#AceNewsReport – Apr.15: The program is open to American citizens, nationals of U.S. territories, and non-citizens legally admitted to the United States, regardless of income. If you apply, you’ll need to show documents including receipts for your expenses and a death certificate that says the death happened in the United States or its territories and was likely caused by #COVID19.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – Scammers target loved ones of #COVID19 victims: ‘A real government relief program will pay up to $9,000 for funeral expenses that people have paid since January 20, 2020 for loved ones who died of COVID-19. Survivors can apply for benefits by contacting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at 844-684-6333.The number is toll-free and multi-lingual services are available’
The program just began yesterday, but even before it started, FEMA said it had reports of scammers contacting people and “offering” to register them for assistance.
Here’s what you need to know:
FEMA will not contact you until you have called FEMA or have applied for assistance. Anyone who contacts you out of the blue and claims to be a federal employee or from FEMA is a scammer.
The government won’t ask you to pay anything to get this financial help. Anyone who does is a scammer.
The government won’t call, text, email, or contact you on social media and ask for your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.
Don’t give your own or your deceased loved one’s personal or financial information to anyone who contacts you out of the blue. Anyone who does that and asks for that information is a scammer.
FEMA’s Funeral Assistance FAQs have information about the documents you need to apply for funeral expenses. The FAQs also tell you what to do if the death certificate didn’t identify COVID-19 as the likely cause of death, as sometimes happened early in the pandemic.
If you doubt a caller claiming to be from FEMA is telling the truth, hang up and report it to the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362or the National Center for Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. Tell us too, at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
“Every call for a short, uniform lockdown is right,” said spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer. “Also, a common nationwide approach would be important here.”
The differing rules across the country’s 16 states “is not contributing to security and acceptance at the moment,” she added.
Demmer told reporters that Germany was seeing a growing number of intensive care patients.
Germany: a patchwork of COVID-19 regulations
“At the moment, we don’t have a particularly good data basis as far as the numbers of new infections are concerned. But the number of occupied intensive care beds speaks a very clear language. It is increasing very much, very strongly and very much too fast. Intensive care physicians are worried.”
“The health system is under intense pressure,” she said, underlining a 5% increase in intensive care bed occupancy in just 24 hours.
“We need a stable incidence below 100,” she said, referring to Germany’s number of new COVID-19 cases over seven days per 100,000 inhabitants.
The national figure currently lies at 110.1, according to the country’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases.
Demmer told the reporters that the regional patchwork of rules was “not contributing to security and acceptance at the moment.”
Under Germany’s federal system, each state ultimately has the power to decide its own coronavirus rules. Some have failed to impose tougher restrictions despite case numbers that exceed a nationally-agreed “emergency brake,” and even gone ahead with a relaxation of the rules.
NRW Premier Armin Laschet: ‘We need a bridge-lockdown’
Among those calling for a short and tougher lockdown is Armin Laschet, the leader of Merkel’s Christian Democrat party, who said a “bridge lockdown” could be needed to keep cases down until more people have been vaccinated. He has also called for talks between the chancellor and other state premiers, scheduled for next Monday, to be brought forward.
Merkel has previously criticized Laschet — a potential candidate to replace her as chancellor — for resisting tougher measures in the past.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.07: Argentina has approved an extraordinary levy on large personal wealth. The measure is meant to raise some $3.6 billion to fund recovery after the #Covid19#pandemic. Critics say it’s not an option for the stagnant economy:
The so-called “millionaires’ tax” was approved in the Senate late on Friday in a 42 to 26 vote. The measure targets Argentinian citizens with declared personal wealth of over 200 million pesos ($2.5 million). It will apply a progressive tax rate of at least 2 percent on their total fortunes, including assets they may hold outside the country.
The tax was earlier passed by the lower chamber of the Argentine parliament, with 133 votes for it and 115 against.
Proponents say almost 12,000 people qualify to pay the levy, with the 380 richest taxpayers expected to cover over half of the total sum.
The government hopes to raise as much as $3.6 billion, which is to be spent on medical supplies, support of small and medium-sized businesses, social projects, student scholarships and exploration of natural gas
The tax was floated by the leftist government of Alberto Fernandez and his Frente de Todos (Everybody’s Front) coalition and was described as an opportunity for rich individuals to show “solidarity and extraordinary contribution” to the nation. The spending will boost the ailing national economy, they argued.
Argentina went into recession in 2018, which was a major factor in why Fernandez last year managed to unseat his predecessor, Mauricio Macri, in a general election. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused almost 40,000 deaths in Argentina, further aggravated its economic woes.
Critics from Macri’s Juntos por el Cambio (Together for Change) coalition said the move was “anti-investment, confiscatory and discriminatory”, and voiced concern that instead of being a one-time measure it would persist in some form.
