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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

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

Boost in vaccine doses planned for poor as virus rages on

Up to 100 million additional doses of any eventual Covid-19 vaccines will be secured for delivery to poorer countries in 2021, health groups announced Tuesday, as the virus showed no sign of receding after claiming more than one million lives around the world......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsSep 30th, 2020

Late-stage study of first single-shot vaccine begins in US

Johnson & Johnson is beginning a huge final study to try to prove if a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine can protect against the virus. The study starting Wednesday will be one of the world’s largest coronavirus vaccine studies so far, testing the shot in 60,000 volunteers in the U.S., South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico […] The post Late-stage study of first single-shot vaccine begins in US appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 24th, 2020

ASAPHIL keeps softball coaches, players on their toes

In March of this year, the world of sports came to a complete standstill because of a deadly virus that quickly spread throughout the world, infecting millions of individuals, and killing hundreds of thousands. The alarm was raised immediately and lockdowns were implemented, cancelling and postponing altogether, all sporting events scheduled to happen within the year......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsSep 17th, 2020

David: Gov’t efforts vs COVID-19 ‘working’ but MM not yet ready for MGCQ

The University of the Philippines (UP) OCTA Research said government’s effort in fighting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is proving to be effective that has resulted in the decline in new infections. Commuters inside an e-trike wears face shield as DOTr requires the use of face shield when riding public transport (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN) But the UP experts are not recommending that Metro Manila be placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) after the lapse of GCQ on August 31. Despite reverting to a more relaxed lockdown, Dr. Guido David in an interview over DzBB Saturday said that the flattening of the curve is still achievable. “Sa ngayon, hindi pa naman namin nakikitang tumataas [ang cases], kaya optimistic naman kami na itong GCQ (general community quarantine) baka iba na sya sa GCQ dati kasi mas maingat na tayo ngayon (So far, we haven’t seen the cases rise that is why we are optimistic that this GCQ is different from the previous one because the people now are more careful,” David said. He cited the mandatory wearing of face shield in malls, offices, and public transportation as an effective measure to curb the spread of the virus. David also lauded the country’s “improving” contact tracing, isolation of probable cases, and increased testing capacity. “Yung contact tracing natin pinapaganda na natin, yung isolation and treatment, may lapses tayo dati dyan sa implementation, ngayon mukhang naayos na natin yan. Yung testing, nag-increase pa. Yung local government, baka mas proactive na sila ngayon sa pag manage ng localized lockdowns (Our contact tracing has improved. We seem to have fixed our lapses in implementing isolation and treatment. The testing has increased too. Our local government units are more proactive now in managing localized lockdowns),” he added. “Sa Cebu nung nag-GCQ na ulit sila, hindi naman tumaas ang bilang ng kaso. Parang natuto na sila at siguro nasanay na dun sa new normal, kaya patuloy pa ring pagbaba yung kaso. Yung Cebu, as an example, 300 cases sila per day nung nag-ECQ sila, tapos bumaba na. Ngayon nakaka-80 cases na lang sila per day. So yun yung inaasahan natin sa Metro Manila (In Cebu, when they were placed under GCQ again, their daily cases did not increase. Perhaps they already learned their lesson and have gotten used to the new normal so their cases continue to decrease. Cebu used to have 300 cases per day when they were placed under ECQ. Now they only have 80 cases daily. And that’s what we’re expecting in Metro Manila),” David said. Earlier, the research group said that flattening of the COVID-19 curve is “possible” by end of August to September because the virus reproductive rate is going down from 1.5 to 1.1. However, David noted that UP OCTA team still would not recommend Metro Manila to shift to moderate general community quarantine (MGCQ). “Hindi natin mare-recommend yan kasi puno pa rin yung mga hospital natin para makapag-MGCQ tayo. Obserbahan muna natin (We’re not recommending MGCQ because our hospitals are still full. We should observe first),” he said. “Buti nang ma-retain tayo ng GCQ tapos hintayin natin na bumaba pa yung bilang ng kaso, kahit mapababa natin ng 2,000-1,000 cases per day, tsaka tayo mag-open ng iba pang economic sectors (It would be better for us to retain the GCQ status and wait for the number of new cases to decrease, let’s say 2,000-1,000 cases per day, then we can open other economic sectors),” David added......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

No quick fix

As new cases engulf even hitherto pristine countries like Vietnam or Japan, and as our country slogs on through what is now the world’s longest lockdown, it’s sinking in among our people that we’re in for a long, long war against the virus. I personally don’t expect a vaccine to be available through this year-end into early next year. There won’t be the kind of quick fixes that Filipinos just love......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

WHO urges Russia to follow guidelines on virus vaccine

The World Health Organization on Tuesday urged Russia to follow the established guidelines for producing safe and effective vaccines after Moscow announced plans to start swiftly producing COVID-19 jabs. Russia said Monday it aims to launch mass production of a coronavirus vaccine in September and turn out “several million” doses per month by next year. […] The post WHO urges Russia to follow guidelines on virus vaccine appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 4th, 2020

Millions back under lockdown in Philippines amid surge in virus cases

Millions of people in the Philippines were ordered to stay home Tuesday as global coronavirus infections kept soaring, with the World Health Organization warning against relying on a vaccine "silve.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsAug 4th, 2020

