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Posts tagged ‘coronavirus’

Another coronavirus will hit humans within a decade, warns Singapore expert | The Star

Covid-19 is the third coronavirus to jump from animals to humans, but it will not be the last, warns Professor Wang Linfa, director of the Programme in Emerging Infectious Diseases at Duke-NUS Medical School.

Source: Another coronavirus will hit humans within a decade, warns Singapore expert | The Star

Coronavirus: six more Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong lead to class suspensions, strategy review | South China Morning Post


Chief Executive Carrie Lam says authorities will review virus-containment measures in a meeting in the afternoon amid six more preliminary positive cases.

Source: Coronavirus: six more Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong lead to class suspensions, strategy review | South China Morning Post

Group finds manufacturing capacity for 4 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines | The Japan Times

Britain’s Prince William meets scientists during a visit to the manufacturing laboratory where a vaccine against the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is being produced in Oxford, England, on Wednesday. | POOL / VIA AFP-JIJI


An influential foundation focused on preparation and response to epidemics that is backing nine potential coronavirus vaccines has identified manufacturers with capacity to produce four billion doses a year, the group’s top manufacturing expert said.

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) plans to have two or three manufacturing plants for each vaccine, James Robinson, a longtime biopharma executive leading CEPI’S vast manufacturing push, said in an interview.

“Right now, we know we can do the 2 billion doses that we have as our kind of our minimum target” by the end of 2021, he said.

The group is planning for eight to 10 regional distribution sites “so that we don’t have to make everything centrally and try and ship it around the world,” he said.

Even with no existing approved vaccines, CEPI is already getting manufacturing and supply chains lined up in a quest to ensure coronavirus vaccines are distributed equitably around the globe.

The Oslo-based group is backed by 14 governments, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Britain’s Wellcome Trust.

CEPI has deployed up to $829 million so far in the search for a COVID-19 vaccine through partnerships with nine developers, with the hope that at least some will be successful.

They are Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc, the University of Queensland with CSL Ltd, CureVac, Moderna Inc with U.S. government backing, Novavax Inc, the University of Oxford with AstraZeneca, Clover Biopharmaceuticals, the University of Hong Kong, and a consortium led by Institut Pasteur and including the University of Pittsburgh and Themis Bioscience, which was recently purchased by Merck & Co.

Robinson said CEPI has taken initial steps toward securing manufacturing capacity with more than 200 biopharma or sterile vaccine production companies.

“Most people don’t believe that 4 billion is possible. I do,” he said.

Robinson, a manufacturing consultant who has worked at some of the world’s biggest vaccine companies including Sanofi and Merck, said his group has done “matchmaking” based on manufacturers’ capabilities and the specific needs of the various vaccines.

Effective vaccines are seen as critical to stopping a pandemic that has infected more than 9.3 million people and killed nearly 480,000 globally with little sign of letting up.

CEPI is taking care to ensure that the work to produce a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 does not sideline other critical vaccines. That has been a particular concern in less developed countries, Robinson said.

Manufacturing capacity has been easier to locate for vaccine candidates that employ traditional technology. But three of the candidates CEPI is backing involve more complex mRNA- or DNA-based technology.

Since there has never been a licensed vaccine using those approaches, no network of contract manufacturers exists to support high-volume production, Robinson said.

“The capacity just isn’t there and it all has to be built from scratch,” he said.

Access to medical glass is another known bottleneck. To overcome it, CEPI has purchased enough glass vials for 2 billion doses and is considering purchasing more.

“We don’t want vials to be the reason we don’t have enough vaccine,” he said.

CEPI is keeping packaging products it chooses uniform, so it can fill vials and finish packaging for any of the vaccines, rather than tailoring them to individual products.

They have done the same with rubber stoppers that seal the vials and aluminum flip caps to cover them.

“Some companies are choosing not to use our network … and they’re also purchasing their own vials,” Robinson said. That will allow more capacity for smaller biotechs and university labs that do not have sophisticated supply chains.

One other massive challenge facing CEPI is the need to work with dozens, if not scores, of regulators globally.

“Each regulatory agency could ask for something different, so our job is a bit more complex,” Robinson said.

A CEPI regulatory working group has been looking into ways to try to standardize requirements to the extent possible, Robinson said. “But then each of the countries that receive the vaccine also need to license it.”

