Europe: Another huge Covid wave is building right across the continent

Almost every country in Europe is now seeing a big increase in Covid cases. In many instances, the waves are already higher than the December 2021 wave.

The chart above shows the situation in Europe at the moment. The pandemic seems to have shifted into an entirely different gear. 

The chart below shows a comparison with previous Covid waves:

 

The current wave in Europe is not entirely made up of Omicron cases either. In some countries, more than 50% of cases are still Delta variant.

 

Last year’s winter wave of 2020/2021 showed signs of having had a double peak, one in November/December 2020, the other in January 2021, with a further lift in cases in March 2021, but all of them were on a much smaller scale than this new winter wave:

 

Under the circumstances, removing all Covid mitigations now, as the UK is proposing to do, would be completely insane.

 

So what can we do? Well, we can do what we should have been doing since February 2020!
  • FREE masks – FFP2 minimum
  • FREE testing
  • FREE ventilation installations, particularly schools and shops
  • Full sick pay for self-isolation of up to 14 days
  • Smaller classrooms located across communities to protect our kids
  • Working from home wherever possible
  • Less contact, reducing unnecessary interactions
  • Less meetings, less flights, less travel, less cruises, less holidays
  • Less festivals, less concerts, less sports events, less garden parties
  • Eat a better diet
  • Support each other
  • Stop hoping big pharma will bail us out – they won’t, they can’t

The virus has outsmarted us, it has outwitted us, and it’s winning hands down. It’s hardly surprising given how dimwitted and clumsy our response has been so far.

It’s a pandemic. Do we really have to wait for our fourth or fifth infection to work this simple shit out?

Switzerland adds UK, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Egypt and Malawi to travel alert list for Omicron

The Swiss Ministry of Health has put more countries on a quarantine list because of the Omikron variant.

A Twitter message states that travellers from the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Egypt, Malawi and also the Netherlands must from now on submit a negative test and be quarantined for ten days. Remarkably enough, it is also stated that the Omikron variant has been found in these countries, while no confirmation has yet been given in the Netherlands.

NOS.nl report (in Dutch)

 

 

Europe: all-time Covid infection record broken by growing winter superwave

Europe has broken through its all-time high for Covid cases, and is seeing sharp increases in infections right across the continent. The Covid superwave that started in Eastern Europe just one month ago has now spread to all corners of the continent, and doesn’t look like it’s about to break anytime soon.

Virtually every part of Europe is now seeing increases in infections as the winter superwave rolls in.

 

Virtually every government in Europe has pinned its hopes on Covid vaccines preventing further large waves of the disease, a tactic that we have repeatedly warned wouldn’t work. It has been obvious for months that vaccine waning and vaccine breakthroughs would make vaccines a poor first line of defence.

Europe needs to regroup, rethink, and redraw its lines of defence quickly. Greater defence in depth is needed by using mitigations that are proven to work. 

Our estimation of the winter wave of 2020 shown in the diagram below suggests that a wave peak of around 13 – 15 million biweekly cases might have been reached had it not been for the mitigations imposed in Europe and North America in early November 2020.

The 2020 winter wave was broken in half by strong mitigations. It may already be too late to reintroduce them this to year to prevent the worst of the damage from the wave impact.

 

What was the lesson we all learned from earlier waves? Go in hard, go in strong? 

With the half-hearted mitigations that Europe has put in place for the winter wave, it looks as though we are about to find out just how bad things can really get with Covid.

 

Updatable chart for Europe below – press your refresh button to update:

 

Prediction: European Covid winter wave of 2021 will be the worst wave of the pandemic so far

Prediction: European Covid winter wave of 2021 will be the worst wave of the pandemic so far

This isn’t the most difficult prediction we have ever had to make, but there is no doubt that, despite huge vaccination campaigns across the continent, the winter wave now breaking over Europe will be their worst wave of the pandemic so far.

The difference this year is that, despite raging infections in many European countries, despite vaccine waning, vaccine breakthroughs and reinfections, no government is yet considering measures that are strong enough to contain the tide.

Measures including lockdowns and working from home were imposed in many countries across Europe and North America in early November 2020 to prevent the winter wave worsening. Despite their huge unpopularity, the measures, particularly lockdowns, DID work.

