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Publication: Bulletin of the World Health Organization; Type: Research Article ID: BLT.20.265892

Infection fatality rate of COVID-19 inferred from seroprevalence data

Author: John Ioannidis

Publication date: 14 October 2020

Source: World Health Organization

Objective: To estimate the infection fatality rate of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

from seroprevalence data.

Methods: I searched PubMed and preprint servers for COVID-19 seroprevalence studies with a sample size  500 as of 9 September, 2020. I also retrieved additional results of national studies from preliminary press releases and reports. I assessed the studies for design features and seroprevalence estimates. I estimated the infection fatality rate for each study by dividing the number of COVID-19 deaths by the number of people estimated to be infected in each region. I corrected for the number of antibody types tested (immunoglobin, IgG, IgM, IgA).

Results: I included 61 studies (74 estimates) and eight preliminary national estimates. Seroprevalence estimates ranged from 0.02% to 53.40%. Infection fatality rates ranged from 0.00% to 1.63%, corrected values from 0.00% to 1.54%. Across 51 locations, the median COVID-19 infection fatality rate was 0.27% (corrected 0.23%): the rate was 0.09% in locations with COVID-19 population mortality rates less than the global average (< 118 deaths/million), 0.20% in locations with 118–500 COVID-19 deaths/million people and 0.57% in locations with > 500 COVID-19 deaths/million people. In people < 70 years, infection fatality rates ranged from 0.00% to 0.31% with crude and corrected medians of 0.05%.

Conclusion: The infection fatality rate of COVID-19 can vary substantially across different locations and this may reflect differences in population age structure and case- mix of infected and deceased patients and other factors. The inferred infection fatality rates tended to be much lower than estimates made earlier in the pandemic.

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SARS-CoV-2 pandemic

Impact of SARS-CoV-2 on Seasonal Respiratory Viruses: A Tale of Two Large Metropolitan Centers in the United States

Authors: Sherman AC et al

Publication date: 20 October 2020

Journal: medRxiv preprint

DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.15.20213371

To assess the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on seasonal respiratory viruses, absolute case counts and viral reproductive rates from 2019-2020 were compared against previous seasons. Our findings suggest that the public health measures implemented to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission significantly reduced the transmission of other respiratory viruses.

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Spanish Flu research shows local pandemic outbreaks can occur over extended period

Publication date: 15 October 200

Source: Lancaster University

New research into the long-term effects of the Spanish Flu pandemic on the population of Glasgow offers lessons for the potential consequences of Covid-19.

Researchers from Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) and the University of Glasgow analysed detailed archival records for the City of Glasgow from 1898 to 1972.

The project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19, and involving Glasgow City Archives and Glasgow Life, looked at deaths from infectious and non-communicable diseases following the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-19.

The researchers found that the pandemic was followed by a period of heightened volatility in death rates from influenza and related diseases, reflecting more frequent outbreaks in Glasgow, with smaller fluctuations post-1940.

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Covid-19 patients

Attributes and predictors of Long-COVID: analysis of COVID cases and their symptoms collected by the Covid Symptoms Study App

Authors: Sudre CH et al

Publication date: 19 October 2020

Journal: medRxvi preprint

DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.19.20214494

Reports of "Long-COVID", are rising but little is known about prevalence, risk factors, or whether it is possible to predict a protracted course early in the disease. We analysed data from 4182 incident cases of COVID-19 who logged their symptoms prospectively in the COVID Symptom Study app. 558 (13.3%) had symptoms lasting >28 days, 189 (4.5%) for >8 weeks and 95 (2.3%) for >12 weeks. Long-COVID was characterised by symptoms of fatigue, headache, dyspnoea and anosmia and was more likely with increasing age, BMI and female sex. Experiencing more than five symptoms during the first week of illness was associated with Long-COVID, OR=3.53 [2.76;4.50]. Our model to predict long-COVID at 7 days, which gained a ROC-AUC of 76%, was replicated in an independent sample of 2472 antibody positive individuals. This model could be used to identify individuals for clinical trials to reduce long-term symptoms and target education and rehabilitation services.

