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Covid-19 news: UK reviews vaccine passports for travel and pubs

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Latest coronavirus news as of 5pm on 23 February

Review into “vaccine passports” launched in UK

The UK authorities has begun a overview of whether or not to introduce certificates displaying somebody has had a covid-19 vaccine. So-called vaccine passports might be used for worldwide travel and for permitting individuals to enter locations like theatres or pubs, Prime Minister Boris Johnson mentioned in the present day. 

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“There are deep and complex issues that we need to explore, about what the role is for government in mandating people to have such a thing or, indeed, banning people from doing such a thing,” Johnson mentioned. “We can’t be discriminatory against people who, for whatever reason, can’t have the vaccine.” Led by cupboard workplace minister Michael Gove, the overview’s findings are due earlier than England’s fourth stage of lockdown easing, on 21 June.

Iceland has mentioned they’ll, in future, let individuals with a certificates of covid-19 vaccination enter with out quarantining or taking a coronavirus take a look at, and Greece, whose financial system depends on tourism, can also be pushing the European Union to press forward with organising vaccine passports for this summer time. 

Within the UK, some companies have mentioned they plan to insist on new workers having been vaccinated. But there are nonetheless many unknowns in regards to the results of vaccination, together with how a lot it cuts transmission, and how lengthy immunity lasts for. 

Vaccine passports “are feasible, but not all the pieces are in place yet,” says Melinda Mills on the University of Oxford, co-author of a Royal Society report that units out 12 standards that must be happy earlier than they can be utilized.

Other coronavirus news

Japan had barely fewer deaths in 2020 than the earlier yr, the primary time the annual loss of life toll has fallen in 11 years. It was down by 0.7 per cent, in response to preliminary information from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. The fall was most likely resulting from a pointy decline in influenza instances because of an infection management measures towards covid-19, equivalent to sporting face masks and handwashing. Japan has recorded solely 7529 deaths from the coronavirus to date. In England, no instances of flu have been detected within the first seven weeks of 2021, in response to Public Health England.

Scotland’s roadmap for exiting lockdown was introduced in the present day. From the 15 March, all major and extra secondary pupils will return to highschool, and 4 individuals from two households might be allowed to fulfill exterior. In the final week of April, non-essential retailers, bars, eating places, gyms and hairdressers can reopen. The plan is much like timings in England, the place all pupils might be allowed again to varsities on 8 March, two households or as much as six individuals can meet exterior from 29 March, and non-essential retailers will reopen no sooner than 12 April.

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Coronavirus deaths

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Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.47 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 111.8 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

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The New York Times is monitoring hospital mattress occupancy in England in an interactive graphic.

Panorama: The Race for a Vaccine is a BBC documentary in regards to the inside story of the event of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine towards covid-19.

Race Against the Virus: Hunt for a Vaccine is a Channel 4 documentary which tells the story of the coronavirus pandemic by the eyes of the scientists on the frontline.

The New York Times is assessing the progress of various vaccine candidates and potential drug therapies for covid-19, and rating them for effectiveness and security.

Humans of COVID-19 is a undertaking highlighting the experiences of key employees on the frontline within the battle towards coronavirus within the UK, by social media.

Belly Mujinga: Searching for the Truth is a BBC Panorama investigation of the loss of life of transport employee Belly Mujinga from covid-19, following studies she had been coughed and spat on by a buyer at London’s Victoria Station.

Coronavirus, Explained on Netflix is a brief documentary collection inspecting the on-going coronavirus pandemic, the efforts to battle it and methods to handle its psychological well being toll.

New Scientist Weekly options updates and evaluation on the most recent developments within the covid-19 pandemic. Our podcast sees skilled journalists from the journal talk about the largest science tales to hit the headlines every week – from know-how and house, to well being and the atmosphere.

COVID-19: The Pandemic that Never Should Have Happened, and How to Stop the Next One by Debora Mackenzie is about how the pandemic occurred and why it’ll occur once more if we don’t do issues in a different way in future.

The Rules of Contagion is in regards to the new science of contagion and the shocking methods it shapes our lives and behaviour. The creator, Adam Kucharski, is an epidemiologist on the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, and within the e-book he examines how illnesses unfold and why they cease.

Previous updates

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Lila Blanks holds the casket of her husband, Gregory Blanks, 50, who died of the coronavirus illness (COVID-19), forward of his funeral in San Felipe, Texas.

REUTERS/Callaghan O’Hare

22 February

Official US loss of life toll passes 500,000 and true determine might be 720,000

The official loss of life toll from covid-19 within the US has handed the five hundred,000 mark. However, there’s substantial undercounting and the true loss of life toll might be round 720,000, Andrew Stokes at Boston University in Massachusetts advised New Scientist

The US loss of life toll is the very best of any nation on the earth. “It’s terrible. It is historic. We haven’t seen anything even close to this for well over a hundred years, since the 1918 pandemic of influenza,” the US president’s chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci advised NBC. Brazil is second with almost 250,000 deaths, adopted by Mexico with 180,000, India with 156,000 and the UK with 121,000. Per capita, the UK additionally has the fourth highest covid-19 loss of life charge on the earth.

Case numbers within the US are actually declining quick. However, the extra transmissible B.1.1.7 variant, first detected within the UK is now spreading, and there are fears it may result in yet one more wave of infections.

Other coronavirus news

Schools in England will reopen on 8 March within the first of a collection of steps in the direction of easing a lockdown imposed on 5 January. From 29 March outside sports activities and outside conferences of as much as six individuals, or two households, are resulting from be allowed. If all goes to plan, all limits on social contact may finish by 21 June. The UK’s chief scientific advisor Patrick Vallance mentioned the easing ought to proceed slowly to keep away from the chance of a resurgence. “We are not starting all this as of today from a good position. We are not now in a sort of ‘let’s release everything’ [position]. We are in a not very good position that is getting better,” he mentioned at a press briefing in the present day. 

While vaccines are anticipated to make a giant distinction on curbing instances, Vallance mentioned it was necessary to keep in mind that as restrictions are relaxed, many individuals would nonetheless be unprotected. He identified that not all the inhabitants might be vaccinated, and the vaccines don’t supply a 100 per cent safety towards an infection.

Vallance mentioned it was necessary to drive instances down low and house out relaxations so the impact might be monitored. “The message that comes out of all the modelling is: start from a low baseline, so try and get numbers down before you start releasing. Go slowly. Go in blocks [of relaxation] that you can measure the effect of after 4 or 5 weeks,” he mentioned. 