The chart below shows our estimation of what the winter wave would have looked like in 2020 without lockdowns. The global winter wave of 2020 was broken in half by lockdowns in key European countries and in North America which made up the bulk of cases.

Our estimation of the size of the Covid global winter wave in 2020. The winter wave was smashed by lockdowns in Europe and North America:

In 2021, however, many countries in Europe have abandoned the use face masks, social distancing and working from home. Lockdowns have been also been ruled out by many governments, fearful of their unpopularity.

 

The chart below shows what the European Covid winter wave looks like on the 4th November 2021. The wave that is forming is virtually identical to the wave of 2020. The difference in 2021 is that there are no mitigations in reserve to prevent previous wave records being broken.  Without urgent mitigations, this wave could be bigger than the one that engulfed India in the spring of 2021

Europe needs to take its head out of the sand, and do it quickly. There are very few tools left in the toolbox to deal with large waves, and every one of them will be needed this year.

We are still waiting for more data to come in to be able to make a prediction on the size of the global winter wave, but it’s not impossible that Europe alone could carry almost the entire burden of the winter wave this year.

Just to be crystal clear then:

  • Vaccines won’t be enough to stop the wave
  • Antivirals won’t be enough to stop the wave
  • Vaccine passports won’t be enough to stop the wave
  • Face masks won’t be enough to stop the wave
  • Locking up the unvaccinated won’t be enough to stop the wave

 

Europe suddenly ablaze with Covid – it could be the biggest wave yet

 

Decoding Sars-Cov-2: How are global Covid waves formed, and can we predict future waves?

 

Image by Brigitte makes custom works from your photos, thanks a lot from Pixabay

WHO: 500,000 deaths from Covid in Europe this winter

“The current pace of transmission across the 53 countries of the European Region is of grave concern,” said regional WHO head Hans Kluge.

Kluge warned earlier that if Europe followed its current trajectory, there could be 500,000 COVID-related deaths in the region by February.

“We must change our tactics, from reacting to surges of COVID-19, to preventing them from happening in the first place,” he said.

Reuters.com report

 

Covid has surged across large parts of Europe again as a winter wave rolls across the continent:

 

 

Photo by Rianne Gerrits on Unsplash

The waxing and waning of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe shows new danger areas emerging

Europe has seen major changes in coronavirus case rates over the last two months. In many areas of Europe covid case rates have dropped sufficiently to allow restrictions to be eased, but there are notable exceptions. The Covid-19 rate in Spain now appears to be as bad, if not worse, than two months ago, and the Netherlands has seen a dramatic increase in numbers recently.

In the case of both Spain and the Netherlands, the rates increased following the decision to unlock their countries too quickly, and in both cases those decisions have had to reversed within weeks.  Greece too appears to be seeing a new wave, and these areas now represent the largest threat to Europe’s strategy to keeping infection rates down.

Data maps courtesy of ECDC

 

Spain: 5th wave of coronavirus storms across the country, curfews set to be reintroduced

 

Netherlands: the reproduction R rate is now 2.17 – the highest since February 2020

USA/UK: 2 separate clades of Delta #coronavirus variant with K417N – AY.1 and AY.2

Through routine scanning of variation in Delta, a small number of sequences were detected which had acquired the spike protein mutation K417N. Information suggests that there are at least 2 separate clades of Delta with K417N. One clade is large and internationally distributed with PANGO lineage designation AY.1.  A second clade found in sequences uploaded to GISAID from the USA, now designated AY.2.

As of 16 June 2021, 161 genomes of Delta-AY.1 have been identified on GISAID. from Canada (1), India (8), Japan (15), Nepal (3), Poland (9), Portugal (22), Russia (1), Switzerland (18), Turkey (1), USA (83).

There are currently 38 cases of Delta-AY.1 in England (36 confirmed sequencing and 2 probable genotyping). Cases have been detected in 6 different regions in England. Delta-AY.2 has not been detected in England.

UK Variants of Concern Technical Briefing 15 (PDF download)

 

According to Bani Jolly of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, the phylogeny of Delta has two separate clades. While AY.1 is found in a few countries including the UK, India and Nepal, the other clade (AY.2), is largely from the sequences from California (USA).

