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Virus lockdowns around the world as vaccine efforts stumble

Fresh lockdowns and curfews were imposed on tens of millions of people from India to Argentina on Saturday, as Covid-19 infections surged again and vaccine roll-outs were hampered by shortages and scares over side effects......»»

Category: newsSource: inquirer inquirerApr 11th, 2021

Russia reports record virus cases but shuns new restrictions

Russia registered its highest-ever number of new coronavirus infections on Friday after officials warned that tight restrictions could be put back in place if people continued to flout restrictions. New cases in Russia have surged past the record levels seen in May Dimitar DILKOFF AFP/File/ MANILA BULLETIN Restaurants and bars in Moscow were bustling and many residents were ignoring orders to wear masks in public as nationwide infections surged in September, but officials stopped short of imposing new sweeping measures to slow the spread of the virus. European leaders across the continent are scambling to amend virus regulations against the backdrop of a surge in new cases, and even Germany, which was praised for its early handling of the pandemic, has suffered a large increase in new infections. But officials in Russia, which has the world’s fourth-highest caseload after the United States, India and Brazil, have so far dismissed the idea there is a second wave of infections or any need for a new lockdown.   A government tally registered 12,126 new cases on Friday, surpassing the country’s previous record set in May by several hundred cases. “I’m really afraid that things will go back to how they were in the spring, that everyone will be quarantined and we won’t be allowed to go to work,” Vladimir, a teacher in Saint Petersburg who declined to give his last name, told AFP.  – Training dogs to detect virus – As Russia is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases, the country’s flagship airline Aeroflot is training sniffer dogs to detect the coronavirus by scent. Aeroflot uses a special jackal-dog hybrid called Shalaika in Russian to detect explosives. Now dog handlers say the Shalaikas — who have a powerful sense of smell — can be taught to sniff out the coronavirus. “The dog is not looking for the virus, the dog is looking for a person with signs of the disease,” Elena Batayeva, head of canine monitoring at Aeroflot, told reporters. Russia imposed one of the most severe nationwide lockdowns at the beginning of the pandemic. Non-essential businesses were shuttered and Moscow residents only permitted to move freely with official digital passes. But most restrictions were lifted ahead of a large WWII military parade in June and a nationwide vote on amendments that paved the way for President Vladimir Putin to remain in power until 2036. Officials in Moscow, which is the epicentre of Russia’s pandemic, have taken only minor steps to slow the spread of cases. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has ordered the elderly and vulnerable to stay at home and told employers to keep at least a third of staff working remotely.  Mask-wearing is compulsory on public transport and inside shops, but some Muscovites are not convinced others are doing enough to stop the spread of infections. “The city is making the necessary decisions. But it won’t work without people responding to these measures, helping themselves and those around them,” Sobyanin said Friday. Tatyana Nemirovskaya, a 30-year-old PR specialist, told AFP that Muscovites are “definitely not” following the government’s guidelines. The head of Russia’s consumer rights watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, which is spearheading the country’s virus response, warned this week of “new measures” if the current rules were not followed. The Kremlin said Friday that if the situation continues to deteriorate it will “require some actions, decisions”. – ‘Without masks, having fun’ – But Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov placed the blame on Russians for the surging caseload, saying it was clear that “many people don’t think it is necessary to take care of providing the safety of their health.”  Standing next to a memorial to medics who have died during the pandemic in Saint Petersburg, Stella, a resident of Russia’s second city, said people had dropped their guard after mass restrictions were lifted. “The rules were slightly eased and people calmly walked around without masks, having fun and everything began again,” she said. Russia announced in August it had registered the world’s first coronavirus vaccine, named Sputnik V after the Soviet-era satellite and a number of officials have said they volunteered for inoculation, including Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.  Putin this week said “around 50 people” in his inner circle, including staff and family, had been vaccinated. Russia has recorded a total of 22,257 fatalities from the virus, a much lower figure compared to other badly-hit countries. Kremlin critics have suggested the authorities have downplayed the death rate to hide the severity of the outbreak......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 9th, 2020

