MERS Coronavirus warning

Here is the COVID-19 summary for Sunday.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Sunday

In Canada, Ontario and BC will reduce restrictions beginning on Monday. In BC capacity limits will be removed on events such as hockey games, concerts, and weddings except in parts of the province with low vaccination rates such as parts of the north and interior. Ontario will remove capacity limits on restaurants, pubs, indoor sports, etc. Masks and vaccination certificates will still be required in both provinces however.
Two provinces are set to ease restrictions on Monday as Canada's top doctor says nearly 90 per cent of eligible residents in the country have been administered at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Tam's comments come as British Columbia and Ontario are set to lift some public health measures starting Monday.

In South Africa, scientists are planning on reverse engineering the Moderna vaccine.
In Africa, scientists in South Africa are attempting to reverse engineer and replicate the Moderna vaccine amid a global vaccine disparity that has disadvantaged the continent.

In eastern Europe, the total number of infections since the start of the pandemic has passed 20 million.
The number of COVID-19 infections recorded so far in eastern Europe surpassed 20 million on Sunday, according to a Reuters tally, as the region grapples with its worst outbreak since the pandemic started and inoculation efforts lag.

In Australia, Melbourne will reduce restrictions later this week.
In Asia-Pacific, Melbourne, one of the world's most locked-down cities that emerged from its latest spate of COVID-19 restrictions heading into the weekend, will see more curbs eased later this week when the Australian state of Victoria reaches an 80 per cent full vaccination rate, officials said on Sunday.

The US expect to see vaccines approved for the 5 to 11 age group by the middle of November.
In the Americas, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, says vaccines for kids between the ages of five and 11 will likely be available in the first half of November
I mentioned recently that Catalonia had identified 5 cases of the Delta Plus variant. That has now gone up to 9 but the Catalan Min of Health stresses that these are not new cases but rather ones that have been identified after reviewing patients over the last 2 months.

Spain has also been caught up in the false rumours and has issued a denial that an orthopaedic doctor from Honduras has spread by video that the Pfizer vaccine contains carcinogenic or neurotoxic components. They are warning about misinformation being spread by this means.

Betya that comes up as the Gospel truth on social media, MSM comments and other means.
Here is the COVID-19 summary for Monday.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Monday

In Canada, the province of Ontario is relaxing pandemic restrictions further. Places requiring proof of vaccination such as restaurants, gyms, etc., will be allowed to return to normal capacity limits.
Municipal leaders and business owners in Ontario welcomed the lifting of capacity limits for facilities requiring proof of COVID-19 immunization on Monday, but said more help is needed to bounce back from the pandemic.

Starting at midnight, restaurants, gyms, casinos and other locations required to ask customers for proof of immunization could open to a full house.

The EU say that a half dose third jab "can be considered" for people age 18 and older. It's not clear from the story whether that is meant to apply to everyone or specific sub groups.
In Europe, the European Medicines Agency said Monday that a booster dose of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine "can be considered" in people aged 18 and above.

In a statement, the EU drug regulator said its analysis had shown that a third dose given of Moderna's vaccine — which is usually given in a two-dose schedule — at least six months after the second dose, led to an increase in antibody levels in adults whose levels were waning. The booster dose consists of half the dose normally given to adults.

The International Olympic Committee said that for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, unvaccinated competitors will be required to quarantine for three weeks, vaccinated competitors will require daily testing, and no spectators from outside China.
Concerning the Asia-Pacific region, the International Olympic Committee announced rules and restrictions for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, including a three-week quarantine for unvaccinated competitors, daily testing for vaccinated athletes and spectators from the host country of China only.

Things are apparently going pear shaped in Papua New Guinea (well, more than normal) due to rising numbers of cases.
In Papua New Guinea, concerted international action is needed as a surge in COVID-19 cases overwhelms the Pacific country's health system, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said on Monday.

South Korea have vaccinated 70 per cent of their total population.
Meanwhile, South Korea said it has achieved its goal of vaccinating 70 per cent of its 52 million people, paving the way for a planned return to normal next month.

The UAE reported 97 new cases and 1 death.
In the Middle East, in the United Arab Emirates, health officials on Monday reported one additional death and 97 new cases of COVID-19.

In Tunisia, the vaccine passport system went into effect.
In Africa, Tunisia imposed COVID-19 vaccine passes on Tunisians and all foreign visitors. Officials, employees and users are required to show their vaccine pass to access public and private administrations.

Moderna announced that a study has shown that their vaccine is safe and effective in 6 to 11 year olds. The study was based on studying antibody levels in response to the vaccine, showing similar response to those in teenagers. The child size vaccine is half the normal dose, with two jabs given 4 weeks apart. Side effects were the same as seen in adults (fatigue, injection site soreness, etc.)
Moderna says its low-dose COVID vaccine generates immune response in kids
Moderna said Monday that a low dose of its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and generates an immune response in six- to 11-year-olds as the manufacturer joins its rival Pfizer in moving toward expanding shots to children.

The US have provided more details on their new rules for visitors. Visitors must be vaccinated or have a negative test within one day of departure. People who are vaccinated need to have a negative test within 3 days of travel. There are further restrictions on unvaccinated people coming from countries with low vaccination rates (only with advance permission, and only for important non-tourism reasons).
U.S. lays out new rules for international tourists arriving by air
Beginning on Nov. 8, foreign, non-immigrant adults travelling to the United States will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with limited exceptions, and all travellers will need to be tested for the virus before boarding an aircraft to the U.S., with tightened restrictions for those who are not fully vaccinated.
Here's two stories about dodgy doctors in western Canada.

The first is about 4 doctors suing Alberta over the mandatory vaccination policy for health care workers. They are claiming a broad variety of reasons as to why Alberta's mandatory vaccination requirement should not be allowed.
4 Alberta doctors launch lawsuit over mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy
One of their arguments is that a mandatory vaccination policy "breaches confidentiality" because as soon as they are suspended for not being vaccinated everyone will know they are not vaccinated and this will hurt their professional reputations.
The statement of claim goes on to allege that the vaccine policy breaches confidentiality, since "the minute a physician is placed on unpaid leave, their status is immediately apparent."