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UK report on 12,133 patients critically ill with COVID-19

Institution: Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre (ICNARC)

Publication date: 16 October 2020


Recent endemic coronavirus infection is associated with less severe COVID-19

Authors: Sagar M et al

Publication date: 30 September 2020

Journal: The Journal of Clinical Investigation

DOI: 10.1172/JCI143380

Four different endemic coronaviruses (eCoVs) are etiologic agents for the seasonal “common cold,” and these eCoVs share extensive sequence homology with human severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). Here, we show that individuals with as compared to without a relatively recent documented eCoV were tested at greater frequency for respiratory infections but had similar rate of SARS-CoV-2 acquisition. Importantly, the patients with a previously detected eCoV had less severe coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) illness. Our observations suggest that pre-existing immune responses against endemic human coronaviruses can mitigate disease manifestations from SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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COVID-19 and Excess All-Cause Mortality in the US and 18 Comparison Countries

Authors: Alyssa Bilinkski and Ezekiel J Emanuel

Publication date: 12 October 2020

Journal: JAMA

DOI: 10.1001/jama.2020.20717

The US has experienced more deaths from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) than any other country and has one of the highest cumulative per capita death rates.1,2 An unanswered question is to what extent high US mortality was driven by the early surge of cases prior to improvements in prevention and patient management vs a poor longer-term response.3 We compared US COVID-19 deaths and excess all-cause mortality in 2020 (vs 2015-2019) to that of 18 countries with diverse COVID-19 responses.

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SARS-CoV-2 detection

Development of wastewater pooled surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 from congregate living settings

Authors: Colosi LM et al

Publication date: 11 October 2020

Journal: medRxiv prepring

DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.10.20210484

Wastewater-based monitoring for SARS-CoV-2 holds promise as tool to inform public health-decision making. Testing at individual building-level could be an efficient, passive means of preventing early detection of new cases in congregate living settings, but this approach has not been validated. Sample collection protocols were developed and refined during preliminary sampling from a hospital and a local municipal wastewater treatment plant. Molecular diagnostic methods were compared side-by-side to assess feasibility, performance and sensitivity. Optimized sample collection and processing protocols were then used to monitor two occupied dormitory complexes (n=105 and 66) over eight weeks. Wastewater results were validated using known case counts from external clinical testing of building occupants. Results confirm that ultracentrifugation from a 24 hour composite collection had a sensitivity of 95% and a specificity of 100%. However, if the detection of convalescent shedding is considered a false positive then the sensitivity would be 95.2% but the specificity would drop to 52%. We determined a highly sensitive method for detecting SARS-CoV-2 shedding in building wastewater however our methods could not distinguish new infectious cases from persistent convalescent shedding of SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Future work must focus on methods to distinguish new infections from convalescent shedding to widely deploy this promising wastewater surveillance tool.

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Will covid-19 vaccines save lives? Current trials aren’t designed to tell us

Author: Peter Doshi

Publication date: 21 October 2020

Journal: The BMJ

DOI: 10.1136/bmj.m4037

The world has bet the farm on vaccines as the solution to the pandemic, but the trials are not focused on answering the questions many might assume they are. Peter Doshi reports

As phase III trials of covid-19 vaccines reach their target enrolments, officials have been trying to project calm. The US coronavirus czar Anthony Fauci and the Food and Drug Administration leadership have offered public assurances that established procedures will be followed.1234 Only a “safe and effective” vaccine will be approved, they say, and nine vaccine manufacturers issued a rare joint statement pledging not to prematurely seek regulatory review.5

But what will it mean exactly when a vaccine is declared “effective”? To the public this seems fairly obvious. “The primary goal of a covid-19 vaccine is to keep people from getting very sick and dying,” a National Public Radio broadcast said bluntly.6

Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said, “Ideally, you want an antiviral vaccine to do two things . . . first, reduce the likelihood you will get severely ill and go to the hospital, and two, prevent infection and therefore interrupt disease transmission.”7

Yet the current phase III trials are not actually set up to prove either (table 1). None of the trials currently under way are designed to detect a reduction in any serious outcome such as hospital admissions, use of intensive care, or deaths. Nor are the vaccines being studied to determine whether they can interrupt transmission of the virus.

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A global survey of potential acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine

Authors: Lazarus JV et al

Publication date: 20 October 2020

Journal: Nature Medicine

DOI: 10.1038/s41591-020-1124-9

Several coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines are currently in human trials. In June 2020, we surveyed 13,426 people in 19 countries to determine potential acceptance rates and factors influencing acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine. Of these, 71.5% of participants reported that they would be very or somewhat likely to take a COVID-19 vaccine, and 61.4% reported that they would accept their employer’s recommendation to do so. Differences in acceptance rates ranged from almost 90% (in China) to less than 55% (in Russia). Respondents reporting higher levels of trust in information from government sources were more likely to accept a vaccine and take their employer’s advice to do so.

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UK researchers to explore human challenge studies for COVID-19

Author: Ryan O’Hare

Publication date: 20 October 2020

Source: Imperial College London

Researchers are set to explore a human challenge study with the virus that causes COVID-19, the first such study anywhere in the world.

The Human Challenge Programme is a partnership between Imperial College London, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), hVIVO, a leading clinical company with expertise in viral human challenge models, and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

The researchers hope that the work will ultimately help to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, mitigate its impact and reduce deaths from COVID-19.

