Tag: CoronaVirus

Coronavirus. The six stages of the pandemic, how it develops and how will end
Americas, Europe

Coronavirus. The six stages of the pandemic, how it develops and how will end

Each pandemic has its own course. From the declaration of the beginning of a pandemic wave to the peak and deceleration, to then prepare for a future wave. These are the steps that need to be addressed every time an epidemic spread globally. These are the reference adopted internationally by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CoC). The scientists believe that the progression of a pandemic occurs in six steps. The first is the appearance of a new dangerous microorganism for humans, as happened in China in late 2019 with the coronavirus SarsCoV2. In this phase, the first objective is to assess the level of risk and aggressiveness. The second step is to identify all cases of contagion to understand the potential spread and to adopt containment actions. The third step marks the beginning of a global spread infection, the pandemic. The fourth step corresponds to the acceleration of the pandemic wave, with an epidemiological curve pointing upwards. Public health actions focus on containment interventions, such as the closure of schools and social distancing, as well as the use of drugs and the search for a vaccine. The goal of these combined actions is to reduce the spread of the virus into population. The fifth step consists in the progressive and constant reduction of cases and, in parallel, of containment actions as happened in China, in Italy and how is happening in the USA now. The sixth and final step marks the end of the pandemic and at the same time the beginning of a phase of preparation for further waves.

But how will all this end? An answer comes by Ed Yong, Science writer at The Atlantic and author of I CONTAIN MULTITUDES, a New York Times bestseller on animal-microbe partnerships. Yong affirms in his paper that whether through accumulating herd immunity or the long-awaited arrival of a vaccine, the virus will find spreading explosively more and more difficult. The Science writer stress that it’s unlikely to disappear entirely. “The vaccine may need to be updated as the virus changes, and people may need to get revaccinated on a regular basis, as they currently do for the flu. Models suggest that the virus might simmer around the world, triggering epidemics every few years or so”. The expectation is that the severity of the virus would decline, and there would be less societal upheaval. In this future, COVID-19 may become like the flu is today — a recurring scourge of winter. Perhaps it will eventually become so mundane that even though a vaccine exists, large swaths of Gen C won’t bother getting it, forgetting how dramatically their world was molded by its absence. Ed Young write on Medium (https://medium.com/the-atlantic/how-the-pandemic-will-end-c6200beea706).

After the pandemic, people who recover from COVID-19 might be shunned and stigmatized, as were survivors of Ebola, SARS, and HIV. Health-care workers will take time to heal: One to two years after SARS hit Toronto, people who dealt with the outbreak were still less productive and more likely to be experiencing burnout and post-traumatic stress. People who went through long bouts of quarantine will carry the scars of their experience. “My colleagues in Wuhan note that some people there now refuse to leave their homes and have developed agoraphobia,” says Steven Taylor of the University of British Columbia, who wrote The Psychology of Pandemics. But there is also the potential for a much better world after we get through this trauma. Already, communities are finding new ways of coming together, even as they must stay apart. Attitudes to health may also change for the better.

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Spain returns ‘faulty’ coronavirus testing kits bought from Chinese company as experts say China is filling the void left by Europe’s usual go-to ally the US
Europe

Spain returns ‘faulty’ coronavirus testing kits bought from Chinese company as experts say China is filling the void left by Europe’s usual go-to ally the US

A Chinese company offered Friday to replace thousands of faulty coronavirus test kits after Spanish health authorities – desperate for materials to cope with the world’s second highest COVID-19 death toll – complained they did not work as promised.

China has sold face masks and other medical equipment through a series of personal contacts with Spanish authorities, including discussions between chief executives of Chinese tech giant Alibaba and Spain’s King Felipe.

But the first shipment of 640,000 test kits was found to have “insufficient sensibility” to reliably identify infected patients, according to Health Minister Salvador Illa, who announced Thursday that 58,000 kits had been returned.

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    The Chinese company supplying the test kits, Shenzhen Bioeasy Technology, said in a statement quoted by Reuters that the incorrect results may have resulted from a failure to collect samples or use the kits correctly.

The firm said it had not adequately communicated with clients how to use the kits and would resend them “assuring the sensitivity and specificity needed to help Spain fight against COVID-19.”

Spanish medical experts, who have examined the 9,000 kits delivered last week, said they have only a 30 percent probability of detecting the virus.