WHO warns of drawn out pandemic as South Africa cases top 500,000

The UN health agency warned that the coronavirus pandemic would be lengthy and could lead to “response fatigue”, as the case count in South Africa topped half a million. Although many Latin American countries have begun relaxing stay-at-home measures, the virus is still spreading quickly across much of the region Six months after the World Health Organization declared a global emergency, the novel coronavirus has killed more than 680,000 people and infected more than 17.5 million, according to an AFP tally. South Africa is by far the hardest hit country in Africa, accounting for more than half of diagnosed infections, although President Cyril Ramaphosa said the fatality rate is lower than the global average. Health authorities had been expecting a surge in cases after the gradual loosening of a strict lockdown that was imposed at the end of March. Nigeria on Saturday also announced it would ease a lockdown in the commercial capital Lagos, allowing churches and mosques to reopen next week.  An emergency WHO committee reviewing the pandemic “highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this COVID-19 outbreak, noting the importance of sustained community, national, regional, and global response efforts”. “WHO continues to assess the global risk level of COVID-19 to be very high,” it said in its latest statement. The agency also said the effects of the pandemic “will be felt for decades to come”. Mexico overtook Britain to become the third hardest hit country in virus deaths — after Brazil and the United States — with more than 46,600 fatal cases. Although many Latin American countries have begun relaxing stay-at-home measures, the virus is still spreading quickly across much of the region, which has now recorded more than four million cases and almost 200,000 deaths. Half of them are in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro said he believes “nearly everyone” will catch the virus eventually, after himself recovering from it. The US, the hardest-hit country in the world, has now tallied more than 4.6 million cases and 154,319 deaths. Vaccine race The outlook was bleak in Asia as well, where India and the Philippines reported record increases in new daily infections. “We are waging a losing battle against COVID-19, and we need to draw up a consolidated, definitive plan of action,” said an open letter signed by 80 Filipino medical associations. Japan’s Okinawa declared a state of emergency after a record jump in cases on the islands — many linked to US military forces stationed there. The pandemic has spurred a race for a vaccine with several Chinese companies at the forefront, while Russia has set a target date of September to roll out its own medicine. However, US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said it was unlikely his country would use any vaccine developed in either nation. “I do hope that the Chinese and the Russians are actually testing the vaccine before they are administering the vaccine to anyone,” he said. As part of its “Operation Warp Speed”, the US government will pay pharmaceutical giants Sanofi and GSK up to $2.1 billion for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, the companies said. ‘Day of freedom’ France, Spain, Portugal and Italy all reported huge contractions in their economies for the April-June quarter, while Europe as a whole saw gross domestic product fall by 12.1 percent.  Daily case numbers in Switzerland have crept up again in recent weeks, while Norway recorded its first virus death in two weeks. At least 36 crew members confined to a Norwegian cruise ship have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the operator Hurtigruten said on Saturday.  Despite the resurgence in cases, there have been demonstrations in Europe against the curbs.  Thousands protested in Berlin on Saturday urging “a day of freedom” from the restrictions, with some demonstrators dubbing the pandemic “the biggest conspiracy theory”. In South Korea, the elderly leader of a secretive sect at the centre of the country’s early coronavirus outbreak was arrested for allegedly hindering the government’s effort to contain the epidemic. People linked to Lee Man-hee’s Shincheonji Church of Jesus accounted for more than half of the South’s coronavirus cases in February and March, but the country has since appeared to have brought the virus under control. The pandemic has also continued to cause mayhem in the travel and tourism sectors, with more airlines announcing mass job cuts. Latin America’s biggest airline, the Brazilian-Chilean group LATAM, said it would lay off least 2,700 crew, and British Airways pilots overwhelmingly voted to accept a deal cutting wages by 20 percent, with 270 jobs lost......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 2nd, 2020