There may never be a COVID-19 ‘silver bullet’: WHO

The World Health Organization warned Monday that there might never be a “silver bullet” for the new coronavirus, despite the rush to discover effective vaccines. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus/AFP FILE/ MANILA BULLETIN The WHO urged governments and citizens to focus on doing the known basics, such as testing, contact tracing, maintaining physical distance and wearing a mask in order to suppress the pandemic, which has upended normal life around the globe and triggered a devastating economic crisis. “We all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference. “However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment — and there might never be. “For now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control. “Do it all,” he urged. The novel coronavirus has killed nearly 690,000 people and infected at least 18.1 million since the outbreak emerged in Wuhan in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP. China mission The WHO began pressing China in early May to invite in its experts to help investigate the animal origins of COVID-19. The UN health agency sent an epidemiologist and an animal health specialist to Beijing on July 10 to lay the groundwork for a probe aimed at identifying how the virus entered the human species. Their scoping mission is now complete, said Tedros. “The WHO advance team that travelled to China has now concluded their mission to lay the groundwork for further joint efforts to identify the virus origins,” he said. “WHO and Chinese experts have drafted the terms of reference for the studies and programme of work for an international team, led by WHO. “The international team will include leading scientists and researchers from China and around the world. “Epidemiological studies will begin in Wuhan to identify the potential source of infection of the early cases. “Evidence and hypotheses generated through this work will lay the ground for further, longer-term studies.” The pair have not yet returned to the WHO’s Geneva headquarters for a debriefing. Scientists believe the killer virus jumped from animals to humans, possibly from a market in the city of Wuhan selling exotic animals for meat. Chinese officials said early in the outbreak that the virus may have spread from a market in the city, which sold live and wild animals, but no further confirmation of that has been revealed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 3rd, 2020

Asian markets mostly lower as virus forces new lockdowns

Asian markets mostly fell Monday with sentiment depressed by a spike in coronavirus infections that has forced fresh lockdowns and sparked worries about the impact on the world economy......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsAug 3rd, 2020

DILG: NCR ECQ proposal to be discussed in meeting

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Sunday assured that calls for Metro Manila to be reverted back to the stricter enhanced community quarantine will be tackled during the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) meeting on Aug. 3. DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya issued the clarification after some medical workers requested that the National Capital Region (NCR) be under the more restricted quarantine rules due to the surging coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) cases. DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya (PCOO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN) On Aug. 1, Philippine Medical Association (PMA) president Dr. Jose Santiago in an online press conference headed by the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) noted that the health workers are overwhelmed by the upsurge of COVID-19 cases they are handling. He relayed that the concerned health workers had urged the government to give them at least two weeks of “breathing space by shifting Mega Manila back to a strict lockdown.’’ “We’re waging a losing battle against COVID-19 and we need to draw up a consolidated, definitive plan of action,” the letter read by Santiago said. With President Duterte on the brink of placing Metro Manila under the modified general communits quarantine (MGCQ) in middle of July, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año and the other Cabinet members convinced the President that the move is not feasible citing the need to open businesses to reinvigorate the economy. Año insisted that the way to curb the spread of the disease starts in every individual who should follow the minimum health standards of wearing masks, observing physical distancing, and practicing proper hygiene. He emphasized that no country can claim they have won their fight against COVID-19 since there is no available vaccine for the virus yet. But on the bright note, Duterte in a meeting on Friday said that the COVID-19 vaccine will be available in the country this December. Año noted that the country has to live with the virus momentarily until the vaccine is found. He added that the local government units (LGUs) have the power to impose localized lockdowns on parts of the barangays, streets, and buildings which they have identified as high-risk areas......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsAug 2nd, 2020

Asia stocks drop as virus spikes, China data fails to lift gloom

Asian markets fell Thursday as investors fretted over fresh spikes in virus infections around the world and the reimposition of lockdowns, while forecast-busting economic growth data out of China was unable to break through the unease on trading floors......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJul 16th, 2020

Our best defense until a vaccine is found

  The face mask has become the universal symbol of the fight against the coronavirus COVID-19 by people and governments around the world. The face mask, along with social distancing and constant washing of hands, is now known to be one’s best protection against the virus, which is known to travel in the air from […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJul 14th, 2020

Making it to the finish line: A vaccine is coming

As the race to develop a vaccine is getting close to the finish line, health experts all over the world continue to study the infection pattern and the transmission path of COVID-19 – with new waves of infection hitting many places including those that were previously touted as a “model of virus prevention.”.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJul 12th, 2020

Sports seek to resume in many nations

  SPORTS officials and fans around the world, including ours in the Philippines, will be closely following efforts to reopen sports competitions after several months of lockdowns forced by the coronavirus. On July 30, the National Basketball Association (NBA) of the United States will seek to restart the games that were suspended last March when […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJun 29th, 2020

US tops 2.5 million virus cases as infections surge

The United States has surpassed 2.5 million coronavirus cases, as efforts to reopen the world's economic powerhouse were dramatically set back by a surge of new infections in states such as Florida......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJun 28th, 2020

Market sinks; BPI, JG Summit drop

The stock market tumbled Monday on profit-taking along with the rest of Asia, on fears of a second wave of virus infections around the world that could put the brakes on the easing of lockdowns and a budding economic recovery......»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJun 15th, 2020

Bureaucratic barriers to digital infrastructure development

The lockdowns have triggered a sudden shift to cloud-based technologies and a surge in demand for internet and telecommunications services. Accessing the internet through smartphones and computers has now become the indispensable link to safely communicate and do business. Even as the government slowly starts easing lockdown restrictions, we must all continue to comply with social distancing measures. This is the new reality until a vaccine is available to eradicate this virus from Wuhan......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJun 14th, 2020