“They are useless,” said Victor Jimenez Cid, a senior professor in microbiology at Madrid’s Complutense University. For a test to be effective it must have a 70 percent to 80 percent probability of detecting the virus, Cid said.

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The failure of Bioeasy’s testing kits is a painful setback for Spanish medical authorities, who are struggling to cope with more than 64,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 4,900 deaths, second only to Italy.

It is also hugely embarrassing to China, which is seeking to rehabilitate a national image tarnished by its faulty early response to the virus in Wuhan by offering assistance to other hard-hit countries.

“First they send us the virus, then they sell us the medications to stop it and then defraud us. It’s great for China” said a guest in a panel discussion on a broadcast on the Spanish TV channel La Sexta.

The test is performed by dipping a swab with a sample of a patient’s saliva in a protein extraction that gives color indications of the virus’s presence. The speedy method is essential for emergency examinations by hospitals as well as improvised drive-through facilities that Spanish authorities are setting up to isolate and quickly treat cases of contamination.

Until now, Spanish hospitals have relied on slower molecular laboratory testing, which requires specialized personnel and take four hours to produce a result. Tests like those offered by Bioeasy are supposed to produce a diagnosis in 15 minutes.

Mass testing methods proved essential in South Korea’s successful effort against coronavirus and they are recommended by the World Health Organization as an essential way of controlling the pandemic’s spread.

The Chinese embassy in Spain tweeted that Shenzen Bioeasy is not licensed to sell the product and is not included on a list of “recommended suppliers,” which its ministry of commerce offered the Spanish government.

Spain’s health ministry said Bioeasy products have been approved by European Union quality control agencies and that the “specifications of this test, at least of the lot that was received, do not correspond with EU quality certifications.”
Officials said the deal with Bioeasy was made through an unidentified intermediary.

Health ministry emergency coordinator Fernando Simon said Spain is trying to import 6 million testing kits from China and other EU countries. He also said that “intense efforts” are underway with Spanish biotechnology firms to produce them.

“We will ask the President to authorize four coronavirus emergency hospitals,” says New York Gov. Cuomo
Americas

“We will ask the President to authorize four coronavirus emergency hospitals,” says New York Gov. Cuomo

On Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that he would ask the president to permit the construction of four more hospitals as the state battles a rising number of coronavirus cases.

“We’re going to seek to construct four more temporary hospitals, which would provide us extra 4,000 beds,” he explained.

The call from New York’s governor came as the city has reported around 44,635 affirmed cases and 519 deaths from covid-19, according to reports. He said that right now, the state has 53,000 hospital beds and 3,000 ICU beds. At this testing time, New York would require an estimated 140,000 beds and 40,000 ICU beds.

Cuomo stated in a public interview from the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan that one of four temporary hospitals that he has already ordered and the others will be built in Westchester, Stony Brook, and Old Westbury on Long Island. We are still short of beds, so we are moving on plan B.

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Plan B means having a temporary hospital in each borough of New York City, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. According to Cuomo, the sites have been selected, Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, the New York Expo Center in the Bronx, and the City University of New York-College of Staten Island.

Cuomo rehashed earlier projections that virus spread in the NY could reach its peak in around 21 days.

Article Credit: The Hill/Fox News

Artificial intelligence to fight coronavirus
Americas

Artificial intelligence to fight coronavirus

Predictive data analysis, remote monitoring, 3D printing, chat boxes and robots can be useful to contain and reduce the contagion of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), to follow the positives at a distance, to program resources, to disinfect and help people sick in total safety. By analyzing news reports, social media platforms, and government documents, artificial intelligence (AI) can learn to detect an outbreak. Artificial intelligence company Infervision launched a coronavirus AI solution that helps front-line healthcare workers detect and monitor the disease efficiently. Imaging departments in healthcare facilities are being taxed with the increased workload created by the virus. A consortium called C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute (C3.ai DTI) has been also created in USA with a fund research for a total of almost 6 million dollars aimed at mitigating the pandemic using artificial intelligence.

The consortium is made up of academic and non-academic institutions, including the universities of Princeton, Carnegie Mellon, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California, the University of Illinois, the University of Chicago, as well as the C3.ai and Microsoft groups. According to reports on the C3.ai DTI website, the consortium’s mission is to attract the world’s best-trained researchers in the field of artificial intelligence in a joint, coordinated and ongoing effort in this venture.