Source: Group finds manufacturing capacity for 4 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines | The Japan Times

Dangerous Kawasaki-like condition seen in children with COVID-19 is a NEW disease

Children with coronavirus who develop bizarre and dangerous inflammation similar to Kawasaki syndrome are suffering from an entirely new disease, Imperial College London scientists say.

Coronavirus was spreading ‘cryptically’ in the US by early February, CDC data reveals  

Increases in coronavirus-like illnesses weren’t apparent until March in places like New York, California and Washington, but a new CDC analysis suggests it was here a month earlier.

U.S. coronavirus death toll tops 100,000 as Trump pushes to reopen

The tragic milestone revives debate over the handling of the pandemic.

Health workers move a deceased coronavirus patient

U.S. coronavirus deaths surged past 100,000 Wednesday, even as President Donald Trump continues urging states across the country to reopen.

The U.S. leads the world in reported confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 1.6 million American cases since January, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.

A day before the U.S. reached the 100,000-death mark, Trump once again blamed China for not stopping the virus before it spread across the globe, and touted his decision in January to restrict travel from China to the U.S.

“For all of the political hacks out there, if I hadn’t done my job well, & early, we would have lost 1 1/2 to 2 Million People, as opposed to the 100,000 plus that looks like will be the number,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

But models that suggested millions of Americans would die from the coronavirus assumed that officials and the public would not take any steps to mitigate the pathogen’s spread, according to Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development who led efforts on global disaster response under the Obama administration.

“He’s basically saying we’ve done less poorly than complete inaction, that’s a pretty underwhelming bar to set,” Konyndyk told POLITICO. While it’s difficult to say definitively what impact Trump’s travel restrictions had on the U.S. outbreak, the administration did little to take advantage of any extra time to ramp up production of personal protective equipment or testing supplies, he added.

An outbreak model favored by White House officials projects the virus will cause approximately 32,000 additional deaths by Aug. 4. That would put the country’s overall toll at just under 132,000, according an update released Wednesday by researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday cited a study by Columbia University researchers that found that if social distancing measures had been implemented one week sooner, the U.S. could have avoided nearly 36,000 deaths nationwide as of early May. “This is a fateful milestone we should have never reached — that could have been avoided,” Biden said in a Twitter video.

Democrats haveblasted Trump’s handling of the pandemic, saying a lack of federal planning to organize testing and procurement of needed supplies has left states to fight with each other for scarce supplies on the private market.

The administration delivered a report to Congress over the weekend outlining its national coronavirus testing strategy, which suggests that conducting 300,000 tests per day and achieving a positivity rate under 10 percent is sufficient. But Democrats and public health researchersimmediately panned those numbers as inadequate.

The authors of an analysis published by Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics said the administration report distorted their work. The HHS plan “selectively adjusted assumptions” and “does not provide an accurate summary of the modeling supporting our recommendations,” researchers E. Glen Weyl and Divya Siddarth and Safra Center Director Danielle Allen said in a statement Tuesday.

They argue the U.S. needs to conduct1 to 1.5 million tests per day. “We have been arguing for and modeling a suppression strategy, which our numbers reflect,” Allen, Weyl and Siddarth said in a statement. “The administration appears to have embraced a mitigation strategy. We continue to encourage the administration to aim high. Mitigation should be but a stepping stone to suppression.”

Scott Gottlieb, Trump’s former FDA commissioner, cautioned over the weekend that the coronavirus is not yet contained, notingthat the number of people hospitalized nationwide per day has begun to increase after a two-week decline.

“Some uptick in cases was expected as we re-opened but raises concern,” Gottlieb tweeted Sunday. “Risk is we don’t better contain spread, get slow burn, and bigger re-ignition in Fall.”


Mental health a challenging issue at Jakarta temporary COVID-19 hospital

Indonesian medical staff prepare a room for patients at the 2018 Asian Games athlete’s village which has been converted into a hospital for COVID-19 coronavirus patients in Jakarta on Mar 23, 2020. (Photo: Hafidz Mubarak A/POOL/AFP)Indonesian medical staff prepare a room for patients at the 2018 Asian Games athlete’s village which has been converted into a hospital for COVID-19 coronavirus patients in Jakarta on Mar 23, 2020. (Photo: Hafidz Mubarak A/POOL/AFP)

By Kiki Siregar

24 May 2020 06:02AM (Updated: 24 May 2020 06:10AM)

JAKARTA: Former COVID-19 patient Indah, not her real name, still remembers the moments when she thought about jumping out of a window.
When she was tested positive in late April, the 30-year-old Indonesian was warded at Jakarta’s 2018 Asian Games athlete’s village. The facility was converted into an emergency makeshift hospital for COVID-19 cases that have been assessed to be less serious.