Even a single vaccine dose drastically reduces the chance of being hospitalised with covid-19, in response to a preliminary examine performed in Scotland. By the fifth week after receiving their first dose, those that had acquired the Oxford/AstraZeneac jab had diminished their danger of hospitalisation by as much as 94 per cent, and those that acquired the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by as much as 85 per cent, the examine estimates.

A second “real world” examine by Public Health England exhibits that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine prevented 70 per cent of asymptomatic and symptomatic infections in well being employees in England underneath 65, simply 14 days after vaccination.

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Coronavirus deaths

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The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.47 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 111.5 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

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Geoff Holland, 90, and Jenny Holland, 86, obtain their injections of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at a former Wickes retailer in Mansfield, UK.

Joe Giddens/Pool through REUTERS

19 February

95 per cent of individuals over 70 in Great Britain have had a vaccine dose

In Great Britain, 95 per cent of individuals aged over 70 have had a minimum of one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, in response to a survey of 6000 individuals by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Most of the rest have been provided a vaccine and are ready to obtain it. Less than 1 per cent of individuals aged over 70 years mentioned they declined the supply of a vaccine. Overall, 91 per cent of all adults surveyed mentioned that they had both been vaccinated already or would get vaccinated when provided it. These numbers are higher than anticipated. For occasion, in a single UK survey performed in December earlier than vaccination started, simply 72 per cent mentioned they have been prepared to get vaccinated. However, the ONS survey didn’t embody adults residing in care properties or different institutions, and due to small pattern sizes, the ONS says the proportion of individuals saying they’ve declined vaccination needs to be handled with warning.

Other coronavirus new

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine doesn’t must be stored ultracold as was beforehand thought when the vaccine was accredited for use. The corporations say it’s steady at between -25ºC and -15ºC, and have requested regulators to alter the phrases on which it was accredited. New Scientist reported in November that different mRNA vaccines utilizing the identical know-how have been steady at fridge temperatures, and that the identical needs to be true of the Pfizer vaccine.

Japan has reported 91 instances of individuals contaminated with a brand new coronavirus variant referred to as B.1.1.316. It has the E484K mutation additionally discovered within the South African and Brazilian variants, which permits the virus to partially evade immunity from previous an infection or vaccination. However, Japan has had decrease ranges of an infection than South Africa or Brazil, and simply 7000 deaths.

Brazil is vaccinating a complete city as an experiment to see what impact it has on coronavirus transmission. The total grownup inhabitants of Serrana within the state of São Paulo, estimated to be 30,000, might be provided the CoronaVac vaccine made by China-based firm Sinovac.

Coronavirus deaths

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Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.44 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 110.4 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

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A girl walks by a digital memorial to MTA employees referred to as “Travels Far: A Memorial Honoring Our Colleagues Lost To Covid-19” within the subway station at Union Square in New York City.

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18 February

Life expectancy fell by one yr in 2020, helped by the coronavirus

Life expectancy within the US fell by one yr on common within the first half of 2020, in response to figures from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The covid-19 pandemic is more likely to be a big contributor, specialists advised CNN. US life expectancy is now the bottom it has been since 2006. “Covid is on track to cause more deaths than cancer or heart disease,” Eileen Crimmins on the University of Southern California advised CNN.

The fall was seen throughout ethnic teams however was most pronounced in minorities. Black Americans misplaced 2.7 years off their life expectancy, and Hispanics misplaced 1.9 years, whereas white Americans misplaced 0.8 years. Life expectancy disparities between Black and white individuals within the US had been shrinking lately however the pandemic has reversed a few of that progress. Over the previous 40 years, life expectancy had been progressively rising within the US, other than between 2014 and 2017, when it fell by one third of a yr. This has been attributed to the epidemic of opioid misuse within the nation, in addition to stagnating decline in deaths from coronary heart illness.

Other coronavirus news

New coronavirus infections in England fell by two-thirds between mid-January and the primary two weeks of February. The fall exhibits “lockdown measures are effectively bringing infections down”, mentioned Paul Elliott at Imperial College London in an announcement. The figures come from one of many largest and most authoritative surveys of infections referred to as REACT. Currently about one in 200 persons are contaminated in England, the same stage to September. The nationwide R quantity – the typical variety of individuals one particular person will infect – is estimated to be between 0.69 and 0.76, that means that infections are falling. The findings are based mostly on greater than 85,000 swab checks from randomly chosen individuals. While all areas of England confirmed declining infections, they fell most steeply in London, the South East and West Midlands, and much less steeply within the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber. This might be linked to more durable lockdown guidelines being launched earlier in London and the South East, the BBC reported.

Greece has agreed to a trial of permitting vacationers to enter the nation if they’ve been vaccinated towards covid-19, as soon as flights resume. The preliminary trial might be with guests from Israel, which has given the coronavirus vaccine to the next proportion of its inhabitants than every other nation. Greece’s tourism minister, Haris Theoharis advised BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the nation is in talks with British officers about how the same scheme may work with the UK.

Coronavirus deaths

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Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.41 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 110 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

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A coronavirus lateral movement gadget displaying a optimistic take a look at end result.

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17 February

UK authorities plans to ship 400,000 checks a day to properties and workplaces

Rapid coronavirus checks will begin being despatched out by publish subsequent month to permit twice-weekly testing of individuals with out covid-19 signs for as much as two-thirds of England’s inhabitants. The pregnancy-test-style lateral movement assays, which look for viral proteins in a swab from the nostril or throat, produce outcomes inside half an hour, however they don’t seem to be as correct because the slower PCR checks utilized in labs and clinics. The lateral movement checks are already getting used for screening individuals with out covid-19 signs in settings equivalent to healthcare, care properties and in sure colleges and universities. The variety of these checks carried out has elevated massively up to now month. The newest deliberate growth would contain finishing up greater than 400,000 checks a day in properties and workplaces, in response to paperwork seen by The Times. The roll-out would start earlier than colleges open up face-to-face instructing – at the moment slated for 8 March in England – and the checks could be despatched to schoolchildren, their households and lecturers, in addition to anybody who can not work from home. It could be accompanied by a marketing campaign to encourage uptake provisionally referred to as “Are you ready? Get testing. Go.”