The plaintiffs will argue that this inflicts damage to their professional reputations and causes psychological harm.

I find that argument quite fascinating because it basically amounts to admitting that not being vaccinated is a disreputable thing for a health professional, so they are saying they wish to engage in disreputable conduct but have the court prevent the public from finding out about it.

They have other reasons as well, none of which I find any more convincing.

Based on other news stories, I will be surprised if they get anywhere with this.

And the second story is about a pair of doctors in BC selling what appear to be fake vaccination and mask "exemption certificates". The certificates are being signed by one doctor and sold via a web site operated by another doctor whose license is currently "inactive". They don't say how much they charge, but they tell their clients to "mentally prepare for the invoice". One of the doctors is a prominent anti-vaxxer in BC (I believe I've mentioned him in a previous post).
2 B.C. doctors linked to website selling bogus mask and vaccine exemption 'certificates'
A B.C. physician accused of spreading misinformation about COVID-19 is now under investigation for allegedly writing phoney mask and vaccine exemptions offered through a Kelowna-based website.

CBC News has obtained a four-page "declaration certificate of medical exemption including psychosocial conditions" that was purportedly signed by Dr. Stephen Malthouse and produced through a service called

That website appears to be connected to another B.C. doctor, Dr. Gwyllyn Goddard, whose medical licence is temporarily inactive.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. are investigating.

The B.C. Ministry of Health wouldn't talk about the case specifically, but they said that there is no such thing as a legitimate mask or vaccine exemption certificate.
A spokesperson for B.C.'s Health Ministry did not answer direct questions about, but confirmed there is no such thing as an exemption certificate for either masks or vaccines.
And things continue to go badly in Russia. They reported 37.930 new cases and 1,069 new deaths. I have mentioned Russia multiple times in recent COVID-19 summary posts, but the situation there seems to be so dire that I thought it deserved a post of its own in order to draw attention to it.
With COVID-19 deaths climbing and hospitals strained, Russia rolls out restrictions

New restrictions start on Monday (the 25th) for people in Moscow age 60 or older or those with chronic illnesses who are not vaccinated. They will be required to stay at home until the 25th of February. The vaccination rate for this age group is only 30 per cent, but they make up 86 per cent of deaths.

There is also a short one week general lockdown going into effect. in early November.

Restrictions are determined by provincial governments, so they will vary in different parts of the country.

Overall the vaccination rate in Russia is only about 40 per cent. The government have been urging people to get vaccinated. Putin said that people have two options, "get sick or get vaccinated."

While the Sputnik V vaccine isn't approved by the WHO yet, the root cause of the low vaccination rate seems to be a combination of a general distrust of all vaccines and a widespread feeling among people that COVID-19 isn't something that will affect them personally so they don't need a vaccine.
Pavel Volchkov, head of a genomic engineering laboratory at Moscow's Institute of Physics and Technology, believes most vaccine holdouts aren't against vaccines, but think they don't need them.

"I call it the superhero syndrome," Volchkov told CBC.

"They believe if they were able to resist COVID-19 during the past year and a half, that SARS-CoV-2 won't be able to infect them."

The story quotes one woman who said that vaccines are not necessary if you lead a healthy lifestyle with proper diet, exercise, and sea side vacations.

Unless something changes, it appears that Russia will remain on the brink of crisis for the foreseeable future.
Here is the COVID-19 summary for Tuesday.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world Tuesday

Moderna will supply up to 110 million doses of vaccine to countries in Africa at their lowest price tier. They will ship 15 million doses by the end of the year, 35 million in the first quarter of next year, and 60 million in the second quarter.
Moderna said Tuesday that it will make up to 110 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine available to African countries. According to the announcement, Moderna is prepared to deliver the first 15 million doses by the end of this year, with 35 million in the first quarter of 2022 and up to 60 million in the second quarter.

The company said "all doses are offered at Moderna's lowest tiered price" and called it "the first step in our long-term partnership with the African Union." Africa and its 1.3 billion people remain the least-vaccinated region of the world against COVID-19, with just over five per cent fully vaccinated.

Biontech have signed deals with Senegal and Rwanda to build vaccine manufacturing plants in these two countries. Construction will start in the middle of next year. In Senegal they are working with the Institut Pasteur in Dakar.
Meanwhile, Senegal and Rwanda have signed an agreement with German company BioNTech for the construction of its first start-to-finish factories to make messenger RNA vaccines in Africa.

BioNTech, which developed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, said Tuesday that construction will start in mid-2022. It is working with the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal's capital, and the Rwandan government, a statement said.

Cambodia have announced plans for re-opening the country to tourism. This will proceed in stages beginning at the end of this month. People who are fully vaccinated do not have to quarantine provided they stick to designated areas for the first 5 days. These include Sihanoukville and Koh Kong, on the Gulf of Thailand.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Cambodia's government has announced plans to reopen the country in several stages to fully vaccinated foreign tourists starting from the end of this month. The Tourism Ministry said the program will allow visitors who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to skip being quarantined if they stay at least five days in designated areas. The first such areas are two seaside provinces, Sihanoukville and Koh Kong, on the Gulf of Thailand.

On arrival, visitors must show proof they have been vaccinated and take a rapid results test for COVID-19. They can proceed without quarantine if the results are negative. Siem Reap province, home to the famous Angkor temples, is to be added to the quarantine-free province list in January.

The EU said that the Moderna vaccine may be given to people 18 years or older as a third jab at least 6 months after the second jab. I think this is a guideline for countries that want to give third jabs rather than a recommendation that they do so.
In Europe, the European Union's drug regulator said it has concluded in its review that Moderna's COVID-19 booster vaccine may be given to people aged 18 years and above, at least six months after the second dose.