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COVID-19 Vaccine: What Physicians Need to Know

Authors: Lane C, Cotton D and Moyer DV

Publication date: 20 October 2020

Journal: Annals of Internal Medicine

DOI: 10.7326/M20-6841

Much uncertainty surrounds vaccines for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the course of the pandemic in general. What is certain, however, is that physicians will have an important role in the implementation of a successful immunization program once a safe and effective vaccine becomes available. Patients, health care worker colleagues, family, friends, and others will seek advice from physicians on whether to get vaccinated. We will need to discuss the benefits and risks with them. Others will tell us they will refuse vaccination, and if those individuals and the community are likely to benefit from their vaccination, we will have an opportunity to try to alleviate their hesitancy in receiving the vaccine. If the vaccine is one that can be administered in our clinical settings, we will need to structure our practices to make receipt of the vaccine as accessible and efficient as possible for our patients.

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Use of adenovirus type-5 vectored vaccines: a cautionary tale

Authors: Buchbinder SP et al

Publication date: 19 October 2020

Journal: The Lancet

DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32156-5

 We are writing to express concern about the use of a recombinant adenovirus type-5 (Ad5) vector for a COVID-19 phase 1 vaccine study,1 and subsequent advanced trials. Over a decade ago, we completed the Step and Phambili phase 2b studies that evaluated an Ad5 vectored HIV-1 vaccine administered in three immunisations for efficacy against HIV-1 acquisition.2,  3 Both international studies found an increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition among vaccinated men.2,  4 The Step trial found that men who were Ad5 seropositive and uncircumcised on entry into the trial were at elevated risk of HIV-1 acquisition during the first 18 months of follow-up.5 The hazard ratios were particularly high among men who were uncircumcised and Ad5 seropositive, and who reported unprotected insertive anal sex with a partner who was HIV-1 seropositive or had unknown serostatus at baseline, suggesting the potential for increased risk of penile acquisition of HIV-1.

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Safety and immunogenicity of an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, BBIBP-CorV: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 1/2 trial

Authors: Prof Shengli Xia

Publication date: 15 October 2020

Journal: The Lancet Infectious Diseases

DOI: 10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30831-8

Background: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic warrants accelerated efforts to test vaccine candidates. We aimed to assess the safety and immunogenicity of an inactivated severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccine candidate, BBIBP-CorV, in humans.

Methods: We did a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 1/2 trial at Shangqiu City Liangyuan District Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Henan Province, China. In phase 1, healthy people aged 18–80 years, who were negative for serum-specific IgM/IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 at the time of screening, were separated into two age groups (18–59 years and ≥60 years) and randomly assigned to receive vaccine or placebo in a two-dose schedule of 2 μg, 4 μg, or 8 μg on days 0 and 28. In phase 2, healthy adults (aged 18–59 years) were randomly assigned (1:1:1:1) to receive vaccine or placebo on a single-dose schedule of 8 μg on day 0 or on a two-dose schedule of 4 μg on days 0 and 14, 0 and 21, or 0 and 28. Participants within each cohort were randomly assigned by stratified block randomisation (block size eight) and allocated (3:1) to receive vaccine or placebo. Group allocation was concealed from participants, investigators, and outcome assessors. The primary outcomes were safety and tolerability. The secondary outcome was immunogenicity, assessed as the neutralising antibody responses against infectious SARS-CoV-2. This study is registered with www.chictr.org.cn, ChiCTR2000032459.

Findings: In phase 1, 192 participants were enrolled (mean age 53·7 years [SD 15·6]) and were randomly assigned to receive vaccine (2 μg [n=24], 4 μg [n=24], or 8 μg [n=24] for both age groups [18–59 years and ≥60 years]) or placebo (n=24). At least one adverse reaction was reported within the first 7 days of inoculation in 42 (29%) of 144 vaccine recipients. The most common systematic adverse reaction was fever (18–59 years, one [4%] in the 2 μg group, one [4%] in the 4 μg group, and two [8%] in the 8 μg group; ≥60 years, one [4%] in the 8 μg group). All adverse reactions were mild or moderate in severity. No serious adverse event was reported within 28 days post vaccination. Neutralising antibody geometric mean titres were higher at day 42 in the group aged 18–59 years (87·7 [95% CI 64·9–118·6], 2 μg group; 211·2 [158·9–280·6], 4 μg group; and 228·7 [186·1–281·1], 8 μg group) and the group aged 60 years and older (80·7 [65·4–99·6], 2 μg group; 131·5 [108·2–159·7], 4 μg group; and 170·87 [133·0–219·5], 8 μg group) compared with the placebo group (2·0 [2·0–2·0]). In phase 2, 448 participants were enrolled (mean age 41·7 years [SD 9·9]) and were randomly assigned to receive the vaccine (8 μg on day 0 [n=84] or 4 μg on days 0 and 14 [n=84], days 0 and 21 [n=84], or days 0 and 28 [n=84]) or placebo on the same schedules (n=112). At least one adverse reaction within the first 7 days was reported in 76 (23%) of 336 vaccine recipients (33 [39%], 8 μg day 0; 18 [21%], 4 μg days 0 and 14; 15 [18%], 4 μg days 0 and 21; and ten [12%], 4 μg days 0 and 28). One placebo recipient in the 4 μg days 0 and 21 group reported grade 3 fever, but was self-limited and recovered. All other adverse reactions were mild or moderate in severity. The most common systematic adverse reaction was fever (one [1%], 8 μg day 0; one [1%], 4 μg days 0 and 14; three [4%], 4 μg days 0 and 21; two [2%], 4 μg days 0 and 28). The vaccine-elicited neutralising antibody titres on day 28 were significantly greater in the 4 μg days 0 and 14 (169·5, 95% CI 132·2–217·1), days 0 and 21 (282·7, 221·2–361·4), and days 0 and 28 (218·0, 181·8–261·3) schedules than the 8 μg day 0 schedule (14·7, 11·6–18·8; all p<0·001).