Using lateral movement checks for mass screening is controversial, as a result of they’ve a increased false-negative charge than PCR checks. Proponents say lateral movement checks discover people who find themselves most infectious. Critics say they miss people who find themselves nonetheless able to transmitting the virus and who’re then falsely reassured they’re freed from the virus, so might behave extra riskily. A spokesperson for the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care mentioned their plans for increasing testing haven’t but been finalised.

Other coronavirus news

Four extra signs needs to be added to the record of indicators that individuals want a coronavirus take a look at, researchers say. The new signs are fatigue, headache, sore throat and diarrhoea. The current signs that point out the necessity for a take a look at are cough, fever or lack of style or odor. The findings come from an evaluation of customers of an app referred to as the Zoe Covid Symptom Study, which tracks covid-19 signs and instances. Using these additional indicators as a set off for testing would result in many extra individuals being examined who don’t have the virus, however it might additionally decide up 40 per cent extra coronavirus instances, the researchers have calculated. 

The world’s first examine that can intentionally infect wholesome volunteers with the coronavirus will start subsequent month. Initially, 90 individuals aged 18-30 can have a small dose of the virus squirted up their nostril and will then be rigorously monitored to see how their immune system reacts and to seek out the smallest dose wanted for a light an infection. In future the experimenters will examine how efficient vaccines are towards present and novel variants of the virus, mentioned Chris Chiu at Imperial College London.

South Africa will this week develop into the primary nation on the earth to begin giving individuals the Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccine. This one-shot jab is efficient at stopping extreme illness from the coronavirus variant prevalent in that nation.

Coronavirus deaths

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Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.43 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 109.6 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

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A woman wearing a face mask stands on a balcony in a retirement home

A girl in a retirement dwelling seems to be out on the view from her balcony

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16 February

Nearly two million extra individuals might be added to England’s shielding record

About 1.7 million individuals in England might be advised to protect and take additional precautions from covid-19 after they have been discovered to be at critical danger of illness or loss of life. They will even be prioritised for covid-19 vaccination. The addition will convey the entire quantity on the UK authorities’s shielding record to nearly 4 million, all of whom are being suggested to protect till 31 March. 

The individuals being added to the record have been recognized utilizing an algorithm to foretell whether or not an individual is prone to extreme illness or loss of life from covid-19. The algorithm incorporates data on age, ethnicity, physique mass index, different well being situations and postcode (which is indicative of the extent of deprivation). “As we learn more about covid-19, we’re continuously reviewing the evidence,” Jenny Harries, one among England’s deputy chief medical officers, advised a briefing on 16 February. “It was very clear that not all of those individuals who were at risk were identified by the binary approach,” she mentioned. Harries mentioned will probably be as much as the people to resolve whether or not to comply with the shielding recommendation or not.

Other coronavirus news

An estimated one in 5 individuals in England had antibodies towards the coronavirus within the 28 days as much as 1 February, suggesting that they had beforehand been contaminated or had acquired a covid-19 vaccine, in response to the Office for National Statistics. In Wales and Northern Ireland the equal estimate was one in 7 and for Scotland it was one in 9 individuals. People have been examined for antibodies as a part of the COVID-19 Infection Survey within the UK. In England, individuals aged 80 and over have been almost certainly to check optimistic for antibodies with 40.9 per cent testing optimistic, which might be because of the excessive vaccination charge on this group. “It could be tempting to assume that quantifying antibody levels like this tells us the level and distribution of immunity to covid-19 in the population, but we do not know what components of the immune system are required for immunity or how long protection will last,” mentioned Simon Clarke on the University of Reading in a assertion.

Early information from vaccinations in Israel point out that the Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccine prevents 94 per cent of symptomatic coronavirus infections. The examine checked out 600,000 absolutely vaccinated individuals and the identical variety of unvaccinated individuals. This is a really related stage of effectiveness to that recorded in scientific trials of the vaccine. Israel’s well being fund, Clalit, used coronavirus take a look at outcomes extracted from individuals’s well being data to match numbers of infections between those that had acquired two doses of the vaccine and those that hadn’t acquired any doses. There have been 94 per cent fewer infections amongst those that had been vaccinated. Nearly half of Israel’s resident grownup inhabitants have acquired a minimum of one dose of covid-19 vaccine to date.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.41 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 109 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

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Genome sequencing of the coronavirus and its variants on the Centre National de Reference in France

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15 February

Coronavirus variants carrying related mutations detected within the US 

Seven coronavirus variants carrying related mutations have been detected within the US. All the variants, reported in a preliminary examine, have gained a mutation on the similar location of their genome and seem to belong to the identical lineage as a virus first sequenced on 1 December, which subsequently turned extra widespread. “There’s clearly something going on with this mutation,” Jeremy Kamil at Louisiana State University and co-author of the examine, advised the New York Times. It isn’t clear if the mutation makes the variants extra transmissible, just like the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant first sequenced within the UK, however its location in a gene that influences how the virus enters human cells is regarding. “I think there’s a clear signature of an evolutionary benefit,” mentioned Kamil. The preliminary examine was launched on a pre-print server and has not been peer-reviewed.

Other coronavirus news

UK well being minister Matt Hancock revealed that a 3rd of social care employees in England haven’t had a covid-19 vaccine but, regardless of being among the many first precedence teams. “We’ll keep offering and keep contacting people who work in social care,” Hancock advised the BBC’s Breakfast present. “Obviously the uptake there is very important,” he mentioned. Separately, a preliminary examine discovered decrease covid-19 vaccine uptake amongst Black, Asian and minority ethnic employees on the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust in England. “These findings give significant cause for concern, as ethnic minority groups (especially those working in healthcare) are at higher risk of infection with [the coronavirus] and adverse outcome from covid-19,” mentioned the report, which has not been peer-reviewed. More than 15 million individuals have acquired a dose of covid-19 vaccine within the UK to date, in line with the federal government’s goal of providing a primary dose of vaccine to 4 precedence teams by mid-February.

“We’ll do everything we can” to reopen colleges in England by 8 March, UK prime minister Boris Johnson has mentioned, including: “But we’ve got to keep looking at the data, we’ve got to keep looking at the rates of infection, don’t forget they’re still very high.” The UK authorities is predicted to set out plans for ending restrictions at a briefing on 22 February. Johnson mentioned the federal government’s plans might be “cautious but irreversible”.

The first travellers required to remain at quarantine resorts in England arrived at London’s Heathrow airport on 15 February. People arriving within the UK from 33 “red list” international locations are actually required to enter necessary resort quarantine for 10 days on arrival, at their very own expense.