#AceHealthReport – Apr.04: Figures show that 23.5% experienced harassment, bullying or abuse during the #Covid19#pandemic: The report added that 3.5% of staff also reported abuse from colleagues:
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – ‘Nearly a quarter of hospital staff in North Yorkshire have been abused by patients in the past 12 months, according to David Watson, from the York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, told a meeting that safety had become a priority in the wake of the Sarah Everard case, the Local Democracy Reporting Services said’
1 day ago
Hospital bosses in York said they were looking at what they can do to improve staff safety both at work and on journeys to and from hospital sites.
“I think it’s an important issue for our staff,” he said.
“We are looking at what we can do to enhance the safety of our staff, both at work and where we have some control on their commute – lighting of pavements between a car park and hospital premises, if there are cycle racks we will look at what can be done to make those safer.”
Nearly a third of employee sickness at the trust is down to mental health, the meeting also heard.
The reports said there had been a “very slight decrease in the number of absences due to mental health in January”, but added: “Although with a recorded absence rate of 28.8 per cent, mental health continues to dominate the primary reason for absences across the trust.
“The trust continues its programme of interventions to support staff mental health and wellbeing.”
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – #COVID19#pandemic has taken an extraordinary toll on the global economy and has strained financial liquidity. Global growth contracted 3.5% in 2020—the worst peace-time recession since the Great Depression—and will likely inflict long-term scars on the global economy
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned of a stark divergence in economic growth prospects for advanced economies versus low-income and developing countries. Overall, the IMF projects that 150 economies will have per-capita incomes below their 2019 levels in 2021.
An allocation of IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) would help build reserve buffers, smooth adjustments, and mitigate the risks of economic stagnation in global growth. Importantly, it could also enhance liquidity for low-income and developing countries to facilitate their much-needed health recovery efforts.
Containing the pandemic across the globe is paramount to a robust economic recovery. To this end, Treasury is working with IMF management and other members toward a $650 billion general allocation of SDRs to IMF member countries. Addressing the long-term global need for reserve assets would help support the global recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. A strong global recovery would also increase demand for U.S. exports of goods and services—creating U.S. jobs and supporting U.S. firms.
An SDR allocation is not a catch-all solution. It is part of a package of broader international efforts to support the global recovery. This package also includes robust support from the IMF, multilateral development banks, and debt relief in some cases—all alongside countries taking necessary reform steps. Bilateral assistance and debt relief under the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative and Common Framework, as well as financial support to the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility, all remain integral to help prevent long-term scarring from the pandemic and worsening global wealth divergence.
As part of our support for an SDR allocation, Treasury is working with the IMF and other member countries to maximize the benefits and limit the possible downsides of an allocation by enhancing transparency, accountability, and equitable burden sharing.
Below are some common questions about the nature and uses of SDRs and the mechanics of an SDR allocation. For more information on SDRs please see the IMF’s Factsheet available here.
Question: Is the Administration trying to bypass Congress in approving an SDR allocation?
Answer: As required by U.S. law, the Administration is consulting Congress on our proposed support for an SDR allocation. Under the Special Drawing Rights Act, Congress has authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to support an SDR allocation without additional legislation where the amount allocated to the United States does not exceed the current U.S. quota in the IMF in the applicable five-year basic period. The proposed SDR allocation is below this level.Based on current global liquidity conditions, Treasury does not support an additional SDR allocation beyond the proposed $650 billion at this time. Treasury would only consider an additional SDR allocation beyond the proposed $650 billion at some point in the future if circumstances justify it at that time.
Question:Does an SDR allocation impose a large financial burden on the United States?
Answer: An allocation itself imposes no direct cost on the United States. Based on a $650 billion allocation, the United States will receive about $113 billion in SDRs. The idea that an SDR allocation imposes a financial burden arises from potential exchanges of SDRs for U.S. dollars. If countries wish to sell their SDRs to the United States in exchange for dollars, Treasury would exchange SDRs for dollars held in the Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF). The U.S. cash position would decline, and federal borrowing requirements would increase. However, the United States would also earn interest on the SDRs we purchased, largely (and perhaps entirely) offsetting any increase in Treasury’s borrowing costs. This is the case with our existing SDR resources, and the same process would occur with a new allocation. The differential between the SDR interest rate and the interest rate on Treasuries varies over time, so at times there is a small cost and at other times a small benefit to Treasury. This potential implicit cost is much lower than the benefits of a strong global recovery.
Question:Will the United States be required to exchange dollars for SDRs with any IMF member on demand?
Answer: Treasury has agreed to voluntarily purchase SDRs up to a certain level from other IMF members to promote an orderly system of exchange rates and to help provide liquidity support to our global partners. The United States retains the right to refuse to purchase SDRs from any country whose policies run counter to U.S. interests. Many large countries, such as most advanced economies and China, already hold excess SDRs and are very unlikely to request to exchange their new SDRs for hard currency.
