So what is Plan B if the vaccines fail with a new #coronavirus super-variant?

We’ve spent two days scouring the internet looking for Plan B for what happens in the event of complete Covid-19 vaccine failure. So what does happen if the vaccines fail? Here is what we have found so far:

Actually, we found no results. It seems that no one is even asking the question. Perhaps it’s time to start that conversation?

 

Global Covid-19 Map courtesy of John Hopkins University

UK: BMJ letter – “we need an urgent focus on mitigations in schools” for Delta #coronavirus variant

“On the 17 May 2021, the UK government removed the requirement for face coverings in secondary schools in England. Writing in The BMJ on 14 May 2021, we argued that this was ill advised given the clear evidence for the role of children and schools in transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and the rise of the new variant, subsequently designated as delta, which was already implicated in school outbreaks at the time.

There has been a lack of transparency from Public Health England (PHE) around the spread of the delta variant in schools. On 22 May, an article in The Observer reported that these data had been withheld by PHE at the request of 10 Downing Street. On 31 May 2021, The Citizens, a group promoting accountability in public life, and the data rights firm AWO sent a pre-action letter warning that they would seek judicial review unless PHE published the data on the grounds they it had acted “unlawfully” by withholding data on the spread of the variant in schools, and had “surrendered its independent judgement.”

Concerningly, even now, PHE has failed to release the full data. In a detailed technical report released on the 3 June, it only provided data on the number of “incidents” or outbreaks involving two or more students in schools.  It did not provide numbers of delta variant cases linked to schools, which had been specifically and repeatedly requested by unions and scientists, and specified in the pre-action letter. Despite including several complex analyses, the 66-page report presented no breakdown of cases by age group. However, even the limited data provided on school outbreaks raises concerns. According to the report, 140 outbreaks of the delta variant had been identified in educational settings up to 30 May, the largest number in any of the settings specified. The data on “common exposures” (defined as two or more infected children with sequenced virus) for the week ending 11 May, just prior to dropping recommendations for masks in schools, showed that there were over 1000 common exposures for children infected with the delta variant in educational settings. Additionally, data from PHE and Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the highest overall infection rates were among secondary school age children.

PHE has continued to put out contradictory claims. Just a day after reporting that infection rates were currently highest in 10-19 year olds, it claimed that cases among school-age children were low.  This contradicted other ONS data released the same day that showed rapid rises in prevalence in this age group, with this now being much higher than all other groups. A day later the health secretary Matt Hancock stated that a “huge proportion of latest cases are in children.” This is reminiscent of messaging by the government from autumn and winter 2020 where the mantra “schools are safe” was used repeatedly to rationalise the lack of mitigations in schools, right up to the point they were closed on 5 January (following a day when many schools reopened briefly). At that point the Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister described them as “vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.”

Back to the present, the government has finally acknowledged the high rates of infection and transmission in children. As with its many previous errors, there is no acknowledgement that it has not followed advice from its own advisors. The government has left children, staff, and communities exposed to rapid spread of a new and more transmissible variant, and at risk of long covid.  Yet, even as we see absenteeism related to covid-19 rising in schools, with 31% children absent from secondary schools in Bolton, the government’s messaging remains focussed on rapid tests. This is despite dropping uptake over time, and clear evidence that tests alone have not been able to contain spread in schools. Even after acknowledging the risks of infection and transmission in children, there is still no emphasis on urgent mitigations, including masks and ventilation, that are vital if schools are to remain open. While we welcome the health secretary’s announcement that children may be eligible to be vaccinated in August this does not help right now. According to SAGE modelling, the current wave is expected to peak in late July. By that time thousands of children and their family members will have been affected.

Data from Bolton, and several other places, where the delta variant gained dominance suggested early on that infection spread first among school age children, and then to other age groups.  It is likely that lack of mitigations in schools played an important role in this highly transmissible, more virulent, escape variant gaining dominance rapidly across England.  Spread of the delta variant is likely to have played an important role in the exponential rises we are seeing of cases in England, and hospitalisations in North West England.

During the current crisis the focus on the Stage 4 re-opening on the 21 June by government and media detracts from actions that need to be taken immediately to pre-empt the potentially devastating impact of a third wave. Our concern here has been with the actions that must be taken in schools to keep our children safe.

First, we must reintroduce masks both at primary and secondary levels and both in classrooms and communal areas. Unions have jointly called for an immediate re-introduction of masks in secondary schools and several local authorities have already reinstated these. This needs to be incorporated into Department for Education guidance as a recommendation for all schools.