The first research call launched by the consortium, for a total of 5.8 million dollars, is entitled “Techniques based on artificial intelligence to mitigate the pandemic” and the proposals of scientists from all over the world can be sent by May 1. There are many objectives in the field for this call: from the use of artificial intelligence to develop new drugs against the virus or to convert drugs already in clinical use with other indications, from designing clinical trials to the development of models to simulate the effectiveness of prevention and making predictions for the near future. The researchers will also be able to use supercomputers and all the artificial intelligence tools.

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US overtakes China with over 82,000 coronavirus cases
Americas

US overtakes China with over 82,000 coronavirus cases

United States has now surpassed China in the number of COVID-19 cases around the world, with at least 82,404 people are known to have been infected with the deadly coronavirus, the Johns Hopkins University real-time COVID-19 tracker said on Thursday.
It is, however, important to note that the US has been testing people at a much larger scale, when compared with other countries that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We now have 370,000 tests that have been done. The majority of those — over 220,000 in the last eight days, which, those of you who have been tracking the South Korea numbers, put us equivalent to what they did in eight weeks that we did in eight days,” Dr Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, told reporters.

Although the US has surpassed China’s 81,782 mark, the COVID-19-related death toll in the country is still lower than China, with 1,178 Americans having died as opposed to the 3,291 Chinese fatalities.

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At least 160 million Americans have been ordered to stay home as schools are closed, restaurants and bars have been closed in hope of the curtail spread of the lethal virus, The New York Times reported.

New York City is among the worst-hit cities as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city has reached 38,000 and 281 have died.

On Wednesday, US Senate leaders and Trump Administration had reached an agreement regarding a USD 2 trillion package to rescue the economy from the coronavirus wrath, paving the way for swift passage of the legislation from both the chambers of Congress.

Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus-related deaths worldwide exceeded 20,000, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The G-20 summit which concluded on Thursday pledged to inject over USD 5 trillion into the global economy in a bid to counteract the social, economic, and financial impact of COVID 19 that has impacted people in at least 170 countries and caused over 20,000 deaths.

As of Thursday, 4,62,684 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection were registered in the world, 20,834 of the patients died, WHO data shows.

On March 11, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic which has now has been detected in 199 countries and territories.

Coronavirus, Armani converts its production in Italy in disposable gowns
Uncategorized

Coronavirus, Armani converts its production in Italy in disposable gowns

The Armani Group, the leading company in the luxury sector owned by Giorgio Armani, converts all its Italian fashion production into disposable gowns for the individual protection of health workers engaged in dealing with Coronavirus in the Italian hospitals and clinics. In recent weeks, following the initial donation of one million and 250 thousand euros allocated to the Civil Protection and hospitals Luigi Sacco, San Raffaele, the Cancer Institute of Milan and Spallanzani of Rome, Giorgio Armani has now decided to make his contribution also to Bergamo, Piacenza and Versilia hospitals, thus reaching a total donation of 2 million euros.

There are many initiatives launched by entrepreneurs and companies in support of their territories, in particular doctors committed to the front against the pandemic. The Damiani Group, one of the largest jewellery manufacturers in the world, has also launched a program that involves the customers of the Group’s brands so as to be the collector of a fundraiser in favor of entities active in the fight against Covid-19. By purchasing a Damiani or Salvini jewel, a Venini object, either in the specific brand platforms or e-commerce, the company will activate further donations in addition to paying the buyers a discount, which can also be donated to the body chosen by the end customer to support, for example, the hospitals in the most affected regions.

The Group has also decided to pay homage with a jewel to all the doctors and nurses working tirelessly in the Tortona hospital, which as required by the Piemonte Region has been transformed into Covid Hospital, to thank them symbolically for the great work they are carrying out and with the intention of giving them a smile.

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Coronavirus is revealing how badly the UK has failed its most vulnerable
Europe

Coronavirus is revealing how badly the UK has failed its most vulnerable

As the novel coronavirus rips through a stunned global population, it’s becoming clear that no one can escape the impact it’s having on society.
The past few weeks have shown that even the world’s wealthiest and most powerful are as likely to contract the virus as anyone else. However, less attention is being paid to the most vulnerable members of society — those in poverty, people living on the breadline and the homeless.

