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Brazil will start vaccinations on January 20, as the UK bans travelers due to a new variant of the COVID-19 virus | Instant News

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil aims to start COVID-19 vaccination nationwide on January 20, said the head of the national association of mayors on Thursday (January 14), as Britain banned arrivals from the country over fears of a new, domestically-grown variant of the coronavirus.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been criticized for downplaying the severity of the world’s second deadliest COVID-19 outbreak, is under increasing pressure to initiate vaccinations when the second wave surpasses the first.

He also faced possible international isolation after Britain said it would ban travelers from Brazil, several other South American countries and Portugal over fears of a new virus variant.

Japan’s health ministry said on Sunday that it had detected the new variant in four travelers from Brazil’s northern Amazonas state. This one features 12 mutations, including those also found in the high-infection variant recently discovered in Britain and South Africa that are starting to circulate around the world.

Researchers from the Oswaldo Cruz Amazônia Foundation said this week a new variant discovered in Japan was likely to emerge in northern Brazil between December and January. They say it could contribute to a sharp rise in cases in Amazonas state, although they are doing more research to determine if it is more contagious than previous versions of the coronavirus.

Amazonas state, where nearly 6,000 people have died from COVID-19, is now suffering from a devastating second wave that pushed emergency services to a breaking point.

Jarbas Barbosa, assistant director of the Pan American Health Organization, was not prepared to show a spike in infections in Amazonas with the new variant.

“It’s also happening in a lot of different cities and states, maybe because of the holidays, the summer, with more travel and people out, and the easing of social distancing measures,” Barbosa said.

READ: Britain is looking for ways to protect itself from the Brazilian variant of COVID-19, says PM Johnson

READ: Brazilian researchers report 50.4% efficacy for China’s CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine


Jonas Donizette, president of the national mayors association, said in a statement on Thursday that vaccinations would begin on Wednesday if all went according to the government’s plan.

“If not on the 20th, for any logistical problems, Thursday 21st,” he wrote. “Inoculation will begin with 8 million doses, distributed to 5 million Brazilians.”

The government is planning a January 19 ceremony to mark the start of injections, according to sources involved in the plan.

Although the government has refused to provide an official start date for vaccinations, it says vaccinations cannot start before January 20. The Health Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Two vaccines – one made by AstraZeneca Plc and one developed by Sinovac Biotech China – will form the basis of the government’s vaccination plan. Both have applied for emergency use in Brazil, with health regulator Anvisa expected to decide on Sunday whether to allow them.

Anvisa said on Thursday it had requested missing information from a Brazilian biomedical center partnering with vaccine developers Fiocruz and Butantan. In the Butantan case, Anvisa requested additional efficacy data from a Phase III trial of the Chinese vaccine conducted in Brazil.

Vaccination of the country’s population will take a maximum of 16 months, Deputy Health Minister Elcio Franco said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Brazil has imported 6 million doses of Sinovac vaccine and sent planes to take 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is made by the Indian Serum Institute.

The Health Ministry said flight departures from Recife in northeastern Brazil had been postponed until late Friday.

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Fact check: Face masks are recommended as part of a package of measures to slow transmission of COVID-19 | Instant News

A widely shared social media post indicated that masks were not working or that the number of COVID-19 cases in the UK was “fake”. This is misleading. Facemasks are not being promoted as a solution to prevent all transmission of the coronavirus and there is no evidence that the COVID-19 case numbers recorded by the UK government are fake.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The post read: “96% of British people wear face masks, but ‘cases’ are at record levels. Either the mask doesn’t work or the case is fake. “(here)

It is unclear where the 96% figure came from. A September YouGov poll found that only 71% of Britons said they had worn a face mask in the past two weeks to prevent COVID-19 (here) and the results of an online survey from Statista found that, as of January 10, more than 11% of respondents said they had never worn a face mask outside their home (here).

Apart from the exact numbers, the use of face masks is intended to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and is believed to be insufficient to eliminate the disease.

A Royal Society study found that face coverings were effective in reducing the spread of the virus, both to the wearer and to those around them (here). However, the study cautioned: “Masks and face coverings cannot be seen in isolation but are part of a ‘policy package’ and it is imperative to review interrelated non-pharmaceutical interventions simultaneously including hand hygiene, sanitation and social distancing while maintaining distance 2 meters or the 1 meter + distance rule is not possible. “

The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends masks because of their role as a barrier to prevent respiratory droplets from entering the air and onto other people, citing dozens of studies (here). However, they also warned that “masks are NOT a substitute for social distancing. Masks should be worn apart from a minimum distance of 6 feet, especially when indoors around people who do not live in your home. (here)

UK government guidelines on wearing a face covering say: “It is important to follow all other government advice on the coronavirus.” (here)

Some authority (here), doctor (here) and media companies (here) have used the “Swiss Cheese” model to visualize how the protection against COVID-19 works: each line of defense has a hole in it, like a slice of Swiss cheese, but multiple layers make it less likely for something dangerous to pass all the way through. “The holes (or weaknesses) in one layer of protection will be offset by the strengths of another layer of intervention,” the Texas department of public health said of the model. (here)

There is no reason to believe that the number of COVID-19 cases in the UK has been faked. Deaths recorded from COVID-19 in the United Kingdom (here) strongly supports reports that there is a spike in COVID-19 cases.


Wrong. Surveys show less than 90% of British people wear face masks. Face masks have been shown to be effective in preventing transmission of COVID-19, but they are believed to be insufficient to eradicate COVID-19 without other measures. There is no evidence that the spike in COVID-19 cases reported in the UK is “fake”.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .


