 54.9%, of the US population, are fully vaccinated, the data shows. That leaves 71 million people, or 25.1% of the population, who are not vaccinated
22nd Sep 2021 - CNN

‘It’s scary’: record Covid absences cause concern in England’s schools

Last week more than 100,000 children were absent from school in England with confirmed or suspected Covid infections, the highest number during the pandemic, according to the Department for Education. Five parents and teachers in England share their experiences since the start of the new school year, including how they, their families and their pupils have been affected.
22nd Sep 2021 - The Guardian

Iran eyes normalisation as COVID vaccination drive accelerates

The rollouts of Iran’s vaccination campaign against COVID-19 has gathered significant pace, after months of public anger about slow imports, raising hopes of a relative return to normal life in the Middle East’s worst-hit country. More than 30 million jabs alone were imported during the sixth month of the Iranian calendar which ends on Wednesday – higher than all doses imported since the start of February combined. Another 13.4 million doses were imported in the previous Iranian month, in the middle of which President Ebrahim Raisi took office. Iran’s foreign ministry said on Sunday that 60 million more doses are expected to be imported during the next month. The overwhelming majority of imported doses so far have been that of China’s Sinopharm, followed by AstraZeneca jabs from several countries and via the global COVAX initiative.
22nd Sep 2021 - AlJazeera

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U.S. Pledge to Vaccinate Poor Countries Stumbles Amid Logistical Challenges

A White House plan to donate hundreds of millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines has been hampered in many developing countries by a lack of infrastructure to handle storage and distribution, leaving poorer nations far behind the developed world in vaccination rates. After a delayed start—the U.S. missed its first donation target—the Biden administration has been ramping up overseas donations, shipping around 137 million doses, most of them Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson. It expects to send 500 million doses of a shot developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE by the end of June 2022, the largest donation total of any country.
21st Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Major Idaho Hospital System Says 70% of ICU Patients Have Covid

An unprecedented 70% of intensive care unit patients have Covid-19 at a hospital network in Idaho, a state where vaccination rates are low, medical care is being rationed and virus hospitalizations are setting records. The Covid-19 ICU mortality rate is up to 43% at St. Luke’s health system, higher than the prior peak, and 98% of ICU patients suffering the deadly malady are unvaccinated, James Souza, chief physician executive of the statewide network of six hospitals, told an online news briefing.
21st Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

COVID creates shortages of an array of U.S. medical supplies

Shortages of masks and gloves that marked the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic have spread to a host of other items needed at medical facilities in the United States, from exam tables and heart defibrillators to crutches and IV poles. It can now take up to five months to get some types of exam tables, for instance, compared to three to six weeks before the pandemic, according to CME Corp, a distributor of medical equipment that handles over 2 million products.
21st Sep 2021 - Reuters

U.S. retail industry seeks 90-day lead time on COVID-19 rules

Two major U.S. retail industry groups on Tuesday asked the Biden administration for at least 90 days before imposing new rules that will require employees at larger firms to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to regular testing. On Sept. 9, the White House said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing an emergency temporary standard that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated, or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative COVID-19 test once a week.
21st Sep 2021 - Reuters

Thai campaign to vaccinate schoolchildren makes progress

Health officials in the Thai capital made headway Tuesday in their effort to vaccinate children against the coronavirus, giving shots of the Pfizer vaccine to students aged 12 to 18 with underlying diseases. Vaccinations for that age bracket were first offered last month through hospitals, but now are arranged by schools. A separate campaign by a medical research institute on Monday began inoculating children aged 10 to 18 with China’s Sinopharm vaccine. On Tuesday, 1,500 students received shots of the Pfizer vaccine, 800 for the first time and 700 as a follow-up to their first shot in August.
21st Sep 2021 - The Associated Press

Colleges struggling with Covid-19 in Republican states where up to 40% students unvaxxed

School leaders in Arizona, Florida, Tennessee and Texas are battling lawmakers Governors are banning colleges from implementing vaccine mandates Meanwhile schools in states like Maryland and NY have high vaccine rates Colleges fear not just for student health but also for their balance sheets
21st Sep 2021 - Daily Mail

Victoria's construction industry has been linked to 403 Covid-19 cases prompting shut down

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has shut down the state's construction industry after it was revealed 403 Covid-19 cases have been linked to the sector. There are now 300,000 tradies out of work for two weeks following the shut down announced late on Monday night with hundreds taking to the streets of Melbourne to protest outside construction union CFMEU's office. The state's health minister Martin Foley said that the hundreds of cases found within the industry have been recorded across 186 construction sites.
21st Sep 2021 - Daily Mail

Covid-19 Australia: ACT boosts funding to mental health services as 16 new Covid cases are recorded

ACT Chief Minister announced extra $14million to boost mental health services Includes support for people with eating disorders, alcohol and drug services The increase in funding will also assist Indigenous and social housing residents Canberra recorded 16 cases with lockdown scheduled to run until October 15
21st Sep 2021 - Daily Mail

Covid-19: Monoclonal antibody treatment to be rolled out to hospital patients with no antibody response

Eligible patients with covid-19 in UK hospitals who have not mounted an antibody response against SARS-CoV-2 will be offered the monoclonal antibody treatment ronapreve from this week, the government has announced. The drug is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies (casirivimab and imdevimab), which work by binding to two different sites on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and neutralising the virus’s ability to infect cells. It was the first neutralising antibody drug specifically designed to treat covid-19 approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (in August 2021). Ronapreve will be administered to patients without antibodies—who must be either aged 50 or over, or aged 12 to 49 and considered to be immunocompromised—through a drip. The government said it had secured enough supply for NHS patients across the four nations and that antibody testing will be used to determine which patients are eligible.
21st Sep 2021 - The BMJ

HSJ Patient Safety Awards 2021: Covid-19 Infection Prevention and Control Award

Northern Care Alliance Group: Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Testing Using LFDs in Emergency Departments to Aid Infection Prevention & Control – Northern Care Alliance at the Vanguard. During the second wave of the pandemic, demand for PCR testing exceeded capacity and adversely affected patient management. At that time (November 2020), UK policy did not support deployment of lateral flow devices for covid. Northern Care Alliance NHS Group introduced LFD for patients needing admission through emergency departments. An LFD (SD Biosensor) was introduced in the ED by pathology. Significant improvement in patient flow and reduction in nosocomial transmissions was a testimony to its clinical utility. The alliance presented at the National Virology Cell meeting and by late December 2020, the government launched its use for all ED admissions.
21st Sep 2021 - Health Service Journal

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Russia Vaccinates Indigenous Yamal Herders Against COVID-19

The Nenets are one of the few Indigenous minorities on the Yamal Peninsula in northwestern Siberia. Their lifestyle is nomadic, following the seasonal migrations of the reindeer they herd. While Covid brought travel to a halt in much of the world, the Nenets of Yamal kept moving. From December to April, the herders deploy their camps and pasture their reindeer in the Nadymski district, a region of some 40,000 square miles at the base of the Yamal Peninsula and centered on the city of Nadym. In mid-April they begin “kaslanie,” a season of nomadism, traveling with their herds some 400 miles up the peninsula and moving camp 30 to 100 times during the year.
20th Sep 2021 - The New York Times

Though lagging behind, Israel’s COVID-19 jab hopes to ‘find its place in market’

Nearly two years after the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Israel may soon finally see its own homegrown vaccine become commercially available. The jab will be a very late newcomer — lagging behind the first wave of COVID vaccines by almost a year — but its backers believe that it will find its rightful place in the global vaccine market, and may even prove in the long run to be more effective than existing jabs against coronavirus variants. These beliefs were offered this month by Dr. Jonathan Javitt, chairman of NRx Pharmaceuticals, the American-Israeli clinical-stage pharmaceutical company tapped two months ago by the Israeli Defense Ministry to manufacture and market the country’s vaccine developed by the government-run Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) in Ness Ziona.
20th Sep 2021 - The Times of Israel

Winter is coming, again: What to expect from Covid-19 in the new season

“We’re experiencing a new virus, a newly emerged pathogen, and we’re trying to fight it with new tools that we don’t have a lot of experience with,” he said. “And we’re dealing with unpredictable human behavior … which is a very important factor as well, and environmental factors that may influence the severity of Covid outbreaks and how well it transmits.” “There’s a lot of moving parts,” said Duchin, who is also an infectious diseases professor at the University of Washington. Among them: the questions of when Covid vaccines will be approved for use in children and what percentage of parents will agree to vaccinate their kids. While the crystal ball may be cloudy, who can resist taking a peek? Let’s talk about some things we might face in the months ahead.
20th Sep 2021 - STAT News

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Africa's Biggest City to Vacinate 30% of Residents in a Year

Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, plans to give Covid-19 shots to 30% of residents within a year, the state’s governor said in an emailed statement. To be able to do so “the world must ensure that vaccines were available to all, especially poorer countries that had struggled with supply,” Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who governs Africa’s biggest city said. Lagos has only been been able to vaccinate 1.2% of its estimated 24 million residents, which is far below the recommendation set by the World Health Organization, Sanwo-Olu said.
19th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Supply fears lead EU vaccine industry to seek home comforts

European companies playing key supporting roles in COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing are working to move production and supply chains closer to their customers to guard against trade restrictions that have interrupted supplies during the pandemic. Germany's Merck, whose Life Science unit is one of the world's largest makers of bioreactor gear and supplies, told Reuters it is pushing to spread its production network geographically so that fewer shipments have to cross customs borders.
19th Sep 2021 - Reuters

How Europe's hospitals are faring in the face of another pandemic fall

Much of Europe has opened up to international visitors and scaled back Covid-19 restrictions since a wave of cases swept the continent in the spring. Those steps back toward pre-Covid life have been accompanied by a gradual rise in cases and hospitalizations in many nations, with the more transmissible Delta variant dominant in the region. However, vaccination rollouts have kept hospital admissions far below where they were in the first months of 2021. As a result, Europe presents a varied picture as governments brace for a potential rise in cases in the autumn and winter months.
18th Sep 2021 - CNN

Coronavirus NI: Students getting vaccinated will help ease disruption to their lives, says health minister as 'jabbathon' continues