WHO backs vaccine brand-blind policy

The World Health Organization has expressed support for the Philippine government’s policy not to disclose in advance the brand of COVID-19 jabs to be given at vaccination sites, saying it would help prevent the crowding of people that can increase the transmission of the virus......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 24th, 2021

& lsquo;Variant caused virus explosion& rsquo;

A COVID-19 variant spreading in India is more contagious and may be dodging vaccine protections, contributing to the country’s explosive outbreak, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist said late Saturday......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsMay 9th, 2021

The world needs 3.5 billion vaccine doses today, not tomorrow

More than nuclear proliferation, territorial disputes, trade imbalance between economic giants and all other issues that can be controlled by man, what all nations should be concentrating on with a greater sense of urgency is the “state of war” the world is in battling an enemy that cannot be seen which continues to ravage the world, a virus that seems to continue mutating into variants every single day......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMar 28th, 2021

Fake news makes Czechs vaccine-wary despite COVID crisis

As the Czech Republic struggles to cope with the world's highest coronavirus infection rate, a tidal wave of disinformation and a bungled government response are hampering vaccination efforts......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsMar 9th, 2021

Indonesia passes one million coronavirus cases

Indonesia passed more than one million Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, as the archipelago launches one of the world’s biggest vaccine drives to clamp down on a soaring infection rate. The Southeast Asian nation of nearly 270 million has recorded 1,012,350 virus cases and almost 29,000 deaths, according to official data. But low testing rates mean […] The post Indonesia passes one million coronavirus cases appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJan 26th, 2021

Global death toll hits 2 million

The WHO on Friday called for a worldwide acceleration in vaccine rollouts — as well as a ramp-up in efforts to study the sequencing of the virus The post Global death toll hits 2 million appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJan 16th, 2021

World Bank warns recovery could erode if virus worsens

Washington---The World Bank on Tuesday downgraded its outlook for the global economy, and warned the situation could deteriorate if COVID-19 infections accelerate or the vaccine rollout is delayed......»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJan 7th, 2021

EU begins vaccine rollout as new virus strain spreads

PARIS, France — Some European countries started rolling out their first coronavirus vaccines on Saturday, even as a reputedly more contagious variant spread around the world, and the WHO warned that the current pandemic would not be the last. In a video message ahead of the first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness on Sunday, World Health Organization […] The post EU begins vaccine rollout as new virus strain spreads appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsDec 27th, 2020

COVID-19 vaccines and developing countries

Within the year during which the COVID-19 pandemic wrought havoc on countries around the world, modern science and industry appears to have succeeded in producing an effective vaccine against the virus......»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 15th, 2020

Vaccination is not the cure

So, what happens now? Since COVID-19 enveloped the globe and turned our world upside down, the mantra has been that until we have a vaccine, we have to bear with all the experimental strategies and protocols - from various lockdowns to test and trace to mask wearing to social distancing, to hand washing, etc. etc. - to stem the tide and ensure the survival of the human race......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsDec 2nd, 2020

Stocks drop as virus cases dash vaccine rollout hopes

Hong Kong—Equity markets fell Monday as hopes that vaccines will soon be rolled out were overshadowed by concerns over a pick-up in virus cases around the world......»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsDec 1st, 2020

World Roundup: India to produce 100 million anti-virus doses& mdash;Russia

One of the developers of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine announced Friday that India-based drugmaker Hetero will produce over 100 million doses of the jab......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsNov 27th, 2020

Asia, European stocks mixed as virus surge darkens mood

Asian and European markets were mixed Friday as traders were caught between long-term optimism over a virus vaccine and the immediate horror of surging virus infections and deaths across the world......»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsNov 20th, 2020

