#AceHealthReport – Dec.24: News of the new super-vaccine comes as the latest COVID variant, Omicron, drives a fresh explosion in cases across the US, just weeks after it was first spotted in a California COVID patient on December 1. It now accounts for 73 per cent of all diagnoses across the country, with the figure as high as 90 per cent in states including New York and New Jersey.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says according to MailOnline News Report: Army to Announce It Has Developed a Single Vaccine That Researchers at the Maryland-based facility expect to officially announce the completion of the vaccine in the coming weeks, Defense One first reported.
On Monday night, the United States confirmed its first Omicron death, a man in his 50s from Houston who was unvaccinated and had previously recovered from COVID before being infected again and dying.
The Army began working on the Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle COVID-19 vaccine (SpFN) in early 2020, with a final release date likely to emerge whenever the Army submits its trial results to the Food and Drug Administration. It also remains unclear whether SpFN will be a single or multiple-shot vaccine.
From the beginning, they worked to create a vaccine that would protect against all existing and potential variants of the viruses.
#AceHealthReport – Dec.01: In a speech via video link at the opening of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Mr Xi said 600 million doses would be donations and 400 million doses would be provided through other means, such as joint production by Chinese companies and relevant African countries.
The Belt and Road Initiative — in which Chinese institutions finance major infrastructure in mainly developing nations — has slowed: Chinese bank financing for infrastructure projects in Africa fell from $US11 billion in 2017 to $US3.3 billion in 2020, according to a report by international law firm Baker McKenzie.
China’s imports from Africa, one of its key sources of crude oil and minerals, will reach $US300 billion in the next three years, Mr Xi said, adding that the two sides would cooperate in areas such as health, digital innovation, trade promotion and green development.
South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, also speaking via video link, thanked China for its support and said African economies should be able to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines.
Travel bans have been imposed worldwide on people travelling from southern Africa after the World Health Organisation last week announced a new COVID-19 variant of concern, dubbed Omicron.
Lower vaccination rates linked to increased risk of variants emerging
For months now, experts have been warning of the risk that dangerous new variants pose for developing countries with lower vaccination rates.
More than a dozen nations across Africa and the Middle East, as well as Australia’s nearby neighbour Papua New Guinea, have vaccinated just 1 or 2 per cent of their populations.
The End COVID For All campaign, backed by leading health and charity groups, has called on the Australian government to prioritise sharing the vaccine to lower income countries to reduce the risk of variants emerging.
“More than 19 low-income countries have such low rates of vaccination, that on current rates they would not vaccinate 70 per cent of their populations until after 2030,” a report published by the group last month stated.
“Without rapid, widespread vaccination to slow mutation there is a significant risk that variants will not respond to existing vaccines or boosters.”
#AceHealthReport – Nov.30: The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) previously advised that those aged over 40 years and those at higher risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) should be offered a booster. This new JCVIadvice means those aged 18 to 39 will also be eligible for a booster when the NHS calls them forward.
The booster will be offered in order of descending age groups, with priority given to the vaccination of older adults and those in a COVID-19 at-risk group. In response to the changing risk posed by the Omicron variant, the booster will now be given no sooner than 3 months after the primary course.
In addition, a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (30 microgram) for young people aged 12 to 15 years is advised no sooner than 12 weeks after the first dose.
The overall intention of the measures advised above is to accelerate the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and raise levels of protection across the population.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair, COVID-19 immunisation, JCVI said:
Having a booster dose of the vaccine will help to increase our level of protection against the Omicron variant. This is an important way for us to reduce the impact of this variant on our lives, especially in the coming months.
If you are eligible for a booster, please take up the offer and keep yourself protected as we head into winter.
Both the Moderna (50 microgram) and Pfizer-BioNTech (30 microgram) vaccines have been shown to substantially increase antibody levels when offered as a booster dose and should be used with equal preference in the COVID-19 booster programme.
Continued efforts will be made to offer COVID-19 vaccination (first, second and booster doses) to adults who have yet to receive any COVID-19 vaccinations.
JCVI will continue to review the programme and consider further evidence to ensure that health benefits are maximised alongside the rapidly evolving data on the Omicron variant.
#AceHealthReport – Nov.30: The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has identified 2 further cases of COVID-19 with mutations consistent with B.1.1.529 in England, in addition to the previous 3 confirmed cases of the SARS-CoV-2 variant known as B.1.1.529 on 27 and 28 November. The total number of confirmed cases in England is now 5.
The individuals that have tested positive are not connected to each other and are not linked to the previously confirmed cases. Both have links to travel to Southern Africa. One case is located in Camden, London, and one case is located in Wandsworth, London. The individuals and their households have been told to self-isolate. UKHSA is carrying out targeted testing at locations where the positive cases were likely to be infectious.
We are continuing our efforts to understand the effect of this variant on transmissibility, severe disease, mortality, antibody response and vaccine efficacy.
Vaccination is critical to help us bolster our defences against this new variant – please get your first, second or booster jab without delay.
The guidance on vaccination is changing to help all of us bolster our defences in the face of this new variant. Everyone should complete a primary course as soon as possible – for most this will be a first and second dose. For some more vulnerable a third dose is available.
Following the change in JCVI advice today, a booster dose for everyone over 18 years is now recommended and will be available at a minimum of 3 months from your last primary course jab. Please take up this offer as soon as you are eligible to protect yourself, your families and your communities.
It is very likely that we will find more cases over the coming days as we are seeing in other countries globally and as we increase case detection through focused contact tracing. That’s why it’s critical that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms isolates and gets a PCR test immediately.
UKHSA is acting to get scientific information available as quickly as possible in order to inform the right balance of interventions to prevent transmission and protect lives. This will include analysing live samples of the new variant in our laboratories to investigate properties such as response to current vaccines.
As viruses mutate often and at random, it is not unusual for small numbers of cases to arise featuring new sets of mutations. Any variants showing evidence of spread are rapidly assessed.
Sunday 28 November 2021
A further case of Omicron variant confirmed
Following the first 2 confirmed cases of the SARS-CoV-2 variant known as B.1.1.529 on 27 November, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has identified one further case of COVID-19 with mutations consistent with B.1.1.529 in the UK.
The individual tested positive after travel to the UK and is linked to travel to Southern Africa. The individual is no longer in the UK, but UKHSA is carrying out targeted testing at locations where the positive case visited when they were likely to have been infectious. While in the UK, the individual was in Westminster, London.
Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of UKHSA, said:
Our advanced sequencing capabilities enable us to find variants and take rapid action to limit onward spread. It is very likely that we will find more cases over the coming days as we are seeing in other countries globally and as we increase case detection through focussed contact tracing.
We are continuing our efforts to understand the effect of this variant on transmissibility, severe disease, mortality, antibody response and vaccine efficacy.
It’s critical that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms isolates and gets a PCR test immediately.
Vaccination is critical to help us bolster our defences against this new variant – please get your first, second or booster jab without delay. Wear a mask in crowded places, including public transport and shops, to ensure we all help break the chains of transmission and slow the spread of this new variant.
UKHSA designated variant B.1.1.529 as a variant under investigation (VUI) on Thursday 25 November. It was designated a variant of concern (VOC) on Saturday 27 November.
The B.1.1.529 variant includes a large number of spike protein mutations as well as mutations in other parts of the viral genome. These are potentially biologically significant mutations which may change the behaviour of the virus with regards to vaccines, treatments and transmissibility.
UKHSA, in partnership with scientific bodies across the globe, is constantly monitoring the status of SARS-CoV-2 variants as they emerge and develop worldwide. We are particularly grateful to health protection specialists and the government of South Africa for early sharing of local information on the omicron variant in an exemplary way to support global health security.
UKHSA is acting to get scientific information available as quickly as possible in order to inform the right balance of interventions to prevent transmission and protect lives. This will include analysing live samples of the new variant in our laboratories to investigate properties such as response to current vaccines.
As viruses mutate often and at random, it is not unusual for small numbers of cases to arise featuring new sets of mutations. Any variants showing evidence of spread are rapidly assessed.