Venezuela have reopened schools and universities.
In the Americas, Venezuela reopened public schools and universities, which serve more than 11 million students, though some schools remained closed for repairs or because of lack of staff.

In Brazil, a senate committee investigating president Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic voted 7 to 4 in favour of him facing criminal charges over it. More than 600,000 people died in Brazil from COVID-19. The charges include "charlatanism and inciting crime to misuse of public funds and crimes against humanity". Bolsonaro actively sabotaged provincial and municipal efforts to contain the pandemic and promoted such quackery as using hydrochloroquine long after it was proven to be completely ineffective. Bolsonaro is not expected to face charges so long as he hangs onto power, as any attempts to prosecute him would have to go through one of his loyal appointees. However, he is expected to face election next year and he is not doing well in the popularity polls.
Brazil's Senate recommends Bolsonaro face criminal charges over COVID-19 response
A Brazilian Senate committee recommended on Tuesday that President Jair Bolsonaro face a series of criminal indictments for actions and omissions related to the world's second-highest COVID-19 death toll.

The 7-to-4 vote was the culmination of a six-month investigation of the government's handling of the pandemic. The committee formally approved a report calling for prosecutors to try Bolsonaro on charges ranging from charlatanism and inciting crime to misuse of public funds and crimes against humanity.

Doing so is an attempt to hold him responsible for many of Brazil's more than 600,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Bolsonaro's latest ****wittery is to claim that Britain's vaccination campaign has caused people there to develop AIDS. The committee has added "spreading false information" to the charge sheet.

The US have as expected approved the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine for children age 5 to 11. This is the first stage of approval, but the second stage is not expected to come to different conclusions.
FDA advisory committee recommends authorizing Pfizer's COVID vaccine for kids
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee has voted in favour of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for children five to 11 years old.

In Canada, the province of BC will begin giving booster shots to the general population starting in May of 2022. Unlike some third jabs being done now, this is considered to be a genuine booster shot to account for the original one starting to wear off. May would be just over a year after the general population starting getting their first jabs in significant numbers.
COVID-19 booster shots to be made available to all British Columbians by May 2022
Everyone in B.C. will have access to a COVID-19 booster shot in the coming months, the provincial government announced Tuesday.

Between now and the end of the year, the immunization program will continue to provide third doses to people who are immunocompromised, to residents in long-term care and to those in assisted living and rural and remote Indigenous communities.

Seniors aged 70 and over, and all Indigenous people over the age of 12, long-term home support clients and seniors in independent living and health-care workers who had a short interval between their first and second doses will also have the opportunity to receive a third dose by the end of the year.

At present almost 90 per cent of people age 12 or older in BC have had at least their first jab and 84 per cent have had their second.

Rather interestingly, the health authorities there suspect that the booster shot will provide years of protection rather than just one year.
Henry says she's optimistic that a third dose may provide years of protection against the virus based on the long intervals between previous shots when the province was trying to optimize the benefits of vaccination.

Also in Canada, Nova Scotia have passed a law prohibiting protests that block access to hospitals and doctor's offices. Union picket lines will still be allowed. The law is apparently targeted against anti-vaxxers. Several other provinces have either introduced such laws or have announced intentions to do so.
Nova Scotia passes legislation banning protests that block access to hospitals
Nova Scotia has passed legislation banning protests that block access to hospitals and other health-care facilities.

The Protecting Access to Health Services Act tabled by the Progressive Conservative government passed third and final reading Tuesday in the legislature.

The bill establishes a 50-metre "safe access bubble" around hospitals and other facilities, such as doctors' offices, where protests won't be permitted.

Finally, a man in Gatineau Quebec has been charged with selling fake vaccine certificates in Ontario and Quebec. Gatineau is located across the river from Ottawa, which is in Ontario. He would sell fake Quebec certificates to people in Ontario and fake Ontario certificates to people in Quebec, counting on the fact that the two provinces didn't check each other's certificates very closely, unlike those from other provinces. A lot of people cross the river to work and so could plausibly claim to have been vaccinated in the other province during the working day. He charged $1,400 for each fake certificate. He has been charged with forgery. Police are now tracking down the people who bought the fake certificates and will bring criminal charges against them as well.
Gatineau man charged with selling fake vaccine passports in Ontario, Quebec
Ottawa police have charged a man from Gatineau, Que., with making and selling fake COVID-19 vaccine passports in both Ontario and Quebec.

The 27-year-old was arrested Monday and faces nine charges, including forgery and laundering proceeds of a crime.
After 9 cases of the Delta Plus variant were identified in Catalonia, it has now been confirmed that a case has been found in the Valencia Region in a hospital in Elche.

Also confirmed a case of the Delta Plus in Asturias in a woman who has not been vaccinated. All in all there have now be 30 cases of the variant reported throughout Spain but they are saying it does not appear more aggressive than the Delta strain itself.

Cumulative cases in Spain now risen to 49 per 100,000, just below the figure that would raise the risk level to medium. In the Valencian Region, the cases have climbed over the 50 mark to 54.4 per 100,000, a situation they are blaming on the number of foreign tourists in the area. 53% of all cases reported this week have been among foreign visitors. 3 deaths in the region posted today within the last week, 2 aged 88 and one aged 76 but no details on vaccination status was provided. 188 now hospitalised with 44 of them in ICU. 7 more hospitalisations and 1 more ICU admittance than the previous day.

Rising fuel prices continue. CPI inflation for this month is up to 5.5% but food and services only account for 1.4%. The price of electricity being the biggest reason and one of the main electricity suppliers, Endesa, is talking about reopening coal fired stations and have bought 20,000 tons of coal from the US to supplement the 40,000 tons they have in storage in case it is necessary to start them up again.

One supermarket we went to this morning seemed to have a lot of empty shelves (well, not a lot but some) and I asked the lady why. She informed me huge floods after torrential rain to the north of us has stopped supplies getting through. Must have missed that here as it's been nice and sunny and only had an hour or so of rain overnight but I read in the local press some towns around us had evacuated schools because of flooding and several roads and communities had been cut off.

