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One in four Spaniards has had one dose of COVID-19 vaccine

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One in four Spaniards has now had one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, health authorities said on Monday, as the country speeds up its inoculation programme.

In total, 12,162,359 people have received one dose of one of the four vaccines being used in Spain – or 25.6% of the population of 47 million.

Some 5,098,903 people have had both doses of the vaccine, or 11% of the population.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said last month he expected 70% of the population to be vaccinated by the end of August.

The country’s two-week coronavirus contagion rate fell to 223 cases per 100,000 people on Monday compared with 229 on Friday, according to health ministry data.

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/one-four-spaniards-has-had-one-dose-covid-19-vaccine-2021-05-03/

‘No sign’ of infection after Barcelona Covid-19 concert trial

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There has been “no sign” of coronavirus infection among 5,000 unvaccinated people who took part in an indoor trial concert last month in Barcelona seeking pandemic-safe ways to celebrate mass events, organisers said on Tuesday (April 27).

The participants underwent PCR tests two weeks after the March 27 event and “there is no sign that suggests transmission took place during the event”, Mr Josep Maria Llibre, a specialist in infectious diseases from the Germans Trias i Pujol hospital told a news conference.

Organised by the hospital and a group of Spanish music promoters, the concert in the Palau de Sant Jordi was billed as Europe’s biggest indoor rock concert since the start of the pandemic.

https://www.straitstimes.com/world/europe/no-sign-of-infection-after-barcelona-covid-concert-trial

European regulator says Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is ‘safe and effective’

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The European Union’s medicines agency has said the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is “safe and effective” to use following an investigation into reports of blood clots in a small number of recipients.

The decision by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) comes after more than a dozen European countries – including Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, France and Sweden – halted the vaccine’s rollout over clotting fears.

The EMA said the benefits outweigh the risks – and the vaccine is not linked to an “overall risk” of blood clots.

However, the agency’s safety committee has also said it can’t rule out a potential link with a “small number of cases” of a rare clotting disorder occurring after the vaccination.

It has therefore recommended that governments “raise awareness” of the possible effects by including them in product information.

https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-european-regulator-says-oxford-astrazeneca-vaccine-is-safe-and-effective-12249663

The E.U. begins its vaccine rollout, aiming to inoculate more than 450 million people

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From nursing homes in France to hospitals in Poland, older Europeans and the workers who care for them rolled up their sleeves on Sunday to receive coronavirus vaccine shots in a campaign to inoculate more than 450 million people across the European Union.

The inoculations offered a rare respite as the continent struggles with one of its most precarious moments since the pandemic began.

Despite national lockdowns, restrictions on movement, shuttering of restaurants and cancellations of Christmas gatherings, the virus has stalked Europe into the dark winter months. The spread of a more contagious variant of the virus in Britain has raised such alarm that much of continental Europe rushed to close its borders to travelers coming from the country, effectively plunging the nation as a whole into quarantine.

“Today, we start turning the page on a difficult year,” Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president wrote on Twitter. “The #COVID19 vaccine has been delivered to all EU countries.”

For Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy, the vaccine’s arrival could not come soon enough. Italy’s suffering at the outset of the pandemic served as a warning for the world, and the current death toll is again among the worst in Europe.

“Today Italy reawakens. It’s #VaccineDay,” he wrote on Twitter after a 29-year-old nurse at Rome’s Spallanzani hospital was the first person to be inoculated. “This date will remain with us forever.”

The nurse, Claudia Alivernini, said she hoped the vaccination campaign would signal “the beginning of the end” of the pandemic.

In Spain, a 96-year-old great-grandmother, Araceli Rosario Hidalgo, was the first to receive the vaccine. The Los Olmos nursing home, where she lives, is in Guadalajara,  a city that has a special storage facility where the first doses of the vaccine were delivered on Saturday, transported from Belgium.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez wrote on Twitter that the  vaccinations marked “a hopeful new chapter.”

Similar scenes played out across the continent, although not every member of the bloc followed the rollout plans. In Germany, a nursing home in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt jumped the gun, inoculating dozens of residents and staff members on Saturday, hours after the doses arrived. Officials in the Netherlands said they planned to begin vaccinations on Jan. 8.