Friday 26 November 2021
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced the emerging SARS-CoV-2 variant known as B.1.1.529 as a variant under investigation (VUI).
The first genomes of this variant were uploaded to the international GISAID database on 22 November. Genomes have now been uploaded from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong but the extent of spread is not yet determined. No cases have been identified in the UK.
B.1.1.529 has a large number of mutations in the gene coding for the spike protein, and also in other parts of the viral genome. These are potentially biologically significant mutations which may change the behaviour of the virus with regards to immune escape, transmissibility or susceptibility to treatments, but this has not been proven. More investigation is required to fully determine the extent of these mutations’ impact.
UKHSA is monitoring the situation closely, in partnership with scientific and public health organisations across the world.
Delta sub-lineage AY.4.2 designated as a variant under investigation by UK Health Security Agency
The Delta variant sub-lineage known as Delta AY.4.2 was designated a variant under investigation (VUI) by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on 20 October 2021 and has been given the official name VUI-21OCT-01.
The designation was made on the basis that this sub-lineage has become increasingly common in the UK in recent months, and there is some early evidence that it may have an increased growth rate in the UK compared to Delta. More evidence is needed to know whether this is due to changes in the virus’ behaviour or to epidemiological conditions.
The genome of VUI-21OCT-01 does not have many mutations compared to Delta. However, a small change may be enough to cause a difference in the virus properties in some circumstances. UKHSA is monitoring this closely.
The original Delta variant remains overwhelmingly dominant in the UK, making up approximately 99.8% of all cases. As of 20 October, there were 15,120 cases of VUI-21OCT-01 confirmed by whole genome sequences in England since it was first detected in July. In the last week, VUI-21OCT-01 accounted for approximately 6% of all Delta cases. Cases have been confirmed through whole genome sequencing in all 9 regions of England.
While evidence is still emerging, so far it does not appear this variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective. As is routine for any new variants under investigation, UKHSA is carrying out laboratory and epidemiological investigations to better understand the properties of this variant.
Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said:
Viruses mutate often and at random, and it is not unexpected that new variants will continue to arise as the pandemic goes on, particularly while the case rate remains high. It is testament to the diligence and scientific expertise of my colleagues at UKHSA, and the genomic sequencing capacity developed through the pandemic, that this new variant has been identified and analysed so quickly. However, it should serve as objective evidence that this pandemic is not over.
The public health advice is the same for all current variants. Get vaccinated and, for those eligible, come forward for your third or booster dose as appropriate as soon as you are called. Continue to exercise caution. Wear a mask in crowded spaces and, when meeting people indoors, open windows and doors to ventilate the room. If you have symptoms take a PCR test and isolate at home until you receive a negative result.
UKHSA continues to examine all available data relating to SARS-CoV-2 variants in the UK and abroad. We constantly assess the genetic diversity within the known variants of concern (VOCs) to inform our ongoing public health response to the pandemic. New sub-lineages within Delta continue to be identified. This is to be expected and UKHSA is monitoring the situation closely.
#AceHealthReport – Nov.29: Pfizer & BioNTech is ready to adapt an existing vaccine from coronavirus to a new strain. The company is waiting for a large amount of laboratory test data no later than two weeks to confirm that the strain requires adjustments to the vaccine production technology.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna develop vaccines against new dangerous #COVID19 strain “OMICRON” PCR test does not detect any of the genes of the new strain: This was reported by CNBC .
The Johnson & Johnson; and AstraZeneca is already conducting research at the sites of the first Omicron outbreaks.
Moderna said Friday that the combination of mutations in the new strain “has a significant potential risk of accelerating the weakening of natural and vaccine-induced immunity.”
The company explained that the only way to somehow protect themselves from the risks of “omicron” while there is a third booster dose of injection. The Moderna study will involve volunteers who have received the third dose of the vaccine.
The new strain has a large number of mutations, some of which are of concern to the WHO. It was first reported by the World Health Organization in South Africa on November 24.
Preliminary data collected by experts indicate an increased risk of re-infection with this option compared to others. The number of cases of this option is increasing in almost all provinces of South Africa.
PCR test does not detect any of the genes of the new strain.
#AceHealthReport – Nov.21: Schallenberg said the lockdown will start Monday and initially last for 10 days. Most stores will close, and cultural events will be canceled: He initially said all students would have to go back into homeschooling. Wolfgang Mueckstein, the country’s health minister, later said that schools would remain open for those who needed to go there but all parents were asked to keep their children at home if possible.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says according to Associated Press News Report: Austria to enter lockdown, that will initially last for 10 days and bring in mandatory vaccinations starting this Monday …..
Starting on Feb. 1, the country will also make vaccinations mandatory, public broadcaster ORF reported.
“We do not want a fifth wave,” Schallenberg said, according to ORF. “Not do we want a sixth or seventh wave.”
In just seven days – more than 2.4 million booster jabs have been given across the UK – the best week in the programme so far
More milestones hit as 80% of over 12s now had two doses
In a record-breaking week, the UK has topped 12 million booster and third jabs given in total across the UK – with hundreds of thousands of people coming forward every day to get the vital protection offered by top-up jabs ahead of the colder months.
A total of 12,164,586 booster jabs have now been given, with 340,943 recorded yesterday in the UK.
According to the latest stats, in the 7 days leading up to November 11, almost 2.5 million new boosters or third doses have been reported in the UK, which is the highest weekly increase so far.
The latest figures come in a week of major milestones, with England reporting a total of 90 million first, second and third doses being administered on Thursday, and 80% of over 12s now having had two doses.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:
Another excellent week of significant milestones for our vaccination programme as 12 million people have now played their part by coming forward for a top-up jab to give not only themselves, but their loved ones vital protection this winter.
We’ve made it easier than ever to get your booster this week by opening up appointments so people can pre-book a month in advance and I continue to urge all those eligible to get your jab as soon as possible.
For everyone who has not yet come forward for a first dose, second dose or booster – this is a national mission and it is not too late. Every jab builds our wall of defence across the country ahead of Christmas.
Following an update to the National Booking Service earlier this week, booking a booster jab has never been easier. Those eligible for a top-up vaccine – people over 50 and those most at risk of COVID-19 – can pre-book their jab five months after their second dose, making it easier and more convenient to boost their protection into winter.
People will still receive their vaccine six months after their second dose, but the change will speed up the vaccination programme by allowing people to receive a jab the day they become eligible, rather than waiting for a convenient appointment.
Vaccines give high levels of protection but immunity reduces over time, particularly for older adults and at-risk groups, so it is vital that vulnerable people come forward to get their COVID-19 booster vaccine to top-up their defences and protect themselves this winter.
The latest evidence from SAGE shows that protection against symptomatic disease falls from 65%, up to three months after the second dose, to 45% six months after the second dose for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and from 90% to 65% for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Protection against hospitalisation falls from 95% to 75% for Oxford/AstraZeneca and 99% to 90% for Pfizer/BioNTech.
Although the vaccine effectiveness against severe disease remains high, a small change can generate a major shift in hospital admissions. For example, a change from 95% to 90% protection against hospitalisation would lead to doubling of admissions in those vaccinated.
The booster programme is designed to top up this waning immunity. Early results from Pfizer show that a booster following a primary schedule of the same vaccine restores protection back up to 95.6% against symptomatic infection.
Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said:
It is wonderful to see the momentum of the phenomenal vaccine programme which is saving lives and reducing pressure on the NHS.
Getting your jab ahead of the winter months could be the most important thing you do as we all look forward to spending more time with our families and friends at Christmas.
I urge all those eligible to come forward to give yourself the vital protection of the life-saving vaccines.
COVID-19 booster vaccines have been delivered or booked in at every older adult care home in England where safe to do so, with almost nine in 10 care homes already visited.
People are also able to book by calling 119 and can get vaccinated at hundreds of walk-in sites across the country without an appointment. Those eligible can use the NHS online walk-in finder to locate the most convenient site.
Dr Emily Lawson, head of the NHS Vaccination Programme, said:
It is fantastic to see we have hit the 12 million mark for the number of booster jabs delivered in the UK, including more than 10 million administered by the NHS across England in under two months and this couldn’t have been done without the hard work of NHS staff and volunteers up and down the country.