Second, there needs to be central investment in ventilation and air cleaning in schools, including CO2 monitors, and air filtration devices, to supplement ventilation where needed. Risk can also be reduced by moving to learning outdoors, where possible, including physical education activities.

Third, there must be practical, financial, and remote learning support for families with children who are isolating. And lastly, the Government must provide adequate catch-up resources for children who have lost out on education over the past year, to bridge gaps and worsening inequities in education.

In sum, schools are the place where infections are rising fastest. Yet schools are a place where the basic mitigations of face coverings, space, and fresh air are not simply missing, but—in the case of masks—have actually just been removed. This makes no sense. The government must act urgently to protect and support its children at this critical juncture.”

Deepti Gurdasani, senior lecturer in machine learning, Queen Mary University of London.

Hisham Ziauddeen, consultant psychiatrist, Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, UK.

Stephen Reicher, professor, School of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of St. Andrews. Member of Independent SAGE and the advisory group to the Scottish chief medical officer.

Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Member of Independent SAGE.

BMJ letter

 

UK: Dominic Cummings – Herd Immunity was always the official #coronavirus plan

 

 

On 16th March 2020 the first UK national lockdown was announced

 

 

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

UK: Hospice doctor – “Matt Hancock *has* lied during the pandemic – and I can prove it”

Well done @doctor_oxford. There are undoubtedly thousands more people in Britain in medicine and the care home sector who could tell a similar story but are too afraid to speak up.

UK: Dominic Cummings – Herd Immunity was always the official #coronavirus plan

38/”Media generally abysmal on covid but even I’ve been surprised by 1 thing: how many hacks have parroted Hancock’s line that ‘herd immunity wasn’t the plan’ when ‘herd immunity by Sep’ was *literally the official plan in all docs/graphs/meetings* until it was ditched

39/ Yes the media is often incompetent but something deeper is at work: much of SW1 was happy to believe Hancock’s bullshit that ‘it’s not the plan’ *so they didn’t have to face the shocking truth*. Most political hacks believe in ‘the system’…

40/ In week of 9/3, No10 was made aware by various people that the official plan wd lead to catastrophe. It was then replaced by Plan B. But how ‘herd immunity by Sep’ cd have been the plan until that week is a fundamental issue in the whole disaster

42/ No10 decided to lie: ‘herd immunity has never been… part of our coronavirus strategy’. V foolish, & appalling ethics, to lie about it. The right line wd have been what PM knows is true: our original plan was wrong & we changed when we realised

30/ Crucial data generally ignored by those who want to downplay covid danger, many 1000s will have serious health problems for years because of our failure to act faster/harder in Feb/March & Sep. Those who predicted this issue wd be ‘Gulf War syndrome bollocks’ were wrong

37/ If we’d had the right preparations + competent people in charge, we wd probably have avoided lockdown1, *definitely* no need for lockdowns 2&3. Given the plan was AWOL/disaster + awful decisions delayed everything, lockdown1 became necessary

 

 

From @coronaheadsup March 13 2020:

From @coronaheadsup March 15 2020:

 

From @coronaheadsup May 20 2020:

Former #coronavirus patients have a 60% percent higher risk of death between one to six months after infection compared to non-infected people

In addition to the already known long Covid symptoms, the researchers also found evidence of increased mortality among those who recovered. The former corona patients therefore had an up to 60 percent higher risk of death between one to six months after infection than non-infected people. 1672 of the 73,345 patients (almost 2.3 percent) died between one and six months after the infection. The risk of being dependent on outpatient medical care in the first six months after infection was also increased by 20 percent, according to the study.

Nature article – High-dimensional characterization of post-acute sequalae of COVID-19

See also: Study: COVID-19 Can Kill Months After Infection

 

 

 

Photo by brut carniollus on Unsplash

Boris Johnson: “many more people will lose loved ones to #coronavirus”

12th March 2020 – Boris Johnson: “many more people will lose loved ones to coronavirus” (Guardian).       

