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The COVID-19 Report March 19, 2021

LOCAL specialist Dr Doug Quarry from International SOS reports in on this week’s developments in the pandemic world.
covid vaccination report

DR DOUG QUARRY


  1. EPIDEMIOLOGY

1.1 Largest sanitary and hospital collapse in Brazil’s history

1.2 Is Florida the “bellwether” for a B.1.1.7 wave in the US?

1.3 The new surge in Europe is worsening, at least in part attributable to the B.1.1.7 strain

1.4 France says it has entered third COVID-19 wave; new cases highest since November


  1. VACCINES

2.1 AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective: European regulator

2.2 Is the AstraZeneca vaccine effective against severe COVID/hospitalisations for B.1.351?

2.3 Call for Papua New Guinea to accept Chinese COVID-19 vaccines

2.4 Employers with large on-site workforce can set up COVID-19 vaccine clinics

2.5 US to send millions of vaccine doses to Mexico and Canada

2.6 COVID vaccine rollout to UK’s under-50s delayed due to major shortage

2.7 Will a vaccine be a remedy for some people affected by “Long COVID”?


  1. TRAVEL

3.1 Airlines allow passengers to add COVID-19 vaccination and test results during booking

3.2 European Union Proposes COVID-19 Travel Certificate

3.3 Portugal & Mauritius removed from England’s COVID travel ban “red list” / others added


EPIDEMIOLOGY


1.1 Largest sanitary and hospital collapse in Brazil’s history

Argencia Fiorcruz de Noticias reports that the latest edition of the Fiocruz Observatory Extraordinary Bulletin points to “the biggest sanitary and hospital collapse in the history of Brazil”.

ICU occupancy in the 27 state capitals: 

  • 25 over 80% of capacity
  • 19 over 90% capacity 

Eric Feigl-Ding has Tweeted: “Brazil’s latest COVID-19 wave is becoming tragic beyond measure. Brazil  has ‘plunged into crisis’. Patients are dying waiting for ICU beds. P1 variant has 2-2.5x faster transmission. More younger 20-30s patients now dying, unlike before. I wouldn’t be surprised if forthcoming studies on #P1 variant shows it maybe also more severe.”

At the same time, Reuters reports that President Bolsonaro has backed anti-social distancing demonstrations. 

The increasing occupancy of ICU beds since 17 July 2020

Cases in Brazil Deaths in Brazil

WATCH: Excellent report on the situation in Brazil on CNN

READ:  COVID is taking over: Brazil plunges into deadliest chapter of its epidemic, in The Guardian


1.2 Is Florida the “bellwether” for a B.1.1.7 wave in the US?

As of 19 March 2021, Florida has given 7.5M doses, enough for 17.8% coverage of the population.

Florida has removed most COVID-related restrictions; here is a summary:

OPEN
Retail
Retail stores
Food and drink
Restaurant dining
Bars
Personal care Salons
Tattoo parlours
Massage therapy
Tanning salons
Acupuncture
Houses of worship
Entertainment
Museums
Libraries
Movie theatres
Concert halls
Bowling alleys
Sporting venues
Outdoor and recreation
Beaches
Trails
Gyms

Eric Topol has Tweeted: “Florida is the US bellwether for B.1.1.7, now exceeding 50% of infections. Still no sign of any increase in cases. Every day we continue to see this is encouraging. Track for the next couple of weeks before we can say we’ve dodged it.”

New cases are dropping….

Occupancy of hospital beds by COVID patients is declining.


1.3 The new surge in Europe is worsening, at least in part attributable to the B.1.1.7 strain

Delay/pause in vaccination not helpful, either.


1.4 France says it has entered third COVID-19 wave; new cases highest since November

Reuters reports that: “French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Tuesday that time had come for additional coronavirus restrictions in the greater Paris region as the country enters a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.”


  1. VACCINES

2.1 AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective: European regulator

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has concluded the AstraZeneca vaccine is “safe and effective” after a review of five million people found the benefits far outweighed any risk.

About 30 cases of rare blood clotting were investigated and the European Medicines Agency expert committee found the vaccine was not associated with an increased risk. Britain’s medicines regulator also said the evidence did not suggest the vaccine caused blood clots.