“The split between the two clades seems to be based on two spike mutations — A222V and T95I. While all sequences in the California cluster share spike A222V, all sequences in the larger international cluster share spike T95I,” Jolly tweeted.

Stating that AY.1 has arisen independently a number of times and could be more prevalent than observed in countries with limited genomic surveillance, she tweeted that given that Delta is a variant of concern, it is important to take note of any sub-lineages that may emerge.

Time of India report

 

 

 

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

UK: Delta with K417N – the “mountaineers” variant – PHE #coronavirus Delta-AY.1 update

Of the 36 cases of Delta-AY.1 (mountaineers) variant, 27 cases were known to have a vaccination status within the National Immunisation Management System (NIMS). 

“Through routine scanning of variation in Delta a small number of sequences were detected which had acquired the spike protein mutation K417N. Information suggests that there are at least 2 separate clades of Delta with K417N. One clade is large and internationally distributed with PANGO lineage designation AY.1. A second clade found in sequences uploaded to GISAID from the USA. There is limited epidemiological information available at present.

International Epidemiology
As of 7 June 2021, 63 genomes of Delta with K417N have been identified on GISAID. from Canada (1) Germany (1), Russia (1), Nepal (2), Switzerland (4), India (6), Poland (9), Portugal (12), Japan (13), USA (14).

Epidemiology
There are currently 36 cases of Delta-AY.1 in England (35 confirmed sequencing and 1 probable genotyping) plus an additional 10 sequences which include some cases in other UK nations and some genomes for which case data is being sought. The first 5 cases were sequenced on 26 April 2021 and were contacts of travellers to Nepal and Turkey. All these cases were detected in the West Midlands. Cases have been detected in 6 different regions in England (Table 21, Figure 26). The majority of cases are in younger individuals, with 2 cases of age 60 or over (Figure 27). Out of the 36 cases, there were 11 travel associated cases (6 travellers and 5 cases amongst contacts of travellers). Twelve cases have no history of travel or contact with travellers. Countries of travel included red-list countries (Nepal and Turkey), amber-list countries (Malaysia) and green-list countries (Singapore).

Of the 36 cases, 27 cases were known to have a vaccination status within the National Immunisation Management System (NIMS), when linked on NHS number. Of these, 18 cases occurred in people who were not vaccinated, 2 cases in people who had received their first dose within 21 days of specimen date, 5 cases in people who had received their  first dose more than 21 days after specimen date. There was a total of 2 cases where there were more than 14 days between the second dose of vaccine and a positive specimen. No deaths have been recorded amongst the 36 cases.”

PHE download – SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and variants under investigation in England  – Technical briefing 15 (PDF)

 

UK: The “mountaineers variant” – B.1.617.2 with K417N mutation

 

UK: “Everest climbers could have spread potentially more infectious and vaccine resistant’ variant

 

 

Image by Simon from Pixabay

EU: ECHR throws fuel on the #coronavirus vaccination fire – backs mandatory jabs for kids

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Thursday that democratic governments can make vaccinations obligatory, in a landmark judgement rejecting complaints brought by Czech families penalised for refusing compulsory jabs for their children.

“The… measures could be regarded as being ‘necessary in a democratic society'” the court ruled, saying that the Czech health policy was consistent with the “best interests” of children.

Our opinion: ** Is there an easier or quicker way of antagonising parents in the middle of a global viral pandemic than encouraging mandatory vaccinations? We can’t think of one. Expect severe blowback **

MedicalExpress.com report

 

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Switzerland: Stage III hypertension in patients after mRNA-based SARS-CoV-2 #coronavirus vaccination with Pfizer/Biontech & Moderna

On January 11th 2021, the vaccination Center in Lausanne, a city of 140’000 inhabitants in western Switzerland, started the COVID-19 vaccination with mRNA-based vaccines. As of February 9th, 13296 vaccine doses were administered with 12,349 patients receiving a 1st dose (10501 Pfizer/BioNTech, 1848 Moderna) and 947 receiving a 2nd dose (945 Pfizer/BioNTech, 2 Moderna). We report a case series of 9 patients with stage III hypertension documented within minutes of vaccination during the first 30 days, of which 8 were symptomatic.

