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Yemen: This Doctor Saw Covid Hospital Empty After Fake Death Text

17 hours 15 min

(BBC) – As war-torn Yemen braces itself for a second wave of Covid-19, one doctor recalls how she battled the pandemic alone after her colleagues fled the hospital, and the dramatic fake news that plagued the assistance when it eventually arrived.

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Egypt Denied an Oxygen Failure Killed Covid Patients. We Found That It Did.

17 hours 34 min

(New York Times) – Witnesses, including medical staff and relatives of patients, said in interviews that the oxygen pressure had fallen to precipitously low levels. At least three patients, they said, and possibly a fourth, had died of oxygen deprivation. A close analysis of the video by doctors in Egypt and the United States confirmed that the chaotic scene in the I.C.U. indicated an interruption in the oxygen supply. The fatal oxygen shortage was the end result of a cascade of problems at the hospital, our investigation found.

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WHO: Just 25 Covid Vaccine Doses Administered in Low-Income Countries

17 hours 37 min

(The Guardian) – The world is on the edge of a “catastrophic moral failure” in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, with just 25 doses administered across all poor countries compared with 39m in wealthier ones, the head of the World Health Organization has said. It was the sharpest warning so far from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus about the dangers of vaccine hoarding since inoculations started being administered in 49 mostly high-income countries.

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A Troubling New Pattern Among the Coronavirus Variants

17 hours 44 min

(The Atlantic) – For most of 2020, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 jumped from human to human, accumulating mutations at a steady rate of two per month—not especially impressive for a virus. These mutations have largely had little effect.But recently, three distinct versions of the virus seem to have independently converged on some of the same mutations, despite being thousands of miles apart in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil. (A mutation is a genetic change; a variant is a virus with a specific set of mutations.) The fact that these mutations have popped up not one, not two, but now three times—that we know of—in variants with unusual behavior suggests that they confer an evolutionary advantage to the virus. All three variants seem to be becoming more common. And all three are potentially more transmissible.

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WHO, China Could Have Acted Faster on Pandemic: Experts

17 hours 47 min

(Medical Xpress) – China and the World Health Organization could have acted faster to avert catastrophe during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, a panel of independent experts has concluded. The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response said its evaluation of the start of the crisis in China “suggests that there was potential for early signs to have been acted on more rapidly”.

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Norway Adjusts Advice After Vaccine Deaths But Isn’t Alarmed

18 hours 10 min

(ABC News) – Norwegian officials have adjusted their advice on who gets the COVID-19 vaccine in light of a small number of deaths in older people, leaving it up to each doctor to consider who should be vaccinated. The Norwegian Medicines Agency on Thursday reported a total of 29 people had suffered side effects, 13 of them fatal. All the deaths occurred among patients in nursing homes and all were over the age of 80.

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CVS and Walgreens Under Fire for Slow Pace of Vaccination in Nursing Homes

3 days 19 hours

(Kaiser Health News) – The effort to vaccinate some of the country’s most vulnerable residents against covid-19 has been slowed by a federal program that sends retail pharmacists into nursing homes — accompanied by layers of bureaucracy and logistical snafus. As of Thursday, more than 4.7 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna covid vaccines had been allocated to the federal pharmacy partnership, which has deputized pharmacy teams from Walgreens and CVS to vaccinate nursing home residents and workers. Since the program started in some states on Dec. 21, however, they have administered about one-quarter of the doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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China COVID Vaccine Reports Mixed Results–What Does That Mean for the Pandemic?

3 days 19 hours

(Nature) – Long-awaited results about the effectiveness of a leading Chinese COVID-19 vaccine were tinged with disappointment and confusion this week. But researchers say the vaccine could help reduce deaths from the disease. Researchers in Brazil reported that CoronaVac, developed by Beijing-based Sinovac, was 50.4% effective at preventing severe and mild COVID-19 in late-stage trials. That’s significantly lower than the 90% efficacies of several leading vaccines. The CoronaVac figures were much lower than those from early trials of the same vaccine in Turkey and Indonesia, and below the efficacy first reported by the Brazil trial team last week.