Even if there is strong demand for dollars after the potential allocation, the United States is not alone in voluntarily agreeing to purchase SDRs. The IMF spreads the transactions across 32 members who have similar voluntary arrangements. We are working with the IMF to further ensure our potential transactions are proportional to others’ commitments.
Question:Is there a need for an SDR allocation to support global reserves?
Answer:In 2016, the IMF estimated the global reserves gap to be $430 billion to $1.4 trillion. This shortfall of international reserves is likely larger now. In addition, many low-income and developing countries remain constrained in their ability to issue debt in international markets, either to replenish reserves or to finance fiscal spending. Providing reserves will help prevent countries from engaging in FX purchases that could weaken their currencies and lead to a further buildup of the U.S. trade and current account deficits.
Question: Is there a need for an SDR allocation given the global economy is recovering?
Answer:After contracting 3.5% in 2020, the IMF projects a partial recovery in economic growth in 2021 of 5.5%. Yet, this recovery faces significant downside risks, is uneven, and will leave global output below the pre-crisis level over the medium term. Moreover, the global recession has strained central bank foreign exchange reserves in many countries. The proposed SDR allocation will help buffer reserves, supporting governments’ efforts to address the health and economic crises. Importantly, an SDR allocation will increase confidence and liquidity needed to promote a global recovery that benefits the American worker and U.S. economic growth.
Low-income and developing countries have been particularly hard hit in this crisis, and we face a critical window to prevent a permanent global divergence between rich and poor countries. The pandemic is expected to reverse the progress made in poverty reduction across the past two decades with close to 90 million people expected to fall below the extreme poverty threshold during 2020-21. Low-income countries have seen their real annual GDP growth decline by about 5% in 2020. The IMF estimates that low-income countries will need to deploy around $200 billion over the next five years just to fight the pandemic and an additional $250 billion to return to the path of catching up with advanced economies. The IMF forecasts the medium-term output losses for low-income countries will be about 6%, compared to 1% for advance economies. The proposed SDR allocation, by providing liquidity and potential fiscal space, could help low-income and developing countries finance vaccines and other COVID-19 related spending.
For more information see the IMF’s blog post on the pandemic’s legacy here.
Question: Is an SDR allocation a cash giveaway?
Answer: SDRs are neither money nor currency, but an international reserve asset. SDRs are allocated by the IMF and only to IMF members and a limited number of international institutions. SDRs cannot be exchanged by private entities, and all transactions involving SDRs must go through the IMF’s SDR Department. To use SDRs, a country must find an IMF member willing to provide a usable currency (generally, dollars, euros, or yen) in exchange for SDRs. The transaction is thus an exchange of assets. The country pays an interest rate to the IMF if their SDR holdings are below its allocation.
Question:Does an SDR allocation only benefit rich countries, as opposed to the countries that need it?
Answer: A $650 billion SDR allocation would provide about $21 billion worth of SDRs in liquidity support to low-income countries and about $212 billion to other emerging market and developing countries (excluding China), complementing existing multilateral efforts to assist countries in need. By comparison, the G20/Paris Club Debt Service Suspension Initiative has delivered about $5 billion in liquidity relief to more than 40 eligible countries as of March 2021. The IMF’s concessional lending provided about $13 billion in emergency financing in 2020.
We are working with our international partners to pursue ways for advanced economies to lend a portion of their SDR allocation to support low-income countries. For instance, during the current crisis, several countries have used part of their existing SDR holdings to expand the IMF’s concessional financing through loans to the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust’s (PRGT). Total new PRGT loan resources mobilized since the start of the crisis amount to about $24 billion, of which about $15 billion is from existing SDRs.
Question:Is theretransparency and accountability in how SDRs are used?
Answer: The IMF already reports the SDR holdings of each of its members on a monthly basis. As part of our support for a new SDR allocation, Treasury is working with our international partners and the IMF on a number of initiatives to improve the transparency of SDR transactions and the effectiveness of how countries use SDRs. For example, the IMF could expand quarterly country-level data on SDR transactions, breaking out the transactions that occurred each quarter by major categories (e.g., IMF operations and exchanges with other SDR holders). Moreover, we are encouraging the IMF to publish an ex-ante guidance note on how countries could use and account for SDRs, consistent with macroeconomic and debt sustainability and good governance. We are also urging the IMF to conduct an ex-post review of the results two years after the allocation to describe the various uses. We are working closely with the IMF and other members to advance these initiatives.
Question: Is an SDR allocation a lifeline for dictators?
Answer: The United States retains the right to refuse to purchase SDRs from any countries that we choose, including those under U.S. sanction regimes, and we are working to coordinate with other countries to do the same. Because all IMF members receive an SDR allocation proportionate to their quota share, some countries whose policies the United States opposes will receive an SDR allocation. However, these countries will not necessarily be able to exchange their SDRs for hard currencies. First, the country’s authorities must be recognized by the IMF membership. Then, the country would need to find a willing country to provide them with hard currency in exchange for their SDRs. We are working to increase transparency around SDR exchanges.