In Northern Ireland, students getting vaccinated against Covid-19 will help ease the disruption they have endured since the start of the pandemic, the Health Minister has said, Robin Swann was speaking as details of Jabbathon clinics aimed at rolling out Covid-19 vaccines to as many young adults as possible were announced yesterday. Mobile walk-in clinics will continue at 30 campuses across Northern Ireland’s universities and further education colleges next week.
17th Sep 2021 - Belfast Telegraph

Singapore optimistic as severe COVID-19 cases remain low

Singapore, which has one of the world's highest COVID-19 vaccination rates, is seeing encouraging signs that the number of severe cases is not rising at the same pace as new infections, a senior health official said on Friday. The country reported 910 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the most in 15 months, with average new daily infections rising from 146 two weeks ago to 682 in the past week. But the number of people in serious condition remains low, however, with 12 in intensive care units (ICU), from a total of 837 people hospitalised with COVID-19 in Singapore as of Thursday, the health ministry said.
17th Sep 2021 - Reuters

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COVID-19: Army could be called in to help Scottish ambulance service, amid reports man died after a 40-hour wait

The military could be called in to help Scotland's ambulance service which is facing "acute pressure", Nicola Sturgeon has announced. Scotland's first minister apologised "unreservedly" for long waiting times and confirmed that targeted military assistance to help deal with "short-term pressure points" is under consideration. The announcement came as Ms Sturgeon was questioned about the death of Gerald Brown, a 65-year-old from Glasgow, who reportedly died after waiting 40 hours for an ambulance.
16th Sep 2021 - Sky News

Alaska, Idaho using crisis standards of care over COVID-19

Alaska now joins Idaho in establishing crisis standards of care as its largest hospital is now prioritizing treatment to patients most likely to survive COVID-19 infections. "While we are doing our utmost, we are no longer able to provide the standard of care to each and every patient who needs our help," Kristen Solana Walkinshaw, MD, chief of staff at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, wrote in a letter addressed to Alaskans and published yesterday. "We have been forced within our hospital to implement crisis standards of care," Walkinshaw said. "We have been required to develop and enact policies and procedure to ration medical care and treatments, including dialysis and specialized ventilatory support.”
15th Sep 2021 - CIDRAP

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Montana's Largest Hospital Nears 'Crisis Standards of Care' Rationing Over Covid

Montana’s largest hospital is considering crisis standards of care procedures that grant authority to decide who receives life-saving treatment, the Billings Gazette reported Wednesday. Intensive care unit capacity at Billings Clinic is at 150% as Covid-19 rages, the newspaper said. “If it comes to a point where we have to make those incredibly [difficult] life or death situations, we will have an objective team that will be available to provide council and make those decisions,” said Laurie Smith, chief nursing officer.
15th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Covid-19: Close-contact pupils 'should not be sent home from school'

In Northern Ireland, schools should not send pupils home as close contacts or ask them to self-isolate, according to guidance to principals from the Department of Education (DE). It said schools should not identify close contacts unless asked to do so by the Public Health Agency (PHA). The PHA took over responsibility for contact tracing in schools on Friday. The move brings Northern Ireland into line with the approach taken in England, Scotland and Wales.
15th Sep 2021 - BBC News

Unvaccinated French health care workers face suspension

Health care workers in France face suspension from their jobs starting Wednesday if they haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19. With as many as 300,000 workers still not vaccinated, some hospitals fear staff shortages will add to their strain. Vaccines are now compulsory for medical care, home care and emergency workers in France, and Wednesday is the deadline for such staff to have had at least one shot. Failing that, they face having pay suspended or not being able to work. But a top court has forbidden staff to be fired outright.
15th Sep 2021 - The Associated Press

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Schools will need vaccine mandates for in-person classes to last, expert says

As kids return for a new school year and Covid-19 cases rise among younger age groups, vaccine mandates in schools may become the only way forward, a vaccine expert said. "So far, we've not seen a lot of Covid vaccine mandates, even for the teenagers," vaccinologist and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine Dr. Peter Hotez told CNN. "It's gonna have to happen if we're going to get kids through the school year." Cases have risen "exponentially" among children, with the weekly count of 243,373 new cases showing about a 240% increase compared with the week of July 22-29, data from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows.
14th Sep 2021 - CNN

UK recommends COVID-19 booster shots for over 50s

The U.K. said it will offer a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to everyone over age 50 and other vulnerable people after an an expert panel said the boosters were needed to protect against waning immunity this winter. Health Secretary Sajid Javid told lawmakers that the government had accepted the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization and would start offering booster shots next week. The World Health Organization has asked wealthy nations to delay booster shots until every country has vaccinated at least 40% of their populations.
14th Sep 2021 - The Independent

A conversation with Bill Gates on how public health has fared in the midst of the pandemic

The foundation’s 2021 Goalkeepers report, published late Monday, shows an additional 10 million children around the globe didn’t get key childhood vaccines this past year, because of public health service disruptions. Another 31 million people were pushed into extreme poverty by the pandemic. And employment among women is expected to remain 13 million jobs lower around the world this year than it was in 2019.
14th Sep 2021 - CIDRAP

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Family: Man turned away by dozens of COVID-filled hospitals

As hundreds of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients filled Alabama intensive care units, hospital staff in north Alabama contacted 43 hospitals in three states to find a specialty cardiac ICU bed for Ray Martin DeMonia, his family wrote in his obituary. The Cullman man was finally transferred to Meridian, Mississippi, about 170 miles (274 kilometers) away. That is where the 73-year-old antiques dealer died Sept. 1 because of the cardiac event he suffered. Now, his family is making a plea. “In honor of Ray, please get vaccinated if you have not, in an effort to free up resources for non-COVID related emergencies,” his obituary read.
14th Sep 2021 - The Associated Press

Walgreens COVID-19 test registration system left patient data unprotected - Recode

Drugstore chain Walgreens Boots Alliance's COVID-19 test registration system exposed data of potentially millions of people, including their phone numbers and email addresses, Recode reported on Monday.
13th Sep 2021 - Reuters

NY hospital to pause baby deliveries after resignations over Covid-19 vaccine mandate

A hospital in upstate New York is "pausing" deliveries of babies because of the number of maternity unit employee resignations over the state's Covid-19 vaccination requirements, health officials say. Lewis County General Hospital in Lowville, about 60 miles northeast of Syracuse, will stop deliveries after September 24, said Gerald Cayer, chief executive of the Lewis County Health System. "We are unable to safely staff the service after September 24. The number of resignations received leaves us no choice but to pause delivering babies at Lewis County General Hospital. It is my hope that the Department of Health will work with us in support of pausing the service rather than closing the maternity department," Cayer said at a news conference Friday.
13th Sep 2021 - CNN

India worried about complacency over second dose of COVID-19 vaccine - sources

India is worried that growing complacency as COVID-19 infection rates and deaths decline could lead to people skipping their second vaccine shots, leaving communities vulnerable to the coronavirus, said two health experts briefed on the matter. India has administered more than 744 million vaccine doses - with 60% of its 944 million adults getting a first shot and 19% fully vaccinated with the required two shots. India has the most partly immunized people in the world, according to the Our World in Data website, mainly due to a long gap of between 12 and 16 weeks between doses, as prescribed by the government.
13th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19 vaccine clinics open on Northern Ireland campuses

Walk-in clinics have been set up in universities and further education colleges in a bid to get more students vaccinated against Covid-19. The first of 60 clinics will open on Monday as part of the Department of Health's "jabbathon" drive. They will cover 30 campuses and offer first doses to students throughout September. About 72% of 18 to 29-year-olds in Northern Ireland have had at least one Covid vaccine dose. Nearly 88% of adults have received one dose and about 82% have been fully vaccinated.
13th Sep 2021 - BBC News

School starts for 1 million NYC kids amid new vaccine rules

School started Monday for about a million New York City public school students in the nation’s largest experiment of in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic. The first day of school coincided with several milestones in the city’s pandemic recovery that hinge on vaccine mandates. Nearly all of the city’s 300,000 employees were required to be back in their workplaces, in person, Monday as the city ended remote work. Most will either need to be vaccinated, or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing to remain in their jobs.
13th Sep 2021 - The Associated Press

Bangladesh reopens schools after 18-month COVID shutdown

In a report last week, UNICEF warned that prolonged school closures during the COVID crisis accentuated “alarming inequities” for more than 430 million children in South Asia. “School closures in South Asia have forced hundreds of millions of children and their teachers to transition to remote learning in a region with low connectivity and device affordability,” UNICEF’s regional director, George Laryea-Adjei, said in a statement. “As a result, children have suffered enormous setbacks in their learning journey.”
13th Sep 2021 - AlJazeera

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Mine worker tests positive for COVID-19 in South Australia after arriving on flight from Sydney

South Australia has recorded one new local case of COVID-19, in a mine worker who flew in yesterday from Sydney. He arrived on Virgin Australia flight VA406 at 9:20am, and was tested half an hour later. SA Health said the man went straight into quarantine at the Atura Hotel at Adelaide Airport, under the mining company's policy. Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the fact the case was identified so quickly was "a reflection of our system working".
11th Sep 2021 - ABC News

Covid-19 Australia: A huge spike in pregnant women becoming severely ill with the virus

Seven pregnant women with Covid taken to Monash Medical Centre last week Health authorities are alarmed as the virus has caused premature births Dr Ryan Hodges worried over the spike in pregnant women in hospital with Covid Overwhelmingly the women being looked after in the ward are not vaccinated Dr Hodges noted international data showed Pfizer is safe for pregnant women
11th Sep 2021 - Daily Mail

With more doses, Uganda takes vaccination drive to markets

At a taxi stand by a bustling market in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, traders simply cross a road or two, get a shot in the arm and rush back to their work. Until this week, vaccination centers were based mostly in hospitals in this East African country that faced a brutal COVID-19 surge earlier this year. Now, more than a dozen tented sites have been set up in busy areas to make it easier to get inoculated in Kampala as health authorities team up with the Red Cross to administer more than 120,000 doses that will expire at the end of September.
11th Sep 2021 - The Associated Press

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Least Vaccinated States Lead Spike in Children’s Cases, Leaving Some Hospitals Stretched

