Tag Archives: Diseases and conditions

Brazil’s death toll stands at 250,000, the virus is still rampant | Instant News

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s COVID-19 death toll, which surpassed 250,000 on Thursday, is the second highest in the world for the same reason, the second wave has not faded: Prevention has never been a priority, experts say.

Since the start of the pandemic, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has scoffed at the “little flu” and criticized local leaders for imposing restrictions on activity; He said the economy had to keep going to prevent worse hardships.

Even when he approved pandemic welfare payments for the poor, it wasn’t announced as a way to keep people at home. And Brazilians stay out and about vaccinations have started – but launches are proving to be much slower than anticipated.

“Brazil has absolutely no response plan. We have been through this for the past year and we still don’t have a clear plan, a national plan, ”Miguel Lago, executive director of the Brazilian Institute of Health Policy Studies, advising public health officials, told the Associated Press. “There are no plans at all. And the same is true for vaccinations. “

While other countries’ daily cases and deaths have declined, Latin America’s largest country is parked on the plateau – a grim repeat in mid-2020. In the past five weeks, Brazil has averaged more than 1,000 deaths every day. Official data showed the total death toll was 251,498 as of Thursday.

At least 12 Brazilian states are in the midst of a second wave that is even worse than the one faced in 2020, said Domingos Alves, an epidemiologist who has been tracking COVID-19 data.

“This scenario is going to get worse,” Alves told AP, adding that the virus is spreading more rapidly among populations. In Amazonas state, where the capital, Manaus, saw hospitals run out of oxygen last month, there have been more than 5,000 deaths in the first two months of this year, nearly as many as in 2020.

“This is the most difficult time we have experienced since the confirmation of the first case,” Carlos Lula, chairman of the National Council of Health Secretaries, was quoted as saying by the newspaper O Globo, Thursday. “We’ve never had so many states.” with so many difficulties at the same time. “

Alves and other public health experts said the spread was exacerbated by authorities’ reluctance to follow recommendations from international health organizations to impose stricter restrictions.

It’s up to governors and mayors to impose lockdowns or other restrictions to contain the virus. The states of Sao Paulo and Bahia have recently imposed curfews, but experts say the move is too late and insufficient.

“Those are not containment measures; it is palliative action, always taken after the fact, ”said Alves, who is also a professor of social medicine at the University of Sao Paulo. “‘Lockdown’ has become a curse word in Brazil.”

Miguel Nicolelis, a leading Brazilian neurologist, warned in January that Brazil had to go into lockdown or “we will not be able to bury the dead in 2021.” He has been advising the northeastern states on how to fight COVID-19, but has recently left his position, dissatisfied with their refusal to be isolated, reports the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.

There were a few exceptions, but they remained marginal and failed to inspire a wider movement.

Sao Luis, the capital of the northeastern state of Maranhao, was the first Brazilian city to go into total lockdown last May. It worked, despite Bolsonaro’s attempts to break the restrictions and sow doubts about its efficacy, according to the state’s governor, Flávio Dino.

“It is very difficult to set distances and preventive measures,” said Dino, adding that the first hurdles were economic and social, especially after the federal government’s emergency pandemic assistance program ended last year.

Lago noted that Bolsonaro rarely even comments on the pandemic anymore, and has effectively shifted to other priorities, including gaining support in Congress to relax arms control laws and pass economic reforms. His administration is trying to recover some of the COVID-19 welfare payments, but for a small group of needy Brazilians.

The only preventive measure Bolsonaro has consistently supported is the use of treatments such as hydroxychloroquine, which have shown no benefit in rigorous studies.

The Bolsonaro administration has also adopted a hands-off approach to the vaccination campaign. That depends in large part on a deal to buy one vaccine, AstraZeneca, which is arriving late. National immunization efforts to date have relied mostly on Chinese-made CoronaVac injections secured by the state of Sao Paulo, even though the federal government is now trying to buy another.

Brazil’s decades of experience with successful vaccination programs and its large national public health care network lead many experts to believe immunization – even if it starts with a delay – will be a relatively fast-paced affair. In the previous campaign, the country of 210 million people was able to vaccinate as many as 10 million people in one day, health experts said.

Five weeks after the first injection, Brazil vaccinated only 3.6% of its population. That’s more than double that of Argentina and Mexico, but less than a quarter of Chile, according to Our World in Data, an online research site that compares official government statistics.