As booster bookings continue to boom and with hundreds of thousands of people getting their vital top-up doses every single day, I would urge the millions being invited for their booster in the coming weeks to book in as soon as possible – it will provide you and your loved ones vital protection throughout the winter.
Last month, clinical guidance was updated to enable boosters to be given slightly earlier to those at highest risk, where this makes operational sense to do so. This includes care home residents who may have received their second doses at different times to be vaccinated in the same session, as long as it has been five months since their second dose. It may also help with other vulnerable groups, such as housebound patients, so that they can have their flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time.
Vaccine confidence is high with data from the Office for National Statistics showing nearly all (94%) of those aged 50 to 69 say they would be likely to get their COVID-19 booster if offered, with the figure rising to 98% for those over 70.
Flu is another winter virus that can be serious. To give people the best protection over winter, those eligible for a free flu vaccine should come forward and book an appointment at either their GP practice or their local pharmacy, or take it up when offered by their employer or other healthcare provider.
The government has launched a nationwide advertising campaign, encouraging people eligible to get their booster and flu jabs to protect themselves and their loved ones and help reduce pressures on the NHS. This includes outdoor billboards, broadcast and community radio and TV.
The offer of a first and second COVID-19 vaccine remains open to anyone who is eligible. Vaccines are available free of charge and from thousands of vaccine centres, GP practices and pharmacies. Around 98% of people live within 10 miles of a vaccination centre in England and vaccinations are taking place at sites including mosques, community centres and football stadiums.
There are more than 500 extra vaccination sites now compared to April this year, with 1,697 vaccination centres in operation in April 2021, and over 2,200 vaccination centres in operation now.
Vaccines are also available for those aged 12-15 to offer the best possible protection this winter in schools, as well as more than 200 vaccine centres.
#AceNewsReport – Oct.07: By the second week, students in this small county in the Sierra Nevada foothills started testing positive for the coronavirus as the highly contagious Delta variant pummeled rural California.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says the #COVID19 vaccine and mask fury shakes up California schools according to Los Angeles Times some teachers vowed to quit if vaccines become mandated. Families had pulled children out of sports to avoid weekly coronavirus testing. Outraged and crying parents had flooded school board meetings, disparaging masks as a “dirty piece of cloth” and a face-covering requirement as “a fear-based decision.”
JACKSON, Calif. —
Welcome to your new job, Torie Gibson: This summer,Gibson started as superintendent for the Amador County Unified School District. Just before school started, things looked bright: Coronavirus case numbers were down, California was reopening and masks were coming off. But she soon realized that as the Delta variant emerged, masks, testing and quarantines would once again be required. That meant trouble.
“I was feeling PTSD,” said Gibson, 45, said from her office in Jackson. “Not much rattles me. I can go with the punches, I can be screamed at, I can have complete chaos erupt and am like, ‘We’ve got this.’ … But I said, ‘This is going to be a really rough year.’”
Anti-maskers have emailed her death threats. In late September, police came to one of her schools after a family directed their child to attend class unmasked and refused to leave until authorities were called.
In the second full academic year of the pandemic, such behavior has reared its head on school campuses across the U.S.
Demonstrators opposed to masking and mandatory vaccination for students gather outside the Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters on Sept. 9 as board members voted that children 12 and older in L.A. public schools must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January to enter campus.
Last week, the National School Boards Assn. sent a letter to President Biden asking for federal assistance to prevent violence and investigate threats against public school officials and children.
“America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat,” the letter said.
The organization asked the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Secret Service and its National Threat Assessment Center for help.
After withstanding heated debates over reopening classrooms, schools are now bearing the brunt of public anger as the pandemic continues to drag on with new variants, said Chip Slaven, interim executive director of the National School Boards Assn.
“America, everyone needs to take a step back here and take a deep breath. We all care about our students and our public schools,” Slaven said. He added that threatening outbursts — many of them fueled by conspiracy theories and misinformation — have “become very common, and that’s troubling.”
The school boards group called threats and violence against schools “the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”
In Michigan, a father was ejected from a school board meeting because he gave the Nazi salute and yelled, “Heil Hitler!” after another parent spoke in favor of masks. The father of a boy who was ordered to quarantine came to the child’s Arizona elementary school with two other men carrying zip ties and threatened a principal with citizen’s arrest. At a school board meeting in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis has banned mask mandates in public schools, a protester doused a tray of masks with lighter fluid and set it on fire.
Here in California, members of the extremist Proud Boys have joined anti-mask and anti-vaccine protesters at school board meetings in Placer County.
“The mood is grim,” said Troy Flint, a spokesman for the California School Boards Assn. “School board members in many cases feel unsafe, they feel threatened, or they feel that they have been made the villain in a play where they weren’t able to write the script.”
On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the country’s first statewide mandate requiring all eligible public and private schoolchildren to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorizes full approval of the shots for their age groups. He also announced that school employees — who have had the option to test weekly if they are unvaccinated — would be required to get inoculated once children are required to.
“On one hand, a statewide mandate removes some of the pressure from school boards,” Flint said. “But in areas where there is strong resistance, it could intensify the backlash.”
Last month, the California school boards organization sent a letter to Newsom asking for state intervention. Often, the letter says, school districts contact authorities to restore order to raucous meetings or to enforce mask mandates, but law enforcement declines to do so.
A protest supported by Let Them Breathe, an anti-mask group, outside the Redondo Beach Unified School District building in July.
“In numerous cases, law enforcement officers — in brazen defiance of the law and their professional oath — have explicitly stated they will not enforce safety mandates or restrain those whose actions willfully disrupt a meeting and prevent it from proceeding,” says the letter from Vernon M. Billy, the group’s chief executive.
In San Diego County last month, anti-mask protesters forced their way into a Poway Unified School District board meeting — which had limited in-person attendance and was being livestreamed for the public — and refused to leave. According to the school district, officers with the San Diego Police Department advised board members to adjourn to deescalate the situation. The police department did not respond to requests for comment.
Social media video showed officers standing by as protesters who declared the board members had vacated their seats tried to swear themselves in as the new school board.
Even without the threats, this academic year has been overwhelming for administrators now tasked with coronavirus contact tracing, testing and the complicated logistics of quarantine, said Stuart Packard, president of the Small School Districts’ Assn.
Across the state, he said, many superintendents retired last year, and “it is on the mind of every school administrator near the end of their career right now — ‘How much more can I take?’”
Packard, superintendent of the Buttonwillow Union School District in Kern County, said his school erected a tent to let half the student body sit outside to maintain social distance. Cafeteria workers take pictures during lunch to see who is sitting with whom so they can do contact tracing. And Packard himself gives students rapid coronavirus tests.
When asked how his staff was faring this year, Jon Ray, the superintendent-principal at Weed Union Elementary School in Siskiyou County laughed ruefully.
“I’ve gotta be honest, we’re running full-tilt and it’s stressful,” he said. “I feel like we’re a medical clinic.”
At his rural school — where enrollment shot up nearly 40% because it stayed open for on-campus instruction last year — any adult who enters the campus must provide proof of vaccination or be tested on site, he said. That includes parent volunteers and construction workers repairing buildings that were evacuated this year because of black mold.
The second week of class had to be all-virtual as coronavirus cases peaked in Siskiyou County in August. Last week, a staff member’s mother died from COVID-19. And Ray has had to hire therapists to help children dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts exacerbated by the pandemic.
Torie Gibson just started her job as superintendent of the Amador County Unified School District and has had to deal with coronavirus unrest among parents – in addition to area wildfires.
In Amador County — a conservative county where coronavirus hospitalizations hit a high this summer — Torie Gibson’s husband, Mark, worries for her safety during school board meetings and finds himself monitoring social media for threats. He looks over his shoulder when they’re in public in their new town.
“We live in the community, which we love, but at the same time, it’s, what do we come up against?” said Mark Gibson, a therapist. “I find myself, when we’re out and about, I’m always kind of observing. I’m not really anxious, but I wonder, ‘Is this person going to know who she is?’”