Coronavirus deaths

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Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.4 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 108 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

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A girl receives the Oxford/AstraZeneca covid19 vaccine at an NHS vaccination heart in Ealing, west London

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12 February

Vaccinations of individuals underneath 70 start in England subsequent week

Vaccinators in England can now begin giving covid-19 vaccines to individuals aged between 65 and 69, so long as they’ve already provided jabs to older and clinically weak individuals within the prime precedence teams. “We have been told by NHS England that, in exceptional circumstances, where we have reached other groups, we can move on to cohort five [people aged 65 to 69],” an nameless physician advised the Guardian. Across the UK, 14 million individuals had acquired a primary dose of covid-19 vaccine as of 12 February – equal to about 20 per cent of the entire inhabitants.

Infections fall throughout the UK

Coronavirus infections look like falling throughout the UK. The Office for National Statistics estimates that about one in 80 individuals in England had covid-19 within the week as much as 6 February, down from one in 65 individuals the earlier week. In Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland the equal figures for the latest week are roughly one in 85, one in 75 and one in 150 individuals respectively, all down from the earlier week’s figures. The newest official estimate of the R quantity – the typical variety of individuals every particular person with coronavirus infects – places it between 0.7 and 0.9  for the UK as an entire, indicating the nation’s epidemic is shrinking. 

Neil Ferguson at Imperial College London, who advises the UK authorities as a part of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, mentioned lockdowns have helped drive down instances. “They’re basically halving about every 17 days at the moment,” he advised Politico’s Westminster Insider podcast. Ferguson mentioned it is perhaps potential to reopen a minimum of major colleges in a month’s time. “And if we continue to see then a continued decline without large outbreaks, then perhaps starting to relax other aspects of society the following month,” he added. UK prime minister Boris Johnson has mentioned discussions on reopening colleges will occur within the week beginning 22 February, with colleges probably capable of reopen from 8 March.

Other coronavirus news

Germany is imposing strict new border controls resulting from concern over coronavirus variants, with a ban on travel into the nation from the Czech Republic and Austria the place the B.1351 and B.1.1.7 variants of the virus have been discovered to be prevalent. Returning residents and sure important employees might be exempt. 

French well being authority Haute Autorite de Sante really useful that individuals who have already had covid-19 and recovered ought to solely be provided a single shot of covid-19 vaccine. “The single dose of vaccine will act as a reminder,” it mentioned in an announcement.

Coronavirus deaths

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Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.37 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 107 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

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Photo of a person's hand holding a box of medication labelled tocilizumab

A pharmacist in France shows a field of tocilizumab, which is used within the remedy of rheumatoid arthritis

PASCAL ROSSIGNOL/REUTERS/Alamy Stock Photo

11 February

Roche’s arthritis drug tocilizumab discovered to chop danger of loss of life amongst sufferers with extreme covid-19

The arthritis drug tocilizumab reduces the chance of loss of life amongst severely sick covid-19 sufferers, in response to findings from the RECOVERY trial, which has been testing a spread of potential therapies for the illness since March final yr. The examine discovered that 29 per cent of covid-19 sufferers who acquired tocilizumab died inside 28 days, in comparison with 33 per cent of those that didn’t obtain the drug. Treatment with tocilizumab – bought underneath the model identify Actemra by Swiss firm Roche – additionally shortened the time to restoration and diminished the requirement for mechanical air flow. The trial included 2022 covid-19 sufferers randomly allotted to obtain tocilizumab along with their commonplace care and 2094 sufferers allotted to straightforward care solely, which for 82 per cent of all sufferers within the examine included remedy with a steroid, equivalent to dexamethasone. Last yr, dexamethasone turned the first drug discovered to cut back loss of life charges in covid-19 sufferers. The most up-to-date outcomes point out that tocilizumab gives further advantages when used with steroids, like dexamethasone. “Used in combination, the impact is substantial,” mentioned Martin Landray on the University of Oxford, one of many lead investigators on the trial. “After dexamethasone (steroids), this is the most significant advance in the treatment of covid,” mentioned Athimalaipet Ramanan on the University of Bristol in a assertion.

Other coronavirus news

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued up to date steering saying individuals who have been “fully vaccinated” towards covid-19 are now not suggested to quarantine if they’re uncovered to somebody who checks optimistic for coronavirus. This applies to individuals who have had each doses of a covid-19 vaccine a minimum of two weeks in the past. However, the CDC mentioned this doesn’t imply that absolutely vaccinated people ought to cease taking precautions and added that individuals who had their photographs three months in the past or extra ought to nonetheless quarantine if they’re uncovered, because it isn’t identified how lengthy safety towards covid-19 lasts.

US well being officers are advising individuals within the nation to think about sporting two masks on prime of one another to higher shield themselves towards coronavirus an infection. A CDC report instructed sporting a material masks over a disposable surgical masks or enhancing the match of a single surgical masks as methods to spice up safety.

It may take six to 9 months to provide and deploy covid-19 vaccines that work towards new variants of the coronavirus, in response to AstraZeneca. The UK-Swedish firm made this assertion after its present vaccine was discovered to be much less efficient towards the coronavirus variant first recognized in South Africa.

The Guardian reported that greater than 40 per cent of employees on the UK’s largest care dwelling supplier haven’t acquired any doses of covid-19 vaccine.

Coronavirus deaths

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Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.35 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 107 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

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A woman is pictured sitting on a chair, holding a coronavirus test kit

A girl takes a coronavirus take a look at at a short lived testing facility in London, UK

Hollie Adams/Getty Images

10 February

Chills, lack of urge for food, headache and muscle ache linked to covid-19 in new examine

New signs have been linked to covid-19 in sure age teams, together with chills, lack of urge for food, headache and muscle ache, in Imperial College London’s REACT examine. The 4 new signs have been recognized by researchers by random swab testing and questioning of greater than one million individuals in England, performed between June 2020 and January 2021. The researchers discovered an affiliation between testing optimistic for the coronavirus and reporting any of those new signs or different signs beforehand linked to covid-19, equivalent to a persistent cough, fever or a loss or change in sense of style or odor. 

The extra signs individuals had, the extra seemingly they have been to check optimistic, though there was some variation in signs throughout totally different age teams. Chills have been linked with an infection throughout all age teams, whereas complications have been reported primarily in kids aged 5-17, urge for food loss in adults over 18 and muscle aches in these aged 18-54. Infected 5-17 yr olds have been additionally much less more likely to report experiencing fever, persistent cough and urge for food loss, as compared with adults.