Question: Will an SDR allocation put at risk the dollar’s reserve currency status?
Answer: The dollar currently makes up 57% of global reserves, while SDRs only make up 2%. After the proposed allocation, SDRs as a share of global reserves would only grow to around 7%, while dollars would comprise about 54%, more than three times the next most significant currency. Additionally, restrictions on who can hold and transact SDRs and the IMF’s role in clearing all SDR transactions significantly limits the ability of the SDR to function as a replacement for the dollars’ reserve currency status.
Note that as detailed in the Rescission of the Statement on Bureau Supervisory and Enforcement Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, identified above, the Bureau intends to exercise its supervisory and enforcement authority consistent with the Dodd-Frank Act. As such, the Bureau does not intend to continue to provide the flexibilities afforded entities in the following interagency statements as of April 1, 2021:
#AceHealthReport – Mar.30: The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the government to prioritise people for the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine who are over 16 and living with adults who have weakened immune systems, such as those with blood cancer, HIV or those on immunosuppressive treatment including chemotherapy:
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – New vaccine advice for adults living with adults who are immunosuppressed: ‘JCVI recommends that adults living with adults who are immunosuppressed should be prioritised for the #COVID19 vaccine’
Adults who are immunosuppressed have a weaker immune system, meaning they are less able to fight infections naturally. These individuals are more likely to have poorer outcomes following COVID-19 infection and recent evidence suggests that they may not respond as well to the COVID-19 vaccine as others.
There is growing evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines may reduce the chance of someone who has been vaccinated passing the virus on. Given this emerging evidence, the JCVI advises that those over 16 years of age who live with severely immunosuppressed adults are offered the COVID-19 vaccination alongside priority group 6. This will help limit the spread of the virus to immunosuppressed adults.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair of COVID-19 Immunisation within the JCVI, commented:
The vaccination programme has so far seen high vaccine uptake and very encouraging results on infection rates, hospitalisations and mortality. Yet we know that the vaccine isn’t as effective in those who are immunosuppressed. Our latest advice will help reduce the risk of infection in those who may not be able to fully benefit from being vaccinated themselves.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England, said:
Our surveillance systems and research studies are showing that the COVID-19 vaccines can reduce asymptomatic infection and limit transmission of the virus. By vaccinating those who live with adults who are immunosuppressed, we can further help protect vulnerable people.
Household contacts considered as a priority would be those over 16 who share living accommodation with adults who are immunosuppressed. The JCVI does not currently advise vaccination of household contacts of immunosuppressed children, or household contacts of immunosuppressed adults who are themselves children.
Letter from the Health and Social Care Secretary to the JCVI: 24 March 2021
From:Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 39 Victoria Street London SW1H 0EU
To:Professor Wei Shen Lim Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation Chair COVID-19 Immunisation (Nottingham University Hospitals)
24 March 2021
Dear Professor Lim,
Thank you for your letter on 24 March from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) with your advice about COVID-19 vaccination of adult household contacts of severely immunosuppressed adults.
I note your findings that early data indicate lower protection in vaccinated adults who are immunosuppressed and that those with severe immunosuppression are therefore more likely to suffer poor outcomes following infection and are less likely to benefit from the vaccines offered.
I also note your advice that there is now data indicating the potential for a reduction in transmission in those vaccinated. I welcome your advice that adult household contacts of adults with severe immunosuppression should be offered COVID-19 vaccination alongside priority group 6 on the basis that this would in your view reduce the risk of infection in the immunosuppressed who may not be able to fully benefit from vaccination.
I am asking NHS England and Improvement (NHSE/I) to take this advice forward and prioritise household contacts of the severely immunosuppressed for vaccination as you recommend alongside priority group 6 in phase 1 of the vaccination programme.
My officials have also shared your advice with colleagues leading the COVID-19 vaccines programmes in each of the 4 nations of the UK.
Thank you for your continued advice and support for the vaccination programme and I look forward to receiving further advice and discussions over the coming weeks.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – New study finds strong immune response following #COVID19 vaccination: ‘Study led by Sheffield and Oxford Universities finds that 99% of people have robust immune response against COVID-19 after one dose of Pfizer vaccine’
237 healthcare workers tested for antibody and T cell responses, as part of the largest and most in-depth study on the immune response following COVID-19 vaccination
First findings from DHSC-funded PITCH study shows one dose of the Pfizer vaccine generates robust T cell and antibody responses in 99% of people
Study shows people who have previously had COVID-19 generate stronger T cell and antibody responses following one dose of the Pfizer vaccine
A new study led by Sheffield and Oxford Universities with support from the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium has found that 99% of people generate a robust immune response against COVID-19 after just one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
The Protective Immunity from T cells to COVID-19 in health workers study (PITCH) examined how the immune system responds to COVID-19 after one dose of the Pfizer vaccine among people who have been infected by COVID-19 before and those who have not.