It was on Aug. 11, the first day of class, that a father showed up late to pick up his fourth-grader from Sutter Creek Elementary School, Torie Gibson said. He became irate as his daughter and the principal walked outside wearing masks because he could see inside a teachers’ lounge where teachers were unmasked.
If teachers are vaccinated and there are no students present, they can remove their masks indoors, Gibson said.
“Dad saw that and just flipped his lid,” she said. “The little girl tried to explain to her dad, ‘Dad, it’s fine. I don’t wear it outside; I only wear it indoors. It’s OK.’”
The father left with the girl, then returned to confront the principal. A teacher who figured “it would get volatile” went into the principal’s office, Gibson said, and was punched by the father several times in the head and face. The teacher is still having vision issues in one eye, Gibson said.
The father, Jason Wages, 49, of Sutter Creek, has been charged with multiple misdemeanor counts, including battery on a school employee, according to the Amador County district attorney’s office.
Wages could not be reached for comment.
The story went viral, and the new superintendent spent the rest of that first week juggling media interviews, student coronavirus testing — and moving into her new home.
Then there was the Caldor fire, which started that first weekend of class, forcing evacuations in Amador County and early school closures because of smoke.
Gibson said she’s now worried that teachers and other school staff will quit over the new vaccine mandate. Her district is already short-staffed. Bus routes are canceled when there are not enough drivers, and it can be tough to cover for teachers quarantining after exposure to the virus.
Meanwhile, it’s the children in her countywide district of 4,200 pupils who seem to be behaving best.
“The kids are like, ‘Please just let me go to school. Don’t make me stay home with my parents all day,’” she said. “The adults haven’t always behaved real well.”
Times researcher Scott Wilson contributed to this report.
#AceHealthReport – Oct.05: Researchers determined that the waning immunity had to do with the amount of time since an individual was given the second shot rather than due to the highly infectious delta strain.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – The Pfizer-funded study found that Pfizer’s vaccine was 88 percent effective in the first month after full vaccination but dropped to 47 percent effectiveness at about six months: The vaccine was also found to be highly effective against the delta variant, which was found to be over 90 percent effective in the first months before dropping to 53 percent effectiveness after four months…
“Our results provide support for high effectiveness of [Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine] against hospital admissions up until around 6 months after being fully vaccinated, even in the face of widespread dissemination of the delta variant,” the researchers wrote. “Reduction in vaccine effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 infections over time is probably primarily due to waning immunity with time rather than the delta variant escaping vaccine protection.”
Protection against hospital admission remained high throughout, being 93 percent effective up to six months after administration.
For the study, researchers looked at the electronic records of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC) health care system, looking at all the system’s patients ages 12 and up. Researchers looked at 3.4 million people in the KPSC health care system that they studied from December 2020 to last August.
Researchers determined that individuals fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had an overall 73 percent effective protection against COVID-19 infection and a 90 percent effective protection against COVID-19 related hospitalization.
“Our results reiterate in a real-world US setting that vaccination with [the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine] remains an essential tool for preventing COVID-19, especially COVID-19-associated hospital admissions, caused by all current variants of concern,” they wrote.
The results of these studies reiterate findings from Pfizer and BioNTechthat were released in July. The preprint study found that the vaccine’s effectiveness reached a peak of 96.2 percent within two months after the second dose, with the shot’s effectiveness found at the time to decrease by about 6 percentage points every two months afterwards.
The results of this study come out just weeks after the Food and Drug Administration approved a booster dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for the elderly and those at high risk of infection, with the decision made in light of earlier data that suggested the vaccine efficacy fell after some months.
“We believe boosters have an important role to play in addressing the continued threat of this disease, alongside efforts to increase global access and uptake among the unvaccinated,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said at the time.
#AceNewsReport – Sept.24: Arriving from France at around 7am, all passengers on flight VN18 met requirements as per the seven-day quarantine policy of the Ministry of Health. …..
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says that Vân Đồn Airport welcomes over 300 passengers with ‘vaccine passport’ from France….This is also the last flight in the pilot ‘vaccine passport’ programme to Việt Nam during the #COVID19 pandemic.
Before boarding the plane, passengers had to meet all health requirements, be fully vaccinated, have proof of negative COVID-19 tests (RT-PCR/RT-LAMP methods) 72 hours before departure, and ensure safety measures throughout the flight.
After arriving at the airport in Vân Đồn, they were transported to FLC Hạ Long Hotel in Quảng Ninh for seven-day centralised quarantine.
September has seen flights in this 7-day quarantine programme taking place smoothly and safely, which builds confidence within the community for the near future in which domestic and international travel resumes.
The programme also provides crucial data for review and evaluation before the ‘vaccine passport’ or ‘green card’ are deployed on a larger scale in an aim to balance economic development and the fight against COVID-19, according to Phạm Ngọc Sáu, Director of Vân Đồn International Airport.
With advanced technology, strict procedures against the pandemic, and excellent coordination between departments, Vân Đồn International Airport is the first to receive pilot flights in the seven-day quarantine programme.
A total of 943 Việt Nam nationals have returned home under this programme to date. Passengers arriving in Việt Nam on September 4 and 12 have been able to return to their localities after completing the centralised quarantine in Quảng Ninh. — VNS
#AceHealthReport – Sept.18: “ Breakthrough cases” are where infection has occurred in someone who is fully vaccinated. We define a “breakthrough death” as a death involving coronavirus (COVID-19) that occurred in someone who had received both vaccine doses, and had a first positive PCR test at least 14 days after the second vaccination dose. In total, there were 256 breakthrough deaths between 2 January and 2 July 2021 (Table 2)….
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says this is an ONS report from Jan.02 – July.02: 2021: On Cases of people who have received two doses of vaccine and showed 256 breakthroughdeathsbetween those dates above ….
We used the Public Health Data Asset (PHDA) to investigate the characteristics of breakthrough cases, leveraging information from the General Practice Extraction Service (GPES) data for coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic planning and research and Hospital Episode Statistics (HES). The linked data includes 252 breakthrough deaths and 43,956 total deaths involving COVID-19, 98.4% and 85.7% respectively of all breakthrough and total deaths involving COVID-19 that occurred between 2 January and 2 July 2021.
Table 3 shows some characteristics of these deaths.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures based on death registrations up to 28 July 2021 for deaths that occurred between 2 January and 2 July 2021 (Week 1 – Week 26).
Statistics are calculated using the Public Health Data Asset, a linked dataset of people resident in England who could be linked to the 2011 Census and GP Patient Register.
Deaths were defined using the International Classification of Diseases, tenth revision (ICD-10). Deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) are defined as those with an underlying cause, or any mention of, ICD-10 codes U07.1 (COVID-19 virus identified) or U07.2 (COVID-19, virus not identified). Please note, this differs from the definition used in the majority of mortality outputs (see Glossary).
Age is defined on the date of death.
See Glossary for definitions of health-related variables.
The median age for breakthrough deaths was 84 and 61.1% of the deaths occurred in males, despite there being more elderly women than men, and therefore initially more fully vaccinated women who could experience a breakthrough death. For all other deaths involving COVID-19 occurring between 2 January and 2 July 2021 in the PHDA dataset, the median age was 82 and 52.2% were male.
13.1% of the breakthrough deaths occurred in people who were immunocompromised, compared to 5.4% for other deaths involving COVID-19. Individuals were identified as immunocompromised if they had experienced a hospital episode since 1 January 2019 where the diagnosis or procedure code corresponded to an immunocompromised condition, or who had died and a condition corresponding to being immunocompromised was listed on the death certificate (see Measuring the data).