Interpretation: The inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, BBIBP-CorV, is safe and well tolerated at all tested doses in two age groups. Humoral responses against SARS-CoV-2 were induced in all vaccine recipients on day 42. Two-dose immunisation with 4 μg vaccine on days 0 and 21 or days 0 and 28 achieved higher neutralising antibody titres than the single 8 μg dose or 4 μg dose on days 0 and 14.

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Precautionary breaks: planned, limited duration circuit breaks to control the prevalence of COVID-19

Authors: Keeling MJ et al

Publication date: 14 October 2020

Journal: medRxiv preprint

DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.13.20211813

The COVID-19 pandemic in the UK has been characterised by periods of exponential growth and decline, as different non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) are brought into play. During the early uncontrolled phase of the outbreak (early March 2020) there was a period of prolonged exponential growth with epidemiological observations such as hospitalisation doubling every 3-4 days (growth rate r≈0.2). The enforcement of strict lockdown measures led to a noticeable decline in all epidemic quantities (r≈-0.06) that slowed during the summer as control measures were relaxed (r≈-0.02). Since August, infections, hospitalisations and deaths have been rising (precise estimation of the cur-rent growth rate is difficult due to extreme regional heterogeneity and temporal lags between the different epidemiological observations) and various NPIs have been applied locally throughout the UK in response. Controlling any rise in infection is a compromise between public health and societal costs, with more stringent NPIs reducing cases but damaging the economy and restricting freedoms. Currently, NPI imposition is made in response to the epidemiological state, are of indefinite length and are often imposed at short notice, greatly increasing the negative impact. An alternative approach is to consider planned, limited duration periods of strict NPIs aiming to purposefully reduce prevalence before such emergency NPIs are required. These 'precautionary breaks' may offer a means of keeping control of the epidemic, while their fixed duration and the forewarning may limit their society impact. Here, using simple analysis and age-structured models matched to the unfolding UK epidemic, we investigate the action of precautionary breaks. In particular we consider their impact on the prevalence of infection, as well as the total number of predicted hospitalisations and deaths. We find that precautionary breaks provide the biggest gains when the growth rate is low, but offer a much needed brake on increasing infection when the growth rate is higher, potentially allowing other measures (such as contact tracing)to regain control.

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Masks, false safety and real dangers, Part 2: Microbial challenges from masks

Authors: Boris Borovoy, Colleen Huber and Maria Crisler

Publication date: October 2020

Source: ResearchGate

DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.19127.75680

Face masks have come into common use in many countries since mid-2020, for all age groups. Some aspect of this may be voluntary, but certainly much of this use is either accompanied by force, threats, subtle coercion, or a continuum of subtle to fierce societal pressures on the individual to conform to mask-wearing. From widespread fear of COVID-19, associated with the virus named SARS-CoV2, mask-wearing is recently assumed by many to be a prudent measure against contagion. In this paper, the second in our series, we continue our examination of the potential hazards of masks, in which we now turn attention to microbial contamination from masks and mask use, changes in oral and nasal microbiota, and potential risks to the lungs and other organ systems from microbial factors. Because widespread masking is a very new society-wide experiment, the impact of this experiment, the obstruction of airways from free breathing and a typical air exchange interplay with oral microbiota is not yet known. Furthermore, the effects of such changes in the lungs and beyond are not yet known. This paper will explore some considerations of these changes, by examining mask effectiveness against transmission, historical evidence of epidemiology from the 1918-1919 pandemic, microbial contamination, respiratory disease and the role of oral bacteria in systemic disease; and infections involving fungi, yeast, and molds. Compiling statistical and scientific evidence from these subjects alone should help equip any individual with adequate information on risks and benefits when choosing whether to wear a mask. Are masks effective in preventing transmission of infection and are there unintended consequences when wearing them? Face masks have been adopted by the public of several countries in 2020, with astonishing speed. Conflicting instructions from public health authorities left individual citizens unsure of whether to wear a mask, such that relying on gathered commentary from media and acquaintances in order to make such a decision has become standard. When an individual's preferences are not well formed, merely observing another person makes the option chosen by the other person a social default, that is more likely to be chosen by the observer also. 1 Concerns regarding use of masks among the public have been voiced by many medical professionals. Over 2,000 Belgian medical professionals, including hundreds of medical doctors, have urged prevention of COVID-19 by means of strengthening natural immunity. Their recommendations, among other measures, include specifically to exercise in fresh air without a mask. 2 A number of reasons for this concern have been raised. In this paper, we will examine specifically microbial concerns with regard to mask-wearing.