But all E.U. member nations now have a supply of vaccine on hand to distribute.

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/12/27/world/covid-19-coronavirus-updatesHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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EU launches mass Covid-19 vaccination push in ‘moment of unity’

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European Union nations have launched a co-ordinated effort to give Covid-19 vaccinations to adults among their 450 million citizens.

Shots were administered on Sunday morning to the most vulnerable people, healthcare workers who take care of them, and some politicians to reassure the public that the vaccinations are safe.

The vaccines, developed by Germany’s BioNTech and American drug maker Pfizer, started arriving in EU countries on Friday. The EU has seen some of the world’s earliest and hardest-hit virus hot spots, including Italy and Spain.

Others EU countries, like the Czech Republic, were spared the worst early on only to see their healthcare systems near collapse in the autumn.

Altogether, the EU’s 27 nations have recorded at least 16 million coronavirus cases and more than 336,000 deaths – huge numbers that experts still agree understate the true toll of the pandemic due to missed cases and limited testing.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen released a video celebrating the vaccine rollout, calling it “a touching moment of unity”.

https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/eu-launches-mass-covid-19-vaccination-push-moment-unity/HELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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US, Germany and UK could start Covid vaccinations as early as December

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As G20 leaders pledged to ensure the equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests so that poorer countries are not left out, the US, UK and Germany each announced plans to begin vaccinations in their countries in December, while Spain said it would start administering the vaccine to its citizens in January.

Britain could give regulatory approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine as early as this week, even before the US authorises it, the UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported on Sunday. Pfizer and BioNTech could secure emergency US and European authorisation for their Covid-19 vaccine next month after final trial results showed a 95% success rate and no serious side effects.

Moderna last week released preliminary data for its vaccine showing 94.5% effectiveness.

The better-than-expected results from the two vaccines, both developed with new messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, have raised hopes of an easing of a pandemic that has killed more than 1.3 million people.

In the US, the head of the US vaccine program, Moncef Slaoui, said the first Americans to receive a vaccine could get it as soon as 11 December, CNN reported on Sunday.

“Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunisation sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I expect maybe on day two after approval on the 11th or the 12th of December,” he said in an interview to CNN.

Citing government sources, the Telegraph also said the UK’s National Health Service had been told to be ready to administer it by 1 December.

Britain formally asked its medical regulator, the MHRA, last week to assess the suitability of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The UK Department of Health had no comment on Sunday on when the first vaccinations would be administered.

Britain has ordered 40m doses and expects to have 10m doses, enough to protect 5 million people, available by the end of the year if regulators approve it.

Germany could also start administering shots of Covid-19 vaccines as soon as next month, health minister Jens Spahn was quoted as saying on Sunday. He said Spain and Germany were the first European Union countries to have a complete vaccination plan in place.

“There is reason to be optimistic that there will be approval for a vaccine in Europe this year,” Spahn said in an interview with publishing group RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland. “And then we can start right away.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/23/us-germany-and-uk-could-start-covid-vaccinations-as-early-as-decemberHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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Covid-19 deaths aren’t rising as fast in Europe and US, despite soaring new infections

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Europe is drowning in the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic. Infection rates are skyrocketing across the continent. Governments are imposing strict lockdowns. Economies are shutting down again. But there is a glimmer of hope: The virus, while still deadly, appears to be killing fewer people on average.

Recent case and fatality figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) show that while recorded Covid-19 cases are spiking in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany and other European countries, deaths are not rising at the same rate.

“The fatality rate has declined, in the UK, we can see it going down from around June to a low point in August,” said Jason Oke, a senior statistician at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences. “Our current estimate is that the infection fatality rate is going up a little bit, but it hasn’t come up to anywhere near where we were and that’s unlikely to change dramatically unless we see a really surprising increase in the numbers of deaths.”

Oke has been tracking Covid-19 fatality rates along with his colleague Carl Heneghan of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine and health economist Daniel Howdon. Their research shows that, at the end of June, the fatality rate was just below 3% in the UK. By August, it had dropped as low as about 0.5%. It now stands at roughly 0.75%.

