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The ‘two-track pandemic’, EU vaccine passport and project S: What to know about Covid-19 this week



  • A Covid-19 outbreak in a nursing home shows that the elderly need time to develop an immune response to the vaccine. German nursing home residents who became infected even after being vaccinated had milder symptoms and recovered faster than unvaccinated patients – although they became infected with the Alpha variant, which was first discovered in the UK, researchers reported on Tuesday. A separate study from the US CDC shows that people who have been fully vaccinated are more than 90% protected against infection, and if they become ill, they have a milder disease than the unvaccinated.
  • The impact of Covid-1
    9 on global viability has been absolutely devastating, but some destinations have fared much better than others. This year, Auckland, New Zealand, climbed to the top of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index – thanks to its rapid containment of the pandemic, which allows for early lifting of restrictions.
  • Brazil’s Supreme Court is meeting on Thursday to consider the possible suspension of next week’s Copa America football tournament after some lawmakers and working groups argued that the tournament should be stopped because of the possibility that it could trigger a new wave of Covid-19 cases. Brazilian national team players and staff criticized the tournament’s organizers in an open letter on Wednesday, but said they will still participate if it continues.

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWER.

Questions: Is it safe to go on holiday?

ONE: The CDC updated its international travel guide on Monday to provide specific advice to both vaccinated and non-vaccinated travelers in 120 countries. The guidelines seek to “better distinguish countries with severe outbreaks” from locations where Covid-19 is “persistent but controlled.”

CDC threat levels are determined by the number of Covid-19 cases in a given country. At each level, the Agency recommends being vaccinated, but its guidance for unvaccinated people varies according to the severity of the pandemic in each country.

It is recommended to avoid traveling to countries at level 4, the highest threat level, which has more than 500 cases per year. 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days. Level 4 countries include nations such as Brazil, India and Iraq. Level 1 countries such as Australia and New Zealand are considered the lowest risk destinations and have reported less than 50 Covid-19 cases in the last 28 days.

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TOP 3 READER OF THE WEEK

The Wuhan Institute of Virology was visited by a WHO team in February.

U.S. lawmakers are focusing on a classified report that supports the lab leak theory

A classified report released last year warning that the coronavirus pandemic may have been leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan came back as a point of contact for U.S. lawmakers trying to revive the search for answers to the pandemic’s origins.

The report, released by researchers at the government-backed Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in May 2020, showed that it was possible that Covid-19 escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, according to four people familiar with the document, at a time when this line of inquiry was considered a political taboo.

It is not clear how influential the paper’s findings were in promoting the government’s understanding of the virus’ origins, nor whether the document influenced a simmering debate about whether the kind of research done on coronavirus in the laboratory could have contributed to the creation of Covid-19. The report also found that the virus may have evolved naturally in nature – reflecting what the intelligence community now says they believe – and several sources familiar with the document downplayed its significance.

U.S. senators took a military plane to Taiwan to announce a vaccine donation that angered Beijing

Taiwan is finally getting much-needed help from the United States to combat its spiral coronavirus outbreak. But for Beijing, the offer is a major provocation that risks escalating both the transversal strait and relations between the United States and China, write Nectar Gan and Ben Westcott.

A delegation of U.S. senators visited Taiwan on Sunday to announce the donation of 750,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen called the shots “timely rain” for the island, which has vaccinated only 3% of the population and on Saturday recorded its highest daily death toll of 37 people.

The U.S. donation is likely to draw anger from Beijing, which has hesitated over Taipei’s apparent refusal to accept its offer of Chinese-made coronavirus vaccines. On the other hand, Taipei has accused Beijing of blocking its efforts to buy vaccines internationally instead of trying to help.

How a vaccination experiment known as ‘Project S’ transformed a small Brazilian city

As the pandemic rages elsewhere in Brazil, hope has returned to the small town of Serrana after scientists vaccinated almost its entire adult population in a medical experiment this spring. Four months after the start of the experiment known as Project S, the quiet city of the state of São Paulo has been given an atmosphere of pre-pandemic days.

Nationwide, Brazil has the second highest number of deaths from Covid-19 in the world after the United States, and it is heading into its third wave with daily cases and deaths rising. Only 10% of Brazil’s population is fully vaccinated. But people living in Serrana say they experience a completely different reality thanks to Project S.

In the spring, the researchers gave the full two doses of the Chinese vaccine Coronavac to 27,160 adults – approx. 95% of the city’s adult population. While researchers’ full findings have not yet been peer-reviewed or published, preliminary results published on June 1 showed an 80% reduction in the number of symptomatic cases with a 86% decrease in Covid-related admissions and a decrease at 95% in mortality.

TOPTIP

Will you be mask-free? Here are some things to consider.

Think about your mental shortcuts: When we try to solve problems or make decisions, we rely on “heuristics”, a fancy name for rules of thumb, intuition and mental shortcuts that help with our assessment, according to Eve Wittenberg, a health decision researcher at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

But with Covid, there is ambiguity – not knowing what the probability of certain results is. And Wittenberg said it makes it even harder to take a risk, like eating indoors, boarding a plane or attending that concert. A crucial tip for decision making is to update your decisions based on the in-depth information.

Assess how protected you are: For the most part, unvaccinated people are primarily a risk to other unvaccinated people, but are not much of a risk to the vaccinated. (And the vaccinated are not much of a risk to them.) Experts say for most people, in most situations where we are not close to people for a long time, it’s about assessing the situation you are in, and take steps to reduce the risk.

Think about whether you are risk-tolerant or risk-averse: People differ in what they care about, and as such, individuals need to take information and evaluate how credible they consider it and how relevant it is to their own situation.


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