It suggests one dose of the vaccine protects against severe disease, supporting the decision to delay the second dose and provide protection to as many higher-risk groups as possible by providing more first doses. The study showed after 2 doses levels of protection were even stronger, underlining the importance of people coming forward for their second dose.
Between 9 December 2020 and 9 February 2021, researchers from the Universities of Sheffield, Oxford, Liverpool, Newcastle and Birmingham analysed blood samples from 237 healthcare workers to understand their T cell and antibody responses following vaccination from the Pfizer vaccine.
The study also sheds light on the impact of previous infection from COVID-19 on people’s immune response to vaccination. It found people who had previously been infected with COVID-19 showed higher T cell and antibody responses after one dose of the Pfizer vaccine compared with people who had never had COVID-19 before and had one dose of the vaccine.
The researchers discovered that among people who had had COVID-19 in the past, the T cell response expanded after vaccination to recognise more regions of the COVID-19 spike protein – which attacks the immune system and causes severe disease. This means, even in those already infected, vaccination from the Pfizer jab provides better protection and an enhanced immune response to COVID-19 than the immune response from natural infection.
It is not yet known how long T cell and antibody response lasts following infection. The first dose of both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine offer good levels of protection, but to get maximum protection it is vital everyone gets a second dose when invited as 2 doses of the vaccine will provide longer-lasting protection from the virus.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
The PITCH study presents further proof that vaccines provide excellent protection against the virus. Thanks to the incredible efforts of our vaccination programme, over half of all adults in the UK have had the jab, and we remain on track to offer all adults a vaccine by the end of July.
A second vaccine jab is crucial for longer-term protection, regardless of whether you have previously had COVID-19 or not, and I urge everyone to make sure they attend their second appointment – to keep themselves and those around them safe.
Health Minister Lord Bethell said:
These findings from the PITCH study are crucial to increasing our understanding of the immune response to COVID-19 and how the Pfizer vaccine is working to protect people across the UK already.
I urge everyone to come forward to be vaccinated when invited and to take up both doses of the vaccine as both are vital to ensuring long-term protection from COVID-19.
Key findings from the PITCH study
Among individuals who had not had COVID-19 in the past and had received 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, T cell response was as strong as people who had had previous COVID-19 infection and one vaccine dose.
After one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, individuals who had previous COVID-19 infection showed higher antibody and T cell responses compared with people who had not been infected before. Antibody responses were 6.8 times higher and T cell responses 5.9 times higher.
Among individuals who had not had COVID-19 in the past and had received one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, antibody and T cell responses were at a similar or higher level compared to those who had previously been infected but not been vaccinated.
There was a 10-fold greater spike-specific T cell responses following vaccination in people with previous infection compared to those who had no prior infection.
There was no link between age and levels of T cell/antibody response.
An effective vaccine is one that that saves lives and reduces hospitalisations. Both the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines have been shown to be highly effective in reducing COVID-19 infections among older people aged 70 years, according to previously published research carried out by Public Health England. In the over 80s, data suggest that a single dose of either vaccine is more than 80% effective at preventing hospitalisation, around 3 to 4 weeks after the jab.
Further research will continue to deepen our understanding of the immune responses over the longer term and what it means for protection against COVID-19 in the real world.
Even after vaccination everyone must continue to follow the rules – remembering Hands, Face, Space – as it may still be possible to pass the virus on to others after having the jab.
Dr Thushan de Silva, study author from the University of Sheffield, said:
Our study is one of the largest and most comprehensive accounts of the immune response to one dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine comparing previously infected and infection-naive individuals. Our results demonstrate that T cell and antibody responses induced by natural infection are boosted significantly by a single dose of vaccine. While the response to a single dose was lower in infection-naïve individuals, it was still equivalent or better than the immunity in previously infected individuals before it is boosted by vaccination.
Professor Susanna Dunachie, PITCH study lead from the University of Oxford, said:
Our study highlights the importance of studying both aspects of immune protection when trying to understand the underlying mechanisms of the immune response to COVID-19 vaccination. Interestingly, we also found that vaccination improves the breadth of T cell responses generated in previously infected individuals. In immunology, this is a good thing as it means that you are more likely to maintain protection against new mutations of the virus, and further work will assess how long these vaccine responses last. It’s still important that everyone follows NHS guidelines to get 2 doses of the vaccine, even if you think you may have previously had COVID-19.