The lower death rate isn’t unique to Europe.

In New York, the death rate for those hospitalized with coronavirus-related illnesses has also dropped since earlier this year, according to a study by a team of researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine. A wider analysis of data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the NYU team shows that across the United States, “6.7% of cases resulted in death in April, compared with 1.9% in September.”

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/28/europe/coronavirus-death-rate-second-wave-lower-intl/index.html

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BCG: Can a vaccine from 1921 save lives from Covid-19?

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Scientists in the UK have begun testing the BCG vaccine, developed in 1921, to see if it can save lives from Covid.

The vaccine was designed to stop tuberculosis, but there is some evidence it can protect against other infections as well.

Around 1,000 people will take part in the trial at the University of Exeter.

But while millions of people in the UK will have had the BCG jab as a child, it is thought they would need to be vaccinated again to benefit.

Vaccines are designed to train the immune system in a highly targeted way that leaves lasting protection against one particular infection.

But this process also causes wide-spread changes in the immune system. This seems to heighten the response to other infections and scientists hope it may even give our bodies an advantage against coronavirus.

Previous clinical trials have shown the BCG jab reduced deaths by 38% in newborns in Guinea-Bissau, mostly by reducing cases of pneumonia and sepsis.

Studies in South Africa linked the vaccine to a 73% reduction in infections in the nose, throat and lungs; experiments in the Netherlands showed BCG reduced the amount of yellow fever virus in the body.

“This could be of major importance globally,” Prof John Campbell, of the University of Exeter Medical School, told the BBC.

“Whilst we don’t think it [the protection] will be specific to Covid, it has the potential to buy several years of time for the Covid vaccines to come through and perhaps other treatments to be developed.”

The UK trial is part of the international Brace-study, which is also taking place in Australia, the Netherlands, Spain and Brazil, recruiting 10,000 people in total.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54465733HELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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WHO joins the Great Barrington Declaration by condemning lockdowns

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The World Health Organisation has backflipped on its original COVID-19 stance after calling for world leaders to stop locking down their countries and economies.

Dr. David Nabarro from the WHO appealed to world leaders yesterday, telling them to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method” of the coronavirus.

He also claimed that the only thing lockdowns achieved was poverty – with no mention of the potential lives saved.

“Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” he said.

“We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Dr Nabarro told The Spectator.

“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”

Dr Nabarro’s main criticism of lockdowns involved the global impact, explaining how poorer economies that had been indirectly affected.

“Just look at what’s happened to the tourism industry in the Caribbean, for example, or in the Pacific because people aren’t taking their holidays,” he said.

“Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world. … Look what’s happening to poverty levels. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.”

Melbourne’s lockdown has been hailed as one of the strictest and longest in the world. In Spain’s lockdown in March, people weren’t allowed to leave the house unless it was to walk their pet. In China, authorities welded doors shut to stop people from leaving their homes. The WHO thinks these steps were largely unnecessary.

Instead, Dr Nabarro is advocating for a new approach to containing the virus.

https://www.news.com.au/world/coronavirus/global/coronavirus-who-backflips-on-virus-stance-by-condemning-lockdowns/news-story/f2188f2aebff1b7b291b297731c3da74?whoHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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Airport Covid testing to be given go-ahead ‘within days’ says MP – which could end quarantine restrictions

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Airport coronavirus testing could be given the go-ahead within days – which may end or drastically reduce quarantine periods.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay confirmed that decisions regarding new measures which include airport swabbing will be made in the “coming days”.

He also said it would be a similar procedure currently seen in Germany, where passengers arriving from high-risk countries are able to be tested, meaning they can leave the quarantine, according to the Times.

Speaking during a Conservative conference, Mr Barclay explained: ““I am expecting Grant Shapps and Matt Hancock to say more about this in the coming days.

“If we look, for example, at some of the German states, which are using testing to then release earlier from some of the restrictions.”

Brits currently have to quarantine for 14 days if returning from any countries deemed high risk, which includes Spain, France, parts of Portugal and Greece, the Netherlands and Turkey, which was added to the quarantine list last week.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/12847172/airport-covid-testing-start-quarantine-rules-end/​