Quite busy on our area at the moment with half term. Block of 8 houses across the road normally just 2 permanent residents but all are now full with Brits and Norwegians. Our row has 5 permanent residents and one holiday owner has arrived. Of the other two, one is owned by a Russian and they've been on Spain's red list for some time and an Irish couple who we haven't seen for the last two years.

Still just facemasks indoors and the 1.5m social distancing rule are the only restrictions which are national ones. The Constitutional Court has ruled all other restrictions set by the autonomous communities in the first and second states of alarm are unconstitutional and fines are to be returned and records deleted. This is because the regions were allowed to set restrictions on movement and meetings without parliamentary oversight.
Here is the COVID-19 summary for Wednesday.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world Wednesday

Russia set yet another record with 1,123 deaths, as well as 36,582 new cases. Russia are expected to start a limited 1 week lockdown next week.
Russia's coronavirus task force on Wednesday registered 1,123 deaths in 24 hours, the largest daily toll since the pandemic's start. It also reported 36,582 new coronavirus cases, including 5,789 in Moscow.

The WHO reported more than 49,000 deaths in the past week, which is a 5 per cent increase over the previous week. The only major region of the world to see increases in both cases and deaths is eastern Europe, where there were double digit increases in both. The WHO reported that one of the major reasons for this was the low rate of vaccination in some of the countries there.
The number of deaths reported globally last week was more than 49,000, the report said, up about five per cent from the previous week.

Europe stood out as the only major region worldwide to report an increase in both coronavirus cases and deaths over the last week, with double-digit percentage increases in each.

WHO officials have pointed to a number of factors for Europe's current troubles, including relatively low rates of vaccination in some countries in Eastern Europe.

Things are going badly in Slovenia. Case numbers are rising rapidly, hospitals are filling up, and the health minister said that the country may face a situation similar to that in Bergamo Italy at the beginning of the pandemic. A lockdown is apparently coming.
In Europe, Slovenia's health minister on Wednesday warned the country could face a nightmare scenario if it does not contain the virus outbreak raging in the small Alpine nation and other low-vaccination countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Health Minister Janez Poklukar said hospital beds have been filling up as the country logged the highest number of daily cases since January. With more than 3,000 confirmed infections in the past 24 hours, Poklukar said a lockdown is looming.

"While we watched with fear at neighbouring Italy at the start of the epidemic, we are now at a turning point because of low vaccination rates and we could easily have a Bergamo scenario," Poklukar said, mentioning the Italian city that was hit hard earlier in the pandemic.

Sweden will start doing 3rd jabs for people age 65 or older. They also intend to do booster shots for the rest of the country in the coming months, but there wasn't a specific time given in the story.
Sweden will start offering booster shots to care workers and people aged 65 or older and plans to gradually extend the third jabs to most Swedes in the coming months, the government said.

Vietnam have approved vaccinating 12 to 17 year olds.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the health ministry in Vietnam has approved vaccinations for children age 12 to 17, with older teens in more populated cities getting the first doses. There are about 14 million Vietnamese children in that age range.

China reported 250 new cases in the past 10 days, many of them in remote border towns.
China has reported nearly 250 locally transmitted cases of COVID-19 since the start of the current outbreak 10 days ago, with many infections in remote towns along porous international borders in the country's northwest. The country had 50 new local cases for Oct. 26, the highest daily count since Sept. 16, official data showed on Wednesday.

Fully vaccinated Australians will be able to leave the country without a special exemption starting the 1st of November.
All fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents will be able to leave the country without a special exemption from Nov. 1, authorities said.

Saudi Arabia are again telling their residents to get jabbed. The current vaccination rate is 62 per cent.
In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry on Tuesday reported 65 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths. With slightly more than 62 per cent of the population fully vaccinated, health officials again urged people to take both doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

Drug company Merck have said they will license other companies to produce their COVID-19 treatment pill, making it more widely available. The limitations on licensing however may make this not as significant as it may appear at first sight. According to a study done by Merck, the new pill reduces the hospitalization and death rate by half.
Merck agrees to let other drugmakers produce its COVID-19 pill
Pharmaceutical company Merck agreed to allow other drugmakers to produce its COVID-19 pill, in a move aimed at helping millions of people in poorer countries get access to the potentially life-saving drug, a United Nations-backed public health organization said on Wednesday.

The Medicines Patent Pool said in a statement that it had signed a voluntary licensing agreement for molnupiravir, the first pill that has been shown to treat the disease, with Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

The agreement will allow the Medicines Patent Pool to grant further licences to qualified companies who are approved to make the drug. Neither drugmaker will receive royalties under the agreement for as long as the World Health Organization deems COVID-19 to be a global emergency.
Here is the COVID-19 summary for Thursday.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Thursday

In Russia, there were 1,159 deaths.
Russia on Thursday recorded 1,159 deaths in 24 hours — its largest daily toll since the pandemic began — with only about a third of the country's nearly 146 million people fully vaccinated. The Kremlin ordered a national non-working period starting this week and lasting until Nov. 7.

In Ukraine, things are looking increasing dire. Only 16 per cent of the population are vaccinated, the second lowest in Europe after Armenia. The population either don't trust vaccines or don't think they need one personally. Hospitals are full and oxygen and drugs are in short supply.

Government employees, teachers, and certain other workers have been given until the 8th of November to get vaccinated or be suspended without pay. Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test is required to travel on planes, trains, and long distance buses.

Fake vaccination certificates are widely available on the black market for $100 to $300. Truck drivers for example are buying them so they can haul cargo to other parts of Europe.
In Ukraine, only 16 per cent of the adult population is fully vaccinated — the second-lowest share in Europe after Armenia's rate of slightly over seven per cent.

Authorities in Ukraine are requiring teachers, government employees and other workers to get fully vaccinated by Nov. 8 or face a suspension in pay. In addition, proof of vaccination or a negative test is now needed to board planes, trains and long-distance buses.