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It will take the UK economy at least two years to return to pre-COVID-19 levels – Reuters poll | Instant News

LONDON (Reuters) – It will take more than two years for the UK economy to recover to pre-COVID-19 levels, according to a Reuters poll, but the Bank of England is still expected to keep interest rates steady until at least 2024 and to avoid negative borrowing costs.

FILE PHOTOS: A shopper walks in London, England December 18, 2020. REUTERS / Hannah Mckay / File Photo

The UK government has stepped up a coronavirus vaccination program in one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, but another national lockdown, hurting the dominant service industry the most, means the economy will shrink again this quarter.

The median forecast in a Jan. 11-14 poll of more than 70 economists said the economy will contract 1.4% this quarter after shrinking 2.0% in the last three months of 2020. In December, before the new national lockdown was announced, the economy was forecast. grew 1.7% this quarter.

“While we expect the tight lockdown to trigger a 3% drop in UK GDP in the first quarter, the more optimistic outlook for vaccinations means a sustainable recovery could begin in the spring,” said ING’s James Smith.

(Reuters poll: UK economic growth, inflation and interest rate outlook,)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday, with daily coronavirus deaths at record levels, Britain is targeting a 24-hour, 7-day-week vaccination program as soon as possible to inoculate 15 million people by mid-February.

“Realistically it could allow a gradual removal of restrictions starting in March, and more meaningfully after Easter,” said Smith.

So the next quarter the economy is expected to grow by 3.9% and then to grow by 2.5% the following quarter, the poll shows. For 2021 as a whole, growth is pegged at 4.9% and for 2022 it is 5.3%.

When asked how long it would take the economy to recover to pre-COVID-19 levels, 14 out of 23 respondents answered an additional question that said it would take at least two years. Nine says in two years and nobody says in a year.

“Even though the UK is among the first in its class to launch a vaccine, we think the economic recovery will lag behind most other European countries as the UK is in a relatively weak position due to the simultaneous shocks from Brexit,” said Stefan Koopman at Rabobank.

Johnson reached an eleventh hour deal with the EU on December 24, avoiding tariffs on trade in goods with the EU. However, trade between the two economic regions will still face significant extra paperwork.


Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said on Tuesday that the UK economy is facing “the darkest hour” but played down suggestions a sub-zero rate cut would be an immediate way to boost growth.

BoE rate determinant Silvana Tenreyro on Monday outlined the possible benefits of the policy and Deputy Governor Ben Broadbent said on Tuesday that the main decision was whether negative interest rates risk lowering lending volume by reducing bank profitability.

Sixteen respondents to additional questions said the bank was unlikely or very unlikely to take borrowing costs into negative territory and eight said it was possible or very likely. In the October poll only five said the World Bank would be below zero.

Only three of 57 economists expect a cut at the Bank’s February 4 meeting and the median in the poll suggests Interest Rates will not move from a record low of 0.1% through 2024 at the earliest.

However, six out of nearly 60 respondents expect negative rates by the end of 2021.

“As the experience of other central banks shows, negative interest rates have a very limited effect while at the same time producing large-scale side effects,” said Martin Weder of ZKB.

“The BoE is unlikely to do this unless forced to do so in the event of a deep downturn.”

Reporting by Jonathan Cable; Poll by Richa Rebello and Tushar Goenka; Edited by Toby Chopra


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Johnson accused suppliers of insulting families with poor food packages | Instant News

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson accused caterers on Wednesday of insulting families with small food packages paid for by the government to replace the food of poor children lost in schools closed by the coronavirus.

Some of the food packages are “an insult to families who have received them,” Johnson said, after pictures were posted on the internet showing what appeared to be a package worth only a fraction of the amount the company paid to provide it.

A Twitter user posted a photo of a parcel containing a slice of bread, some vegetables, pasta, nuts, cheese and some snacks. The supplier, Chartwells, a unit of Compass Group PLC, apologized and said it would return some money to the school.

Britain provides free lunches to poor children in primary schools, and turned to private companies to replace them with food packages after suddenly closing all schools last week.

Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, 23, who has been a leading campaigner against child poverty, said he had discussed the small package with Johnson on Wednesday.

“He has assured me that he is committed to fixing the problem with food blockers and that a full review of the supply chain is underway,” tweeted Rashford.

Last year Rashford led a campaign to pressure the government to provide food during school holidays. The government initially refused but later agreed, and praised Rashford for his defense.

CCLA, the UK’s largest charity investment manager, asked the Compass Group to answer questions about Chartwell’s provision of food packages.

“Companies need to be completely transparent, make adjustments and improvements as needed and move quickly to restore confidence in their business,” said James Corah, head of ethical investment at CCLA. Kompas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by William James and Andrew MacAskill; Edited by Estelle Shirbon and Peter Graff


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Brexit: Germany’s DB Schenker suspends shipments from EU to UK | News | DW | Instant News

German logistics giant DB Schenker said Wednesday’s ion had stalled shipping from the European Union to the UK, less than two weeks since the country became official leave the EU customs union.

The logistics company said the suspension stems from a lack of properly filled in documents about deliveries due to Brexit. It did not say when the suspension would be lifted.

“Only about 10 percent of deliveries assigned to DB Schenker are accompanied by complete and correct documents,” said DB Schenker in a statement.

The company added that investigating documentation related to shipments caused great strain on their UK-based staff, who were unable to address the large volume of problems. DB Schenker said there were no problems with shipments from England to continental Europe.

Even though the company does not accept new shipments to the UK, it says it will still ship items that have already been received. DB Schenker says it handles about 500,000 shipments from mainland Europe to the UK each year.

kbd / dj (dpa, Reuters)


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