The REACT examine additionally checked out whether or not reported signs modified earlier than and after the B.1.1.7 variant turned the dominant variant within the UK. It discovered that signs have been largely related, regardless of the elevated prevalence of B.1.1.7. However, loss or change of sense of odor was much less predictive of getting covid-19 in January when B.1.1.7 accounted for about 86 per cent of infections, in contrast with November to December when it was 16 per cent. “As the epidemic progresses and new variants emerge, it’s essential that we keep monitoring how the virus affects people so that testing programmes meet changing needs,” mentioned Joshua Elliott, one of many researchers behind the examine at Imperial College London, in an announcement.

Other coronavirus news

People within the UK are going to should “get used to the idea of vaccinating and revaccinating in the autumn as we face these new variants”, UK prime minister Boris Johnson advised parliament on 10 February. Several vaccine producers have confirmed that they’re already engaged on new variations of their covid-19 vaccines to ensure they continue to be efficient. The UK authorities just lately introduced a partnership with producer CureVac to quickly manufacture new vaccines in response to new coronavirus variants if wanted. “We believe that they may help us to develop vaccines that can respond at scale to new variants of the virus,” mentioned Johnson.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam mentioned he doesn’t assume the B.1351 coronavirus variant first recognized in South Africa “is going to be a dominant issue in the next few months”. Speaking on BBC News, Van-Tam mentioned 90 per cent of instances within the UK in the intervening time are attributable to the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in Kent.

South Africa is contemplating promoting or exchanging its doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine, in response to the nation’s well being minister. Plans to begin administering the jabs have been placed on maintain this week after a small, preliminary examine indicated it might not shield towards delicate or average covid-19 attributable to the B.1.351 variant.

Coronavirus deaths

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Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.34 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 107 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

Boosting vaccines: The coronavirus vaccines received’t work for everybody, however there are many issues we all know may also help with vaccine success, from sleeping nicely earlier than a jab to avoiding doomscrolling afterwards and getting sufficient train.

Searching for immunity: Not everybody can have uncomfortable side effects equivalent to a sore arm from a coronavirus vaccine, however that doesn’t imply it didn’t work. Antibody checks can verify your immunity, however they have to be the proper.

Peter Ben Embarek, a member of the WHO-China joint study team, gestures with his hand as he answers a question during a press conference

Peter Ben Embarek solutions questions on the WHO-China joint examine press convention in Wuhan, China on 9 February

Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

9 February

WHO staff in China is investigating concept that coronavirus was unfold by frozen meals

The World Health Organization (WHO) mission in Wuhan, China has dominated out the likelihood that the coronavirus originated in a laboratory, however the staff is investigating whether or not the virus got here from frozen meals, presumably from exterior China. The investigation staff chief Peter Ben Embarek mentioned the virus appears to have originated in bats, as initially thought, nevertheless it was most likely transmitted to people through an unknown intermediate species, presumably a lifeless or frozen animal meals product. Embarek mentioned it’s “extremely unlikely” that the virus escaped from a lab. The WHO mission arrived in China in January and spent 4 weeks researching the origin of the coronavirus with web site visits to the Huanan seafood market, initially suspected because the supply of the virus, in addition to the laboratories on the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was additionally being investigated as a possible supply. It introduced its preliminary findings at a press briefing in Wuhan on 9 February. 

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People arriving in England who’re required to quarantine in resorts might be charged a charge of £1750 to cowl the price of their keep, transport and coronavirus checks, UK well being minister Matt Hancock introduced. People who fail to quarantine face fines of as much as £10,000, whereas those that lie on their passenger locator types about visiting any of 33 “red list” international locations resist 10 years in jail. Hancock mentioned related measures are being checked out for the devolved nations. “People who flout these rules are putting us all at risk,” he advised parliament on Tuesday. He additionally confirmed that an enhanced testing regime for all arrivals would begin on 15 February, from which level all arrivals might be required to get examined for the coronavirus on the second and eighth days of their 10-day quarantine interval.

Extra covid-19 testing will start in components of Greater Manchester within the UK, following the invention of 4 individuals contaminated with a mutated model of the B.1.1.7 variant, first recognized in Kent. The 4 individuals, from two separate households in Greater Manchester, have been discovered to be contaminated with a virus carrying the E484K mutation. The mutation is regarding, as there’s proof that some covid-19 vaccines could also be much less efficient towards the B.1.351 variant, also referred to as the “South Africa variant”, which has the identical mutation.  

The NHS covid-19 app has advised 1.7 million individuals in England and Wales to self-isolate since its launch in September. A preliminary evaluation by researchers on the University of Oxford and the Alan Turing Institute signifies 594,000 coronavirus instances have been prevented by the app. The app has had about 21.7 million downloads, though inside information suggests about 16.5 million persons are at the moment actively utilizing its contact-tracing instrument, in response to the BBC.

Coronavirus deaths

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Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.32 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 106 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

South Africa variant: South Africa paused its rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine because it won’t be efficient towards the South African B.1.351 coronavirus variant – however it’s nonetheless more likely to restrict the severity of covid-19.

A person wearing a face mask leans out of a car window to get vaccinated

An individual receives a covid-19 vaccine at a drive-through vaccination centre in St Albans, UK

REUTERS/Paul Childs

8 February

Researchers are investigating methods to switch covid-19 vaccines to deal with the South Africa variant and others that emerge

UK ministers say work is underway to tweak current covid-19 vaccines to deal with new variants of the coronavirus together with the B.1.351 coronavirus variant, generally known as the “South Africa variant”. On 6 February, a small, preliminary examine was reported to point out that the Oxford/AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine might not shield towards delicate or average covid-19 attributable to B.1.351. At least 147 instances of this variant have now been detected within the UK. “Our brilliant scientists and medical advisers are now working on the potential for new versions of existing vaccines to offer further protections against covid variants,” Nadhim Zahawi, minister for covid-19 vaccine deployment, wrote within the Telegraph. As a precaution, South Africa – the place the variant accounts for about 90 per cent of recent coronavirus instances – has put its rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on maintain. However, the examine, which has not but been revealed or peer-reviewed, was comparatively small and didn’t take a look at the impression of the vaccine on extreme illness or loss of life.

