Displaying items by tag: Covid19
A month before the Olympics opening ceremony, many Japanese people remain resolutely opposed to the Games, amid fears that the influx of athletes, sport officials and journalists could worsen the continuing Covid outbreak in Tokyo and across the country. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and organisers are steadfast in their resolve to continue with the Games as anti-virus measures remain in place; they promise stringent protocols will prevent 93,000 visitors from worsening Japan’s outbreak. But questions still outnumber answers. Doctors and healthcare workers have the strongest opposition voices – an infection surge could overwhelm healthcare systems. ‘Front-line medical workers are being treated as disposable,’ said a 27-year-old nurse in Tokyo.Another factor fuelling public opposition is the sluggish pace of Japan’s vaccine rollout. A former Olympic athlete said the safety of people is not considered the priority. Instead, the IOC’s own interests are being considered the priority.
On 16 June Parliament rubber-stamped extending lockdown rules in England until 19 July. Scientists say Covid is growing - with much of it being driven by younger people who are not yet immunised. However, tentative signs in the latest daily data suggest growth may be beginning to slow. The rollout of vaccinations to younger people is key to reducing further spread. Rising infections have boosted a seven-day average to 7,888 cases. The UK recorded 9,055 cases on 16 June - the highest number since 25 February. Hospitalisations have also increased, but daily deaths remain low, with a weekly average of nine deaths within 28 days of a positive test. The Government has clearly announced that it wants to vaccinate all adults in the period between now and 19 July. That will make a very big difference and increase the overall population immunity.
Justin Welby said, ‘The world is facing a crisis of truth. Claims and counterclaims about the virus, vaccines and the effectiveness of government responses take centre-stage globally. Conspiracy theories circle the globe; misinformation causes repercussions. We need to learn to judge the information we receive, think critically and kindly, and act accordingly.’ There has been a rise in conspiracy theories, anti-vaccination campaigns and growing confusion as people question whether Covid-19 is really a threat. Social media stand accused of spreading misinformation faster than reliable facts and corrections. Is the vaccine safe? Are the statistics accurate? How likely am I to get Covid? The postmodern idea of all truth being relative falls far short of the mark when the truth can save your life.
A lack of effective and sustained government action and funding is partly to blame for a crisis in the quality of England’s homes, according to a new report entitled ‘Past, present and future: housing policy and poor-quality homes’. It finds that while the government has a crucial role in protecting the nation’s housing stock, dramatic funding cuts and failure to act have left England’s homes crumbling. Today, an estimated ten million people in England are at risk because they live in a home which doesn’t meet basic standards, with the majority of these homes posing a serious risk to their inhabitants’ health or safety. Previous research by the Centre for Ageing Better and the King’s Fund highlighted the link between poor-quality housing and Covid-19; those who are most at risk of the disease are more likely to be living in non-decent homes.
A leading scientist and member of SAGE says the lockdown easing in June ‘could be delayed', as Indian variant cases are increasing in UK hotspots. Vaccine developers are asserting we will need annual boosters or new vaccines to tackle variants, but some scientists are questioning whether this will be needed. When Pfizer said people could need annual boosters, the ex-director of Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said there is no evidence to suggest that this is the case. Scientists said anticipation around the need for boosters is being set by pharmaceutical executives not health specialists, though ‘preparing for such a need as a precaution was prudent’. The director of WHO’s department of Immunisation said, ‘We don't see the data yet that would inform a decision about whether or not booster doses are needed.’
In the Netherlands, Protestants make up around 16 percent of the population. A small group of traditional Calvinists are opposed to vaccination and social distancing. Most of these believers, who live in a region known as the ‘Bible Belt’, were never vaccinated as children and are opposed to the idea of injecting sickness into a healthy body. Despite surging case numbers, they continue to attend Sunday services without face masks. But amid some of the country's highest Covid-19 infection rates, some of them are starting to shift their mindset.
The Covid variant behind a devastating surge of infections and deaths in India has been detected in many European nations. Data obtained from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control showed that the B.1.617 variant - also known as the Indian variant because it was first detected there - has now been found in Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, and the UK. On 21 April the UK had detected 132 cases, the most of any European country. The other European countries have observed fewer than ten cases each, though this may be due to different levels of testing. See also the world article ‘India: Covid crisis’.
Many are now saying the vaccination rollout has been plagued by bureaucracy, poorly-negotiated contracts, penny-pinching, blame-shifting, and secrecy. The result is a shortage of vaccines, and an immunisation crisis On 17 February Brussels announced it is now set to almost triple its orders of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine as part of an EU push to respond to the emergence of new variants and the possible need for booster shots. Deliveries under the new deal are unlikely to ease the current short-term vaccine supply squeeze but it would be delivered between April and June.
23 January marked a year since the coronavirus lockdown chaos in Wuhan City when 11 million people were isolated for 76 days as authorities tried to contain the spread of a virus that overwhelmed hospitals and emptied streets. Many now fear it could happen again. China announced sanctions less than half an hour after US president Joe Biden took office. A year on, Yue, a Wuhan resident, said he had almost forgotten the chaos in the early days of that long quarantine, but new outbreaks in Hebei in the north of the country - where millions are again in lockdown - brought it all back. ‘The most miserable thing wasn’t death itself. Trying to get medical treatment was more painful than death. Chinese people have a strong capacity to endure disasters. I survived the Great Famine,’ he said, referring to the catastrophe between 1959 and 1961 that claimed at least 45 million lives.
Across Europe there will be further lockdowns, curfews and travel bans as the number of people infected with Covid has increased. Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte summed it up when he told Italians to expect a ‘more sober Christmas, without Christmas Eve gatherings, hugs and kisses’. We can pray for people to honour the various restrictions on public gatherings and to obey curfews where they have been imposed. Pray particularly for friends and families to exercise restraint on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Pray also for countries which will be easing restrictions prior to Christmas; may the public act wisely to avoid any further unnecessary sickness and deaths. See The EU drug regulator will meet on 21 December to decide whether to authorise the jab after desperate EU countries said the agency risked losing the trust of EU citizens if it did not act fast.