The PITCH study has been a great opportunity to work collaboratively across 5 university hospitals and with Public Health England to look at T cell responses to SARS-CoV-2 at greater scale and depth than a single research centre can. By building on the national SIREN Study and putting our heads together, we are contributing towards illuminating the role of T cells in protection against COVID-19 from vaccines and previous infection.
Professor Paul Klenerman, PITCH study lead from the University of Oxford, said:
T cells are an important component of immunity to viruses – but typically much harder to measure than antibodies. To set this up at scale across the UK in the midst of a pandemic was a big challenge but the very clear data found by PITCH show just how informative this approach can be.
Of the 237 healthcare workers, 113 had previously been infected with COVID-19 compared to 124 healthcare workers who had not. For those who had not previously had COVID-19, 103 were given one dose of the vaccine and 21 were given 2 doses, with a gap of 23 days between doses. The researchers took blood samples from participants prior to and 28 days after vaccination to measure various aspects of the immune response, including antibodies and T cells.
A range of analyses were used to examine aspects of the T cell response including the magnitude of response and the response to different proteins from SARS-CoV-2. Carrying out these T cell analyses is much more complex than antibody studies and difficult to undertake at scale – but this study is the largest and most in depth in the world to date in this field.
Polack et al. Safety and efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine. New England Journal of Medicine 2020; 383(27): 2603-15.
Hall et al. Do antibody positive healthcare workers have lower SARS-CoV-2 infection rates than antibody negative healthcare workers? Large multi-centre prospective cohort study (the SIREN study), England: June to November 2020. medRxiv 2021: 2021.01.13.21249642.
#AceHealthReport – Mar.28: The new requirement will not apply to truck drivers, cross-border workers, and people who live within 30km of the border.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – ‘Spain introduces test rules for land arrivals from France: ‘Anyone arriving by land from risk areas will have to present a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that was taken within 72 hours prior to their arrival’
The order will take effect three days after its publication in the Official State Gazette and until the government declares the end of the health crisis situation caused by Covid-19,” the Health Ministry said in a statement.
The rate, which is measured over the preceding 14 days, rose yesterday to 138.6 per 100,000 people from 134 on Thursday, the Health Ministry said: It reported 7,586 new cases, bringing Spain’s overall tally to 3.26 million. The death toll rose by 590 to 75,010.
Many French people, weary of their own lockdown, have been flocking over the border to enjoy open bars and restaurants in areas such as Madrid.
But Spain’s coronavirus infection rate has continued to climb steadily over the past week, suggesting a long decline could be in danger of reversing.
The Health Ministry said risk areas were those classified by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The centre’s map shows that includes the whole of France
“Last night saw disgraceful attacks against police officers in Bristol. Our officers should not have to face having bricks, bottles and fireworks being thrown at them by a mob intent on violence and causing damage to property,” Mr Johnson said in a tweet.
“The police and the city have my full support.”
Police in riot gear beat back crowds of protesters with shields and batons.
Bristol has been a centre of protests against a bill that would give police new powers to restrict street protests.
Last Sunday, two police officers were seriously injured and at least two police vehicles set on fire in the city after a peaceful protest turned violent.
Local police said the disorder last night followed a protest involving more than 1,000 people. Large gatherings are currently not allowed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“The majority of people acted peacefully, however there was a minority who showed hostility to officers,” said Bristol police commander Mark Runacres. He added that three of the ten people arrested were also detained in connection to last Sunday’s disorder.
“Officers repeatedly encouraged people to disperse but once the atmosphere changed and people became physical it was necessary to take action.”
Philippine to reimpose stricter curbs in capital after surge in cases
The Philippines will reimpose stricter quarantine measures in the capital Manila and nearby provinces, a senior official said, as the country battles to contain a surge in Covid-19 cases that put a bigger strain on hospitals.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the measures would be in effect from 29 March to 4 April.
The health ministry reported 9,595 new coronavirus cases, marking the second straight day the daily jump in infections remained above 9,000.
The country posted a record rise in three of the past five days.
#AceHealthReport – Mar.27: This new funding will help local authorities continue to support those who are isolating as we begin to cautiously ease restrictions, going towards access to food, help with caring responsibilities and support for people’s wellbeing:
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – Government increases support for those self-isolating: ‘To help people overcome the practical challenges of being asked to self-isolate, government has today (Friday 26 March) announced an extra £12.9 million a month in additional funding to local councils to help them provide people with more support’
Improved support includes a free medicines delivery service backed by an extra £3.2 million per month, new practical support funding and enhancements to Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme
New ONS survey reveals nearly 90% of people are self-isolating when asked to
On top of this, £3.2 million per month has been allocated to a free medicines delivery service for people who are self-isolating and don’t have access to help in collecting their prescription. Community pharmacies and dispensing doctors are already funded to provide a medicines delivery service in instances where shielding advice is in place, and this system is being replicated to cover people who need to self-isolate.