Sarah Gilbert on the University of Oxford, one of many lead vaccine researchers on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, mentioned a modified model that’s efficient towards the South Africa variant might be able to deploy within the autumn. “What we’re seeing from other vaccine developers is that they have a reduction in efficacy against some of the variant viruses,” Gilbert advised the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on 7 February, including that though vaccines could also be much less efficient at decreasing instances with new variants, they nonetheless look like protecting towards loss of life, hospitalisation and extreme illness. Other covid-19 vaccine producers are additionally engaged on new variations of their vaccines to ensure they continue to be efficient. “We’re very confident in all the vaccines that we are using, and I think it’s important for people to bear in mind that all of them, we think, are effective in delivering a high degree of protection against serious illness and death, which is the most important thing,” mentioned UK prime minister Boris Johnson, in an interview with Sky News on 8 February. “We will be continuing to study the results, the effectiveness, of the vaccine rollout.”

Other coronavirus news

All individuals residing within the UK might be eligible to obtain a covid-19 vaccine no matter whether or not they have the authorized proper to work and dwell within the nation, the UK authorities mentioned on 8 February. “Coronavirus vaccines will be offered to everyone living in the UK free of charge, regardless of immigration status,” a authorities spokesperson advised Reuters. The authorities mentioned getting the vaccine wouldn’t set off immigration checks.

Ireland mentioned it’ll crack down on travellers returning to the UK from the Middle East through Ireland to keep away from just lately launched quarantine guidelines. The variety of individuals travelling to Dublin from Dubai has risen for the reason that UK added the United Arab Emirates to its travel ban record in January.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.31 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 106 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

Pandemic burnout: The stress of the pandemic dangers constructing to burnout, however news that vaccines assist cease individuals catching and spreading the coronavirus affords hope of launch.

Three people wearing face coverings sit on chairs in a waiting area

People wait to obtain the Oxford/AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine at Copes pharmacy in Streatham, England

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

5 February

Early outcomes counsel the Oxford covid-19 vaccine works towards B.1.1.7 virus variant

Preliminary outcomes point out that the covid-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca is efficient towards the extremely transmissible coronavirus variant B.1.1.7, which was first detected within the UK. Researchers on the University of Oxford analysed swabs from vaccine trial contributors who had examined optimistic for the coronavirus between 1 October 2020 and 14 January 2021, to find out the variant of the virus with which that they had been contaminated. They discovered related efficacy charges of the vaccine towards the B.1.1.7 variant (74.6 per cent efficient) and the unique virus (84 per cent efficient). This is although these contaminated with the B.1.1.7 variant produced fewer antibodies that might neutralise the virus. The outcomes have been launched on-line as a pre-print and haven’t been peer-reviewed.

Vaccine researchers are investigating methods to switch current covid-19 vaccines quickly to make sure continued safety towards different new variants as nicely. “We are working with AstraZeneca to optimise the pipeline required for a strain change should one become necessary,” mentioned Sarah Gilbert on the University of Oxford in a assertion. “This is the same issue that is faced by all of the vaccine developers, and we will continue to monitor the emergence of new variants that arise in readiness for a future strain change,” she mentioned. “All viruses accumulate mutations over time, and for influenza vaccines there is a well-known process of global viral surveillance, and selection of strains for an annual update of the vaccines.”

Other coronavirus news

Coronavirus instances look like falling in many of the UK. The most up-to-date outcomes from a random swab testing survey by the Office for National Statistics point out optimistic checks have been falling in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland within the week as much as 30 January. New infections throughout the UK as an entire are estimated to be falling by between 2 and 5 per cent every day, and the most recent official estimate for the UK’s R quantity – the typical variety of individuals every coronavirus case infects – places it between 0.7 and 1.0. This is almost certainly to signify the state of affairs two to 3 weeks in the past, resulting from a time lag within the information. The UK authorities mentioned it goals for all individuals aged 50 and above to have been provided a covid-19 vaccine by May, clarifying earlier feedback by a spokesperson for UK prime minister Boris Johnson who on 4 February mentioned the federal government’s goal was “spring”.

Johnson & Johnson utilized for an emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration for its covid-19 vaccine. The firm introduced final week that the single-dose vaccine had an efficacy of about 66 per cent in part III trials. If accredited, it might develop into the third covid-19 vaccine authorised for emergency use within the US, after these developed by Pfizer and its associate BioNTech and by Moderna.

Israel introduced it will ease lockdown restrictions from 7 am native time on 7 February however will maintain its borders closed, after a slight discount in coronavirus instances. Almost 80 per cent of individuals over 50 in Israel have acquired a covid-19 vaccine to date. The nation is vaccinating its 9 million residents at the next charge than every other nation.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.28 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 105 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

A person wearing personal protective equipment holds a vaccine vial and syringe between their fingers

A physician prepares to manage the Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Salisbury Cathedral in Salisbury, UK

NEIL HALL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

4 February

UK plans to check impact of giving one dose every of the Pfizer and Astrazeneca covid-19 vaccines

A UK trial is aiming to research the impression of giving individuals two totally different covid-19 vaccines for their first and second doses. Being in a position to make use of both vaccine will create extra flexibility within the supply of doses, and assist take care of disruption in provides, mentioned England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam. He mentioned combining two totally different vaccines on this method may additionally increase immune responses, probably main to higher safety towards covid-19. The trial, which is being led by researchers on the University of Oxford and funded by the UK authorities’s vaccine taskforce, will recruit 820 volunteers over the age of fifty who haven’t but acquired a covid-19 vaccine. Participants will then obtain a primary dose of both the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca or the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Some of them will get the identical vaccine once more for their second dose 4 or 12 weeks later and others will get a second dose of the opposite vaccine, to check the impact of mixing the 2 photographs and of various time intervals between doses. 

UK vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi mentioned the nation is on observe to fulfill its goal of vaccinating all individuals within the 4 precedence teams towards covid-19 by 15 February. He advised parliament it has been “an incredible effort” that has “drawn on the hard work of so many”. Last month, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson mentioned the UK authorities goals to have given a primary dose of covid-19 vaccine to all these over 70, probably the most clinically weak individuals and frontline well being and social care employees by 15 February – equal to about 15 million individuals. Across the UK, greater than 10.4 million individuals had acquired a primary dose of covid-19 vaccine as of 4 February.

Other coronavirus news

International travel was related to elevated loss of life charges within the worst-affected international locations throughout the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, in response to a examine revealed within the scientific journal BMJ Open. Tiberiu Pana on the University of Aberdeen, UK, and colleagues analysed the connection between country-level elements – equivalent to worldwide arrivals, inhabitants density and well being indicators – and the typical enhance in every day deaths recorded in early 2020 throughout the 37 international locations with the very best loss of life charges from covid-19. They discovered that the largest enhance in loss of life charges was related to worldwide arrivals. An enhance of one million worldwide arrivals was related to a 3.4 per cent rise within the common every day enhance in covid-19 deaths.