A greater proportion of breakthrough deaths occurred in those who were clinically extremely vulnerable (76.6%, 193 deaths), than other COVID-19 deaths (74.5%, 32,567 deaths) or non-COVID-19 deaths (69.7%, 128,454 deaths). A similar trend is observed for disability and long-term health problem status, with proportions of deaths among people self-reporting that they are “limited a lot” on the 2011 Census as 31.7%, 27.8% and 24.2% for breakthrough deaths, other deaths involving COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 deaths respectively. However, the characteristics of breakthrough deaths can reflect the characteristics of the population that is more likely to be double vaccinated as well as having an increased risk of a breakthrough death, and numbers are relatively low and should therefore be interpreted with caution.Back to table of contents
Age standardised mortality rates
Age-standardised mortality rates (ASMRs) are used to allow comparisons between populations that may contain different proportions of people of different ages and sex. The 2013 European Standard Population is used to standardise rates. In this bulletin, the ASMRs are calculated for each week. For more information see Section 7: Measuring the data.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines coronaviruses as “a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)”. Between 2001 and 2018, there were 12 deaths in England and Wales due to a coronavirus infection, with a further 13 deaths mentioning the virus as a contributory factor on the death certificate.
COVID-19 refers to the “coronavirus disease 2019” and is a disease that can affect the lungs and airways. It is caused by a type of coronavirus. Further information is available from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The term “significant” refers to statistically significant changes or differences. Significance has been determined using the 95% confidence intervals, where instances of non-overlapping confidence intervals between estimates indicate the difference is unlikely to have arisen from random fluctuation.
95% confidence intervals
A confidence interval is a measure of the uncertainty around a specific estimate. If a confidence interval is 95%, it is expected that the interval will contain the true value on 95 occasions if repeated 100 times. As intervals around estimates widen, the level of uncertainty about where the true value lies increases. The size of the interval around the estimate is strongly related to the number of deaths, prevalence of health states and the size of the underlying population. At a national level, the overall level of error will be small compared with the error associated with a local area or a specific age and sex breakdown. More information is available on our uncertainty pages.
Deaths involving COVID-19
For this analysis we define a death as involving COVID-19 if either of the ICD-10 codes U07.1 (COVID-19, virus identified) or U07.2 (COVID-19, virus not identified) is mentioned on the death certificate. In contrast to the definition used in the weekly deaths release, deaths where the ICD-10 code U09.9 (post-COVID condition, where the acute COVID-19 had ended before the condition immediately causing death occurred) is mentioned on the death certificate and neither of the other two COVID-19 codes are mentioned are not included, as they are likely to be the result of an infection caught a long time previously, and therefore not linked to the vaccination status of the person at date of death. Deaths involving U10.9 (multisystem inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19) where U07.1 or U07.2 are mentioned are also excluded. This is a rare complication affecting children, and there are no such deaths in our dataset for the data released in Deaths involving COVID-19 by vaccination status, England: deaths occurring between 2 January and 2 July 2021.
Limitation by a long-term health problem of disability
Limitation by a long-term health problem or disability is self-reported on the 2011 Census for the question, “Are your day-to-day activities limited because of a health problem or disability which has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months?”. Answers are one of, “Yes, limited a lot”, “Yes, limited a little”, or “No”.
Clinical vulnerability is determined according to the QCOVID risk model for health conditions that result in a higher risk of COVID-19. Health conditions are determined using the General Practice Extraction Service (GPES) and Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data.
A person was identified as immunocompromised if they had a hospital episode recorded in the Hospital Episode Statistics dataset (HES) Admitted Patient Care dataset that started on or after 1 January 2019, with a diagnosis code (ICD-10) or procedure code (OPCD) corresponding to a condition that is associated with either primary or secondary immunosuppression. A person was also flagged as immunocompromised if they died and at least one of these ICD-10 diagnosis codes was mentioned on the death certificate or if they had SNOMED codes recorded in the General Practice Extraction Service dataset corresponding to a prescription of immunosuppressants.
The ICD-10 diagnosis codes included are based on the Immunocompromised State Diagnosis codes from the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. These are ICD-10-CM codes, therefore we used only those codes that were up to 4 digits long to correspond to ICD-10 codes.
The OPCS-4 procedure codes are based on the OPCS-4 codes listed in the NHS shielding list published by NHS Digital for the following disease groups: transplant, or cancer undergoing active chemo or radiotherapy.
Full lists of the ICD-10 codes and OPCS-4 codes used are given in the reference tables.
Date infected with COVID-19
The first positive test date of the most recent COVID-19 infection recorded in Test and Trace data is used to determine when a person who died from COVID-19 was infected relative to their vaccination data. The absence of a positive test can be either due to a linkage failure (the person was tested but we could not find them in the Test and Trace dataset) or to infection having occurred either not in England or before mass testing was available.
A COVID-19 infection can have multiple positive test results, and a person may be reinfected at a later period. The first positive test result was taken as the start of the first infection, and subsequent infections were determined as starting on the first positive test date that occurred >90 days after the start of the previous infection. The most recent infection is then defined as the start of the last recorded infection.
NOTE: This data is subject to change or fluctuation
#AceHealthReport – Sept.15: We are committed to getting safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to the UK public. This means ensuring that existing COVID-19 vaccines can continue to be used in the most effective way possible…..
We confirmed on 9 September 2021 that the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca can be used as safe and effective booster doses. This is an important regulatory change as it gives further options for the vaccination deployment programme which has saved tens of thousands of lives.
The regulatory decision followed a careful review of available data on safety and effectiveness of booster or supplementary vaccine doses by the MHRA and the independent Commission on Human Medicines(CHM, which advises the government.
We have also now looked at data for the Moderna vaccine to be used as a booster, and this has also been reviewed by the CHM experts who concluded that the Moderna vaccine can be used as a safe and effective booster dose, including in a half dose, which also gives an effective boost to antibodies.
The CHM took into account data on waning vaccine effectiveness after the second dose, providing important insights into potentially waning immunity.
The data reviewed showed that giving the booster jabs with flu vaccines at the same time is safe and does not affect an individual’s immune response to either vaccine. Therefore COVID-19 booster doses may be given at the same time as flu vaccines.
We have in place a comprehensive safety surveillance strategy for monitoring the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines and this surveillance includes booster jabs.
As with first and second doses, if anyone has a suspected side effect, please report it to us using our Yellow Card scheme.
#AceHealthReport – Sept.13: The UK had about 100 million doses on order, after it increased its request by 40 million in February…..
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says that UK has scrapped the #COVID19 vaccine deal with French firm Valneva the company said in a statement that the UK government served notice over allegations of a breach of the agreement, which it “strenuously denies” as the Valneva’s jab is still being tested in trials although regulators must be satisfied before the rollout of any vaccine, manufacturing at a site in West Lothian, Scotland, had already started……..
In a statement on its website, Valneva said: “Valneva SE, a specialty vaccine company, today announced that it has received a termination notice from the UK Government (HMG) in relation to the Supply Agreement for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, VLA2001: The contract provides HMG with the right to terminate. HMG has alleged that the company is in breach of its obligations under the supply agreement, but the company strenuously denies this.”…….The firm said on Monday that results from its phase three trials were due later this year: It added: “Valneva has worked tirelessly, and to its best efforts, on the collaboration with HMG including investing significant resources and effort to respond to HMG’s requests for variant-derived vaccines.”………The company hopes that, dependent on the results of its continuing trials and sign-off from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, initial approval could still be granted in 2021: Its vaccine is expected to be given as two doses and contains a dead version of coronavirus that cannot cause disease, but should teach the body’s immune system how to fight it: But given that it is not yet approved for use by UK regulators, it will not affect the current rollout of jabs.
Speaking to BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland, Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “We have enough supply even for a booster programme. I want to give absolute confidence to anyone listening that we have the supplies necessary to continue to vaccinate and particularly with a booster programme on the horizon.” …..Mr Yousaf said that while the announcement would be a big set-back for the Livingston plant, he would speak to Valneva to discuss its future.Valneva said on Monday that it would also look to other potential customers to ensure that the vaccines can still be used in the fight against the pandemic.The Scottish Health Secretary added that he was waiting for further information from the UK government over Valneva’s alleged failure to meet the terms of its contract.The Department for Health did not immediately respond to the BBC’s request for comment.
#AceHealthReport – Sept.11: A research team using data from Maccabi Healthcare Services in Tel Aviv found that the rate of infection dropped 48 to 68 percent within a week to 13 days after the third shot of the Pfizer vaccine. In addition, the study found the infection rate dropped even further—70 to 84 percent—two weeks to 20 days after the additional dose, reports Jason Gale of Fortunemagazine.