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Government and Health Authorities


Excess Deaths Associated with COVID-19, by Age and Race and Ethnicity — United States, January 26–October 3, 2020

Publication date: 20 October 2020

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

What is already known about this topic?

As of October 15, 216,025 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in the United States; however, this might underestimate the total impact of the pandemic on mortality.

What is added by this report?

Overall, an estimated 299,028 excess deaths occurred from late January through October 3, 2020, with 198,081 (66%) excess deaths attributed to COVID-19. The largest percentage increases were seen among adults aged 25–44 years and among Hispanic or Latino persons.

What are the implications for public health practice?

These results inform efforts to prevent mortality directly or indirectly associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, such as efforts to minimize disruptions to health care.

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Immune cells for common cold may recognize SARS-CoV-2

Publication date: 18 August 2020

Source: National Institute of Health

At a Glance

A study of blood samples taken before the COVID-19 pandemic showed that some people already had certain immune cells that recognize SARS-CoV-2.

These immune cells also reacted with coronaviruses that cause common colds.

The findings suggest that existing immune cells may help account for the wide range of symptoms experienced by people with COVID-19.

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Media – Science related

Covid-19 Cases

New study identifies those most at risk from 'long COVID'

Publication date: 21 October 2020

Source: King’s College London

A new analysis by researchers at King’s, using data from the COVID Symptom Study app, shows that one in 20 people with COVID-19 are likely to suffer symptoms for 8 weeks or more (so-called ‘long COVID’), potentially adding up to many hundreds of thousands in the UK and millions worldwide.

Led by Dr Claire Steves and Professor Tim Spector at King’s, this study focused on data from 4,182 COVID Symptom Study app users who had been consistently logging their health and tested positive for COVID-19 through swab PCR testing.

The team found that older people, women and those with a greater number of different symptoms in the first week of their illness were more likely to develop long COVID.

The researchers have used this information to develop a model that can predict who is most at risk of long COVID based on their age, gender, and count of early symptoms. Statistical tests showed that this simple prediction was able to detect more than two thirds (69%) of people who went on to get Long-Covid (sensitivity), and 73% effective at avoiding false alarms (specificity).

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Clinical trial to investigate whether vitamin D protects against COVID-19

Publication date: 13 October 2020

Source: Queen Mary University of London

CORONAVIT will run for six months and involve more than 5,000 people to find out whether a ‘test-and-treat’ approach to correct people’s vitamin D deficiency during winter will reduce the risk and/or severity of COVID-19 and other acute respiratory infections.

People will take part in the study from their homes, without any face-to-face visits needed, as all vitamin D tests and supplements will be sent via the post. Any UK resident aged 16 or more can participate if they are not already taking high-dose vitamin D. To register interest, people can contact the study team on [email protected].

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Open Letter To the Irish Government

Publication date: 19 October 2020

Source: COVID-19 Ireland: A Rational Approach

Dear Taoiseach Martin, Tanaiste Varadkar and Minister Donnelly We, the undersigned would like to recognise the leadership that has been shown this year by many of our scientific and political leaders, as we faced a very uncertain situation in the face of this new virus. Engagement from all sectors of society allowed us to flatten the curve and buy time in the short term. These efforts enabled us to minimise adverse impacts and learn so much about SARS CoV(2) since April 2020. As doctors, we must keep our knowledge base up-to-date. Doing so allows us to deliver on one of our most important obligations: to help our patients manage any disease process that might affect them. The current situation is no different. Our understanding of Covid19 has significantly evolved over the last few months, and we have come to learn much more about the SARS CoV(2) virus, which causes it. We now know who it impacts and the extent of that impact. We also know its similarities to, and differences from other common coronaviruses. We also know Its seasonal nature which is no different to most respiratory pathogens. Perhaps most importantly, we have developed more optimal medical strategies for this condition in the subset of patients who unfortunately suffer the most severe impacts. In light of this, we as front-line doctors feel more confident about managing Covid19, and we want to reassure society that now we can effectively coexist with the virus. Unfortunately, the current unilaterally enforced national strategy has not evolved in step with our improved scientific understanding and insight. We are in effect managing this as a “crisis”, from day to day, level to level - as though it were March 2020 when the actual crisis was present. The situation is entirely different now in so many ways. Some of the critical evidence that has emerged includes, but is not limited to:

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Pfizer, BioNTech start combined trials of COVID-19 vaccine candidate in Japan

Publication date: 20 October 2020

Source: Reuters

Pfizer Inc PFE.N and BioNTech SE announced on Tuesday the start in Japan of combined Phase I and Phase II clinical trials of their mRNA vaccine candidate against the coronavirus.

The study will recruit 160 people aged from 20 to 85, the firms said in a statement. Earlier, they had agreed to supply Japan with 120 million doses of their experimental coronavirus vaccine in the first half of 2021.

Pfizer, which is developing the vaccine with German partner BioNTech, has said it may confirm if the vaccine is effective as soon as this month, but also needs safety data from a global trial of 44,000 people that will not be available until next month.

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What coronavirus survey told us about getting people to take a vaccine

Author: Lyn Williams

Publication date: 16 October 2020

Source: The Conversation

Vaccination will be hugely important in controlling future waves of COVID-19. But for it to work, we will need high levels of public acceptance of a vaccine, if and when it eventually becomes available.

In recent years, vaccination rates have fallen across the world, and public confidence in vaccines is inconsistent. Indeed, the World Health Organization last year included vaccine hesitancy – the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite availability – as one of the top ten threats to global health.

So while research is ongoing to identify effective vaccines, we also need to find out what proportion of the public would actually accept one, and what factors might shape this decision.

Our recent study, carried out in April during national lockdown, found that most high-risk individuals intend to take a future vaccine. In a sample of 527 older adults (aged 65 and over) and people with chronic respiratory illnesses, 86% indicated that they would. And although this figure is very promising, it also shows that a sizeable proportion of people in a high-risk group are undecided or would refuse to get vaccinated.

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Media – Reporting


Covid-19: First UK airport coronavirus testing begins

Author: Tom Burridge

Publication date: 20 October 2020

Source: BBC News

Passengers flying from Heathrow to Hong Kong and Italy on Tuesday will be the first to have the option of paying for a rapid Covid test before checking in.

The test will cost £80 and the result is guaranteed within an hour.

The aim is to help people travelling to destinations where proof of a negative result is required on arrival.

A growing number of countries have classified the UK as being "at risk", meaning travellers from the UK face more restrictions.

The authorities in Hong Kong now require people to show they have a negative test result, taken within 72 hours of a flight from London.

The rapid saliva swab, which is now available at Heathrow Terminals 2 and 5, is known as a Lamp (Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification) test.

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Deaths at home: More than 26,000 extra this year, ONS finds

Publication date: 19 October 2020

Source: BBC News

More men than normal are dying at home from heart disease in England and Wales, and more women are dying from dementia and Alzheimer's, figures show.

More than 26,000 extra deaths occurred in private homes this year, an analysis by the Office for National Statistics found.

In contrast, deaths in hospitals from these causes have been lower than usual.

The Covid epidemic may have led to fewer people being treated in hospital.

Or it may be that people in older age groups, who make up the majority of these deaths, are choosing to stay at home - but the underlying reasons for the figures are still not clear.

Alzheimer's disease charities called for action over the "heartbreaking" side-effects of lockdown and isolation.

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Tech Giants Google, Oracle to Monitor Americans Who Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Author: Whitney Webb

Publication date: 20 October 2020

Source: Children’s Health Defense

Last week, a rare media interview given by the Trump administration’s “Vaccine Czar” offered a brief glimpse into the inner workings of the extremely secretive Operation Warp Speed (OWS), the Trump administration’s “public-private partnership” for delivering a COVID-19 vaccine to 300 million Americans by next January. What was revealed should deeply unsettle all Americans.

During an interview with the Wall Street Journal published last Friday, the “captain” of OWS, career Big Pharma executive Moncef Slaoui, confirmed that the millions of Americans who are set to receive the project’s COVID-19 vaccine will be monitored via “incredibly precise … tracking systems” that will “ensure that patients each get two doses of the same vaccine and to monitor them for adverse health effects.” Slaoui also noted that tech giants Google and Oracle have been contracted as part of this “tracking system” but did not specify their exact roles beyond helping to “collect and track vaccine data.”