Separated from her three children, the youngest being just two-years-old, Indah missed them badly. She tried to connect with them daily through video calls and messaging apps.
When her children told her that their neighbours had stopped them from leaving home, for fear that they would spread the virus, she felt angry and helpless.
“I didn’t dare to look at a window because I would suddenly think of committing suicide,” she said when interviewed by CNA.
She added: “My room had a window and was on the 27th floor. When I looked down, I felt I wanted to jump out of the window, I just felt I wanted to end my life.

“I have never felt like that. Far away from my little children and my neighbours were saying bad things about them. I was stressed out.
” Fortunately, she quickly realised ending her own life was not a solution, as there would be no one to take care of her children.
“I don’t want them to receive a lack of love just like my experience when I was young. I don’t want them to not have a mother,” she recounted.

Indah claimed that she was not alone in having suicidal thoughts. During her 18 days of hospitalisation, she encountered other patients who also had suicidal thoughts or displayed other symptoms of stress such as crying for the entire day.
She said some were stressed out because they had been hospitalised for over a month and felt bored and helpless, a state she also experienced.
Dr Stefanus Dony, the operational coordinator of the athlete’s village told CNA that when the makeshift hospital was newly launched in March and the psychological teams had not yet started work, they had a patient who tried to jump out of the window and attack the medical workers.
They quickly referred the patient to a psychiatric hospital in Jakarta as the person seemed to be suicidal.
“But now we have a psychological team and programmes so hopefully this will prevent unwanted things from happening and reduce the stress levels of our patients, including our health workers.”

Captain Didon Permadi, the head of the psychology team at the athlete’s village added that since he joined the hospital in mid-April, no one there has tried to commit suicide.
The suicidal thoughts were actually manifestations of the stress they experienced, he explained.

The psychologist said the emotional state of patients were caused by various factors.
“To some people the source is family problems, losing a family member but unable to witness the funeral, thinking of their children, thinking of their jobs, and mainly waiting for the swab test result to be out,” he said.
Permadi added: “Another stressor is how people in their neighbourhood are treating their family (while they are warded at the athlete’s village) … They (feel like they) are ostracised, isolated, and don’t receive social support.
“Even when they have tested negative, some are anxious about going home.”

All these are manifested in different behaviours, said the psychologist.
”Since I’ve joined, according to the reports of several nurses, the uncontrollable behaviours some patients display include being angry and scolding the nurses, among others.
“There was also a patient who urinated anywhere he wanted and entered the rooms of other patients. But upon further examination, that person had suffered from a massive stroke and his memory is a bit impaired.”
Permadi also noted that some were already suffering from psychotic problems prior to their hospitalisation.
In such a case, they would refer them to a different hospital that would be able to handle such patients, he said.

Five psychologists, five assistant psychologists and one psychiatrist have been on duty since early April.
They take care of the mental health of about 800 patients, most of whom have mild COVID-19 symptoms.
While there are no exact statistics on how many coronavirus patients in Indonesia have experienced mental problems, a woman suspected of contracting COVID-19 died last Sunday (May 17) after jumping out of the hospital window where she was warded.
Local media reported that the patient had made several requests to be discharged.

The psychologists have come up with preventive programmes to keep the patients and also the nurses mentally healthy.
Psychoeducation and positive messages are broadcast through messaging apps and loudspeakers twice a day.
There are also group activities that are organised in adherence to social distancing principles so that they can support each other and won’t feel lonely.
One-to-one counselling sessions and a hotline service are also available, Permadi said, while visits to the patients are also done regularly every Tuesday and Friday.
“We believe the patients here encounter problems which can disrupt them psychologically because they don’t really suffer from major problems physically but their activities are limited.
“And while waiting for the test result, they develop negative thoughts which disturb their sleep patterns and later their physical condition which could affect their immunity,” he noted.

The athlete’s village is meant for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms and suspected cases, some of whom are also anxious that they could catch the virus while being hospitalised there. It is the only hospital in Jakarta which is entirely focused on treating COVID-19 patients.