The problem reached a crunch point in the UK, which has dramatically increased its response to the virus outbreak this week. Food banks that provide a lifeline for some of the estimated 14 million in poverty are running low on volunteers, many of whom have been forced to self-isolate, as well as food itself, which is in short supply following panic-buying.
The situation is equally bleak for the UK’s homeless population, estimated to be around 320,000. Unable to follow government advice to self-isolate, they face a double blow as life-saving services close just as they become most needed.

People working on the frontline in homeless shelters told CNN their worst nightmares were already coming true, with at least one facility forced to close after one of its users died from COVID-19. Most of the people in that shelter are now sleeping rough and may have come into contact with virus carriers.

Shelter, a non-profit that provides support for the UK’s homeless population, estimates that the number of people sleeping on the streets has risen 165% since 2010.

That date is important. It’s the year the UK went from having a center-left Labour government to a center-right Conservative-led administration. And in the wake of the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, it embarked on policies that radically cut state spending. “The message was clear… we need to cut back to balance the books,” says Garry Lemon, director of policy at the Trussell Trust, a non-profit that supports food banks in the UK.

“It took a lot of forms, but billions of pounds were taken out of our social security system — and it was done with widespread public support.”

Critics believe that government policies over the past decade have left the social security system severely compromised. “Our research shows that combined impact of those policies amount to average £3,000 a year ($3,560) for the poorest,” says Clare McNeil from the left-of-center IPPR think tank.

Lemon adds that his organization’s research has shown a link between these policies and a rise in “homelessness and food bank usage.”

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The subject of food banks is a good place to return to coronavirus, and especially how it affects the vulnerable. “The majority of our volunteers are retired. Some are not in good health because it’s hard to be when you’re over 70,” says Allison, one of seven volunteers at an independent food bank in the UK. (She preferred to withhold her last name in order to be able to speak more freely.

“We’ve given them the option of dropping out and obeying the government guidelines. But it does leave a hole. Now, if a family member coughs, people are gone at the drop of a hat.”

The challenges facing these vulnerable members of society are nothing new. Campaigners hope that this crisis will at least shine a light on the plight of those in poverty and without homes. “This coronavirus exposes the cracks in society — those who have mortgages and regular income could suddenly find themselves facing the same problems as people who are on benefits.

It might be that when all is said and done, previously comfortable people, suddenly forced to stare into the eyes of destitution, will agree with Sahota and be unable to accept that economic prudence is more important than looking after the livelihoods of fellow citizens.

This outbreak will change many things, and it’s not clear how many of those will be undone when it’s all over. Just how the world moves on from this is still anyone’s guess. But, if current projections are right, we in the West are still only in the early stages of this thing.

EU nations contemplate to issuing joint Corona bonds
Europe

EU nations contemplate to issuing joint Corona bonds

European nations, which have been hit the hardest by the outbreak of deadly coronavirus, have come together to ponder over joint measures to take the continent out of economic slump. The heads of the nine nations have proposed a case of ‘Corona bonds’ also known as Eurobonds. But other nations which follow more conservative approach are yet to give approval to the suggestion.

Europe, which nearly escaped recession a few months ago, has dived back into the whirlwind of economic downturn triggered by a steep rise in COVID-19 cases. As of Wednesday morning, the number of corona positive patients in the continent exceeded 1,82,000. Several nations are under national lockdown, a preventive measure taken to keep the highly contagious virus from spreading. With businesses, schools, colleges, restaurants and other institutions shut, the entire system has gone into deep crisis.

In order to keep the system running, the heads of state of Italy, France, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Slovenia and Luxembourg issued a joint letter on Wednesday suggesting issuing of Corona bonds, “We need to recognize the severity of the situation and the necessity for further action to buttress our economies today.”

“We need to work on a common debt instrument issued by a European institution to raise funds on the market on the same basis and to the benefits of all Member States,” the nine heads of state said.

The letter was released a day before a joint conference between the 27 nations of the Union and hence builds pressure on nations like Germany and Netherlands, who view this joint debt as an extremely risky measure.