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Court overturns order to shut Berlin's bars and restaurants from 11pm because 'it is not apparent' it would help fight coronavirus

Author: Raven Saunt

Publication date: 16 October 2020

Source: Mail Online

A Berlin court has suspended an order for bars and restaurants to close from 11pm to 6am after finding that 'it was not apparent' such a measure could help fight coronavirus.

Ruling on a case brought by 11 restaurant owners, the administrative court noted that new infections in Germany currently stem from private gatherings of family and friends, at community facilities, meat-processing plants, religious gatherings or in connection with travel.

Closing food and drink establishments was therefore a 'disproportionate encroachment on the freedom' of the industry, the court ruled.

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Lockdown Is a Big Mistake: What Top Israeli Doctors Really Think About COVID-19

Author: Hilo Glazer

Publication date: 21 October 2020

Source: Haaretz

The country's hospitals are not collapsing, the lockdown does more harm than good and the policy for dealing with COVID is fundamentally wrong. An increasing number of senior physicians are convinced: Israel needs to switch gears in its handling of the pandemic.

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'Avoid contact with all but your family': Uppsala becomes first Swedish region to get local coronavirus measures

Publication date: 20 October 2020

Source: The Local se

Swedish health authorities have instructed people living in the Uppsala region to avoid public transport, parties, and contact with people outside their household for two weeks, becoming the first Swedish region to introduce local coronavirus measures after it became possible this week.

"This is not a lockdown, because a lockdown implies that you are shutting down the whole of society, which is not what we’re doing here," Sweden's state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said at a press conference announcing the new measures.

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Newspaper headlines: Lockdown 'by back door' and virus 'hidden victims'

Publication date: 20 October 2020

Source: BBC News

The Daily Telegraph's front page headline is: "Shielding is the answer, Manchester MPs insist".

The paper says Boris Johnson is being urged by leaders in Greater Manchester to avoid shifting the area to the toughest Covid-19 restrictions by instead making it compulsory for elderly and vulnerable people to shield.

The Telegraph says the idea is backed by senior Conservative MPs, who believe the strategy would cost 80% less than going to the highest alert level, because the impact on businesses would be eased.

The Guardian argues that the prime minister needs to "rebuild a political consensus for his pandemic strategy".

Its editorial suggests he should "woo local council leaders whose vocal assent would encourage the public to comply with a lockdown regime".

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Coronavirus: Republic of Ireland to move to highest restrictions

Publication date: 20 October 2020

Source: BBC News

The Irish government is to move the country to the highest level of coronavirus restrictions, broadly similar to the spring lockdown.

Cabinet ministers have agreed to level five restrictions from midnight on Wednesday in a bid to combat the rise in cases.

The restrictions are to last for six weeks but will be reviewed after four.

Under the rules, people will only be able to exercise within 5km (3 miles) of their home.

The government has confirmed there will be a penalty for travel beyond that distance, with exemptions for essential work and essential purposes.

However, schools and creches will remain open and elite sport and construction will continue.

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Covid: Wales to go into 'firebreak' lockdown from Friday

Publication date: 19 October 2020

Source: BBC News

Wales will go into a "short, sharp" national lockdown from Friday until 9 November.

People will be told to stay at home and pubs, restaurants, hotels and non-essential shops must shut.

Primary schools will reopen after the half-term break, but only Years 7 and 8 in secondary schools can return at that time under new "firebreak" rules.

Gatherings indoors and outdoors with people not in your household will also be banned.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the "time-limited firebreak" would be "a short, sharp, shock to turn back the clock, slow down the virus and buy us more time".

Without action the NHS would not be able to cope, Mr Drakeford told a press conference.

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Director of 'secretive' scientific body placing cities into lockdown accused of hypocrisy

Author: Callum Adams

Publication date: 17 October 2020

Source: The Telegraph

The director of a “secretive” government body guiding local lockdowns without publishing its reasoning is at the centre of a hypocrisy row after telling MPs that “transparency is so important”.

Dr Thomas Waite, director of health protection at the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), told the science and technology committee last month that “the more information that is out there the better”.

This is despite the JBC, which is leading the Covid-19 response and recommending actions to contain local outbreaks, having never revealed its personnel or their deliberations.

The Telegraph can also disclose that a now-expired job advertisement for a role within the JBC, leading on the technical and analytical aspects of epidemiological outbreak investigations, listed experience in infectious disease as “desirable but not essential”.

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Second Wave

'No sign of second wave' as ONS data shows normal level of deaths for time of year

Author: Sarah Knapton

Publication date: 20 October 2020

Source: The Telegraph

There is no sign of a second coronavirus wave, experts have said as new Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showed that deaths are just 1.5 per cent above the five-year average and tracking on a normal trajectory for the time of year.