A World Health Organization scientist has mentioned society is unlikely to return to “normal” till 2022. “I think we are going to be well into next year before we see a change – that change is likely to be caused by high coverage of the vaccines,” mentioned Helen Rees, who sits on the WHO’s committee for covid-19. “I think this new normal we all talk about is with us for a very long time,” Rees advised BBC Wales Live.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.27 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 104 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

Tweaking vaccines: The coronavirus is evolving to evade the safety from vaccines and pure immunity – what can we do to battle again?

Vaccine nationalism: The quickest approach to finish the covid-19 disaster is for international locations to place the pursuits of the world forward of their very own, says Seth Berkley.

Royal Navy medics prepare syringes of the Oxford/AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre

Royal Navy medics put together syringes of the Oxford/AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Bath, UK

ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP through Getty Images

3 February

Covid-19 vaccine towards new variants might be deployed quickly, says Oxford vaccine researcher

A model of the covid-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca that may deal with the brand new, extremely transmissible coronavirus variants might be able to deploy in about 7 months within the UK, in response to a researcher on the Oxford vaccine staff. “The actual work on designing a new vaccine is very, very quick because it’s essentially just switching out the genetic sequence for the spike protein,” Andrew Pollard on the University of Oxford advised the BBC. “And then there’s manufacturing to do and then a small scale study. So all of that can be completed in a very short period of time, and the autumn is really the timing for having new vaccines available for use,” he mentioned. Pollard mentioned work is already underway to replace the vaccine and enhance its efficacy towards just lately recognized coronavirus mutations, equivalent to these within the variants first sequenced within the UK and South Africa.

Preliminary outcomes counsel that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine might cut back coronavirus transmission, along with decreasing symptomatic covid-19 and extreme sickness. UK well being minister Matt Hancock praised the findings of the examine led by researchers on the University of Oxford. The outcomes point out that two doses of the jab cut back coronavirus an infection with or with out signs by 67 per cent. They additionally counsel {that a} single dose of the vaccine is 76 per cent efficient at stopping symptomatic covid-19 for three months, with this determine rising to 82 per cent after two doses. Hancock described the outcomes as “absolutely superb” and mentioned they present that “vaccines are the way out of this pandemic”.

Other coronavirus news

A cellular coronavirus testing unit has been arrange within the city of Southport in England to check residents for the coronavirus and determine if they’ve the variant first recognized in South Africa. Firefighters and council employees are additionally delivering 10,000 dwelling testing kits to individuals residing within the space.

Denmark introduced plans to introduce a digital “Corona-Pass”, which might permit Danish residents to show they’ve been vaccinated towards covid-19 for the needs of enterprise and leisure travel, in response to the nation’s finance ministry.

Israel will begin increasing its covid-19 vaccination programme to everybody over the age of 16, in response to its well being ministry.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.25 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 104 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

Pandemic burnout: As the coronavirus disaster goes on, an rising variety of us are feeling worn out and unable to manage. Here’s how one can inform if that is burnout, and what you are able to do to guard your self.

Vaccine throughout being pregnant: With little security information out there on covid-19 vaccines throughout being pregnant, people who’re pregnant should weigh up the dangers and advantages for themselves, whereas proof for those that are breastfeeding is extra clear.

Passengers push luggage on trolleys through a terminal at London's Heathrow airport

Travellers arrive at London’s Heathrow airport

Hollie Adams/Getty Images

2 February

UK science advisers really useful introduction of travel restrictions two weeks in the past

The UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) suggested the federal government to introduce necessary resort quarantine for travellers arriving into the UK two weeks in the past, in response to minutes from a gathering on 21 January that have been leaked to the Times. On Thursday 21 January, SAGE reportedly warned that “reactive, geographically targeted” travel bans couldn’t be relied on to forestall faster-spreading coronavirus variants, equivalent to these recognized in South Africa and Brazil, from reaching the UK, including that: “no intervention, other than a complete, pre-emptive closure of borders, or the mandatory quarantine of all visitors upon arrival in designated facilities, irrespective of testing history, can get close to fully preventing the importation of new cases or new variants.” 

A Downing Street spokesperson mentioned SAGE didn’t immediately advise UK prime minister Boris Johnson to shut borders. Universities minister Michelle Donelan advised Sky News that the federal government “always based our decisions on the best medical and scientific advice” and mentioned “the SAGE advice actually said it would probably be ineffective, in fact, to close the borders, which was the same advice that we got at the time from the World Health Organization”. Johnson introduced geographically focused resort quarantine measures for travellers getting back from 30 international locations, together with Brazil and South Africa, final week.

UK well being minister Matt Hancock urged individuals residing in postcodes in England singled out for enhanced coronavirus testing for the so-called South Africa variant to keep at dwelling until “absolutely essential”. Urgent door-to-door testing for the faster-spreading variant has been deployed after 11 instances with no hyperlink to overseas travel have been recognized in components of England.

Other coronavirus news

Interim outcomes from part III trials counsel Russia’s covid-19 vaccine is 91.6 per cent efficient, and information on the vaccine is being submitted to the European Medicines Agency, in response to Kirill Dmitriev, director of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. The outcomes, based mostly on a part III trial together with 21,977 adults, three-quarters of whom acquired the Sputnik V vaccine, are revealed in scientific journal the Lancet. Other contributors acquired a placebo. 

Sweden introduced it might not suggest the covid-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford in partnership with AstraZeneca for individuals aged over 65, hours after Poland mentioned it might not supply the vaccine to over 60s. Last week, medical specialists in Germany and Austria made related suggestions, citing a scarcity of information on this age group. The European Medicines Agency authorised the vaccine for use in all grownup age teams throughout the European Union and June Raine, chief government of the UK Medicines and Healthcare merchandise Regulatory Agency, final week mentioned: “Current evidence does not suggest any lack of protection against covid-19 in people aged 65 or over. The data we have shows that the vaccine produces a strong immune response in the over-65s.”

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.24 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 103 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

Faster-spreading variants: The faster-spreading UK coronavirus variant has acquired a mutation that can assist it evade immune safety – the identical mutation already discovered within the South African variant.

Article amended on 4 February 2021

We corrected June Raine’s identify.