Asian traders cautious as vaccine hopes offset by virus surge

Hong Kong, China—Asian markets mostly rose Wednesday, November 18, 2020, but investors were shifting cautiously as they weighed hopes for a virus vaccine against surging infections around the world that threaten an already stuttering economic recovery. While the mood on trading floors remains broadly optimistic about the long-term outlook, analysts said the coronavirus will continue […] The post Asian traders cautious as vaccine hopes offset by virus surge appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsNov 18th, 2020

World Roundup: New vaccine vs. pandemic game-changer

Hailed this week as a pandemic game-changer, the new COVID-19 vaccine offered countries that had pre-ordered doses a potential escape from a cycle of lockdowns and new waves of sickness and death......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsNov 14th, 2020

Gov’t pushes digitalized, mechanized farm sector

The Department of Finance (DOF) said the government is rapidly digitalizing the country’s agricultural systems and mechanizing farm production to ensure food security over the long run. During the virtual 2020 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the government wants to turn the coronavirus-induced health emergency into an opportunity. Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO) To do so, Dominguez said efforts to implement the twin measures are being done to expand Filipinos’ market access for food producers while keeping food supply available and prices affordable. “We are confident that the innovative measures we are putting in place today will transform Philippine agriculture into a dynamic, high-growth sector that will fuel our country’s strong recovery,” Dominguez said during the high-level Food Security Roundtable at the meeting. Dominguez said the government is also promoting digital marketing to support ongoing efforts to boost consumer spending in the new normal and sustaining public investments in rural infrastructure. He added that the government is accelerating the move towards agricultural technology-based farming and value chain development to ensure long-term food security.  To channel more funds into the agriculture sector, the government is also encouraging more private-sector financing in the sector by proposing reforms in the Congress that will provide more access to credit for the entire agricultural value chain, Dominguez said.   “We all aspire for greater food and nutrition security for our people. Only an efficient and modern agriculture sector can fully deliver that,” Dominguez, who was Agriculture secretary during the administration of the late President Corazon Aquino, said. Amid pandemic, Dominguez III said the Philippines has been handling the COVID-19 crisis “with strength on the food security front” duets reforms, particularly with the passage of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL). According to Dominguez, the agriculture sector was “one of the brightest spots” of the Philippines’s response to the pandemic owing in large part to the RTL. He pointed out that agriculture sector even continued to grow when the rest of the economy contracted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Dominguez said rice tariffication was among the main reasons why the government has succeeded in keeping food prices and supply stable, and inflation low during the COVID-19 emergency.  Keeping rice prices stable has been helpful for low-income households that spend a fifth of their budgets on rice alone, he added.   “The Philippines faced the COVID-19 pandemic with strength on the food security front,” Dominguez said.  He pointed out that despite logistical restrictions resulting from the lockdowns imposed to protect people and communities from the lethal coronavirus, the government was able to sustain the flow of produce from local farms to Filipino consumers.   “A food crisis did not happen. This is credited to the effective management of the food supply by our Agriculture Department,” Dominguez said......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsNov 8th, 2020