Although Covid deaths rose to 438 for the week ending October 9 – an increase of 36 per cent from the previous week, when the figure stood at 321 – overall deaths rose just 143 above the five-year average.  There were also 19 fewer overall deaths than in the same week last year.

Experts at Oxford University said the number would have to get to 1,200 deaths above the norm before it would usually be considered "excess" above the expected variation in the data.

Researchers also found there would usually be around 1,600 weekly deaths from flu and pneumonia for the same week. Deaths from coronavirus, flu and pneumonia are currently running at 1,621, suggesting there is virtually no increase in expected respiratory deaths.

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Covid-19 patients

Melania Trump said she chose to go 'a more natural route,' relying on 'vitamins and healthy food' to treat her COVID-19

Author: Gabby Landsverk

Publication date: 14 October 2020

Source: Business Insider

First lady Melania Trump said in a White House letter on Wednesday that she recovered from the coronavirus through "a more natural route" of "vitamins and healthy food."

While her husband, President Donald Trump, took a catalog of pharmaceuticals — including remdesivir, the steroid dexamethasone, and an experimental antibody cocktail from Regeneron — the first lady credited her diet and vitamins with helping her to recover.

The first lady also said she kept her morale up by focusing on her family, friendships, and work, and she stressed that mental health is a crucial part of well-being.

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Social Impacts

Lockdown's lethal toll laid bare: 50,000 children see surgery postponed, treatments for strokes plunge by almost 50%, and one in FIVE people were hit with depression in just one month as devastating effect of coronavirus restrictions are revealed

Author: David Rose

Publication date: 19 October 2020

Source: Mail Online

A devastating picture of the impact of the lockdown on the nation’s health and wellbeing is today revealed in an exclusive analysis that brings together more than 130 studies.

The Daily Mail audit – based on research published by medical journals, leading academics and charities – shows that the damage inflicted by the lockdown extends into every sphere of health, including cancer, heart disease, addiction, the welfare of children, domestic violence and mental illness.

Experts say the analysis suggests that even after the pandemic ends, it will take years for the NHS to catch up with backlogs – and it will be too late for tens of thousands of patients.

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'Scarred for life': Sage experts warn of impact of Covid policies on the young

Author: Amelia Hill

Publication date: 20 October 2020

Source: The Guardian

Children and young people are at risk of becoming a “lost generation” because of the UK government’s pandemic policies, members of Sage have warned.

Those aged seven to 24, sometimes called generation Z, have largely avoided the direct health impact of the coronavirus. But, say the government’s scientific advisers, they risk being “catastrophically” hit by the “collateral damage” wrought by the crisis.

The Guardian understands that some advisers on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which feeds directly into UK government decision-making, warned ministers “several” times about the risks to people in this age group but believe they were “brushed aside”.

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Covid controls

The World Health Organization in 2011 Warned Against a “Culture of Fear”

Author: Jeffrey A Tucker

Publication date: 20 October 2020

Source: American Institute for Economic Research

fine feature of the decentralized network of anti-lockdown Twitter is that it turns up fantastic bits of research that would otherwise go unnoticed. In this case, Kulvinder Kaur MD, president of Concerned Ontario Doctors, discovered an extraordinarily truth-telling bulletin from the World Health Organization that was released July 2011. Its prescience is incredibly obvious. It appeared in times when what we might call the lockdown industry was gaining steam.

This movement was born in the early 2000s with computer scientists who imagined that their agent-based models should replace medical advisories in the event of a pandemic. The Bush administration acquiesced to their ideas in 2006, despite the protests from responsible public health experts. After that, they organized conferences, published in journals, and generally closed ranks around a fantastic vision of central plan, all well-funded through public money and private philanthropy from the Gates Foundation (Bill Gates, knowing next to nothing about viruses or public health concerns, has been a lockdowner for many years).

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[Australian] Government to digitise incoming passenger cards

Publication date: 17 October 2020

Source: Skynews.com.au

Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge has revealed Australia's incoming passenger card system will be digitised to assist with contact tracing for future international arrivals.  "This is a significant development... we will be putting this tender out next week and our ambition is to have this available for us next year," he said.  "This is just another step to safely reopen the Australian borders so we can allow more people to leave the country and come into the country."  "From a contact-tracing perspective, we'll be able to immediately have the information connected to contact-tracing capability in each state and territory jurisdiction should they need it."

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White House Expert Scott Atlas Censored By Twitter

Author: David Marcus

Publication date: 18 October 2020

Source: The Federalist

Social media company Twitter finished its week of apparently politically motivated censorship on its platform by banning tweets regarding the efficacy of masks from Scott Atlas, a member of the White House scientific team battling the coronavirus.

Atlas, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institute, not only had his tweets removed, he was banned from tweeting until he deleted the tweets that Twitter for unclear reasons objects to. Here are the tweets in question:

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