A health worker talks with a man taking a swab test in a park

A well being employee talks with a person taking a swab take a look at in Goldsworth Park, because the South African variant of the novel coronavirus is reported in components of Surrey, in Woking, UK, 1 February 2021

REUTERS/Hannah McKay

1 February

All adults in components of England to be examined for South Africa variant after 11 new instances recognized

Door-to-door testing for the so-called South Africa coronavirus variant will start in components of England this week, after 11 instances with no identified hyperlinks to travel or to earlier instances have been recognized in eight areas of the nation. Urgent testing of adults, no matter signs, will happen in some postcodes in Hertfordshire, Surrey, Kent, Walsall, Sefton and within the London boroughs of Merton, Haringey and Ealing. “We are trying to contain this so it does not spread,” Susan Hopkins, senior medical adviser at Public Health England advised the BBC. Any newly recognized infections might be analysed to see if they’re attributable to the extremely transmissible coronavirus variant first sequenced in South Africa. 

UK well being minister Matt Hancock “has ordered an attempt at eradication of the new variant if at all possible”, with public well being officers beginning to go door-to-door in affected areas this week, in response to a briefing seen by the Guardian. “This is a precautionary measure,” mentioned Ruth Hutchinson, director of public well being for Surrey, in an announcement. “The more cases of the variant we find, the better chance we have at stopping it from spreading further,” mentioned Hutchinson, including: “It’s really important to say that there is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness, so you don’t need to worry.”

Other coronavirus news

A covid-19 vaccine has now been provided to older residents at each eligible care dwelling in England, the NHS introduced, however vaccination charges of care dwelling employees are lagging behind residents. Fiona Carragher, director of analysis and influencing at Alzheimer’s Society advised the BBC she remained involved that the vaccination rollout for care dwelling employees “has not been nearly so effective”. In January, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson mentioned the UK authorities goals to vaccinate all these over 70, probably the most clinically weak individuals and frontline well being and social care employees by 15 February – equal to about 15 million vaccinations. Across the UK, greater than 8.9 million individuals had acquired a primary dose of covid-19 vaccine as of 30 January.

The European Union mentioned AstraZeneca has agreed to produce it with 9 million further doses of its covid-19 vaccine, developed in partnership with the University of Oxford. This brings the entire variety of anticipated doses for the primary quarter of this yr to 40 million, which is about half of what the EU was initially anticipating. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen tweeted saying the corporate would develop its manufacturing capability in Europe, and begin delivering doses per week sooner than scheduled.

Germany’s well being minister Jens Spahn hinted that covid-19 vaccines from China and Russia might be utilized in Europe to compensate for the shortfall of doses provided by Pfizer and its associate BioNTech, and by Oxford/AstraZeneca. “Regardless of the country in which a vaccine is manufactured, if they are safe and effective, they can help cope with the pandemic,” Spahn advised German media on Sunday, including that any vaccine will first must be accredited by the European Medicines Agency.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.23 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 103 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

Can vaccines cease transmission?: Several research counsel that coronavirus vaccines can considerably cut back transmission of the virus, however not halt it fully – so social distancing continues to be needed.

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A lab technician working at Janssen Pharmaceutical in Beerse, Belgium

Virginia Mayo/AP/Shutterstock

29 January

Vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax report optimistic trial outcomes

A coronavirus vaccine developed by the US agency Novavax has been proven to be 89 per cent efficient in stopping covid-19 in scientific trials. The trials included contributors within the UK and South Africa, and discovered the vaccine to be 86 per cent efficient towards the UK variant of the virus, however solely 60 per cent efficient towards the variant in South Africa. Novavax mentioned it’ll instantly start growth on a vaccine particularly focused to the South African variant.

Janssen, a subsidiary of US agency Johnson & Johnson, introduced that its covid-19 vaccine confirmed 66 per cent efficacy in a global trial. These outcomes are based mostly on a single dose of the vaccine, which makes it simpler to manage than the two-shot vaccines which have already been accredited. The firm has mentioned it’ll promote its vaccine on a not-for-profit foundation.

The UK has already ordered 30 million doses of the Janssen vaccine and the European Union has ordered 400 million. The UK has additionally ordered 60 million doses of the Novavax jab.

Other coronavirus news

The European Medicines Agency has really useful the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for all adults, which can permit mass use of the vaccine within the European Union. Yesterday, a German committee really useful towards approving the vaccine for individuals over 65 due to inadequate information within the trials, however the EMA’s specialists mentioned safety might be anticipated on this group and there’s dependable data on security. The vaccine is already the topic of a dispute between AstraZeneca and the EU over the agency’s resolution to produce fewer doses to the EU this yr than initially agreed. Today, the European Commission revealed components of its contract with AstraZeneca, which it says obliges the corporate to produce the agreed volumes. The drug-maker says the contract solely obliges it to make its “best effort” to fulfill the EU demand, to not stick with a particular timetable. The EU additionally introduced export restrictions on vaccines made throughout the bloc in response to the deliberate lower in deliveries. 

The coronavirus variant from South Africa – which is extra infectiousness  than the unique variant has been detected within the US for the primary time, with two instances confirmed in South Carolina

The New York state authorities has launched new figures displaying that it undercounted deaths from covid-19 in nursing dwelling residents by greater than 3800. The state’s total loss of life toll has not elevated, however the increased tally in nursing properties has fuelled criticism that governor Andrew Cuomo didn’t do sufficient to guard these residents.

In the UK, covid-19 hospital admissions fell to 33.51 per 100,000 individuals from a charge of 35.64 within the week ending 24 January, figures from the Office for National Statistics present. One in 55 individuals in personal households in England examined optimistic for covid-19 between 17 and 23 January, which has similarities to the earlier week. The an infection charge was roughly one in 70 in Wales, one in 50 in Northern Ireland and one in 110 in Scotland. The R quantity for the UK is between 0.7 and 1.1, in response to the newest estimate by the federal government’s scientific advisory group. The R quantity is the variety of individuals every particular person with covid-19 will go on to contaminate.

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

Global vaccine distribution: While mass immunisation programmes are making speedy progress in wealthy nations, many middle-income international locations have solely simply begun roll-outs and most low-income ones will take months to get began. These delays enhance the chance of mutations resulting in variants which might be extra transmissible,and might render vaccines much less efficient in future.

Coronavirus deaths

The worldwide covid-19 loss of life toll has handed 2.19 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 101 million, in response to Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances might be a lot increased.

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