“The case for such a common instrument is strong, since we are all facing a symmetric external shock, for which no country bears responsibility, but whose negative consequences are endured by all,” the nine leaders said, highlighting the need for it as the current crisis is different from the global and sovereign debt crisis, where the region had been impacted disproportionately.

The letter added, “If we want tomorrow’s Europe to live up to the aspirations of its past, we must act today, and prepare our common future. Let us open this debate now and move forward, without hesitation,” the nine leaders said in their joint letter Wednesday.

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Brazilians protest under quarantine by clanging pots and pans, saying Bolsonaro ‘Get out!’
Americas

Brazilians protest under quarantine by clanging pots and pans, saying Bolsonaro ‘Get out!’

President Jair Bolsonaro faces outrage from citizens as they come out in their balconies and windows to protest against his administration. People clanged pots and pans with wooden spoons and chanted Fora Bolsonaro!” (“Get out, Bolsonaro!”).The Guardian reported.

The Covid-19 has taken nearly 15,000 lives across the world and seems set to do the same in Latin America in the coming weeks. The regional government is shutting borders and closing down big cities to control the virus from spreading.

The quick trigger for the protest against Bolsonaro is due to his reaction to the covid-19 pandemic, as he recently stating that coronavirus is a hysteria, media stunt, and fantasy.

As the pandemic made its first advances into Brazil recently, Brazil’s pioneer sparked outrage as he continued mingling with fans despite being advised to remain quarantined after getting ill during a trip to the US.

As per the Guardian, Wilma Dutra de Oliveira, a language teacher from Leblon, expressed that “We can no longer acknowledge an individual like this as our leader,” “The inclination I have is that the presidential seat is vacant,” and we don’t have a president instead we have a clown who doesn’t have a clue what he is doing.”

However, Mauro Ventura, a Brazilian author, said the window-side protest reflected greater, pent-up discontent against Bolsonaro’s administration the coronavirus emergency had made to detonate.

Oliveira stated that she didn’t anticipate that the present protests will bring about a quick change. Even though numerous intellectuals trust Bolsonaro has irreparably crippled, his odds to get re-elected in 2022.

Article Credit: The Guardian/Reuters

Chinese diplomat: There is no evidence that China is the source of (corona) virus
Asia Pacific Focus

Chinese diplomat: There is no evidence that China is the source of (corona) virus

The global outbreak of coronavirus pandemic has sparked various conspiracy theories regarding its origin and who could be held accountable for it. One of the most popular theories believed that China was the key culprit who created and spread the deadly virus across the world as China’s Wuhan was first to report the coronavirus positive cases. Some leaders including US president Donald Trump even referred to it as ‘Chinese virus’ in a press briefing.

To discourage such claims from doing the rounds on Wednesday evening, the Chinese Embassy Spokesperson Ji Rong issued a statement from New Delhi, stating, “There is no evidence that China is the source of the virus that caused the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) although Wuhan city in China first reported the outbreak.” Rong added, “China has neither created the virus nor intentionally transmitted it. The so-called (term) ‘Chinese virus’ is absolutely wrong.”

The Chinese Embassy spokesperson said, “The origin of the novel Coronavirus is a matter of science that requires professional and scientific assessment. Research by scientists from the United States, Europe, China, Japan and as well as the WHO has shown that there is no certain conclusion as to the origin of Covid-19. Although Wuhan city in China first reported the outbreak, there is no evidence that China is the source of the virus that caused the Covid-19.”

China added, “The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the seasonal flu starting from September, 2019, has so far sickened more than 30 million people and killed more than 20,000 people, and CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield admitted some were actually Covid-19.”

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Beijing clarified that “after the outbreak, in an open, transparent and responsible manner, the Chinese Government has timely adopted the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures to control the epidemic, provided updates to WHO and international community and shared experience in diagnosis and treatment”.

Incidentally, on Tuesday Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had spoken to his Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar to express gratitude towards India helping China with medical supplies and other support in its fight against coronavirus. “We express appreciation and thanks for that,” Ji said.
In his conversation, Yi also condemned the global effort to ‘stigmatise’ China. He said, “Those people who are trying to stigmatise China”s efforts have ignored the huge sacrifices the Chinese people made in safeguarding the health and safety of all mankind”.

Some political analyst believe that China would emerge from the ongoing health crisis as a bigger and stronger world power, and that US would eventually require the Asian giant’s help to recover.

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