Covid-19 reinfection casts doubt on virus immunity: study

Covid-19 patients may experience more severe symptoms the second time they are infected, according to research released Tuesday confirming it is possible to catch the potentially deadly disease more than once. A study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal charts the first confirmed case of Covid-19 reinfection in the United States — the country worst hit by the pandemic — and indicates that exposure to the virus may not guarantee future immunity. The patient, a 25-year-old Nevada man, was infected with two distinct variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, within a 48-day time frame. The second infection was more severe than the first, resulting in the patient being hospitalised with oxygen support. The paper noted four other cases of reinfection confirmed globally, with one patient each in Belgium, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Ecuador. Experts said the prospect of reinfection could have a profound impact on how the world battles through the pandemic. In particular, it could influence the hunt for a vaccine — the currently Holy Grail of pharmaceutical research. “The possibility of reinfections could have significant implications for our understanding of Covid-19 immunity, especially in the absence of an effective vaccine,” said Mark Pandori, for the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory and lead study author. “We need more research to understand how long immunity may last for people exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and why some of these second infections, while rare, are presenting as more severe.” Waning immunity?Vaccines work by triggering the body’s natural immune response to a certain pathogen, arming it with antibodies it to fight off future waves of infection. But it is not at all clear how long Covid-19 antibodies last. For some diseases, such as measles, infection confers lifelong immunity. For other pathogens, immunity may be fleeting at best. The authors said the US patient could have been exposed to a very high dose of the virus the second time around, triggering a more acute reaction. Alternatively, it may have been a more virulent strain of the virus. Another hypothesis is a mechanism known as antibody dependent enhancement — that is, when antibodies actually make subsequent infections worse, such as with dengue fever. The researchers pointed out that reinfection of any kind remains rare, with only a handful of confirmed cases out of tens of millions of Covid-19 infections globally. However, since many cases are asymptomatic and therefore unlikely to have tested positive initially, it may be impossible to know if a given Covid-19 case is the first or second infection. In a linked comment to The Lancet paper, Akiko Iwasaka, a professor of Immunobiology and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University, said the findings could impact public health measures. “As more cases of reinfection surface, the scientific community will have the opportunity to understand better the correlates of protection and how frequently natural infections with SARS-CoV-2 induce that level of immunity,” she said. “This information is key to understanding which vaccines are capable of crossing that threshold to confer individual and herd immunity,” added Iwasaka, who was not involved in the study......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 13th, 2020

Italy ‘second wave’ fears grow as virus cases top 5,000

Italy was grappling Friday with fears of a second coronavirus wave similar to the ones seen in Britain, France and Spain, as it registered over 5,000 new infections in 24 hours. “We’re under extreme pressure,” the World Health Organization’s Italian government adviser Walter Ricciardi said, warning that spaces in Covid-19 hospitals were running out in the worst-hit regions. Italy registered 5,372 new cases Friday, the health ministry said, nearly 1,000 more than on Thursday. The country has not seen such high numbers of recorded new infections since mid-April. New infections are still well behind Britain, France and Spain, which are registering between 12,000 and 19,000 cases in 24 hours. But Ricciardi said the rise in cases could reach those levels in Italy just as winter begins and common influenza strikes. “When the flu comes, we risk having 16 thousand cases in a day,” he said in an interview with broadcaster Sky TG24. “I am very worried… (about) sub-intensive units because there are infectious patients who need to be treated in a certain way and beds are already running out. And that’s before the flu hits,” he said. The government moved to tackle the sharp rise in case numbers earlier this week, making wearing face masks compulsory in outdoor spaces across the country, on top of all indoor spaces apart from homes. – ‘Dramatic decisions’ – Lazio, the region which houses capital Rome, has been performing particularly badly, along with Campania in the south and Lombardy in the north, where the pandemic broke out in Italy back in February. According to official figures, more than 36,000 people have died of the virus in Italy, where a nationwide lockdown — the first in any European country — lasted over two months. Drained by years of budget cuts, southern Italy’s overstretched health care system escaped the brunt of the virus after movement between regions was banned, preventing cases from travelling down the country. But there are fears it would not escape a second wave. The Italian Association of Hospital Anaesthesiologists said Friday that hospitals in the south, where infrastructure is weaker, were not ready for an escalating crisis, despite efforts made to boost beds and staff numbers. Campania’s regional president Vincenzo De Luca said on Facebook he thought “we’ve reached the point where dramatic decisions need to be taken”. He said he could not rule out a new lockdown of the region. Regional Affairs Minister Francesco Boccia said Friday that if the upward trend continued, movement of people between regions may be temporarily banned. “A rise in the number of contagions was predictable. Intensive care units have been reinforced,” he said. “However, I cannot rule out limits on movements. Nothing can be ruled out at the moment,” he told Radio Capitale......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 9th, 2020