This investment comes on top of increased funding of £20 million per month for local authorities, which covers the cost of discretionary support payments through the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme (TTSP) for people on lower incomes, or facing financial hardship, who cannot work from home.
The TTSP scheme has also recently been expanded to cover parents or guardians who are unable to work because they are caring for a child who is self-isolating. To date, the government has provided more than £176 million of funding to local authorities to meet the costs of the scheme. This will allow local authorities to continue supporting those on low incomes to stay at home and self-isolate when required to do so.
The announcement comes as a new set of statistics published by the Official of National Statistics (ONS) show that 86% of people testing positive for coronavirus are fully complying with self-isolation guidance for their full isolation period.
Data showed 90% of the contacts reached by NHS Test and Trace are fully adhering with the rules, and 97% of NHS COVID-19 app users started to self-isolate within 24 hours of receiving a notification.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
I am delighted that today’s statistics show the vast majority of people in this country are doing the right thing and following the rules to help protect the NHS, and save lives.
The government has increased funding for local authorities by over £30 million a month to give financial and practical support to those who have to self-isolate, helping them to avoid spreading the disease to their communities.
Around one in three have the virus without symptoms, so it is vital those who are asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace do so to turn the table on this terrible virus.
The statistics demonstrate that the majority of respondents also fully understood the self-isolation guidance. Of people who did not fully-comply, the most common breaches were to buy food, collect medicines or to attend medical appointments, which today’s funding will help Local Authorities to address.
Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace, Baroness Harding said:
It’s extremely encouraging to see that 86% of people testing positive for Covid-19 and 90% of contacts are fully complying with the self-isolation guidance, which is imperative to the success of NHS Test and Trace as we are reaching more people than ever before. The increased support is important to offer additional reassurance to people to come forward for testing and keep breaking the chains of transmission.
Local councils have a fundamental role to play in tackling outbreaks and we are supporting them by giving people the tools they need to stay at home.
It is vital that there are strong local, regional and national partnerships to support people to understand and comply with the guidance and regulations in place that protect their health and save lives.
This survey was specifically designed to obtain information on people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and who are at the end of their 10-day self-isolation period.
Estimates presented in this release are based on the 2,552 responses received and are not representative of the population testing positive for COVID-19 on the day of being sampled. Respondents were randomly sampled through the Contact Tracing and Advice Service (CTAS) database, held by NHS Test and Trace. This list was created by NHS Test and Trace to record information about people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their contacts.
The statistics presented are experimental statistics, so care needs to be taken when interpreting them. While the sample was stratified to be regionally representative of the population being sampled, people who did not respond to the survey may have been less adherent than those who did, leading to bias in the results. This has an impact on the level of certainty of this research.
Future waves of the survey will provide statistics that are weighted to be representative of the population testing positive in the month prior to the survey.
Funding unveiled today was set out in the roadmap.
It is a legal duty to self-isolate if you have been instructed to do so by NHS Test and Trace. Any breaches of self-isolation may result in a Fixed Penalty Notice, ranging from £1000 to £10,000.
We are working with England’s 314 local authorities to monitor the effectiveness of the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme – including any impact on groups who may be ineligible for it.
In conjunction with the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme, local authorities can make additional discretionary payments to anyone facing financial hardship. Local authorities are responsible for the criteria used for discretionary payments in their area.
Four million people could be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment, which is a targeted scheme to help people on low incomes who cannot work from home, if they are required to self-isolate when they test positive or are identified as a contact.
To be eligible under the expansion to a parent or guardian, applicants must need to take time off work to care for a child who is self-isolating. They do not need to have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, but they must meet all the other eligibility criteria for a Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment.
If an individual is eligible for either the Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment, they will receive the £500 payment as an up-front lump sum on top of any benefits and Statutory Sick Pay that they are currently eligible for.
When the scheme launched, the government made an initial £50 million available to local authorities to cover the cost of administering the scheme. This included £15 million for discretionary payments to people who fall outside the scope of the main scheme but who will still face hardship if they have to self-isolate. To date, we have released a total of £176 million to local authorities to enable them to continue administering the scheme. This includes £75 million for discretionary payments.
People who are not eligible for a Test and Trace Support Payment may be eligible for other forms of support such as Universal Credit or New Style Employment and Support Allowance.
The Test and Trace Support Payment scheme is for England only. There are equivalent schemes in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and we are working closely with the devolved administrations to share learning and monitor the impact of the financial support that is available.
We need all employers to act responsibly to help their employees work from home wherever possible, and where it isn’t to ensure workplaces are COVID-secure. We are also rolling out rapid-testing helping workers who need to leave home for work during lockdown to continue to do so, while quickly identifying those who may be carrying the virus to stop the spread.
The Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) provides funding to local authorities (LAs) in England to be used for test, trace and contain activity in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus in their area.