This has created a booming black market in counterfeit documents. Fake vaccination certificates sell for the equivalent of $100 to $300 US. There's even a phony version of the government's digital app, with bogus certificates already installed, said Mykhailo Fedorov, minister for digital transformation.

Kyiv mayor Vitaly Klitschko on Thursday announced new restrictions in the capital to stem the virus's spread. Beginning Nov. 1, restaurants, shopping centres and gyms will be closed and public transport limited to those who can show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test.

Ukraine's low vaccination rate has led to the rapid spread of COVID-19, putting new stress on the country's already overworked health-care system.

The hospital surgical ward in the town of Biliaivka, near the Black Sea port of Odessa, is now treating only coronavirus patients, with 50 of its 52 beds filled. Drugs and oxygen are in short supply.

"We are on the verge of catastrophe, pushed by aggressive opponents of vaccination and the lack of funds," said Dr. Serhiy Shvets, the head of the ward.

The situation looks similar at a 120-bed hospital in the western city of Chernivtsi, where Dr. Olha Kobevko says she has 126 patients in grave condition.

The Pan American Health Organization said that infection is declining slowly across the Americas. Death and infection numbers are the lowest in over a year.
In the Americas, COVID-19 is slowly retreating across most of North, Central and South America, the Pan American Health Organization said, reporting that last week the region's death and infection figures were the lowest in over a year.

Singapore are looking into an "unusual surge" in infections. They reported 5,234 new cases and ICUs are filling up.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore's health ministry said it is looking into an "unusual surge" in infections after the city-state reported 5,324 new cases of COVID-19, the most since the beginning of the pandemic, while intensive care beds were filling up.

Africa say there may be a shortage of syringes soon. The story seems to imply that these are different syringes than those used in most first world countries.
In Africa, African health officials and the United Nations are warning of a looming shortage of up to two billion syringes for mainly low- and middle-income countries around the world as the supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses rises, and routine vaccinations could be affected, too.

In Bulgaria, restaurant owners and workers protested against the government's plan to require health passes for people entering indoor venues as this will put a damper on business. Bulgaria have one of the lowest vaccination rates in the EU.
In Europe, thousands of restaurant owners, chefs, waiters and bartenders took to the streets Thursday in cities across Bulgaria to protest the government's decision to impose a mandatory COVID-19 health pass on all people seeking to enter indoor entertainment venues. Restaurant associations claimed that in the first two days of the new requirement, restaurant attendance dropped 80 per cent nationwide. Bulgaria is facing a surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths amid one of the lowest vaccination rates in the 27-nation European Union.

In Canada, the Northwest Territories announced that everyone will be able to get booster shots six months after their second jab beginning at the start of next year. They emphasize that these booster shots are not the same as third jabs being given out to the elderly and the like. These are actual booster shots and contain less of the active component of the vaccine than normal jabs. Third jabs (as opposed to boosters) will still be given to those eligible for them.
All adults in N.W.T. now eligible for booster shot, say top docs
"I am happy … to announce that under the direction of Dr. Kandola and her team that we will be offering booster doses as of today to anyone in the territory 18 or over as of December 31 of this year," Pegg said.

"A booster contains less vaccine product than a third full dose," it says. "If you are immune-compromised you may be eligible for a third dose instead of a booster so please tell your healthcare provider at your immunization appointment."

The WHO are looking for $23 billion to finance a global campaign against the pandemic. The plan is for $7 billion for vaccines, $7 billion for diagnostic tests, $3.5 billion for antiviral medications, corticosteriods (another type of treatement), and oxygen, plus $5.9 billion for "boosting health systems (I assume this is for monitoring, track and trace, and the like).
WHO, partners seek more than $23B US for new COVID-19 war chest
"The request is for $23.4 billion. That's a fair amount of money, but if you compare with the damage also done to global economy by the pandemic it is not really that much," Carl Bildt, WHO special envoy to the ACT-Accelerator, told a pre-briefing for selected journalists ahead of a press conference by WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Equal budgets of $7 billion are earmarked for both vaccines and diagnostic tests, with a further $5.9 billion for boosting health systems and $3.5 billion for treatments including antivirals, corticosteroids and medical oxygen.

COVAX have delivered 400 million doses to more than 140 countries. There are roughly 30 countries who are depending entirely on COVAX as their source of vaccine.
COVAX, the vaccines arm of the ACT-A, has delivered some 400 million COVID-19 doses to more than 140 low- and middle-income countries, where vaccination rates remain low, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said.

"We know there are about 30 countries that are dependent on COVAX alone, they have no other source of vaccines," she said.
The following is an interesting article on how much immunity someone gets from having been infected by and recovered from COVID-19.
Contracting COVID-19 may provide some immunity. But still get vaccinated, scientists say

The issue doesn't seem to be settled 100 per cent, but the general scientific opinion seems to be that while recovery from infection will give you some immunity, just how much is highly variable from individual to individual. Generally speaking, it appear that the amount of immunity you gain from infection is proportional to just how sick you got. If you got very sick you derive a much higher degree of subsequent immunity than if you were only mildly ill or were asymptomatic.

Vaccination on the other hand produces are fairly reliable and consistent result and is about as good at it gets.

Internationally, some countries consider recovery from COVID-19 as equivalent to vaccination, others consider it to be the equivalent of one jab of vaccine, while most don't consider it at all in terms of vaccination equivalent. Given the lack of any sort of scientific basis for measuring the degree of immunity gained by any given individual from infection, the last position seems the most justifiable in my opinion.

There is also the question of how long immunity lasts before needing a booster. Again, given the lack of any way of measuring or predicting an individual's highly variable response to infection, there doesn't seem to be any useful way of counting previous infection in terms of equivalence to vaccination.