#CoronavirusNewsDesksays an Israeli Study Finds Third Shot Provides Significant Boost in Covid-19 Immunity: When it comes to #COVID19 vaccinations, it appears the third time is a charm. A new Israeli study finds that people who get a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have a significantly lower risk of infection from the coronavirus, including the more dangerous #Delta variant.
Israeli study finds infection rate drops dramatically with third Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination
Released on MedRxiv before submission to a peer-reviewed journal, the Israeli Ministry of Health study concludes there are short-term health benefits to receiving a third shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“Further studies are needed to determine the duration of protection conferred by the third dose and its effect on severe disease,” conclude the researchers, who include Daniel M. Weinberger, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health.
So far, more than 2 million of Israel’s 9.3 million residents have received the third dose, reports Dov Lieber of the Wall Street Journal. They include 70 percent of Israelis 60 or older and about half who are more than 50 years old.
“If your goal is to provide someone with high levels of short-term immunity, there’s no question that a good way to do this is … through a booster shot,” David Dowdy, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, who was not involved in the research, tells Gretchen Vogel of Science magazine.
He cautions that more research is needed to find out how long the boosters last since this study only covers a short period of time.
Health officials in Israel also want to know more about the booster’s longevity. They say they don’t know yet if more than three doses will be needed to protect people, though they are moving ahead with plans to give the booster to as many people as possible as the Delta variant continues to spread.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had wanted wealthier nations to hold off on administering boosters until people in poorer countries had received their first shots. However, Hans Kluge, WHO Europe’s regional director, is now saying the additional dose should be given to people who are most at risk.
“A third dose of vaccine is not a luxury booster taking away from someone who is still waiting for a first jab,” he tells Hannah Knowles and Lenny Bernstein of the Washington Post. “But it’s basically a way to keep the people safe, the most vulnerable. But at the same time, we need to share. So we need to do it all.”
#AceHealthReport – Aug.23: Anyone over 18 will be able to opt in when having a PCR test from Tuesday – of those who test positive, up to 8,000 will be sent two home antibody tests. ….
#CoronavirusNewsDesk reports #COVID19Antibody tests are to be widely offered to the UK public for the first time in a new programme that aims to find out more about how much natural protection people have after getting #coronavirus.
On Sunday the U.K. reported see below for latest figures after coming out of lockdown recently as U.K. prepares to end furlough and everyone can return to normal life ?
The government scheme will offer tests to thousands of adults each day.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it would be quick and easy to take part.
The first of the finger-prick tests would have to be done as soon as possible after the positive result, so the body would not have time to generate a detectable antibody response to the infection.
The second would be taken 28 days later and measure antibodies generated in response to the infection.
The UK Health Security Agency is to run the programme and will work alongside NHS test and trace services in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to use results to monitor levels of antibodies in positive cases.
Its chief executive Dr Jenny Harries said the scheme would help the UK gain “vital insight” into the impact of the vaccination programme and immune responses to different variants.
Mr Javid said it would build on the “massive wall of defence” that was the vaccination programme and getting involved would help “strengthen our understanding of Covid-19 as we cautiously return to a more normal life”.
The Department of Health said as well as helping it improve understanding about antibody protection, the scheme could give information about any groups of people who did not develop an immune response after getting coronavirus.
Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf welcomed news of the study, saying: “It is vital that we have the fullest understanding possible of vaccine effectiveness and the immune response of the broader population.
“The rollout of this antibody testing study will help us achieve this and could play an important role in the battle to keep the virus under control.”
Antibody tests have been used previously in the UK during the pandemic but in limited numbers, largely on people involved in studies or surveys.
#AceHealthReport – Aug.08: Mass protests kicked off in several French cities on Saturday, with thousands condemning government plans to toughen anti-coronavirus restrictions.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says that thousands have protested across France on Saturday over Macron’s #COVID19 health pass & mandatory vaccination as a huge march was held in Paris, where participants were accompanied by a massive police presence, live footage from RT’s video agency Ruptly shows.
The protest has taken place without any major incident so far, with police and marchers only engaging in minor pushing along the route. At one point, law enforcement could be seen pepper-spraying protesters who tried to push against the police line.
Large protests have also been staged in other cities across the country. A massive column of protesters marched through the streets of the southwestern coastal city of La Rochelle to condemn the plans for a health pass.
Some 200,000 protesters were expected to hit the streets of French cities, according to local media reports, citing police sources. So far, French law enforcement has not released any official estimates on the scale of the ongoing protests.
The latest round of protests, which have rocked the country for the past few weeks, comes after France’s top court deemed most of the controversial legislation package to be constitutional. The legislation, approved by the court on Thursday, is expected to come into force on Monday.
While critics of the legislation have accused the government of trampling on civil rights and even sliding towards a “dictatorship,” the authorities have insisted that the package is designed only to encourage vaccination.
#AceHealthReport – Aug.05: The increase was driven by foreign sales of Russia’s flagship Sputnik V anti-coronavirus vaccine, with millions of doses shipped overseas to customers including Argentina, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Hungary and Serbia.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says Russia Has Earned $300-Million on Vaccine Exports So Far, with Sputnik V to Argentina, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Hungary & Serbia …….
Aug. 04, 2021Russian Sputnik-V vaccines arrived at Aurora International Airport in Guatemala CityJohan ORDONEZ / AFP
The figure also includes sales of non-coronavirus vaccines — mainly shots against yellow fever and flu. But the Trade Ministry told the RBC business site that the large jump in sales was mainly due to Sputnik V exports.
Russia has not revealed specific details on how much money it has made, or expects to make, from selling Sputnik V around the world.
In the whole of 2019, Russia exported $60 million of vaccines — a figure which grew in 2020 to $70 million.
In the first five months of 2021, Moscow’s vaccine exports surged to a total of $304 million, according to customs data analyzed by RBC. That compares to just $10 million during the same period of 2020.
But amid production delays and numerous delivery issues among key Sputnik V customers, Russia’s growth in vaccine exports significantly lags the increases in sales registered by other countries exporting coronavirus shots: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/1d4UU/1/
China increased its vaccine exports almost 100-fold during the first five months of 2021 — selling $1.8 billion worth compared to just $19 million in the same period last year. While the European Union has sold $6.4 billion in vaccines outside the bloc, up from $4.3 billion, and the U.S. also exported more than $1.5 billion.
Russia is hoping a successful Sputnik V export drive could help the country break into the lucrative medical exports market, providing both a new income stream for coronavirus vaccines, and also opening the door for Russia to sell other pharmaceutical products around the world.
#AceHealthReport – Aug.02: The latest outbreak started two weeks ago in the eastern city of Nanjing, where nine airport cleaners were found to be infected during a routine test. Since then, the cluster has spread to at least 26 cities across China, including a tourist hot spot in the southern province of Hunan and the capital Beijing.
#CoronavirusNewsDesksays China’s hardline zero #COVID19 strategy is facing a fresh challenge from the rapid spread of the Delta variant, amid concerns over the efficacy of Chinese vaccines against the highly contagious strain …..with more than 300 cases have been detected within a span of 10 days.
The Delta variant, which appears to cause more severe illness and spreads as easily as chickenpox according to an internal document from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has wreaked havoc across the world. Now, it is causing China’s worst outbreak in months.China reported 328 local Covid-19 infections in July, close to the total from the previous five months, according to the National Health Commission. Although that’s only a fraction of the cases reported in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, it is perceived as a serious threat in China, where authorities attempt to keep local infections at zero.
China Covid: Concerns grow as Delta outbreak spreads as a fresh #COVID19 outbreak in China has spread to more locations, raising concerns in local media over the country’s vulnerability to the highly contagious Delta variant.
The government has imposed fresh travel restrictions and is testing millions.
It is unclear how many in China are fully vaccinated, although authorities say more than 1.6 billion doses have been administered so far.
A total of 15 provinces and municipalities have now confirmed cases, of which 12 are connected to an outbreak that began in Nanjing in China’s eastern Jiangsu province. Authorities have attributed the spread to the Delta variant and the domestic tourist season.