Just as millions of families around the United States navigate sending their children back to school at an uncertain moment in the pandemic, the number of children admitted to the hospital with Covid-19 has risen to the highest levels reported to date. Nearly 30,000 of them entered hospitals in August. Pediatric hospitalizations, driven by a record rise in coronavirus infections among children, have swelled across the country, overwhelming children’s hospitals and intensive care units in states like Louisiana and Texas.
9th Sep 2021 - New York Times

Covid-19 vaccine: Unvaccinated NHS workers could be barred from treating patients as jabs to be compulsory

Frontline NHS staff could be barred from treating patients and possibly lose their jobs if they refuse to have the Covid-19 vaccine. The government has launched a six-week consultation into proposals to make Covid jabs mandatory for all frontline NHS workers. On a visit to Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, Health Secretary Sajid Javid refused to rule out staff losing their jobs if they refuse the vaccine.
9th Sep 2021 - iNews

Trial of Covid-19 vaccine and flu jab combined to begin in Australia on 640 healthy residents

Vaccine developer Novavax will trial a combined flu and Covid-19 vaccination. The tests in Australia will include 640 healthy adults aged between 50-70. Who have previously been infected or received a Covid jab at least 8 weeks prior. Novavax said that flu and Covid combination vaccines will combat new variants
9th Sep 2021 - Daily Mail

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Bulgaria, EU's least vaccinated nation, faces deadly surge

Standing outside the rundown public hospital in Bulgaria’s northern town of Veliko Tarnovo, the vaccination unit’s chief nurse voices a sad reality about her fellow citizens: “They don’t believe in vaccines.” Bulgaria has one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the 27-nation European Union and is facing a new, rapid surge of infections due to the more infectious delta variant. Despite that, people in this Balkan nation are the most hesitant in the bloc to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Only 20% of adults in Bulgaria, which has a population of 7 million, have so far been fully vaccinated. That puts it last in the EU, which has an average of 69 % fully vaccinated.
8th Sep 2021 - The Associated Press

Idaho moves to start rationing medical care amid surge in covid hospitalizations

For the first time in Idaho’s history, officials in the state on Tuesday moved to start rationing medical care in some overburdened hospitals grappling with a surge in covid-19 patients — a grim reflection of the delta variant’s devastation and a dire warning for other health-care systems pushed to the brink by rising infections. Officials activated Idaho’s “crisis standards of care” for at least 10 hospitals in two public health districts, saying in a statement that a “massive increase in patients with COVID-19 who require hospitalization” had led to a shortage of staff and beds. Idaho has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with less than 40 percent of the population fully vaccinated.
8th Sep 2021 - The Washington Post

Children make up more than a quarter of the weekly US Covid-19 cases, pediatricians' group says

Children now represent more than a quarter -- or 26.8% -- of weekly Covid-19 cases nationwide, according to data released Tuesday from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The update comes as schools across the US have been in session or are getting into full swing. Experts have encouraged adults to get vaccinated to protect young children returning to the classroom. "If we want to protect the children, particularly those who are not yet eligible for vaccination, you want to surround the children with people who are vaccinated -- teachers, school personnel, everyone else," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday.
8th Sep 2021 - CNN

In Parts Of The U.S., Delta Covid-19 Surge Is Forcing Hospitals To Ration ICU Beds

When Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) tweeted on Tuesday, September 7th, that “Real America is done with Covid-19” it raises the question whether the Congressman is even aware that the 7-day average of daily Covid-19 deaths is approaching 1,500 (real Americans, by the way), and approximately 100,000 Covid-19 patients are hospitalized nationwide. The Delta surge of Covid-19 is forcing hospitals in parts of the U.S. to plan for or implement rationing of intensive care unit (ICU) beds. On September 6th, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, said that as hospitals in a number of states fill up with Covid-19 patients, doctors will have to make “tough choices” regarding who will get an ICU bed.
8th Sep 2021 - Forbes

Northern Ireland schools “on verge of collapse under strain of Covid-19” as hundreds of pupils sent home

Northern Ireland schools are “on the verge of collapse under the strain of Covid-19, a leading teaching union has warned. Jacquie White, General Secretary of the Ulster Teachers’ Union, was speaking as the Education Committee meets today to discuss the significant difficulties across schools at the start of the new term. Health chiefs are under pressure to ramp up coronavirus testing capacity as schools across Northern Ireland continue to send hundreds of pupils home. There is also concern at suggestions a faster form of Covid-19 testing could be used to allow self-isolating students to return to school.
8th Sep 2021 - Belfast Live

New Zealand marks downward trend in new COVID-19 cases

New Zealand reported a further fall in locally acquired COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, as the largely coronavirus-free nation looks to eradicate an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant. New Zealand reported 15 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, down from 21 a day earlier, on the first day of an easing of tough restrictions in all regions outside its largest city Auckland.
8th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Moderna turns to biotech startup to ramp up Covid vaccine manufacturing

Moderna will turn to a biotech startup, National Resilience, to manufacture additional doses of its Covid-19 vaccine. Moderna had previously said it would manufacture 800 million to 1 billion doses of its Covid-19 vaccine in 2021, ramping up to 3 billion doses in 2022. A person familiar with the company said the collaboration might result in hundreds of millions more doses. Currently, the vaccine is given as a two-dose series, though Moderna has said at least some patients may need a third dose given many months later. National Resilience will manufacture mRNA to produce the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at its facility in Mississauga, Ontario, for worldwide distribution. The company is headquartered in San Diego and Cambridge, Mass.
8th Sep 2021 - STAT News

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Covid-19: 'Without the vaccine we would have been on our knees'

BBC News NI is given access to Belfast City Hospital's intensive care unit, where a consultant warns the system is "one step from chaos". Seven patients had Covid-19 - six of the men and women in their 20s, 40s and early 60s were unvaccinated. One of them was double-jabbed. "Without the vaccine we would have been on our knees weeks ago," Dr Gardiner said
7th Sep 2021 - BBC News

Queensland records no new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, more vaccinations encouraged

Queensland has recorded zero new cases of COVID-19 as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk stepped up the state government's push to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible. Ms Palaszczuk said 53.33 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had their first dose of the COVID vaccine and 34.75 per cent of eligible Queenslanders are fully vaccinated — both rates below the national average. The Premier said the government would be sending Queenslanders text messages with important vaccine information
7th Sep 2021 - ABC.Net.au

In Vietnam’s COVID epicentre, ‘everyone is struggling to survive’

Home to nine million people, Ho Chi Minh City has been under a total lockdown since August 23, with residents forbidden from leaving their homes even to shop for food. With the restrictions set to last until September 15, newly elected Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has ordered mass testing for the city’s residents and deployed soldiers to enforce the stay at home orders and help with the delivery of food. But despite the strict measures, the number of infections continue to rise in Ho Chi Minh City and more than 200 people are dying every day. On Monday, the city reported more than 7,000 new cases and 233 deaths, rising from a caseload of 5,889 a week ago.
7th Sep 2021 - AlJazeera

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Overwhelmed Morgues Belie U.S. Illusion of a Defanged Pandemic

The fast-spreading delta variant has flooded hospitals across the South. It’s killed more people in Florida and Louisiana than the darkest days of the pandemic winter, and left so many Covid-19 patients gasping for breath that some places face shortages of medical oxygen. This harsh reality, likely fueled by a failure to adequately vaccinate the most vulnerable, has undercut the best efforts of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other Republican leaders to simply move past Covid.
6th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Hundreds of health centres at risk of closure in Afghanistan - WHO

Hundreds of medical facilities in Afghanistan are at risk of imminent closure because the Western donors who finance them are barred from dealing with the new Taliban government, a World Health Organization official said on Monday. Around 90% of 2,300 health facilities across the country might have to close as soon as this week, the UN health agency's regional emergency director, Rick Brennan, told Reuters in an interview.
6th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Covid: School attendance fines 'could be unlawful'

The government is facing mounting legal pressure over its decision to continue fining medically vulnerable families for poor school attendance during the pandemic. The Good Law Project has said that education secretary Gavin Williamson could be "in breach of the law" over the issue.
6th Sep 2021 - TES News

United States eclipses more than 1,500 COVID-19 deaths per day - the highest in six months

The United States eclipsed a 1,500 deaths per day average over the weekend, the first time that mark has been reached in six months. More than 100,000 Americans are hospitalized with the virus as well, and hospitalizations doubled in August when compared to July. Florida currently leads the nation with the most total deaths and deaths per 100,000 residents. Louisiana is struggling to handle its COVID-19 situation in the wake of Hurricane Ida
6th Sep 2021 - Daily Mail

Covid-19: India school closures 'catastrophic' for poor students

The prolonged closure of schools in India has led to "catastrophic consequences" for poor children, according to a recent survey. Only 8% of the children sampled were studying online regularly and 37% were not studying at all, the survey found. Primary and upper-primary schools in India have been closed for 17 month to curb the spread of coronavirus. The survey, supervised by leading economists, spoke to 1,400 children across India in August. Researchers focused on households in relatively deprived villages and slums, where children generally attend government-run schools.
6th Sep 2021 - BBC News

Pfizer COVID vaccines arrive in Australia under UK swap deal

Nearly half a million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in Australia overnight, officials have said, the first batch of a swap deal with Britain that Australia is using to speed up its inoculation programme as it battles a surge in cases that has put more than half its 25 million population in lockdown.
6th Sep 2021 - AlJazeera

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Child Covid-19 Cases Rise in States Where Schools Opened Earliest

The recent spread of the highly contagious Delta variant has thrown back-to-school plans into disarray, temporarily driving tens of thousands of students back to virtual learning or pausing instruction altogether. Since the school year kicked off in late July, at least 1,000 schools across 31 states have closed because of Covid-19, according to Burbio, a Pelham, N.Y., data service that is monitoring school closures at 1,200 districts nationwide, including the 200 largest. The shutdowns are hitting classrooms especially hard in the Deep South, where most schools were among the first to open, a possible warning of what’s to come as the rest of the nation’s students start school this month.
5th Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Maduro says Venezuela to receive first COVAX vaccines this week