A US study found that unvaccinated people who had been previously infected with COVID-19 were twice as likely to be re-infected as those who were vaccinated after being infected. In other words, according to this study vaccination does seem to benefit the immune systems of people who had been previously infected.
Here is the COVID-19 summary for Friday.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday

Russia reported yet another record, with 1,163 deaths. This brings their total so far to 236,220, by far the highest in Europe.
The government's coronavirus task force reported 1,163 deaths in 24 hours, the largest daily number since the pandemic began. The latest deaths brought the total toll to 236,220, by far the highest in Europe.

Looking at the much broader measure of excess deaths, Rosstat reported the total so far as 461,000 as of the end of September.
Rosstat counted 44,265 deaths in September directly caused by the virus or in which it was a contributing cause. That would bring Russia's pandemic-long death toll to about 461,000 as of the end of September, nearly twice the task force's count.

Russia are currently in a one week lockdown. However, many Russians have looked at this as an opportunity to book a holiday in Egypt, Turkey, or southern Russia.
The number of new daily cases in Russia rose by 39,849 on Friday, just below an all-time record reported the previous day. The government hopes that by keeping most people out of offices and public transportation, the non-working period would help curb the spread, but many Russians rushed to use the surprise time off for a seaside vacation in the country's south or to take a trip to Egypt or Turkey.

Not to be left behind, Ukraine also reported their own new record with 26,870 new cases as well as 648 deaths.
The Health Ministry reported 26,870 new confirmed infections in 24 hours — the highest level since the start of the pandemic. It recorded 648 daily deaths to bring the pandemic death toll to 66,852.

The vaccination rate in Ukraine is only 16.4 per cent, the second lowest in Europe after Armenia. Like in much of eastern Europe people in Ukraine believe in all sorts of conspiracy theories about vaccines and don't trust them.
"I'm strongly asking you to switch off social networks and switch on your brains," President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Ukrainians. "The only way to prevent a collapse is to increase the share of vaccinated people. I'm asking regional authorities to wake up and go to bed with that thought."

Poland reported 9,387 new cases and 102 deaths. The government are considering tightening pandemic restrictions.
In Europe, health officials in Poland on Friday reported 9,387 new cases — the highest figure the country has seen since April — with 102 deaths. The government will have to consider tighter curbs if average daily cases exceed 7,000 at the end of the month, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski was quoted as saying earlier this week.

In the US, 10 states (Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming) are suing the federal government to try to stop the new rule requiring employees of federal contractors to be vaccinated.
In the Americas, 10 states filed a lawsuit on Friday to stop U.S. President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors, arguing that the requirement violates federal law. Attorneys general from Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming signed on to the lawsuit, which was filed in a federal district court in Missouri. The states asked a federal judge to block Biden's requirement that all employees of federal contractors be vaccinated against the coronavirus, arguing that the mandate violates federal procurement law and is an overreach of federal power.

Tonga reported their first ever case of COVID-19. This case was in someone arriving from New Zealand. The traveller was isolating in a quarantine hotel.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the island nation of Tonga has reported its first-ever case of COVID-19 after a traveller from New Zealand tested positive. Tonga is among the few remaining nations in the world that have avoided outbreaks of the virus. Like many of its neighbours, Tonga's isolation has helped keep it safe, but it faces big challenges should the virus take hold due to an under-resourced health system. The traveller has been isolating at a quarantine hotel.

Iran reported 11,409 new cases and 159 deaths.
In the Middle East, Iran on Thursday reported 159 additional deaths and 11,409 additional cases of COVID-19.

In Bulgaria, hospitals are packed with patients as infection rates rise in the country with the lowest vaccination rate in the EU.
COVID-19 surge overwhelming hospitals in Bulgaria

In Canada, the national vaccine committee (NACI) are recommending booster shots for everyone age 80 or older, and suggesting them for other groups as well which may be at risk. NACI make the recommendations, but it is up to the individual provinces to make the final decisions. Again, they are drawing a distinction between third jabs and booster shots. Third jabs are full strength jabs which are given to people who may not have had a strong response to the first two, and are considered part of the primary vaccination. Booster shots are to account for immunity wearing off over time.
Seniors 70 and older, front-line health workers, people who got 2 AZ doses can be offered boosters, NACI says
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is recommending COVID-19 booster shots for all adults 80 years of age and older, and is also opening the door for certain other groups who may be at increased risk of lowered protection over time since their initial vaccinations.

"Populations at highest risk of waning protection following their primary series and at highest risk of severe COVID-19 illness should be offered a booster dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after completing their primary series," NACI's new guidance released Friday said, noting that seniors 80 years and older "should" be offered a booster shot.

NACI also said other people "may" be offered a booster shot, because they "may be at increased risk of lower protection over time since vaccination, increased risk of severe illness or who are essential for maintaining health system capacity."

Also in Canada, the deadline for Mounties (RCMP) to be vaccinated is Saturday. Any who aren't vaccinated will be put on unpaid leave. Reservists will be called in if necessary to fill the gaps. The RCMP provide policing for all provinces and territories other than Ontario and Quebec.
RCMP says it's ready to deploy reservists to replace unvaccinated Mounties on leave
"If a regular member is unwilling to be vaccinated and is placed on leave, the RCMP will take steps to ensure Canadians' safety is not impacted by deploying vaccinated regular members and reservists as required," said RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Caroline Duval earlier this week.

The national police union said that as part of their duty of fair representation they will support any members who refuse to be vaccinated, those who choose not to be vaccinated will face consequences as a result of this.
"Consistent with our duty of fair representation, the NPF will continue to support members' access to vaccines, and their choice to be vaccinated or not," said union president Brian Sauvé in a media statement earlier this month.

"We also clarified to them the potential consequences of their decisions."