Italy, Germany and France have indicated they will resume its AstraZeneca rollout after more than a dozen European countries suspended its use.


2.2 Is AstraZeneca vaccine effective against severe COVID/hospitalisations for B.1.351?

A recent New England Journal of Medicine article estimated 10% (95% CI: −77 to 55%) efficacy for the AZN vaccine against mild-to-moderate disease from B.1.351 in South Africa. 

A Tweet by Adam Kucharski is instructive: “The problem (and it could be a very big problem) is countries won’t have solid real-world effectiveness data on protection against severe COVID/hospitalisations for B.1.351 unless the variant establishes in populations that have high vaccine coverage.”


2.3 Call for Papua New Guinea to accept Chinese COVID-19 vaccines

As Papua New Guinea (PNG) appears to be facing a significant COVID-19 wave, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that:  

“…two of Australia’s top infectious disease and immunology experts say Papua New Guinea should take up the offer of Chinese-made vaccines if they are safe. 

“Urging Australia and the West to put politics aside for the sake of global health, Sydney University Professor Robert Booy and ANU Professor Peter Collignon said PNG should take whatever vaccines it could secure.

“The Chinese vaccines are becoming better understood and the information coming out suggests that they are safe and effective,” said Booy, the former head of clinical research at the National Centre for Immunisation.”

Meanwhile, the Australian Government has released 8,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to PNG and has asked the European Union (EU) to supply another one million doses. 


2.4 Employers with large on-site workforce can set up COVID-19 vaccine clinics

Reuters reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that US employers with a large workforce and locations that have enough space to maintain social distancing can consider setting up temporary vaccination clinics at the workplace. 


2.5 US to send millions of vaccine doses to Mexico and Canada

Al Jazeera reports that Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, has said the United States was planning to send 2.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada. Tens of millions of doses of the vaccine have been sitting in American manufacturing sites.


2.6 COVID vaccine rollout to UK’s under-50s delayed due to major shortage

The Guardian reports NHS leaders as saying that people under the age of 50 may have to wait up to a month longer than planned for their COVID-19 vaccination because of a major shortage of vaccines.


2.7 Will a vaccine be a remedy for some people affected by “Long COVID”?

Scientists are only beginning to study any potential effect of vaccines on long COVID symptoms. 

This month, a small study by British researchers that has not yet been peer reviewed found that eight months after people were hospitalised for COVID-19, those who were vaccinated experienced improvement in more long-COVID symptoms than those who were not yet vaccinated.

“Too few of our participants have been vaccinated so far to really be able to provide insight into this question,” said Dr. Michael Peluso, an infectious disease specialist working on a study of long-term COVID patients at the University of California, San Francisco.


  1. TRAVEL

3.1 Airlines allow passengers to add COVID-19 vaccination & test results during booking

The New York Times reports that: 

“Two of Europe’s biggest airlines, British Airways and budget carrier Ryanair, have started allowing fliers to provide COVID-19 vaccination and test-result details alongside personal data – like passport numbers and visa information – during booking. 

“The airlines say the move will eventually help passengers show they have been inoculated when landing at destinations that have started to welcome vaccinated travelers.”


3.2 European Union Proposes COVID-19 Travel Certificate

In an effort to save the summer tourist season, the European Union has proposed a COVID-19 certificate that would allow people to travel freely, according to The New York Times.

“The proposed ‘Digital Green Certificate’ would be free and available in digital or paper format. It would allow European residents to travel across the 27 member countries if they have proof of vaccination, a negative test result, or a documented recovery from COVID-19.

“The idea is to ‘gradually restore free movement within the EU and avoid fragmentation’, Didier Reynders, the European Commissioner for Justice, said in a statement.”


3.3 Portugal & Mauritius removed from England’s COVID travel ban “red list” / others added

The Guardian reports that: 

“This means people will be allowed to travel from the two countries, as well as Madeira and the Azores, to England again, and non-British residents and nationals who were previously allowed to do so will no longer have to quarantine in a hotel but can spend the time at home instead.

“They can get tested on days two and eight after their journey and will be able to end self-isolation early through the test-to-release scheme.

“However, four other countries – Ethiopia, Oman, Somalia and Qatar – are being added to the red list and will be subject to a travel ban.”


covid report


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