Indah said the psychologists and their programmes have helped her overcome her suicidal thoughts.
Knowing that she had a support system at the makeshift hospital was also beneficial and important.
“We give each other support and share food with one another if someone had leftovers. We also pray for each other,” she said.
Now that she is back home, she is still upset every time she perceives that her family may have been ostracised.
She would sometimes send messages to the psychologists at the athlete’s village to pour her heart out.
“I just want people not to stigmatise and ostracise us.”

Source: CNA/ks(aw)

Singapore reports 642 new COVID-19 cases, taking total past 31,000

Onsite medical facilities for workers at foreign worker dormitory Avery Lodge. (Photo: Singapore Ministry of Manpower)

SINGAPORE: Singapore reported 642 new COVID-19 cases as of noon on Saturday (May 23), taking the national total to 31,068.  

The vast majority of the new cases are foreign workers living in dormitories, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in its preliminary daily update. In a later update, it said a total of 631 cases involved these workers. 

There were a total of 11 cases in the community – six people who are either Singaporeans or permanent residents, three work pass holders and two work permit holders, MOH said.

Among them are two pre-school staff members. 

Case 30767 is 24-year-old Filipino national who went to work at PCF Sparkletots @ Gambas. She was confirmed to have the infection on May 22.

The second person, Case 31055, is a 54-year-old Singaporean who went to work at Shaws Preschool @ Lorong Chuan. She was similarly confirmed to have the virus on May 22.Advertisement

“The number of new cases in the community has increased, from an average of five cases per day in the week before, to an average of seven per day in the past week,” MOH explained.

“The number of unlinked cases in the community has also increased, from an average of one case per day in the week before, to an average of two per day in the past week.”

The ministry said this is because of “active surveillance and screening of nursing home residents and pre-school staff, which have picked up more cases in the past week”.

“Of the new cases, 99 per cent are linked to known clusters, while the rest are pending contact tracing.”


Aside from the two pre-school staff, there were nine other community cases reported in Singapore on Saturday.

Case 30647, a 55-year-old Singaporean man is a household contact of Case 24255. He was found to have the infection on May 22. Case 24255 is a 55-year-old Singaporean woman.

A 51-year-old man, Case 30706, is another community case reported on Saturday. The Singaporean first experienced an onset of symptoms on May 21 and was confirmed to have the infection the next day. He is currently unlinked to other cases.

One 45-year-old permanent resident, Case 30707, was also identified. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 on May 22 and is the contact of Case 24348.

Case 30708 is a 29-year-old Singaporean woman who is linked to Case 26927. She tested positive for COVID-19 on May 22. Case 26927 is a Singaporean who worked at a foreign worker dormitory.

A 20-year-old Singaporean, Case 30709, was among Saturday’s community cases. He first reported symptoms on May 16, and was diagnosed with COVID-19 on May 22. MOH said the man went to work at 31 Sungei Kadut Avenue and Cochrane Lodge I.

Among the community cases are also three people linked to the cluster at 564 A-E Balestier Road.

One of them, Case 31080, is a 53-year-old Bangladeshi national. The man was diagnosed with the virus on May 23. 

Similarly, two Indian nationals were also diagnosed on the same day. Case 31081 is 35 years-old while Case 31082 is 34 years old.

All three men are contacts of Case 28069.

Another Bangladeshi national, Case 31089, was diagnosed with COVID-19 on May 23, a day after symptoms appeared. He is linked to the Jurong Penjuru dormitory cluster and is a contact of Case 29563.


Two new clusters were also found on Saturday: 28 Kian Teck Road and 121 Tuas View Walk 1.

Another two more clusters were also closed.

“As there have been no more cases linked to Tuas South Incineration Plant (98 Tuas South Avenue 3) and 234A Balestier Road for the past two incubation periods (i.e. 28 days), the clusters have now been closed,” MOH said.

In total 927 more cases of COVID-19 patients have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. 

In all, 13,882 have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospitals or community care facilities.

There are currently 711 confirmed cases who are still in hospital, MOH shared. 

Of these, it said, most are stable or improving. Eight people are in the intensive care unit in critical condition.

Source: CNA/sk

A COVID-19 medicinal ‘breakthrough’ in Germany

German researchers have created an antibody that can protect cells from coronavirus entry. Will it work? Listen to DW’s science podcast for a different angle on the coronavirus — five minutes every day from Germany.

Just a little prick?

It is the only path to a vaccine. Still, ask yourself: Would you get a shot, risks unknown, to help humanity? Listen to DW’s science podcast for a different angle on the coronavirus — five minutes every day from Germany.

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