Vital signs were measured with an oscillometric manometer (Omron Heathcare Europe, a HEM 907-E7) with at least 3 sets of separate values at 5-minute intervals.

Median age was 73 (IQR 22), sex distribution was 7 females for 2 males. Eight of 9 patients had a prior history of arterial hypertension with most patients on anti-hypertensive therapy. All but one patient received the Pfizer/BioNTech (BNT162b2) vaccine. Of note, the Moderna (mRNA-1273) vaccine was only introduced in late January in Switzerland. One of the patients (n°3) reported a cerebral aneurysm that was coiled within the last year, with a targeted SBP < 140mmHg. 1 Due to developing headache, the patient underwent imaging with no sign of intracranial hemorrhage. Patient n°4 did not have associated electrocardiogram changes or an increase in hs-troponins. Importantly, all patients recovered but required at most several hours of monitoring at our tertiary center’s emergency department.

Lausanne University Hospital report

 

Related: #Pfizer-BioNTech #coronavirus vaccine: cases of high blood pressure under close surveillance

 

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Rapid rise of #coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 spike mutation T478K found in Mexico and several European countries

We report the distribution of the Spike mutation S:T478K and its recent growth in prevalence in the SARS-CoV-2 population. While there is currently no report of association of this variant with clinical features, S:T478K’s rapid growth may indicate an increased adaption of SARS-CoV-2 variants carrying it, particularly lineage B.1.1.222.

The distribution of this mutation is higher in North America, but we could detect it also in several European countries. The location of S:T478K in the interaction complex with human ACE2 may affect the affinity with human cells and therefore influence viral infectivity.

We detected this growth starting at the beginning of 2021, and S:T478K is, at the time of writing (March 26, 2021) characterizing almost 2.0% of all sequenced SARS-CoV-2

An in silico molecular dynamics study on the protein structure of Spike has predicted that the T478K mutation, substituting a non-charged amino acid (Threonine) with a positive one (Lysine) may significantly alter the electrostatic surface of the protein, and therefore the interaction with ACE2, drugs or antibodies, and that the effect can be increased if combined by other co-occurring Spike mutations.

Another experiment showed that T478K and T478R mutants were enriched when SARS-CoV-2 viral cultures were tested against weak neutralizing antibodies, highlighting, at least in vitro, a possible genetic route the virus can follow to escape immune recognition. Everything considered, we believe that the continued genetical and clinical monitoring of S:T478K and other Spike mutations is of paramount importance to better understand COVID-19 and be able to better counteract its future developments.

Biorxiv preprint

 

Image by Makalu from Pixabay

EMA: If you have these symptoms after vaccination with AstraZeneca #coronavirus serum seek medical help immediately

“Wheezing, chest or stomach pain, swelling or coldness in an arm or leg, severe headache or worsening or blurred vision after vaccination, persistent bleeding, small multiple bruises, reddish or purplish spots or blisters of blood under the skin” – if you have these symptoms after vaccination against Covid with AstraZeneca serum seek medical help immediately and report that you have recently been vaccinated.

Il Giorno report

 

Image by Usman Yousaf from Pixabay

EMA: Anaphylaxis and hypersensitivity reactions should be included in the list of possible side effects of the Astrazeneca vaccine

European Medicines Agency (EMA), the corona vaccine from the manufacturer Astra-Zeneca can cause severe allergic reactions. Anaphylaxis and hypersensitivity reactions should be included in the list of possible side effects of the vaccine citing , the EMA said on Friday, several such cases in the UK.

FAZ.net report

 

Image by torstensimon from Pixabay

SAGE: Keep #UK secondary #schools closed in January

SAGE scientists have urged Boris Johnson, the UK’s prime minister, to keep secondary schools closed in January because of concerns about a new, more virulent strain of coronavirus.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies said that the R rate — at which the virus reproduces — could be kept below the crucial 1 level if schools remained shut. Sage also warned that another national lockdown could be necessary at a meeting last week, according to the Politico website

https://www.ft.com/content/b7e295f3-38a0-4c35-afb9-6872705a8ec2

 

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