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China Builds New Quarantine Center as Virus Cases Rise

3 days 19 hours

(Associated Press) – A city in northern China is building a 3,000-unit quarantine facility to deal with an anticipated overflow of patients as COVID-19 cases rise ahead of the annual Lunar New Year travel rush.  State media on Friday showed crews leveling earth, pouring concrete and assembling prefabricated rooms in farmland in an outlying part of Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital of Hebei province, which has seen the bulk of the new cases. 

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In LA, Ambulances Circle for Hours and ICUs Are Full. Is This What Covid-19 Has in Store for the Rest of the Country?

3 days 19 hours

(STAT News) – The situation here is dire. Every minute, 10 people test positive for Covid-19. Every eight minutes, someone dies. Ambulances circle for hours, unable to find ERs that can accept patients. Hospitals are running out of oxygen. ICU capacity is at zero. Patients lie in hallways and tents. Emergency room nurses have more patients than they can handle — sometimes six at a time. The National Guard has arrived, not to help treat patients, but to manage the flood of bodies. As Los Angeles County approaches its millionth case of Covid-19, doctors describe their wards as war zones. Even the gorillas at the San Diego Zoo have gotten sick.

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EU Regulator: Hackers ‘Manipulated’ Stolen Vaccine Documents

3 days 20 hours

(ABC News) – The European Union’s drug regulator said Friday that COVID-19 vaccine documents stolen from its servers in a cyberattack have been not only leaked to the web, but “manipulated” by hackers. The European Medicines Agency said that an ongoing investigation into the cyberattack showed that hackers obtained emails and documents from November related to the evaluation of experimental coronavirus vaccines. The medicines agency, which regulates drugs and medicines across the 27-member EU, had troves of confidential COVID-19 data as part of its vaccine approval process.

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Pfizer Temporarily Reduces European Deliveries of Vaccine

3 days 20 hours

(Associated Press) – U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer confirmed Friday it will temporarily reduce deliveries to Europe of its COVID-19 vaccine while it upgrades production capacity to 2 billion doses per year.  “This temporary reduction will affect all European countries,” a spokeswoman for Pfizer Denmark said in a statement to The Associated Press. Line Fedders said that to meet the new 2 billion dose target, Pfizer is upscaling production at its plant in Puurs, Belgium, which “presupposes adaptation of facilities and processes at the factory which requires new quality tests and approvals from the authorities.”

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Saliva-Based COVID-19 Tests as Accurate as Those Using Nose, Throat Samples

3 days 20 hours

(UPI) – COVID-19 tests that use patients’ saliva to screen for the virus are just as effective as those that use swabs collected from the nose and throat, an analysis published by JAMA Internal Medicine found. Saliva-based tests correctly identified those infected with the new coronavirus 83% of the time, while nose-throat swab tests were 85% accurate, the review of data from 16 studies showed. 

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Feds Plead for Greater use of Monoclonal Antibodies to Fight COVID

3 days 20 hours

(Medscape) – Federal officials are urging healthcare professionals and patients to use monoclonal antibody treatments to help stave off more severe COVID-19 illness, and have now set up three federally supported infusion sites. In its push, the government also has posted an online locator for sites offering the therapies and is encouraging use at long-term care facilities and other alternative locations.

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China in Darkest Period for Human Rights Since Tiananmen, Says Rights Group

4 days 14 hours

(The Guardian) – China is in the midst of its darkest period for human rights since the Tiananmen Square massacre, Human Rights Watch has said in its annual report. But 2020 was also the year that world governments found “safety in numbers” to push back on China’s policies of repression, with less fear of retaliation, it said. Worsening persecutions of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Tibet, targeting of whistleblowers, the crackdown on Hong Kong and attempts to cover up the coronavirus outbreak were all part of the deteriorating situation under President Xi Jinping, the organisation said.