“There’s no way to fast with a vaccine shortage; That’s a crucial point, “said Carla Domingues, who for eight years coordinated Brazil’s national vaccination program, until leaving her position in 2019.” Until there is more supply, the pace will be slower, because you have to keep choosing who gets vaccinated. “

Meanwhile, the virus continues to run rampant across Brazil, and takes its toll.

In the city of São Paulo state, Araraquara, there have been more deaths so far this year than last year and the number of intensive care units is exceeding full capacity, with people on a waiting list to enter ICU and get treatment. Local authorities responded on Sunday by declaring a complete lockdown – making Araraquara only the second city to impose the restrictions.

“We never imagined we would reach this point,” said Fabiana Araújo, a nurse and coordinator of the city committee to fight COVID-19. “It’s the only option.”

—— AP author David Biller contributed from Rio and Mauricio Savarese from Sao Paulo.


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Italy’s Lombardy is back in a viral crisis when Brescia is on the rise | Instant News

Brescia, with a population of around 1.2 million, has seen its daily cases go from the mid-100s in early February to 901 on Wednesdays and 973 Thursdays, due to clusters of infections traced to British variants. Doctors said the number of COVID-19 patients being treated at major public hospitals rose from an average of around 200 to 300 recently.

“We can’t talk about the third wave from our point of view, just because the second wave never really ends,” said Dr. Cristiano Perani, head of the emergency room at the General Hospital of Brescia. “The increase is gradual, but has increased acceleration in recent weeks. “

Lombardy, Italy’s most populous region, has imposed a new lockdown on Brescia and is changing its vaccine strategy to direct the jabs it has on nearby provinces and cities in neighboring Bergamo. The goal of this strategy is to inoculate as many people as possible as quickly as possible in the worst affected areas.

Guido Bertolaso, who is in charge of the vaccine campaign, said the region would pass the 30% reserve the national government recommended to remain available for the second dose, and that from Thursday it would start vaccinating residents aged 60-79, much earlier than. scheduled. Lombardy recently began vaccinating people over 80, after giving health care workers and residents of nursing homes a priority.

The goal of the strategy, Bertolaso ​​said, is to create “health care” in the area with blanket vaccinations. This approach is based on studies from the UK and Israel – and even on the Lombardy data itself – which showed reduced infection rates as more people were vaccinated with just one dose.

“This is war,” Bertolaso ​​said.

Brescia’s deputy mayor, Laura Castelletti, said residents were willing to accept the new lockdown measures – which include the closure of all schools and child care centers – as long as the vaccination schedule accelerates.

“We are ready to make sacrifices if the vaccination campaign runs 24/7,” he said.

Brescia and Bergamo were the two Italian provinces hardest hit during the first wave of the pandemic, which started this time last year and quickly turned Lombardy into the epicenter of the spread in Europe.

Lombardy as a whole still accounts for nearly a third of Italy’s 96,974 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, and a fifth of the 2.87 million confirmed infections. Italy has the sixth highest confirmed death toll in the world, and the second in Europe after Britain.

The Italian vaccine campaign, which has delivered 3.92 million doses, has been slowed by delays in deliveries from three EU supplying pharmaceutical companies: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

It was not immediately clear whether the health ministry would direct any vaccine to Lombardy, given the previously established quota that had provided the most doses there.

Italy’s virus czar, Domenico Arcuri, did not respond to Fontana’s request in a statement on Thursday but boasted that the injections showed a “comforting increase” this week, averaging around 100,000 a day nationwide.

Nearly two months after Italy began its vaccination campaign on December 27, the tiny Republic of San Marino gave its first dose on Thursday. San Marino, a city-state of about 33,800 people surrounded by Italy, had to buy a dose of Russia’s Sputnik V after a delay in receiving the dose administered from Italy.

“This is the most effective weapon we have against this disease,” said Dr. Enrico Rossi, who was among the first to be inoculated. “It’s kind of a nightmare this year but we hope it will end.”


Follow all AP pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak


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Qantas hopes to start international flights in October | World | Instant News

By ROD McGUIRK Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Qantas Airways is not expected to resume international travel apart from New Zealand until the end of October after Australian residents are vaccinated against COVID-19, the airline’s chief executive said on Thursday.

The Sydney-based airline has sold seats on international flights from 1 July.

But there has been a huge spike in COVID-19 cases worldwide since that July flight went on sale in early January, said Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce. There are also new coronavirus variants emerging.

