Tag Archives: health care policy

Brazil’s contagious COVID-19 variant evades immunity, scientists warn | Instant News

LONDON (Reuters) – The highly contagious variant of COVID-19 that emerged in Brazil and has now been found in at least 20 countries can re-infect people who previously recovered from the disease, scientists said on Tuesday.

In a study of the emergence of the mutant virus and its spread in the Amazon jungle city of Manaus, scientists said the variant – known as P.1 – had a “unique mutation constellation” and very quickly became the dominant variant circulating there.

Of the 100 people in Manaus who have previously recovered from coronavirus infection, “somewhere between 25 and 61 are susceptible to P.1 reinfection,” said Nuno Faria, a virologist at Imperial College London, who co-led the research that has not yet. peer reviewed.

Scientists estimate that P.1 is 1.4 to 2.2 times more infectious than the initial form of the virus.

Speaking to a media briefing about the findings, Nuno said it was too early to say whether the variant’s ability to evade immunity from previous infections meant that the vaccine would also offer less protection against it.

“There is no conclusive evidence to really show at this point that the current vaccine will not work against P.1,” said Faria. “I think (the vaccine) will at least protect us from disease, and maybe also from infection.”

Scientists around the world are wary of a new mutated form of the coronavirus that could spread more easily, or be harder to fend off with existing vaccines.

The research, conducted with scientists at São Paulo Brazil and the British university of Oxford, suggests that a P.1 variant might appear in Manaus as early as November 2020.

The first infection was identified on December 6, said Faria. “We then looked at how fast P.1 was overtaking other lineages, and we found that the proportion of P.1 grew from zero to 87% in about eight weeks.”

Reporting by Kate Kelland; Edited by Peter Graff


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Auckland in New Zealand began its second COVID-19 lockdown this month | Instant News

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Just a year after New Zealand recorded its first coronavirus case, Auckland’s largest city woke up on Sunday for a second lockdown this month, as authorities tried to control a group of the more contagious British variant.

FILE PHOTOS: A rainbow appears on the Auckland skyline featuring Sky Tower in New Zealand, 8 July 2017. REUTERS / Jason Reed / File Photo

The seven-day lockdown of a population of nearly 2 million, announced late Saturday by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, was triggered by the case of a person who has been infected for a week but is not in isolation.

“There will likely be additional cases in the community,” Ardern said at a televised press conference, although no new cases were registered as of Sunday.

The move follows a three-day stay-at-home order in mid-February after the British variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 emerged in New Zealand. About 14 cases were cluster related.

“Despite our best efforts to date, recent cases have succeeded when they shouldn’t have happened,” Ardern said, promising police action for violating rules on self-isolation.

Opposition leader Judith Collins urged harsher punishments for those who did not follow advice on isolation. “Nobody wants to be in and out,” Collins said in a statement.

The new lockdown, part of the Level 3 restriction, allows people to leave the home only for essential shopping and work, while public places will remain closed. Borders elsewhere in New Zealand must be tightened to Level 2, setting limits on public gatherings.

The move has disrupted some of the key events set for Auckland next week.

The America’s Cup yacht race was postponed on Sunday and the Twenty20 International cricket match has been switched to Wellington, to be played behind closed doors on Friday.

The popular Lantern Festival which kicks off next weekend has also been canceled.

Social media users around the world expressed disappointment over the lockdown of one major city case, with one Twitter user writing, “They’re crazy.”

However, New Zealand’s swift pace over the past year, combined with aggressive contact tracing and border closings, has been credited for its success in containing the pandemic.

With 5 million people, New Zealand has recorded more than 2,000 infections since the start of the pandemic, and 26 deaths.

(Interactive graphic tracking of the global spread of the coronavirus: here)

Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Edited by William Mallard and Clarence Fernandez


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New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, is back in isolation after the COVID-19 case | Instant News

FILE PHOTOS: People running past a social distancing sign on the first day of New Zealand’s new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) safety precautions that mandate the use of masks on public transport, in Auckland, New Zealand, 31 August 2020. REUTERS / Fiona Goodall

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that the country’s largest city, Auckland, would be under lockdown for seven days starting Sunday after cases of the coronavirus community of unknown origin were recorded.

The rest of New Zealand will be placed within Level 2 restrictions that limit public gatherings, among other things, he told a news conference.

In mid-February, nearly 2 million Auckland residents fell into a three-day lockdown after a family of three were diagnosed with the UK’s more contagious variant of COVID-19.

Reporting by Praveen Meenon in Wellington; Writing in Melbourne by Lidia Kelly; Edited by William Mallard


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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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Brazil is facing a virus mutation that is three times as infectious as the health minister | Instant News

BRASILIA, February 25 (Reuters) – Brazil is facing a new stage of the coronavirus pandemic with a mutated variant of the virus that is three times more contagious, Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said on Thursday, as the country hit a quarter million deaths.

Pazuello said the government has distributed between 13 million and 14 million doses of the vaccine and plans to inoculate half of the country’s 210 million population by mid-year. Brazil is negotiating to buy all the vaccines it can, and Congress is considering legislation that would allow the government to buy injections from Pfizer and its Janssen subsidiary Johnson & Johnson. (Reporting by Anthony Boadle; editing by Jonathan Oatis)


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