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CDC Describes COVID-19 Trends in Nursing Home Residents, Staff

4 days 14 hours

(Medical Xpress) – Among residents and staff members in U.S. nursing homes, the rates of COVID-19 increased in June and July, then decreased by September, and increased again by late November, paralleling trends in surrounding communities, according to research published in the Jan. 8 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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Oxygen Shortage in Amazon City Forces Mass Patient Transfer

4 days 15 hours

(ABC News) – Scores of COVID-19 patients in the Amazon rainforest’s biggest city will be transferred out of state as the local health system collapses and dwindling stocks of oxygen tanks mean Brazilians have started to die breathless at home. Doctors in Manaus, a city of 2 million people, are choosing which patients to treat and at least one of the city’s cemeteries asks mourners to line up to enter and bury their dead.

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Why COVID Demands Genetic Surveillance

4 days 15 hours

(Axios) – A seemingly more transmissible coronavirus variant is threatening the world — and exposing the U.S.’ lackluster genetic surveillance. Why it matters: A beefed-up program to sequence the genomes of infectious disease pathogens infections could help the U.S. identify dangerous new coronavirus variants — and get the jump on pathogens that could ignite the pandemics of the future.

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The Covid-19 Death Toll Is Even Worse Than It Looks

4 days 15 hours

(The Wall Street Journal) – The recorded death count from the Covid-19 pandemic as of Thursday is nearing 2 million. The true extent is far worse. More than 2.8 million people have lost their lives due to the pandemic, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from 59 countries and jurisdictions. This tally offers the most comprehensive view yet of the pandemic’s global impact. Deaths in these places last year surged more than 12% above average levels.

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Justices Say Women Must Obtain Abortion Pill in Person

5 days 13 hours

(ABC News) – The Supreme Court ordered Tuesday that women must visit a doctor’s office, hospital or clinic in person to obtain an abortion pill during the COVID-19 pandemic, though similar rules for other drugs have been suspended during the public health emergency.

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Critical Care Staff Suffer Trauma and Severe Anxiety Due to COVID-19–UK Study

5 days 13 hours

(Reuters) – Nearly half of staff working in intensive care units (ICU) in England in the COVID-19 pandemic have severe anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, with some reporting feeling they’d be better off dead, according to a study published on Wednesday. Many ICU nurses and doctors meet the clinical threshold for PTSD, anxiety or problem drinking, and symptoms are so severe that some reported contemplating self-harm or suicide.

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The Coronavirus Variants: What You Need to Know

5 days 13 hours

(Axios) – The big picture: Viruses mutate, often without impacting the severity of disease or how the virus spreads. But sometimes mutations are consequential for public health and scientists say it’s important to monitor them. Both Pfizer and Moderna are in the process of testing their vaccines against the variants. Pfizer and BioNTech said Thursday the mutation N501Y found in both variants B.1.1.7 and 501.V2 was tested against their vaccine and found “no reduction in neutralization activity against the virus.” But there are multiple mutations and more studies are underway.

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California Opens Scarce Vaccines to Those 65 and Older

5 days 14 hours

(Associated Press) – California is immediately allowing residents 65 and older to get scarce coronavirus vaccines, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday. The move puts seniors in line before emergency workers, teachers, childcare providers and food and agriculture workers even as counties complain they already don’t have enough doses to go around. 

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Data Fuel Debate Over Whether J&J’s One-Dose Covid Vaccine Will Measure Up

5 days 14 hours

(STAT News) – Johnson & Johnson published updated early data on its Covid-19 vaccine Wednesday, showing that it provided participants in a clinical trial with at least some immunity after one dose. The data, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, offer only hints to a tantalizing question: Could the vaccine, given as a single shot, perform as well as the vaccines that U.S. regulators have already authorized, which are given as two?

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Spain: Judge Orders Incapacitated Woman to Get Virus Vaccine

5 days 14 hours

(Associated Press) – A judge in northwest Spain has overruled a family’s objections and decided to allow health authorities to administer a coronavirus vaccine to an incapacitated woman in a nursing home. The case appears to be the first known instance of a court in Europe requiring someone to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The Spanish government repeatedly has stressed that shots would be voluntary, as have authorities in other European countries.

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