Venezuela this week will receive the first coronavirus vaccines obtained via COVAX, President Nicolas Maduro said, following months of stalled attempts to obtain inoculations through the global vaccine program. The South American nation has been inoculating its population with doses acquired directly from China and Russia, following months of delays in making payments to COVAX that Maduro has attributed to U.S. sanctions. "This week, the first vaccines from the COVAX mechanism will arrive," Maduro said in an interview with state television. "We hope the COVAX mechanism accelerates, such that in October they deliver the vaccines for an estimated 6 million Venezuelans."
5th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Nearly 80% of fatalities in deadly August COVID surge among unvaccinated, partially vaccinated Oregonians

Nearly four in five coronavirus deaths in Oregon during the first four weeks of August were among unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals, according to new data released by the Oregon Health Authority. And roughly five in six of the 51,391 known COVID-19 infections during the same period were among people who were unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, according to a state report. The share of so-called breakthrough cases and deaths among fully vaccinated Oregonians remains tiny compared to the 2.4 million Oregonians who were fully vaccinated as of Aug.28, demonstrating the effectiveness of vaccines at preventing severe COVID-19.
5th Sep 2021 - Oregon Live

Hospitalizations for Children Sharply Increase as Delta Surges

Pediatric hospitalizations for Covid-19 have soared over the summer as the highly contagious Delta variant spread across the country, according to two new studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From late June to mid-August, hospitalization rates in the United States for children and teenagers increased nearly fivefold, although they remain slightly below January’s peak, one new study found.
4th Sep 2021 - The New York Times

GP surgeries in England cancel flu jabs amid vaccine shortage

GP surgeries are being forced to cancel appointments for the winter flu jab after the NHS’s biggest provider warned that it could not deliver supplies for up to two weeks due to “unforeseen road freight challenges”. Practices in England have begun contacting patients to postpone their immunisation without being able to rebook them at a later date. The problem emerged on Friday when vaccine maker Seqirus wrote to surgeries alerting them to the possibility of having to rearrange booked appointments. “We would like to inform you that due to unforeseen road freight challenges, there will be a delay to your scheduled delivery by one to two weeks,” the firm said.
4th Sep 2021 - The Guardian

Lilly's COVID-19 antibody combo cleared for nationwide use as feds say it can tackle the dominant delta variant

That didn't take long. Only a few days after Eli Lilly's COVID-19 antibody combo of bamlanivimab and etesevimab made its return to more than 20 states, federal officials are resuming distribution nationwide. In a Thursday alert, officials said Lilly's drug "can be used in all U.S. states, territories, and jurisdictions" based on data about variants circulating nationwide. Since Eli Lilly's combo is expected to be effective against the delta variant—and because that variant is now dominant in the United States—officials are ready to again endorse the drugs.
3rd Sep 2021 - FiercePharma

Doctor says ERs overwhelmed with people overdosing on livestock drug ivermectin to treat COVID-19

Physician Jason McElyea told KFOR patients who took doses of ivermectin meant for a horse are filling up hospitals in eastern and southeastern Oklahoma. “The ERs are so backed up that gunshot victims were having hard times getting to facilities where they can get definitive care and be treated,” McElyea said. Ivermectin has gained popularity as a COVID-19 treatment despite unproven anti-viral benefits
3rd Sep 2021 - The Hill

15 million Covid vaccine doses thrown away in the U.S. since March, new data shows

Pharmacies and state governments in the United States have thrown away at least 15.1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines since March 1, according to government data obtained by NBC News — a far larger number than previously known and still probably an undercount. Four national pharmacy chains reported more than 1 million wasted doses each, according to data released by the CDC. Walgreens reported the most waste of any pharmacy, state or other vaccine provider, with nearly 2.6 million wasted doses. CVS reported 2.3 million wasted doses, while Walmart reported 1.6 million and Rite Aid reported 1.1 million.
1st Sep 2021 - NBC News

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Hawaii Struggles With an Oxygen Shortage

The authorities in Hawaii are struggling to transport tanks of oxygen from the mainland as the state’s hospitals grow increasingly strained by new coronavirus infections. Medical authorities are asking people to postpone elective surgeries and the state’s 223 I.C.U. beds have dwindled to 16 available, said Hilton R. Raethel, the president and chief executive of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii. “The most critical point for Hawaii that we’ve experienced during this entire pandemic is right now,” he said.
2nd Sep 2021 - The New York Times

Norway to Offer Teens Single Covid Shot as Reopening Is Delayed

Norway will offer children down to 12 years of age a single vaccine dose and delay removing remaining restrictions, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in a press conference. Infections in Norway, which has topped Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking for last two months, are currently at a record high after most restrictions were lifted. While hospitalizations are rising, they have been kept in check by the vaccination of more than 70% of adults.
2nd Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Covid-19 Australia: NSW to hit 70 per cent single vaccine dose today

NSW is on track to hit 70 per cent single dose vaccinations on Thursday as Premier Gladys Berejiklian hints about what life will be like once residents are double-jabbed. Current modelling suggests NSW will reach that double vaccination target by October 21, whereby residents will finally be afforded freedoms to visit the pub, restaurants and stadium events. NSW is the first state in Australia to reach the 70 per cent first dose target and will likely be the first to reach the second dose target as well.
2nd Sep 2021 - Daily Mail

South African train brings COVID-19 vaccines closer to people

At Springs train station in South Africa's biggest city Johannesburg, Simphiwe Dyantyi and her partner wait their turn to board. But they are not going anywhere, instead they are getting COVID-19 jabs inside a stationary train. The initiative by South African state logistics firm Transnet is meant to bring vaccines closer to people and save them from travelling long distances as the government ramps up its COVID-19 vaccination drive.
2nd Sep 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: UK will offer third vaccine dose to severely immunosuppressed people

The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that people with severely weakened immune systems should have a third vaccine dose as part of their primary vaccination schedule against covid-19. The third dose of either the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should be offered to people over age 12 who were severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second dose, including those with leukaemia, advanced HIV, or recent organ transplants. For 12-17 year olds the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is preferred. The JCVI is still deciding on the benefits of booster doses for the rest of the population and is awaiting further evidence to inform this decision.
2nd Sep 2021 - The BMJ

Australian doctors warn of risks to hospitals once COVID-19 curbs ease

Australian doctors on Thursday warned the country's hospitals are not ready to cope with the government's reopening plans, even with higher vaccination rates, as some states prepare to move from a virus suppression strategy to living with COVID-19. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said the health system was in danger of being locked into a "permanent cycle of crisis" and has called for new modelling to check if staffing levels in hospitals can withstand an expected surge in cases when lockdown rules ease.
2nd Sep 2021 - Reuters

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Philippines health workers protest neglect as COVID-19 strains hospitals

Scores of healthcare workers protested in the Philippine capital on Wednesday to demand an end to what they called government neglect and unpaid benefits, as pressure builds at hospitals fighting one of Asia's longest-running coronavirus epidemics. Protesters wearing protective medical gear gathered at the Department of Health (DOH) and held placards demanding their risk allowances and hazard pay, and the resignation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque.
1st Sep 2021 - Reuters

Hair cuts and dining in as Thai malls reopen after virus cases ease

Thailand allowed shopping malls in the capital Bangkok to reopen on Wednesday and restaurants to operate at half capacity, after nearly three months of tough restrictions aimed at containing the country's worst coronavirus outbreak. The move comes after infections numbers started falling in the middle of last month and with the government under pressure to ease lockdown measures due to the impact on the economy.
1st Sep 2021 - Reuters

India schools cautiously reopen even as COVID warnings grow

More students in India will be able to step inside a classroom for the first time in nearly 18 months Wednesday, as authorities gave the green light to partially reopen more schools despite apprehension from some parents and signs that infections are picking up again. Schools and colleges in at least six more states are reopening in a gradual manner with health measures in place throughout September. In New Delhi, all staff must be vaccinated and class sizes will be capped at 50% with staggered seating and sanitized desks.
1st Sep 2021 - The Associated Press

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'Threat of Long Covid means this is the most worrying start to a new school year'

Polly Hudson questions the decision to send children back to school without all the safety measures we had in place before as we still wait to see if vaccines for kids will be approved
31st Aug 2021 - The Mirror

Covid-19 Australia: Sydney ICU nurse says the virus is 'ripping families apart'

ICU nurse Michelle Dowd has detailed scenes at Liverpool Hospital Covid ward Covid-19 patients coming into her ward are some of the sickest they've seen Parents who need to be on ventilators in ICU are left separated from their kids ICU nurses have been left to provide emotional support for dying Covid patients Ms Dowd urged the community to get vaccinated to assist frontline workers
31st Aug 2021 - Daily Mail

These 5 states have less than 10% of ICU beds left as Covid-19 overwhelms hospitals

As Covid-19 cases surge across the US, particularly among unvaccinated Americans, hospitals have been pushed to their limits treating the influx of patients -- and five states are nearly out of ICU beds. Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Florida and Arkansas have less than 10% left of their ICU bed capacity, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. In Georgia, the CEO of Northeast Georgia Health Systems said it had 287 Covid patients Monday morning, which is more than the hospital has had since January.
31st Aug 2021 - CNN

Philippines: Nurses threaten mass resignation amid COVID surge

Saying they are overworked and underpaid, health care workers across the Philippines are threatening to walk off the job unless they receive benefits promised by the government. The Philippines is currently experiencing record-high COVID caseloads driven by the highly transmissible delta variant. As hospitals fill up, overworked nurses have staged protests and are threatening mass resignations if government benefits are not paid by September 1.
31st Aug 2021 - Deutsche Welle on MSN.com

Covid outbreak on cruise ship docked in Liverpool

A cruise ship docked in Liverpool was hit by a coronavirus outbreak as staff members were told to self-isolate. Three crew members onboard the Celebrity Silhouette cruise liner had to leave the ship after testing positive for the virus. The cruise liner, which has the capacity to carry 2,902 passengers, arrived in Liverpool on Monday and is making its way over to Southampton, where it's due to arrive on Saturday, September 4.
31st Aug 2021 - Liverpool Echo

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Government says parents responsible for preventing new Covid wave when schools reopen