Although case numbers are considerably lower than other places, it is considered the largest outbreak in months in China, a country that was largely successful in controlling the virus within its borders last year.
Cases first emerged in July in Nanjing airport, among workers who had cleaned a plane that arrived from Russia.
Authorities promptly tested 9.2 million residents of Nanjing and imposed lockdown on hundreds of thousands of people.
But over the weekend the spotlight turned to popular tourist destination Zhangjiajie in central Hunan province, where many of the latest cases have emerged. Travellers from Nanjing were thought to have visited the city recently.
Health officials have zeroed in on a theatre in Zhangjiajie, and are now trying to track down about 5,000 people who attended performances and then travelled back to their home cities.
One performance alone had hosted about 2,000 people, according to reports.
All attractions in Zhangjiajie have been closed and tourists are being asked to take a Covid test before leaving the city, local media reported.
“Zhangjiajie has now become the new ground zero for China’s epidemic spread,” Zhong Nanshan, China’s leading respiratory disease expert, told reporters.
The new outbreak has reached Beijing too, with the city reporting several locally transmitted infections.
All of Beijing’s air, bus and travel links to areas with positive cases have been cut. All tourists have also been banned from entering the capital, and officials are only allowing “essential travellers” with negative Covid tests to enter.
China is also battling a rise in cases in Zhengzhou in northern Henan province, which saw devastating floods just last month, as well as Hainan island.Drone pictures show the extent of damage as our correspondent reports on the situation on the ground
“It is absolutely worrying if a single flaw can affect many provinces and regions across the country… it shows that our systematic progress in fighting the epidemic needs to be strengthened,” it said.
The outbreak has raised concerns about vaccines, as it emerged that some of those infected had been vaccinated.
Shao Yiming, a researcher with China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters on Saturday that breakthrough infections in vaccinated people “are expected”.
Sinovac and Sinopharm’s vaccines – two of the most commonly used jabs in China – have been shown to be 50% to 79% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid infection in clinical trials around the world, but are highly effective in preventing hospitalisations or deaths….
Chinese authorities responded swiftly with mass testing, targeted lockdowns, extensive contact tracing and quarantine of close contacts — a tried and tested formula that has helped it quickly tame local flare-ups since March 2020.In Nanjing, a city of 9.3 million people, residents went through threerounds of coronavirus testing in two weeks. Residential compounds with confirmed cases were locked down, while cinemas, gyms, bars and libraries were shuttered. In Zhangjiajie, where a theater performance attended by thousands of people has fueled concerns of a super-spreader event linked to the Nanjing cluster, all tourist destinations were shut down and residents are banned from leaving their compounds.
Restrictions have also been ramped up in Beijing, which reported its first local infection in nearly six months last week. Since then, five local cases with travel history to Zhangjiajie have been detected. The city has banned people from medium- or high-risk areas from entering, suspending flights, trains and buses from Covid-hit places.
Huang Yanzhong, senior fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations, said Chinese authorities are responding to the threat of the Delta variant with the same playbook used in previous outbreaks, but in an even more stringent manner — several cities have been placed under effective lockdowns.
“It shows the problem of diminishing returns of the existing ‘zero-tolerance’ approach,” he said.
Elsewhere in the world, countries with relatively high vaccination rates are increasingly choosing to tolerate a degree of transmission, as long as it doesn’t translate into a surge in hospitalizations and deaths. In China, however, authorities appear intent on imposing strict restrictions despite having administered more than 1.65 billion homegrown vaccine doses — ranking above the US in terms of doses administered per 100 people.
The rapid spread of the Nanjing cluster to cities across the country has triggered concerns over the level of protection currently offered by Chinese vaccines against the Delta variant. On July 22, two days after the Nanjing cluster was first detected, a health expert in the city said the “vast majority” of those infected there had been vaccinated, except for one person under 18 years old. Airport staff, along with medical workers and border control personnel, were among the first to be vaccinated in China.
Chinese authorities have not offered a fuller breakdown of how many subsequent cases were also vaccinated.
Several other countries that used Chinese vaccines have also reported infections among vaccinated people. In June, Indonesian officials said more than 350 medical workers in the country had contracted Covid-19 despite being inoculated with vaccines produced by Chinese company Sinovac Biotech. Breakthrough cases have also been reported among people fully immunized with more effective vaccines, such as those produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. In a report released Friday, the US CDC found that about 74% of the 469 Massachusetts residents who were infected in July had been fully vaccinated — with the Delta variant revealed as the main culprit.
Chinese experts have tried to assure the public that Chinese vaccines are still effective against the Delta variant.
On Saturday, Shao Yiming, an expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news conference that breakthrough infections are a “normal” phenomenon, while stressing that such cases are only a minority among vaccinated people around the world. Feng Zijian, another Chinese health expert, added that while their immunity level against the Delta variant may be lower, existing vaccines still provide good enough prevention and protection.
But Huang, the expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the relatively low efficacy of Chinese vaccines against the Delta variant would only push authorities to double down on their “zero tolerance” containment-based approach as opposed to the mitigation-based method adopted elsewhere.
“That means China is likely still months away from opening its borders to the world,” Huang said.
It remains to be seen if repeated lockdowns and mass testing drives can sustain public support in the long run. Tolerance for such measures could begin to wane if, as expected, the government maintains its hardline approach until after the Beijing Winter Olympics in February next year.
But some prominent Chinese public health experts have raised the prospect that like elsewhere in the world, China will eventually need to learn to coexist with the coronavirus.
Zhang Wenhong, an infectious disease expert at Shanghai’s Huashan Hospital, said it might not be possible for existing vaccines to eradicate infections, and transmissions might still happen even after everyone is fully vaccinated.”More and more people now believe that the epidemic will not end in a short period of time, and may not end in a long time,” he wrote on Weibo. Whatever path China takes in the future should ensure “its connection to the world, a return to normal life, while at the same time protecting citizens from the fear of the virus,” he added.
#AceHealthReport – June.26: More than 90 countries are using Covid shots from China: Experts say recent infections in those places should serve as a cautionary tale in the global effort to fight the disease.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – More Than 90 Countries Relied on Chinese Vaccines. Now They’re Battling Major Outbreaks after medical and delivery problems according to New York Times
By New York Times: June. 24, 2021
A funeral in Kudus, Indonesia, in May. Many of the countries that are experiencing fresh coronavirus outbreaks despite high inoculation rates relied on Chinese-made vaccines.
Mongolia promised its people a “Covid-free summer.” Bahrain said there would be a “return to normal life.” The tiny island nation of the Seychellesaimed to jump-start its economy.
But instead of freedom from the coronavirus, all three countries are now battling a surge in infections.
China kicked off its vaccine diplomacy campaign last year by pledging to provide a shot that would be safe and effective at preventing severe cases of Covid-19. Less certain at the time was how successful it and other vaccines would be at curbing transmission.
Now, examples from several countries suggest that the Chinese vaccines may not be very effective at preventing the spread of the virus, particularly the new variants. The experiences of those countries lay bare a harsh reality facing a postpandemic world: The degree of recovery may depend on which vaccines governments give to their people.
In the Seychelles, Chile, Bahrain and Mongolia, 50 to 68 percent of the populations have been fully inoculated, outpacing the United States, according to Our World in Data, a data tracking project. All four ranked among the top 10 countries with the worst Covid outbreaks as recently as last week, according to data from The New York Times. And all four are mostly using shots made by two Chinese vaccine makers, Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech.
“If the vaccines are sufficiently good, we should not see this pattern,” said Jin Dongyan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong. “The Chinese have a responsibility to remedy this.”
A vaccination on Chiloé Island, Chile. In Chile, the Seychelles, Bahrain and Mongolia, 50 to 68 percent of the populations have been fully vaccinated.Credit…Alvaro Vidal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Scientists don’t know for certain why some countries with relatively high inoculation rates are suffering new outbreaks. Variants, social controls that are eased too quickly and careless behavior after only the first of a two-shot regimen are possibilities. But the breakthrough infections could have lasting consequences.
In the United States, about 45 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, mostly with doses made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Cases have dropped 94 percent over six months.