Tickets sold for flights after 1 July and before 31 October will be refunded.

“We are now planning international travel to resume at the end of October this year in line with the day the Australian vaccine launches to be completed effectively,” said Joyce.

Australia’s immunization program starts this week. The government hopes the vaccine will be available to anyone who wants it by October.

But Australia plans to provide a second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine 12 weeks after the first. The wait between doses of a Pfizer product is only 3 to 4 weeks. So some of those taking AstraZenca may not be vaccinated effectively by the end of October.

Qantas is still expecting a “material increase” in flights between Australia and New Zealand in July, said Joyce.


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Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine performs well in large ‘real world’ trials | Instant News

Pfizer’s large real-world test of the COVID-19 vaccine confirms that it is highly effective in preventing serious illness or death, even after a single dose.

Real-world tests of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on more than half a million people confirm that it is highly effective in preventing serious illness or death, even after a single dose.

The vaccine was 92% effective in preventing serious illness after two injections and 62% after one injection. The estimated effectiveness for preventing death is 72% two to three weeks after the first injection, a level that can increase as immunity increases over time.

It appears to be as effective in people over 70 as it is in younger people.

“This is very convincing … better than I thought,” said Dr. Gregory Poland from the Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Buddy Creech of Vanderbilt University agrees: “Even after one dose we can see very high effectiveness in death prevention,” he said.

Neither doctor was involved in the Israeli research but both are involved in other coronavirus vaccine work.

“I’d rather see 100 million people have one dose than to see 50 million people have two doses,” Creech said. “I see a lot of encouragement for a single dose” in the results from Israel, published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, is given in two injections, three weeks apart, in most countries.

The study was led by researchers from the Clalit Research Institute and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, with Harvard University in the US. The study did not report on vaccine safety, only effectiveness, but no unexpected problems emerged in previous testing.

The vaccine is estimated to be 57% effective at preventing COVID-19 symptoms two to three weeks after the first dose, and 94% a week or more after the second dose.

It was 74% effective after one injection and 87% after two for preventing hospitalization, and 46% and 92% for preventing confirmed infections. Reducing infections gives hope that a vaccine can curb the spread of the virus, but this type of research can’t determine if that’s the case.

There have been 41 deaths related to COVID-19, 32 of them in people who did not get the vaccine.

Overall, the figures are comparable to the 95% effectiveness after the two doses seen in the limited testing that led US regulators to authorize the emergency use of the vaccine, Poland said. How much benefit one dose will bring has been a big question, “and there is now some data” to help inform the debate, he added.

“Perhaps the right thing to do here to protect the majority of people… is to give everyone a dose as quickly as possible. I think it’s an acceptable strategy to consider, “said Poland.

Israel has now vaccinated nearly half of its population. The newer virus variant that was first identified in the UK became the dominant strain in Israel during the study, so the results also provide some insight into how well the vaccine performs against it.

Earlier this week, two UK studies suggested a benefit even after one dose of Pfizer vaccine or a different one from AstraZeneca. Britain delayed the second shot until 12 weeks after the first shot to try to give the more people some level of protection.


The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is fully responsible for all content.


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San Marino finally gets the vaccine, but agrees with Sputnik V | World | Instant News

By NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press

ROME (AP) – The Republic of San Marino can finally start its coronavirus vaccination program after the first injection arrived Tuesday. But the city-state surrounded by Italy had to use its “Plan B” and buy Sputnik V injections from Russia after plans to get an EU-approved dose from Italy were delayed.

A pink and yellow truck escorted by a police car brought the first 7,500 Sputnik V vaccine to San Marino and sent it to the main hospital. Officials say a Russian-made dose will eventually be enough to vaccinate about 15% of the micro-nation’s population of around 33,800.

San Marino bought a Sputnik V shot at the last minute following a deal for Italy to send part of the vaccine it received through the EU’s delayed vaccine procurement system. San Marino, which is located near Rimini on the Adriatic coast, is not a member of the EU, and is therefore exempt from the deals negotiated by the 27-nation bloc with pharmaceutical companies.

San Marino’s Foreign Minister, Luca Beccari, said during a press conference last weekend that negotiations with Italy are taking a long time and that under a deal signed Jan. 11, San Marino will receive one dose for every 1,700 Italy receives. European Union.

But the deal ran into obstacles as Italy and other EU countries faced delays in the delivery of three EU-approved vaccines, which are from: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Italy has given about 3.7 million doses.


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