Parents have a responsibility to help prevent schools from closing when they reopen next week by regularly testing their children for Covid-19, Gavin Williamson has said. “School communities still need to follow Covid precautions, especially regular testing for pupils, families and staff. But it is not just a matter for schools,” the education secretary wrote in an article for the Daily Mail newspaper. “Parents too have a responsibility to make sure that their children are tested regularly.
30th Aug 2021 - The Independent

Ensure children have regular Covid-19 tests as schools return, parents urged

Parents should make sure their children are tested regularly for coronavirus, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said as he warned youngsters not to get “carried away” when schools return. The Government is trying to persuade parents, secondary school pupils and college students to take part in voluntary asymptomatic Covid-19 testing amid concerns that the return to classes in England in September could drive a new wave of infections.
30th Aug 2021 - Belfast Telegraph

Saudi students return to school with masks and checks

Pupils have to keep their distance during the day - the children sit far apart on blue tables. But the return was still something to celebrate, Waleed and his friends said. "At least now we can understand what our teacher is saying. We could barely follow our lessons remotely," said Fahd al-Fares, 13.
30th Aug 2021 - Reuters

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GPs and hospitals to limit blood tests in England due to bottle shortage

GPs have been told to stop performing most blood tests until mid-September, and hospitals to cut their number by 25%, as the NHS grapples with an acute shortage of sample bottles. NHS England has ordered the unprecedented huge cut in blood testing because hospitals and GP surgeries have been hit with a severe and deepening shortage of the vials samples are put into. The problem had already forced hospitals and GPs to start limiting the number of blood tests being carried out on patients.
29th Aug 2021 - The Guardian

Cuba to deploy China's Sinopharm alongside homegrown vaccines

Cuba, which to date had deployed exclusively its homegrown COVID-19 vaccines, will start also using the Sinopharm vaccine of its Communist-run ally China in its bid to battle one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world. Health authorities will apply two doses of Sinopharm combined with a Cuban booster in the central province of Cienfuegos from Sunday, Vicente Verez, the head of the Cuban Finlay Vaccine Institute, was cited as saying
28th Aug 2021 - Reuters

Hospitals in U.S. South Run Low on Oxygen Amid Covid and Storm

Hospitals in the Southeast are running low on oxygen, with the worst-hit left only 12 to 24 hours worth, said Premier Inc., a hospital-supply purchasing group. This comes amid the region’s struggle over the summer with high numbers of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations. Now Hurricane Ida is set to hit the Gulf Coast in the coming days. Premier has notified the White House, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Health and Human Services department about the scarcity of oxygen in the region, said Blair Childs, Premier’s senior vice president of public affairs.
28th Aug 2021 - Bloomberg

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Pandemic windfall for US schools has few strings attached

As the federal government releases historic sums of pandemic aid to the nation’s schools, it’s urging them to dream big, to invest in seismic changes that will benefit students for generations to come. But many districts say they have more urgent problems to tackle first. In Detroit, that means fixing buildings with crumbling ceilings and mold infestations. Like other school systems, Detroit is caught between the Biden administration’s lofty aspirations and bleak realities. The district is using some of the government money to hire tutors, expand mental health services and cut class sizes. But at least half of its $1.3 billion windfall is being set aside to make long-neglected repairs.
26th Aug 2021 - The Associated Press

NHS planning Covid vaccines for children from age 12, reports say

NHS England has been told to prepare to administer Covid vaccinations to all children aged 12 and above, as vaccine advisers continue to consider whether to extend the programme, according to reports. The planned extension to the vaccination programme would coincide with the start of the new school year. NHS trusts have been told to have plans prepared by 4pm on Friday, the Daily Telegraph reported. Children aged 12-15 in the UK are currently offered coronavirus vaccines only if they have certain health conditions or live with vulnerable people, but distribution of the vaccines has already been extended to that age group by countries such as the US, Germany and Israel.
26th Aug 2021 - The Guardian

Among children, older teens are seeing the highest Covid-19 case rates

Coronavirus infections continue to surge among children across the United States, and older teens, ages 16 and 17, are facing the highest rate of weekly cases, according to a new CNN analysis of the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Saturday, these teens appear to have the highest rate of infections among not only children, but all age groups, based on the CDC's count of weekly Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people.
26th Aug 2021 - CNN

With more than 100,000 people in the hospital with Covid-19 in the US, this August is worse than last, expert says

More than 100,000 people are hospitalized with Covid-19 in the US -- the first time that level has been reached since January -- as medical workers say they're once again struggling to treat waves of patients. The latest figure, amid a summer surge in Covid-19 cases driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant, is also more than double what it was on the same day last year, when vaccines were not available as they are now. Hospitals and researchers have been saying the vast majority of this year's hospitalized patients are unvaccinated.
26th Aug 2021 - CNN

Where the Delta Wave Has Driven Up Covid-19 Vaccinations

After weeks of stagnation, the United States vaccination campaign has had a relatively successful month, with vaccine uptake rising from early-summer lows in every state in the country. The upswing in vaccinations has come alongside an extended, and much more pronounced, increase in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the United States over the past two months. Public health officials say that in their communities, residents have been driven to get the vaccine by worries that the more-transmissible Delta variant might make them, or their loved ones, sick.
26th Aug 2021 - The New York Times

WHO: COVID-19 vaccination triples in Africa but still low

COVID-19 vaccinations in Africa tripled over the past week, though protecting even 10% of the continent by the end of September remains “a very daunting task,” the Africa director of the World Health Organization said Thursday. Meanwhile, the continent saw 248,000 new confirmed cases over the past week, with at least 24 countries seeing a surge in infections driven by the delta variant. “This is a preventable tragedy if African countries can get fair access to the vaccines,” Matshidiso Moeti told reporters.
26th Aug 2021 - The Associated Press

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NSW hospitals warning: nurses and staff ‘flat out’ and ‘exhausted’ as Covid numbers soar

The nurses union has rubbished New South Wales health minister Brad Hazzard’s claims that Sydney’s hospitals are coping with the city’s Covid outbreak, warning multiple facilities are under “enormous pressure” and have “very little capacity” in their emergency departments. NSW set a new daily record on Wednesday with 919 local Covid cases. There were 645 Covid patients in hospital, with 113 people in intensive care, but transmission and exposure at multiple hospitals has sidelined significant numbers of health staff due to isolation requirements.
25th Aug 2021 - The Guardian

Kroger plans for 1 million Covid-19 booster shots a week, including in nursing homes

U.S. grocery chain Kroger Co (KR.N) is gearing up to administer 1 million COVID-19 booster shots a week once they are available to the general public, and plans to offer vaccines in nursing homes for those who cannot go to its stores. The U.S. government is planning to make COVID-19 vaccine booster shots widely available from Sept. 20 to Americans if U.S. health regulators give the go-ahead. Only people who are immunocompromised have been eligible for booster shots since early this month.
25th Aug 2021 - Reuters

Vietnam to pay recovered COVID-19 patients to help in hospitals

Vietnam is offering patients who have recovered from the coronavirus a monthly allowance if they agree to stay on at stretched hospitals to help health workers struggling to cope with an influx of infected people. After successfully containing COVID-19 for much of the pandemic, Vietnam is facing its worst outbreak to date driven by the virulent Delta variant, with a surge in cases and deaths ramping up pressure on health authorities
25th Aug 2021 - Reuters

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'Exhausted' Florida doctors gather outside hospital to urge people to get vaccinated

A group of 75 South Florida doctors staged a news conference Monday outside a medical office to urge people to get the COVID-19 vaccine and wear masks as the state battles a wave of new infections and hospitalizations driven by the delta variant. The conference took place before office hours and included leadership and staff from surrounding hospitals, according to U.S. News. “We are exhausted. Our patience and resources are running low and we need your help,” Rupesh Dharia from Palm Beach Internal Medicine told NBC 8. Healthcare workers are reporting high rates of fatigue and burnout, on top of frustration over the lack of vaccinations among patients and the public, according to The Wall Street Journal.
24th Aug 2021 - The Hill

Douglas County reopens testing site as COVID-19 cases surge across North Georgia

With the rise of COVID-19 cases and the spread of the delta variant, some people are having trouble getting a test. In Douglas County, a local practice moved back to a public park to have more space and see more people. Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach was there Tuesday as lines of cars snake through Deer Lick Park with people trying to find a free COVID-19 test. “We’re trying to meet the need and see as many as we can,” said Pamela Willis with Douglas County Family Practice and Pulmonary Medicine. “We’ve had a lot come in with symptoms.”
24th Aug 2021 - WSB Atlanta

Fauci expects uptick after FDA OKs Pfizer shot

Dr. Anthony Fauci says he’s hoping for an uptick in the administration of COVID-19 vaccinations following U.S. government approval of the Pfizer vaccine. The top infectious disease expert in the U.S. says the Food and Drug Administration’s decision Monday should encourage people who cited lack of approval as a reason for not getting vaccinated. The FDA previously had cleared the Pfizer shots for use on an emergency basis. Fauci told NBC’s “Today Show” that FDA approval will mean more “enthusiasm” for vaccine mandates by workplaces, colleges and universities, and the military. He says it will help boost U.S. vaccination rates.
24th Aug 2021 - Associated Press

Lecturers at Georgia university resign over COVID concerns

Two University of North Georgia lecturers have resigned over concerns about teaching in the classroom during the state’s latest COVID-19 surge. “I feel that with COVID surging and us being asked to teach our courses face-to-face with potentially unmasked and unvaccinated students that, in my case, I think they are asking me to choose between my job and the health of myself and my family,” Lorraine Buchbinder told The Times of Gainesville. Buchbinder a colleague — Cornelia Lambert — resigned last week, she said. Both are history lecturers. Masks and vaccinations are “strongly encouraged, but not mandated,” school spokeswoman Sylvia Carson said.
24th Aug 2021 - The Associated Press

Maine has vaccinated 95% of people in their 70s for COVID-19

Maine health officials have reported that 95% of state residents who are in their 70s have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Maine is one of the oldest states in the country, and it also has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 vaccination. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday that 95% of the more than 125,000 people in their 70s in the state have now had their final shots. More than 70% of the state’s eligible population is fully vaccinated. That means they have had one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.
24th Aug 2021 - The Associated Press