And finally in Canada, the new vaccination regulations for people travelling by air, train, or ship go into effect. Travellers will have to be fully vaccinated. People arriving from abroad will continue to have to show a negative PCR test even if fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated foreigners currently in Canada will be allowed to leave by air provided they have a negative PCR test, but that exemption ends on the 28th of February.
Getting on a plane today? Here's what you need to know about new vaccination requirements
The federal government announced new exemptions and a grace period for unvaccinated foreign nationals on Friday, along with details of its vaccine mandate for travellers that takes effect Saturday.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra spoke at Toronto Pearson Airport about Transport Canada's final orders and guidance, issued to airlines and railways following consultations.

Starting at 3 a.m. on Oct. 30, all travellers in Canada aged 12 and older must be fully vaccinated before boarding planes, trains or cruise ships in this country.
An update of the declassified version of the US spy agency report on the origins of COVID-19 was released on Friday. This is a follow-up to the one released in August and there are no real surprises in it.
COVID-19 origins may never truly be known, U.S. spy agencies say in declassified report

Overall the report does not support the idea that the virus was created in a lab. Four out of five said the pandemic originated in infected animals and one thought it might have originated as a result of handling an experimental animal at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The ODNI report said four U.S. spy agencies and a multi-agency body have "low confidence" that COVID-19 originated with an infected animal or a related virus.

One agency said it had "moderate confidence" that the first human COVID-19 infection most likely was the result of a laboratory accident, probably involving experimentation or animal handling by the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Here is the COVID-19 summary for Saturday.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday

In Italy, the city of Bergamo which gained world wide notoriety at the start of the pandemic dedicated a memorial to the victims in the form of grove of trees in a park opposite the hospital. The oxygen which the trees create is apparently supposed to be symbolic of those who died unable to breathe. The story mentions other memorials elsewhere.
The Italian city that suffered the brunt of COVID-19's first deadly wave in Europe is dedicating a vivid memorial to the pandemic dead: a grove of trees, creating oxygen in a park opposite the hospital where so many died, unable to breathe.

Bergamo, in northern Italy, is among the many communities around the world dedicating memorials to commemorate lives lost in a pandemic that is nearing the terrible threshold of five million confirmed dead.

Russia broke yet another record with 40,251 new cases. They also reported 1,160 deaths, just 3 short of the record set the day before.
In Europe, Russia on Saturday reported 40,251 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, its highest single-day case tally since the start of the pandemic.

The government's coronavirus task force reported 1,160 deaths related to the virus, three short of the daily record of 1,163 set the day before. The death toll since the pandemic began is about 462,000, state statistics service Rosstat said Friday.

At the G20 summit in Rome, Canada promised an additional 73 million more COVID-19 vaccines for poor countries on top of the 127 million it has already promised. The donation consist of 10 million doses of Moderna from Canada's stockpile, and money to buy 63 million more doses by the end of 2022. Since Canada doesn't manufacture any COVID-19 vaccines itself yet it cannot provide much vaccine itself.
Canada promises 73 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses for the developing world
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome, Freeland said Canada is boosting its existing commitment to COVAX, a vaccine distribution program co-ordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other groups, by some 73 million more shots to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are more readily available worldwide.

Saturday's announcement is in addition to the 127 million doses previously promised by Canada to COVAX.
Here is the COVID-19 summary for Sunday.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Sunday

Australia have eased travel restrictions somewhat. For the past 18 months travel into or out of Australia has been very limited. However, now Australians can leave and enter freely, and some foreigners are allowed to enter as well.
Australia eased its international border restrictions on Monday for the first time in the pandemic, allowing some of its vaccinated public to travel freely and many families to reunite, sparking emotional embraces at Sydney's airport.

In South Korea, their vaccine passport system has gone into effect and also operating hours restrictions on restaurants and cafes have been removed.
In Asia, South Korea will drop all operating-hour curbs on restaurants and cafes and implement its first vaccine passport for high-risk venues such as gyms, saunas and bars.

Russia set yet another record with 40,993 new infections.
In Europe, Russia recorded 40,993 new infections — a new daily high — as much of the country's businesses remain closed in an effort to counter a weeks-long surge in infections.

Tanzania have administered 940,000 jabs so far.
In Africa, Tanzania has made up for a slow start and has now administered more than 940,000 vaccine doses so far, according to the World Health Organization Africa Region.
The following article discusses the potential for combined flu and COVID-19 jabs.
How the technology used to make COVID-19 vaccines could improve flu shots

At least 3 companies are working on a flu-only vaccine which uses the same technology as COVID-19 vaccines, rather than the traditional method of growing it in chicken eggs. They are currently in phase 1 trials out of a normally 3 phase testing process.

Seasonal flu can be caused by a number of different viruses, so current flu vaccines will contain active ingredients targeting as many as 4 different strains. Before these new flu vaccines can be approved, they must go through extensive trials to show that having multiple strains in say an mRNA vaccine doesn't cause them to interfere with one another.

If they get that far, then combining flu with COVID-19 jabs has a lot of attraction in terms of reduced cost as well as being more convenient for the recipient.

So it sounds like combined jabs will come eventually, but they are not here yet.
Novavax have applied for approval of their vaccine in a number of countries around the world, including Canada, the UK Australia, the EU, India, and the Philippines. Indonesia have approved it. They will be applying for US approval later this year.
Novavax files for COVID-19 vaccine approval in Canada

The Novavax vaccine is a protein sub-unit vaccine, which is different from the viral-vector Oxford AstraZeneca or mRNA Pfizer-Biontech or Moderna vaccines. Bits of protein mimicking the virus's "spike" are grown in a lab and then combined with an "adjuvant", the latter boosting the immune system's response to the vaccine. Trials show a 90 per cent efficacy.

Novavax have licensed their vaccine to be produced by other companies around the world. Canada will produce it at the National Research Council in Montreal. SII (Serum Institute of India) intend to deliver 1.1 billion doses of this vaccine to COVAX by the end of 2022. Other manufacturers are also lined up elsewhere.
Here is the COVID-19 summary for Monday.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Monday

The number of people who have died of COVID-19 has now passed 5 million. I will follow up on this with a separate post.
As of Monday evening, more than 247.1 million COVID-19 cases had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University's online coronavirus database. The reported global death toll stood at more than five million.