Israel provided shots from Pfizer and has the second-highest vaccination rate in the world, after the Seychelles. The number of new daily confirmed Covid-19 cases per million in Israel is now around 4.95.
In the Seychelles, which relied mostly on Sinopharm, that number is more than 716 cases per million.
Disparities such as these could create a world in which three types of countries emerge from the pandemic — the wealthy nations that used their resources to secure Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots, the poorer countries that are far away from immunizing a majority of citizens, and then those that are fully inoculated but only partly protected.
China, as well as the more than 90 nations that have received the Chinese shots, may end up in the third group, contending with rolling lockdowns, testing and limits on day-to-day life for months or years to come. Economies could remain held back. And as more citizens question the efficacy of Chinese doses, persuading unvaccinated people to line up for shots may also become more difficult.
One month after receiving his second dose of Sinopharm, Otgonjargal Baatar fell ill and tested positive for Covid-19. Mr. Otgonjargal, a 31-year-old miner, spent nine days in a hospital in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. He said he was now questioning the usefulness of the shot.
“People were convinced that if we were vaccinated, the summer will be free of Covid,” he said. “Now it turns out that it’s not true.”
Beijing saw its vaccine diplomacy as an opportunity to emerge from the pandemic as a more influential global power. China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, pledged to deliver a Chinese shot that could be easily stored and transported to millions of people around the world. He called it a “global public good.”
Mongolia was a beneficiary, jumping at the chance to score millions of Sinopharm shots. The small country quickly rolled out an inoculation program and eased restrictions. It has now vaccinated 52 percent of its population. But on Sunday, it recorded 2,400 new infections, a quadrupling from a month before.
In a statement, China’s Foreign Ministry said it did not see a link between the recent outbreaks and its vaccines. It cited the World Health Organization as saying that vaccination rates in certain countries had not reached sufficient levels to prevent outbreaks, and that countries needed to continue to maintain controls.
“Relevant reports and data also show that many countries that use Chinese-made vaccines have expressed that they are safe and reliable, and have played a good role in their epidemic prevention efforts,” the ministry said. China has also emphasized that its vaccines target severe disease rather than transmission.
No vaccine fully prevents transmission, and people can still fall ill after being inoculated, but the relatively low efficacy rates of Chinese shots have been identified as a possible cause of the recent outbreaks.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have efficacy rates of more than 90 percent. A variety of other vaccines — including AstraZenecaand Johnson & Johnson — have efficacy rates of around 70 percent. The Sinopharm vaccine developed with the Beijing Institute of Biological Products has an efficacy rate of 78.1 percent; the Sinovac vaccine has an efficacy rate of 51 percent.
The Chinese companies have not released much clinical data to show how their vaccines work at preventing transmission. On Monday, Shao Yiming, an epidemiologist with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said China needed to fully vaccinate 80 to 85 percent of its population to achieve herd immunity, revising a previous official estimate of 70 percent.
Data on breakthrough infections has not been made available, either, though a Sinovac study out of Chile showed that the vaccine was less effective than those from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna at preventing infection among vaccinated individuals.
A representative from Sinopharm hung up the phone when reached for comment. Sinovac did not respond to a request for comment.
William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University, said the efficacy rates of Chinese shots could be low enough “to sustain some transmission, as well as create illness of a substantial amount in the highly vaccinated population, even though it keeps people largely out of the hospital.”
Mongolia now ranks among the top countries that have fully vaccinated its population, inoculating about 52 percent of its people. But on Sunday, it recorded 2,400 new infections, quadrupling from a month before.Credit…Khasar Sandag for The New York Times
Despite the spike in cases, officials in both the Seychelles and Mongolia have defended Sinopharm, saying it is effective in preventing severe cases of the disease.
Batbayar Ochirbat, head researcher of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies at Mongolia’s Ministry of Health, said Mongolia had made the right decision to go with the Chinese-made shot, in part because it had helped keep the mortality rate low in the country. Data from Mongolia showed that the Sinopharm vaccine was actually more protective than the doses developed by AstraZeneca and Sputnik, a Russian vaccine, according to the Health Ministry.
The reason for the surge in Mongolia, Mr. Batbayar said, is that the country reopened too quickly, and many people believed they were protected after only one dose.
“I think you could say Mongolians celebrated too early,” he said. “My advice is the celebrations should start after the full vaccinations, so this is the lesson learned. There was too much confidence.”
Some health officials and scientists are less confident.
Nikolai Petrovsky, a professor at the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University in Australia, said that with all of the evidence, it would be reasonable to assume the Sinopharm vaccine had minimal effect on curbing transmission. A major risk with the Chinese inoculation is that vaccinated people may have few or no symptoms and still spread the virus to others, he said.
“I think that this complexity has been lost on most decision makers around the world.”
In Indonesia, where a new variant is spreading, more than 350 doctors and health care workers recently came down with Covid-19 despite being fully vaccinated with Sinovac, according to the risk mitigation team of the Indonesian Medical Association. Across the country, 61 doctors died between February and June 7. Ten of them had taken the Chinese-made vaccine, the association said.
The numbers were enough to make Kenneth Mak, Singapore’s director of medical services, question the use of Sinovac. “It’s not a problem associated with Pfizer,” Mr. Mak said at a news conference on Friday. “This is actually a problem associated with the Sinovac vaccine.”
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates were the first two countries to approve the Sinopharm shot, even before late-stage clinical trial data was released. Since then, there have been extensive reports of vaccinated people falling ill in both countries. In a statement, the Bahraini government’s media office said the kingdom’s vaccine rollout had been “efficient and successful to date.”
Still, last month officials from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates announced that they would offer a third booster shot. The choices: Pfizer or more Sinopharm.
Reporting was contributed by Khaliun Bayartsogt, Andrea Kannapell, Ben Hubbard, Asmaa al-Omar and Muktita Suhartono. Elsie Chen and Claire Fu contributed research.
#AceHealthReport – June.22: Entrust, an IT firm that bills itself as a “global leader in identities, payments, and data protection,” was awarded a contract by the Department of Health and Social Care last month to work on the UK’s Covid-19 vaccine certificate system.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – ‘UK govt gave contract to IT firm that is ‘openly plotting’ to turn vaccine passports into a national ID card, privacy group warns but opening up society after #COVID19 will come at a cost’
21 Jun, 2021 10:35 / Updated 2 hours ago
The company was given £250,000 ($346,000) to provide cloud-computing services for the government’s Covid-status certification scheme, iNews reported. The contract is due to expire in March 2022, but the government has the option of extending it for an additional year.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated last month that proof of vaccination will be “necessary” for international travel, and in recent weeks reports have emerged claiming that the UK government may require the document of people attending sporting events or other large gatherings.
“Consider a national ID strategy: With the infrastructure and investment necessary to ensure a viable vaccine passport, why not redeploy this effort into a national citizen ID programme that can be used for multiple purposes including the secure delivery of government services, secure cross-border travel, and documentation of vaccination,” the blog, which explores vaccine passports in the “post-pandemic world,” states.
Notably, the US-based company has already helped Albania, Ghana and Malaysia deploy national ID systems, iNews said.
Entrust’s partnership with the UK government has already raised alarm among civil liberties organisations and lawmakers.
Tory MP David Davis, a member of the anti-lockdown Covid Recovery Group, demanded an explanation from the government. He told iNews that it was “extraordinary” that the health department could ink deals with such companies without first getting permission from Parliament, adding that it was particularly worrying that a contract could be given to a firm “with this sinister attitude to surveillance of citizens.”
Big Brother Watch, a privacy and civil liberties group, said the Entrust contract represents an attempt by the government to issue ID cards “by the backdoor.”
“The fact that the government has done a deal with Entrust, a company which is openly plotting a route from vaccine passports to digital identity cards, only underlines what a serious threat Covid passes would be to our civil liberties and our privacy,” the organisation’s head of research, Jake Hurfurt, warned.
A health department spokesperson insisted that the NHS app used to certify vaccination status will not be used as a national ID system, describing the scheme as a “simple and secure means” to allow for international travel. Entrust declined to comment when contacted by iNews.