Oregon, once a virus success story, struggles with surge

Oregon was once the poster child for limiting the spread of the coronavirus, after its Democratic governor imposed some of the nation’s strictest safety measures, including mask mandates indoors and outdoors, limits on gatherings and an order closing restaurants. But now the state is being hammered by the super-transmissible delta variant, and hospitals are getting stretched to the breaking point. The vast majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.
24th Aug 2021 - Associated Press

Gov. Kemp deploys National Guard to help Georgia hospitals

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Tuesday he would deploy 105 medically trained National Guard personnel to hospitals across the state. In coordination with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Community Health, the Georgia National Guard will deploy to more than a dozen hospitals, including Southeast Georgia Health System in Brunswick, Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah and Phoebe Putney in Albany. “These guardsmen will assist our frontline healthcare workers as they provide quality medical care during the current increase in cases and hospitalizations, and I greatly appreciate General Carden and his team for their willingness to answer the call again in our fight against COVID-19,” Kemp said. “This Georgia National Guard mission is in addition to the 2,800 state-supported staff and 450 new beds brought online I announced last week, at a total state investment of $625 million through December of this year.”
24th Aug 2021 - News4jax.com

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France's COVID-19 hospitalisations highest in 2 months

French health authorities said on Monday the number of people hospitalised for COVID-19 and those treated in intensive care units (ICU) stood at the highest levels in more than two months, as the Delta variant of the disease has put a renewed strain on the health system.
23rd Aug 2021 - Reuters

Israel struggles with COVID surge despite mass vaccinations

Israel was one of the first countries to vaccinate the majority of its population and by March most Israelis were already putting COVID-19 behind them. By June the mandatory mask requirement was completely dropped and the only restrictions that remained concerned the entry and exit from the country. Now the rate of infection has risen to 5.4 percent and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said he will take every action possible to lower the rate and avoid going to a fourth lockdown. Health experts say there are two main reasons the Delta variant hit Israel so hard. For one, Israelis were flouting the mask requirements, which were re-imposed at the end of June. Now police are handing out fines to those who do not wear a face covering.
23rd Aug 2021 - Al Jazeera English

So many people in this Texas town got Covid-19 that the school district shut down and then the city essentially closed

Last week, the school district shut down after only five days of classes because about a quarter of the staff and 16% of the students got infected or were exposed to Covid-19, according to Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District Superintendent Tracy Canter. "In the last week, we've seen more Covid cases for staff and students than we did the entire year, last year, during school," Canter said. For right now the closure is due to last until August 30, depending on the situation. In the meantime, there's no virtual or remote learning, the superintendent told parents in a letter. She also asked everyone to pitch in to slow the spread of the virus.
23rd Aug 2021 - CNN

Bristol Covid-19 vaccine clinic targeted by protesters set to reopen

A Covid vaccination clinic that had to close because of an anti-vaccine protest will reopen later this week. The pop-up clinic inside Cabot Circus Shopping Centre in Bristol was shut when about 60 protesters gathered outside on Sunday afternoon. Avon and Somerset Police said the clinic closed "for the welfare and safety of staff and patients". In a statement, the NHS said it was "disappointed" that vaccinations had to be paused. Some of the protesters addressed shoppers outside the clinic using a megaphone, telling them not to get the vaccine.
23rd Aug 2021 - BBC News

Young patients bedbound with Covid-19 urge unvaccinated teenagers to get the jab

The invitation extends to “at-risk” people aged 12 to 15 ahead of their return to school in September. People aged 18 to 34 now make up more than one in five of those admitted to hospital with the virus, which is four times higher than the peak in winter 2020, the NHS has said. Megan Higgins, 25, and Ella Harwood, 23, were both previously healthy and active but are now suffering with extreme fatigue due to long Covid. Miss Higgins, a special needs tutor from London, said: “It’s now been eight months since I tested positive, and I can’t even walk around the shops without getting exhausted.
23rd Aug 2021 - Wales Online

Now Lebanese Hospitals Near Collapse From Covid-19

Medics scramble to find alternatives to saline solutions after the hospital ran out. The shortages are overwhelming, the medical staff exhausted. And with a new surge in coronavirus cases, Lebanon’s hospitals are at a breaking point. The country's health sector is a casualty of the multiple crises that have plunged Lebanon into a downward spiral — a financial and economic meltdown, compounded by a complete failure of the government, runaway corruption and a pandemic that isn’t going away.
23rd Aug 2021 - Bloomberg

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Louisiana sees 'astronomical' number of new Covid-19 cases, governor says

With the continued spread of the more infectious Delta variant, health and elected officials warned that hospitals across the country are reaching critical levels of Covid-19 patients, especially in areas with lower vaccination rates. Overall hospitalizations are continuing to increase across Alabama as the "pandemic of unvaccinated people continues," state health officer Dr. Scott Harris said on Friday. Alabama hospitals have a negative capacity of ICU beds available, he said, and the state is seeing the highest number of Covid-19 cases among children than at any other time during the pandemic.
22nd Aug 2021 - CNN

Covid-19: Vaccination 'big push' continues in Northern Ireland

The Department of Health is continuing its push to get more people in Northern Ireland vaccinated against Covid-19 with mass vaccination walk-in centres reopening on Sunday. There were some long queues on Saturday on the first day of what has been billed as the Big Jab Weekend. No official figures have yet been released, but the total number of jabs administered was in the thousands. It comes as 11 more deaths with Covid-19 were reported in the past 24 hours. Another 1,485 cases were also reported.
22nd Aug 2021 - BBC News

South Africans form long queues as COVID-19 jabs opened to all adults

South Africans formed queues hundreds of metres long to get their COVID-19 shots on Friday, after the government made vaccinations available to all adults in order to hasten a rollout beset by challenges and delays. South Africa has been battered by three coronavirus waves, infecting at least 2.65 million people, killing 78,000 - by far the continent's worst toll - and pummelling an already struggling economy with lockdowns and travel restrictions.
20th Aug 2021 - Reuters

Child Covid-19 hospitalizations soar, filling pediatric wings, data show

Two weeks ago, only two or three children a day would come into Dr. Nick Hysmith’s hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, with Covid-19, usually ones who were admitted for other reasons, like broken bones. This week, he is seeing as many as 28 children under 18 a day, some of them landing in the intensive care unit.
20th Aug 2021 - NBC News

PM has third COVID-19 shot as Israel extends booster campaign

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett received a third shot of Pfizer/BioNtech's COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, after Israel extended its booster campaign for people over 40 to try to curb the Delta coronavirus variant. New cases in Israel have surged since Delta's emergence and Bennett, 49, has sought to avoid an economically painful national lockdown by ramping up third doses.
20th Aug 2021 - Reuters

English schools told to delay seeking help with small Covid outbreaks

Universities, schools and nurseries in England have been advised to delay seeking help in dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks until a cluster involving as many as 10% of staff, students or children have contracted the virus. A new “contingency framework” issued by the Department for Education (DfE) to all education settings in England – ranging from universities and colleges to after-school tuition and youth clubs – advises that preventive measures such as wearing masks or remote learning should be used only after discussion with public health officers, once a “threshold” of infections has been reached.
20th Aug 2021 - The Guardian

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Texas health officials warn of full ICUs as state grapples with worsening Covid-19 surge

The latest surge in Covid-19 hospitalizations this summer is having a deepening effect in Texas, a state that has seen its leadership rebuke steps such as mandatory mask wearing, yet now faces hospitals stretched to capacity with sick patients. And amid both the crises at health care facilities as well as court battles raging over the legality of safety measures in schools, recent news of Gov. Greg Abbott's positive test for Covid-19 has punctuated messaging from health officials that Texans need to remain vigilant during the pandemic. The state's Department of State Health Services said Texas is in "one of its worst fights" it has faced with Covid-19, and mortuary trailers were requested this month as a preparatory maneuver.
19th Aug 2021 - CNN

Oregon hospitals near breaking point as COVID-19 surges

Just 41 intensive care unit beds were available in Oregon on Wednesday as COVID-19 cases continue to climb and hospitals near capacity in a state that was once viewed as a pandemic success story. Oregon, which earlier had among the lowest cases per capita, is now shattering its COVID-19 hospitalization records day after day. Oregon — like Florida Arkansas and Louisiana — has had more people in the hospital with COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic. As of Wednesday, 850 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in Oregon — surpassing the state’s record, which was set the previous day. Before this month, the hospitalization record was 622 in November, during a winter surge and when vaccines were not yet available
19th Aug 2021 - The Independent

South Africa to open up COVID-19 vaccinations to 18-35 year olds from Friday

South Africa will open up COVID-19 vaccinations to those aged between 18 and 35 years old from Friday, the government said in a statement, as it tries to ramp up its immunisation drive. The country has recorded the most coronavirus infections and deaths on the African continent, but it has so far only fully vaccinated less than 8% of its population of 60 million.
19th Aug 2021 - Reuters

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Covid hospital patient numbers hit five-month high in England

More coronavirus patients are currently in hospital in England than at any other time in the last five months, NHS data shows. On Wednesday, more than 5,500 people with Covid-19 were in hospital – a jump of 9 per cent from last week, according to PA news agency, and the highest level since mid-March. But although hospitalisations have begun to climb in recent days, numbers remain low compared to the peaks of the UK’s first and second waves, when fewer people were fully vaccinated.
18th Aug 2021 - The Independent

French patients in ICUs for COVID-19 above 2000 for first time since June 14

French health authorities reported on Wednesday that the number of patients being treated in intensive care units (ICUs) for COVID-19 has risen above 2,000 for the first time since June 14. That figure has more than doubled in less than a month as the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus is putting a renewed strain on the French hospital system
18th Aug 2021 - Reuters

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South African activists slam J&J for exporting vaccines

Health activists in Africa have slammed Johnson & Johnson for exporting vaccines produced in South Africa to countries in Europe, which have already immunized large numbers of their people and have even donated vaccines to more needy countries. The one-dose J&J vaccines were exported from South Africa, where they had been assembled, despite the pressing need for vaccines across Africa, where less than 3% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people have been fully vaccinated.
17th Aug 2021 - Associated Press