Cambodia have begun vaccinating 5 year olds. Vaccination of age 6 to 11s is nearly complete.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Cambodia on Monday began vaccinating five-year-old children against the coronavirus as its leader announced the start of the country's reopening, including the phased re-entry of foreign tourists. Vaccinations for two million children age six to 11 began Sept. 17 and are nearly complete.

In Australia, reduced border restrictions went into effect on Monday.
Australia eased international border restrictions significantly Monday for the first time in 18 months, offering a broad test of demand for travel worldwide amid the pandemic.

New Zealand are extending restrictions in Auckland for another week.
At the same time, New Zealand is extending coronavirus restrictions for another week in its largest city of Auckland, with the country logging another day of record new infections.

In the US, companies with 100 or more employees must now give workers paid time off to get vaccinated.
The U.S. government will require companies with at least 100 workers to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and paid sick leave to recover from effects of the shots, a Biden administration official said Monday.

Israel are now accepting individual tourists. They had planned to open up to more tourists in the spring, but this was delayed by the spread of the delta variant.
In the Middle East, Israel on Monday began welcoming individual tourists for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. It had planned to reopen to tourists last spring but delayed the move amid a spike in cases driven by the delta variant. Israel has since rolled out a booster campaign in which nearly half the population has received a third vaccine dose.

France reported 1,866 new cases, which is an increase of 44 per cent over last week.
In Europe, France reported 1,866 new cases on Monday, an increase of 44 per cent compared to a week ago, and the biggest week-on-week percentage increase since late July.

The UK will send 20 million doses of vaccine to developing countries by the end of the year.
Britain will send 20 million vaccine doses to developing countries by the end of this year in what Prime Minister Boris Johnson will tell other world leaders is a much needed step to speed up the post-pandemic economic recovery.

Russia may use the army to build emergency hospitals to handle the rising load of COVID-19 patients. Putin described the situation in Russia as "very difficult".
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that the country may need the army's help to build field hospitals for COVID-19 patients as it battles a surge in infections. "The situation in the country is very difficult," Putin said in remarks to Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and other top brass. "More than 40,000 cases [a day]. This has never happened."

In Ukraine, people in Kiev must now use vaccine passports to enter restaurants, gyms, cafes, shopping malls, etc. Staff working in these locations must be vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv implemented tough new restrictions on Monday in an attempt to stem a surge in COVID-19 infections that is affecting many countries across eastern Europe amid a low take-up of vaccinations.

From Monday, residents of Kyiv will have to present vaccine certificates or evidence of a negative COVID-19 test to use restaurants, cafés, gyms, entertainment facilities and shopping malls. Staff working in those places must have been vaccinated. City authorities have said special teams will monitor compliance with the restrictions on public transport.

Anti vaxxers protested in Morocco.
In Africa, protests erupted across cities in Morocco on Sunday against a coronavirus vaccine passport that is required to access indoor activities and travel. Proof of vaccination has been mandatory since Oct. 21 for all Moroccans to enter their place of work and restaurants and for domestic and international air travel.

The US have begun vaccinating 5 to 11 year olds, although only a small number of jabs are available this week. States with high vaccination rates are expected to make a big push for vaccination of this age group, while states with low vaccination rates are not as enthusiastic. This is expected to result in an even greater disparity between different parts of the country.
In the Americas, the United States is rolling out COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 this week, but most of the 15 million shots being shipped initially are unlikely to be available before next week. States with the highest adult vaccination rates against COVID-19 are planning a big push to get children inoculated compared to states where hesitancy remains strong, potentially widening the gaps in protection nationwide, public health officials and experts said.

Mexico have received another 6 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca.
Mexico's Health Ministry said it had received nearly six million AstraZeneca vaccine doses against COVID-19 as pressure grows on the government to widen its vaccination rollout to include children.
The number of people who have died from COVID-19 has now passed 5 million and it is now the third leading cause of death after heart disease and stroke.
Global COVID-19 death toll surpasses 5 million

In the US alone, 740,000 people have died from COVID-19.

This global death total will be an undercount due to the limited testing and the number of people dying at home without medical attention in much of the world.

One of the major current hot spots for the virus is eastern Europe, where vaccination rates are low due to widespread distrust of vaccines.

The wealthier part of the world has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, with the areas with the highest death rates accounting for one half of all deaths while having only one eighth of the world's population.
Well, there's a surprise.:rolleyes:

'Over 1,000 people tested positive for Covid-19 following the ‘Amsterdam Dance Event’ in the capital of the Netherlands in mid-October, announced the Dutch Municipal Health Service (GGD).

'At least 1,027 infections are linked to visitors of the dance event, which took place from 13 to 17 October, but the actual number may be even higher, according to the authorities.

'A total of about 300,000 tickets were sold, but visitors needed a coronavirus health pass to get in. For indoor events, only 75% of the maximum number of visitors was allowed.

'The Dutch coronavirus figures have been on the rise again for a while, as the number of positive tests more than doubled last week and the increase seemingly continuing at the same rate.'



Well, there's a surprise.:rolleyes:

'Over 1,000 people tested positive for Covid-19 following the ‘Amsterdam Dance Event’ in the capital of the Netherlands in mid-October, announced the Dutch Municipal Health Service (GGD).

'At least 1,027 infections are linked to visitors of the dance event, which took place from 13 to 17 October, but the actual number may be even higher, according to the authorities.

'A total of about 300,000 tickets were sold, but visitors needed a coronavirus health pass to get in. For indoor events, only 75% of the maximum number of visitors was allowed.

'The Dutch coronavirus figures have been on the rise again for a while, as the number of positive tests more than doubled last week and the increase seemingly continuing at the same rate.'

Any figures on what's happened in Scotland since the overgrown kids started hoofing a ball around an overpriced footy pitch?

I would imagine that the level of case increases is a bit North of zero.

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