This funding, worth over £225 million per month during the National Lockdown, can be used by English local authorities to fund local coronavirus response public health activities, such as additional contact tracing, testing for hard-to-reach groups, non-financial support for those self-isolating and public health communications.
#AceHealthReport – Mar.26: In total, more than 29 million people have now had their first dose of one of the available vaccines, while the number having gone on to receive their second has now passed three million:
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – Another 70 people die as 6,187 test positive for #Covid19 over the last 24 hours, the latest figures from the Department of Health show. This brings the total number of lab-confirmed cases to 4,325,315 with over half U.K.population now had there first jab according to the MetroUK today’
Friday: 26 Mar 2021 4:30 pm
The update comes after the Government insisted it has absolute confidence in UK vaccine supplies, with all adults still on track to receive a first dose by the end of July.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the UK’s vaccine programme will continue to be ‘world-leading’, despite a row with Europe over vaccine exports.
He told Good Morning Britain on Friday: ‘We are confident we have got the supplies that we need both to meet our mid-April target of vaccinating all the over-50s and those people with clinical vulnerabilities, and the bigger target, which is that every adult at least has had their first jab by the end of July.
‘Of course, anyone who has an appointment for a jab, either their first one or second one, there is no need to worry – those appointments will be honoured.’
Meanwhile, the Government has denied reports from France that the UK could struggle to secure second doses due to the row in the EU.
A spokesman said: ‘We’re on track to meet our vaccination targets and everyone will get their second dose within 12 weeks of their first.’
It comes as new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimate around one in 340 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to March 20 – unchanged on the previous week, suggesting a levelling off.
The picture remains broadly similar in Wales and Northern Ireland, with a slight rise in infections in Scotland.
According to the latest Government figures, the reproduction number – the R value – across the UK is between 0.7 and 0.9. This is compared to 0.6 to 0.9 last week.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – Germany to require #COVID19 tests on all flight arrivals everyone entering the country by plane to undergo a test starting on Sunday whereas previously it was, only travelers from high risk areas were required to present a negative test’
#AceHealthReport – Mar.26: The stricter rules were originally supposed to have been enacted on Friday. However, health officials said they would push them back to Sunday to allow passengers and airlines time to prepare. Travelers will have to pay for the tests themselves:
The German Health Ministry announced on Thursday that people flying into Germany will be required to undergo coronavirus testing as of midnight (2300 UTC) on Sunday, March 28: As German tourists flock to ‘pandemic safe’ Mallorca as
News of the changes were first reported by the tabloid newspaper, Bild.
The old rules had required tests only from travelers coming from high-risk areas. Now, travelers coming from popular vacation destinations with lower case numbers, like Mallorca, will need a negative test.
The testing requirements are expected to last until mid-May.
Airlines have said they will lay on hundreds of extra flights to cope with the surge in demand.
The number of virus cases per 100,000 population stands at 113 in Germany.
#AceHealthReport – Mar.25: Pressure is growing on the European Commission and EU member states to reconsider their staunch opposition to measures that could open the possibility of a massive increase in #Covid19 vaccine production worldwide.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – The EU Should Stop Blocking Efforts to Increase Global Vaccine Access: European Lawmakers Join Push for Waiving Intellectual Property Rules for #Covid19 Response: https://t.me/reuters_news_agency/69546 Reuters Wire News, [Mar 24, 2021 at 6:18 PM] UK and EU say looking to create ‘win-win’ situation on COVID-19 vaccines
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and the European Commission said they are discussing how they can work together to create a “win-win” situation on COVID-19 vaccines after the bloc threatened to take tougher measures to curb the export of deliveries of shots: The European Commission has threatened to ban exports to countries like Britain that have higher vaccination rates but do not export shots to the EU. The aim is to safeguard supplies for the bloc’s own citizens as they face a third wave of the pandemic.: Given our interdependencies, we are working on specific steps we can take – in the short-, medium- and long term – to create a win-win situation and expand vaccine supply for all our citizens,” they said in a joint statement: In the end, openness and global cooperation of all countries will be key to finally overcome this pandemic and ensure better preparation for meeting future challenges. We will continue our discussions.”
The proposal would facilitate technology transfers so that Covid-19 medical products, including vaccines, could be produced quickly and affordably by manufacturers around the world, in line with a rights-based approach to the pandemic and growing calls for a “peoples’ vaccine” freely available to all.
As EU heads of state prepare to discuss the bloc’s response to the pandemic later this week, they should heed the calls coming from elected representatives and citizens and reconsider their opposition to the intellectual property waiver. As European lawmakers put it, “we will not defeat the virus until we defeat it everywhere.” And with new strains emerging all the time, we will hardly defeat it anywhere without a mass global vaccine rollout. The pandemic has already had an enormous human and economic cost. European leaders should stop standing in the way of a measure that could accelerate and increase global vaccine production and availability and bring us closer to ending the pandemic.