Ontario to offer third COVID-19 vaccine doses to high-risk people

The Canadian province of Ontario will begin offering third COVID-19 vaccine doses to vulnerable people as early as this week, its chief medical officer said on Tuesday. Eligible populations will include transplant patients, along with residents in high-risk settings, including long-term care homes and indigenous elder care lodges.
17th Aug 2021 - Reuters

Cuba struggles to get oxygen to the sick, vaccines to the healthy

Cuba has turned to the military to provide oxygen amid a surge of the coronavirus even as doctors rush to administer locally developed vaccines to the population. The government announced on Sunday that the Caribbean island’s main oxygen plant had broken down in the midst of a Delta variant-driven coronavirus surge that has resulted in record numbers of cases and deaths, swamping some provincial health systems.
17th Aug 2021 - Reuters

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COVID-19 hospitalization rates for adults in their 30s hit record highs amid Delta variant surge

Dr. James Lawler addressed the alarming hospitalization rate among the young 'So this is not only the pandemic of the unvaccinated in the U.S., it's a pandemic of the young now,' he said. He called it a 'myth' that young people don't get very sick from the coronavirus. New COVID-19 hospital admissions for patients in their 30s reached an average of 1,113 per day for the week that ended Wednesday/ That average daily hospitalization rate had jumped 22.6 percent from 908 in the previous seven days. The data shows that thirtysomethings made up 170,852 out of more than 2.5 million new hospital admissions for COVID-19 since August 2020
16th Aug 2021 - Daily Mail

US COVID-19 cases back to pre-vaccination levels

For the first time since February, the United States reported more than 900,000 COVID-19 cases last week—with the country represented 20% of global cases—a sign the pandemic surge caused by the Delta (B1617.2) variant has stalled the progress made by an aggressive vaccine rollout that dampened cases this spring and summer. Cases are on the rise in 46 states, according to USA Today. Hot spots continue in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Oregon, Hawaii, and Mississippi. Oregon reported 11,564 cases in the week ending Friday, the paper said, topping its December pandemic peak by more than 7.2%. The United States reported 38,482 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 382 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker.
16th Aug 2021 - CIDRAP

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Florida Hospitals Are “Stacking Patients In Hallways” As The Delta Variant Surges

The calls came fast, first with a cardiac arrest case, next with multiple patients who were having trouble breathing, and all were suspected to have COVID. Usually, Stew Eubanks, a paramedic in Sumter County, Florida, deals with lots of minor emergencies, but now it’s mainly life-threatening cases. After a nonstop 24 hours, his Wednesday shift ended with another cardiac arrest. “It’s bad right now,” Eubanks, 39, told BuzzFeed News. “We’re stacking patients in the hallways, stacking patients in the waiting room.”
14th Aug 2021 - BuzzFeed News

NHS summer crisis: Hospital suspends all inpatient surgery for three weeks over bed shortages

All routine inpatient surgery at a hospital in Yorkshire is to be suspended from Monday to help the hospital trust cope with overcrowding in A&E caused by a lack of beds. Bosses at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust told staff in an email, shared with The Independent, that they had been forced to make the decision because of the lack of beds for waiting patients, which they said ad been a “critical issue for too long.” Martin Barkley, chief executive of the trust, told staff that he had been forced to act because of serious overcrowding in A&E, which was having an impact on patient care.
14th Aug 2021 - The Independent

COVID-19 resurgence puts Philippine health workers under strain

The Philippines’s already stretched healthcare system is under more strain as the country reports its second-largest daily increase in COVID-19 infections since the pandemic, providing more evidence of how the virulent Delta variant may be spreading. Hundreds of hospitals in the country were again nearing full capacity as of Saturday, with some facilities reporting they had run out of intensive care unit beds for COVID-19 patients, leaving healthcare workers, who are forced to work longer hours, exhausted.
14th Aug 2021 - Al Jazeera English

COVID hits hard in rural Mississippi after big county fair

A community in rural east central Mississippi is overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, two weeks after it hosted the Neshoba County Fair that brought thousands of people who lived in cabins, attended shoulder-to-shoulder outdoor concerts and horseraces and listened to political speeches — including one by Republican Gov.
14th Aug 2021 - Associated Press on MSN.com

Oregon Gov. Brown Deploys National Guard to Hospitals to Help With Covid Surge

Oregon’s governor said Friday she will send up to 1,500 National Guard troops to hospitals around the state to assist healthcare workers who are being pushed to the brink by a surge of COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant. Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said the first group of 500 Guard members will be deployed next Friday to serve as material and equipment runners in the most stricken hospitals and to help with COVID-19 testing, among other things. Troops will be sent to 20 hospitals around Oregon. There are 733 people hospitalized with the virus in Oregon as of Friday, including 185 people in intensive care units — more than 60 people more than just a day before and nearly double what the number was two weeks ago.
14th Aug 2021 - Bloomberg

North Texas runs out of pediatric ICU beds amid Covid surge

"If you’re not vaccinated, you’re playing Russian roulette," Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council's CEO said. "Please get vaccinated. Just about all of the patients in our hospitals are unvaccinated."
13th Aug 2021 - NBC News

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Mississippi braces for 'failure' of hospital system due to covid-19 surge and lack of ICU beds

A surge in coronavirus patients and a shortage of health-care workers and intensive care unit beds have pushed Mississippi’s hospital system to the brink of “failure,” state health officials warned Wednesday, saying drastic federal intervention was needed to help the state grapple with the thousands of new daily infections that have overwhelmed doctors and nurses.
12th Aug 2021 - The Washington Post

More than 50,000 children registered to receive Covid-19 vaccine

More than 50,000 children have been registered to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Health Service Executive (HSE). Registration for 12- to 15-year-olds opened overnight and the first vaccinations of this age group are expected to be administered in the coming days.
12th Aug 2021 - The Irish Times

Kenyan oxygen maker to double production as COVID-19 fuels demand

Kenya’s oxygen production firm Hewatele is doubling production this year to keep up with surging demand from hospitals that are treating critically ill COVID-19 patients, the company said. Demand for the commodity has more than doubled to 880 tonnes from 410 tonnes before the pandemic, the ministry of health said, causing a steep shortage due to lack of installed capacity. The East African nation is confronting a severe fourth wave of COVID-19 infections that is putting pressure on health facilities. “This country doesn’t have capacity to put 2,000 patients under high flow oxygen at the same time. We need to do something urgently,” said Bernard Olayo, founder of the company.
12th Aug 2021 - Reuters

South Korea turns COVID-19 testing booth contactless

A South Korean hospital has upgraded a COVID-19 testing booth to become a mobile contactless clinic that can test people and enable telemedicine for basic treatment.
12th Aug 2021 - Reuters

Ultraviolet and air purifier trials in schools to combat Covid-19 – report

Schools are taking part in trials which involve having air purifiers and ultraviolet light installed indoors to combat Covid-19, according to reports. The trial aims to assess how air purifiers and ultraviolet light mitigate the transmission of coronavirus and other respiratory diseases in schools, the i newspaper said. It also hopes to evaluate how feasible it is to implement the technologies in primary schools, and is expected to yield its first results by the end of the year, the newspaper reported.
11th Aug 2021 - Evening Standard

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COVID-19: 'Vaccine lottery' in Ohio offering millions in cash prizes ensured 82,000 people got coronavirus jab, says economist

A "vaccine lottery" that offered millions of dollars in cash prizes and free university scholarships ensured 82,000 vaccine-hesitant Ohio residents came forward for their first jab, an economist has claimed. The "Vax-A-Million" scheme awarded five prizes of one million dollars, and five young people a full scholarship to any public college or university in Ohio. PhD student Andrew Barber and assistant professor of economics Jeremy West, both from the University of California, published a working paper that claimed to show "in short, the lottery worked".
11th Aug 2021 - Sky News

Senegal's ambulance teams struggle amid a wave of COVID-19

The paramedics get the urgent call at 10:30 p.m.: A 25-year-old woman, eight months pregnant and likely suffering from COVID-19, is now having serious trouble breathing. Yahya Niane grabs two small oxygen cylinders and heads to the ambulance with his team. Upon arrival, they find the young woman's worried father waving an envelope in front of her mouth, a desperate effort to send more air her way. Her situation is dire: Niane says Binta Ba needs to undergo a cesarean section right away if they are to save her and the baby. But first they must find a hospital that can take her.
11th Aug 2021 - The Independent

Older teenagers seriously ill with Covid-19 ‘led to vaccine rollout extension’

The number of 16 and 17-year-olds becoming “seriously ill” with coronavirus informed the extension of the vaccination rollout to that age group, a member of the committee advising on jabs said. Professor Adam Finn, who sits on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and is a professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol, said there had been “a couple” of 17-year-olds in that area who needed intensive care in hospital in recent weeks. He said while most young people will only have the virus in a mild form, the vaccines will be effective at preventing serious cases.
11th Aug 2021 - Wales Online

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Hospitals run low on nurses as they get swamped with COVID

The rapidly escalating surge in COVID-19 infections across the U.S. has caused a shortage of nurses and other front-line staff in virus hot spots that can no longer keep up with the flood of unvaccinated patients and are losing workers to burnout and lucrative out-of-state temporary gigs. Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana all have more people hospitalized with COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic, and nursing staffs are badly strained. In Florida, virus cases have filled so many hospital beds that ambulance services and fire departments are straining to respond to emergencies. Some patients wait inside ambulances for up to an hour before hospitals in St. Petersburg, Florida, can admit them — a process that usually takes about 15 minutes, Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton said.
10th Aug 2021 - The Associated Press

Schools start again in-person despite growing concern about variants

The big fear lingering: a repeat of last year, when many students were forced to learn from home all or part of the time and students were regularly shuttled into quarantine after exposures to the virus. The current surge, driven by the delta variant, has elevated case counts and hospitalizations across the country. There are about twice as many cases today as there were when schools began a year ago, when the country was coming off a case surge.
10th Aug 2021 - The Washington Post

Some children's hospitals in Covid-19 hotspots are especially busy

It was far from a quiet Monday for infectious disease specialist Dr. Adriana Cadilla who had to meet with patients, many of them just out of the hospital after being treated for Covid-19 at Nemours Children's Hospital in Orlando. "Clinics were packed," Cadilla said. Her hospital has seen a significant increase in the number of children with Covid-19. They're also managing an earlier than usual surge in other respiratory illnesses. Kids aren't sicker with Covid-19, necessarily, there are just more of them, Cadilla said. "We know how to treat a lot of these things, including Covid," Cadilla said. "But this is a public health crisis because when you overload the system, we can't do a lot of things well."
10th Aug 2021 - CNN

Pandemic prompts changes in how future teachers are trained

Before last year, a one-credit technology course for students pursuing master’s degrees in education at the University of Washington wasn’t seen as the program’s most relevant. Then COVID-19 hit, schools plunged into remote learning, and suddenly material from that course was being infused into others. “It’s become so relevant, and it’s staying that way,” said Anne Beitlers, who directs Washington’s master’s program for secondary education. “And nobody’s going to question that now.” Changes to standards and curricula happen slowly, but the pandemic is already leaving its fingerprints on the education of future teachers. Many U.S. educator preparation programs are incorporating more about digital tools, online instruction and mental and emotional wellness in their courses to reflect takeaways from the pandemic.
10th Aug 2021 - The Associated Press

China's Sinovac to invest $60 million in vaccine facility in Chile

Chinese pharmaceutical Sinovac Biotech Ltd on Wednesday said it will build a fill-and-finish vaccine plant in Chile with an investment of $60 million, consolidating its presence in the Latin American nation that has used its COVID-19 shot the most. Chile has run one of the world’s fastest vaccination campaigns, so far fully vaccinating more than 60% of its population, including with 19.6 million doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac already delivered.
10th Aug 2021 - Reuters

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Indonesia’s Aceh medics offer COVID lifeline for the isolated

Aceh doctors hope monitoring through WhatsApp can help reduce the risk of people dying from coronavirus when quarantining at home.
10th Aug 2021 - Al Jazeera English

BioNTech says vaccine repeats beat devising new one for now

BioNTech said that repeat shots of its COVID-19 vaccine, of which more than a billion doses have now been supplied worldwide, was a better strategy than tailoring the product it developed with Pfizer to new variants. The German biotech firm said that offering a third dose of its established two-shot vaccine remained the best response to concerns over waning immune protection in the face of the highly contagious Delta variant, as worse strains may emerge.
9th Aug 2021 - Reuters

‘Worrying’ numbers of pregnant women in intensive care with Covid

A record number of pregnant women were admitted to intensive care with Covid last month, data shows, as doctors raised concerns about vaccine hesitancy among expectant mothers and urged them to get jabbed as soon as possible. Figures from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) showed that in England, Wales and Northern Ireland 66 pregnant women ended up in intensive care in July, the highest number since the pandemic began and three times as many as April last year. A total of 46 recently pregnant women were also admitted to critical care. The numbers of expectant mothers in intensive care has risen steadily in recent months, from 17 in March to 22 in June but a spike in admissions occurred last month amid rising Covid cases and a loosening of restrictions.
9th Aug 2021 - The Guardian

Canada loosens travel restrictions for vaccinated US tourists

American tourists who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus are now allowed to enter Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government lifted months-long restrictions on non-essential travel into the country. As of Monday, citizens and permanent residents of the United States who received their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to arrival in Canada will be exempt from quarantine requirements.
9th Aug 2021 - AlJazeera

Covid patients in critical care are decade younger than in previous waves, data shows

Hundreds of critically ill Covid patients have had to be moved between hospitals to relieve pressure on beds in recent months, according to new data which also shows those sick with the virus are a decade younger then in previous waves. The latest assessment of admissions to hospital critical care units showed 176 patients in intensive care had been moved to different hospitals 198 times since the start of May this year. The Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre (ICNARC) has been analysing Covid admissions to NHS ICUs throughout the pandemic and in its latest report, published on Friday, it compared the patients admitted to ICU since May with those admitted since September.
9th Aug 2021 - The Independent

U.S. City With 2.4 Million Population Has Just Six ICU Beds Left

With ICU beds down to a single digit, Austin sounded the alarm Saturday, using its emergency alert system to let residents in the Texas capital city know that the local state of the pandemic is “dire.” The Austin area -- with a population of almost 2.4 million people -- has just six intensive-care unit beds left, state health data show. A total of 313 ventilators are available.
8th Aug 2021 - Bloomberg

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Alabama ICU beds almost full as COVID hospitalizations continue rapid rise

Critical care units in Alabama hospitals are nearing capacity due to increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients, but recent deaths from the virus still remain relatively low. State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said Friday that about 93% of Alabama’s ICU beds are occupied as the more transmissible COVID-19 delta variant continues to spread in the state and vaccination rates remain low. As of Saturday there were 1,968 Alabamians hospitalized from COVID-19, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. A month ago, just 235 people were hospitalized. Most of those patients are unvaccinated, Harris said.
8th Aug 2021 - Alabama Daily News

Some in U.S. Getting COVID-19 Boosters Without FDA Approval

When the delta variant started spreading, Gina Welch decided not to take any chances: She got a third, booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by going to a clinic and telling them it was her first shot. The U.S. government has not approved booster shots against the virus, saying it has yet to see evidence they are necessary. But Welch and an untold number of other Americans have managed to get them by taking advantage of the nation’s vaccine surplus and loose tracking of those who have been fully vaccinated.
7th Aug 2021 - TIME

Covid-19 vaccines now on offer for over 16s in Northern Ireland

The first young people aged 16 and 17 in Northern Ireland have received a vaccination against Covid-19. It is the first part of the UK to give jabs to teenagers in this age group with no underlying health conditions. The move follows a recommendation by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). More than 180 vaccinations were administered to 16 and 17-year-olds at the SSE arena in Belfast on Friday morning.
6th Aug 2021 - BBC News

Mexican factory workers cross Texas border in Covid-19 vaccine outreach effort

Huge outreach effort involving vaccines for Mexicans across the border has seen El Paso become one of America’s most vaccinated cities In a matter of just six minutes, a factory worker from a Mexican border city stepped off a bus in Texas last week, received the Covid-19 vaccine and was heading back home across the international bridge to Mexico. The vaccination took place near El Paso, the west Texas city where the coronavirus was raging so relentlessly nine months ago that jail inmates were being used to load bodies into mobile morgues because funeral homes were overflowing. After a hard pandemic and with concerns over continued infections in Texas and northern Mexico, vaccination efforts are being stepped up. El Paso now has one of the highest vaccination rates among US cities, according to government data – progress which prompted outreach across the border and an international initiative.
6th Aug 2021 - The Guardian

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Covid-19: Huge batches of extra Pfizer doses are sent to NSW and Queensland

Queensland and New South Wales will get thousands of Pfizer doses from next week in a bid to control Covid-19 outbreaks ravaging both states. From Monday NSW will be given an extra 183,690 doses of the in-demand vaccine and Queensland will have an extra 112,320 jabs. The supplies have been not been taken from other states but have been brought forward from September allocations.
5th Aug 2021 - Daily Mail

COVID: In Florida hospitals, ‘there are only so many beds’

Florida hospitals slammed with COVID-19 patients are suspending elective surgeries and putting beds in conference rooms, an auditorium and a cafeteria. In Georgia, medical centers are turning people away for lack of space. And in Louisiana, the sick are left waiting and waiting some more in the emergency room before being airlifted elsewhere. “We are seeing a surge like we’ve not seen before in terms of the patients coming,” Dr. Marc Napp, chief medical officer for Memorial Healthcare System in Hollywood, Florida, said Wednesday. “It’s the sheer number coming in at the same time. There are only so many beds, so many doctors, only so many nurses.”
5th Aug 2021 - The Associated Press

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Status of some UK citizens vaccinated overseas still not recognised by NHS

Ministers have been criticised for their failure to let some people vaccinated overseas have their double-jab status recognised by the NHS, after a promise the system would be changed to enable them to do so by the end of July was not met. In the final week before the Commons broke up for recess, the vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, sought to reassure MPs that the government was working quickly to help those who were inoculated overseas but registered with a GP in the UK. He said on 22 July that “by the end of this month” that would change – and that “UK nationals who have been vaccinated overseas will be able to talk to their GP, go through what vaccine they have had, and have it registered with the NHS that they have been vaccinated”.
4th Aug 2021 - The Guardian

UAE lifts ban on transit flights including from India and Pakistan

The United Arab Emirates will on Thursday lift a ban on transit flights including from India and Pakistan, the National Emergency and Crisis Management Authority (NCEMA) said. India and Pakistan are important markets for Emirates, Etihad Airways and other UAE carriers flydubai and Air Arabia (AIRA.DU). The Gulf state, a major international travel hub, had banned passengers from many South Asian and African states travelling through its airports this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
4th Aug 2021 - Reuters India

COVID in Louisiana shows consequences of Delta variant, low vaccination rate

Low vaccination rates and the more infectious Delta variant are converging to create a new COVID-19 crisis for Louisiana as the United States and the world face the latest stage of the pandemic.
4th Aug 2021 - Reuters

San Francisco says Johnson & Johnson recipients can get extra dose of Covid vaccines

Recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in San Francisco will be allowed to request a 'supplemental' dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. San Francisco officials say decision was made after many residents were requesting to receive additional shots to boost immunity. Currently, the CDC does not recommend a person to mix and match vaccine types or receive additional doses. Johnson & Johnson vaccine is believed to be effective against all strains of COVID-19, including the Indian 'Delta' variant. CDC has said it is tracking instances of people receiving unauthorized COVID-19 vaccine boosters
4th Aug 2021 - Daily Mail

US vaccination rates increase alongside spread of Delta variant

Cases of COVID-19, along with hospitalisations and deaths, remain on the rise in the United States even as the pace of vaccinations has increased, fuelling ongoing concerns about the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. Chemist chain Walgreens said on Wednesday that it has seen a recent jump in inoculations in parts of the country that had previously lagged behind. The number of jabs rose more than 30 percent in states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas, in the past few weeks, said the company, which now has administered more than 29 million COVID-19 jabs since the pandemic began.
4th Aug 2021 - Al Jazeera English on MSN.com