13th April 2021 – Boris Johnson:  “sadly we will see more hospitalisation and deaths” (Guardian)

16th December 2020: Jacinda Ardern reveals the moment she chose her Covid-19 elimination strategy for New Zealand

 

Italian study: 66.6% of children of had at least one persisting #coronavirus symptom between 60 & 120 days after infection (13 had one or two symptoms, 7 had three or more)

Twenty out of 30 children (66.6%) assessed between 60 and 120 days after initial COVID-19 had at least one persisting symptom (13 had one or two symptoms, 7 had three or more); 35 of 68 children (27.1%) had at least one symptom 120 days or more after diagnosis (21 had one or two symptoms, 14 had three or more). 29 out of the 68 (42.6%) children assessed >120 days days from diagnosis were still distressed by these symptoms.

Wiley.com: Preliminary Evidence on Long Covid in children

 

 

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in a man with COVID-19: #coronavirus SARS-CoV-2-accelerated neurodegeneration?

A previously healthy man in his 60s developed fever several days after co-habitant family members were diagnosed with COVID-19. He became confused, slowed and forgetful, and tested PCR positive for SARS-CoV-2. Over two weeks his disorientation worsened, he developed paucity of speech with paraphasic errors, and unsteady gait with intermittent right-hand clenching.

He was treated with IVIG and methylprednisolone until CSF RT-QuIC, 14-3-3 and T-tau resulted 2 weeks later confirming the suspicion for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). Neurologic status progressed to mutism, right hemiplegia, spontaneous multifocal myoclonus, somnolence and agitation. He died 2 months after symptom onset.

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov paper

 

Image by kalhh from Pixabay

Belgium: More than half of students suffered anxiety or depression during #coronavirus crisis

More than half of students suffered from anxiety and/or depression during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, with one in ten suffering so badly they were unable to take care of their own basic needs.

Of the sample, fully 50% reported problems of anxiety, while depression was experienced by 55%. Even the freshest of freshers will have started their time in higher education in the autumn of 2019, when the coronavirus was not even a cloud on the horizon, and so all will have had some experience of student life before the curtain came down, and brought an end to what should have been a fun and almost care-free period in a young person’s life.

As it turns out, students more advanced into their academic career suffered more than their juniors.

Brussels Times report

 

 

Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash

Italy: #coronavirus lockdown extended for another month but schools REOPEN in red zones

Italy in lockdown for another month

Until April 30th no region or province can return to the yellow zone . There will be only red or orange areas

Kindergartens, elementary and middle school open also in the red zone after Easter.

The ban on movement between regions also extended. It will be possible to cross borders only for “proven needs”- reasons of work, health and urgency,

Bars and restaurants will remain closed – with only take-out and home delivery allowed

The new cases recorded yesterday in Italy were 23,839 with 380 deaths.

IlGiorno.it report

 

Image by Samuele Schirò from Pixabay

70% of Czechs do not believe that the #coronavirus pandemic will end in 2021

7 out of 10 Czechs do not believe that the pandemic will come to an end in 2021. More than half of the Czech population does not even believe that the pandemic situation will have improved by the end of this year, and opinions are divided regarding vaccinations.

The IPSOS research, which took place between October and March, was conducted in 31 countries around the world, including China, Russia, Germany, Poland, and the USA, with the participation of more than 15,500 respondents globally, and approximately 1,000 in the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic was among the less optimistic countries included in the research. 33% of Czech respondents expect a return to pre-crisis life conditions by the end of 2021, compared to the global average of 41%. Germany and China are the most optimistic countries by this measure, with 43% and 90% respectively.

BRNOdaily.com report

 

 Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

70% of patients hospitalised with #coronavirus haven’t fully recovered five months later

The majority of survivors who left hospital following COVID-19 did not fully recover five months after discharge and continued to experience negative impacts on their physical and mental health, as well as ability to work, according to results released by the PHOSP-COVID study today. Furthermore, one in five of the participant population reached the threshold for a new disability.

The UK-wide study, which is led by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre – a partnership between Leicester’s Hospitals, the University of Leicester and Loughborough University – and jointly funded by the NIHR and UK Research and Innovation, analysed 1077 patients who were discharged from hospital between March and November 2020 following an episode of COVID-19.

Researchers found that each participant had an average of nine persistent symptoms. The ten most common symptoms reported were: muscle pain, fatigue, physical slowing down, impaired sleep quality, joint pain or swelling, limb weakness, breathlessness, pain, short-term memory loss, and slowed thinking.

Patients were also assessed for mental health. The study reports that over 25 per cent of participants had clinically significant symptoms of anxiety and depression and 12 per cent had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at their 5-month follow-up.

University of Leicester study

 

Image by Parentingupstream from Pixabay

Young people’s mental health deteriorated during the #coronavirus pandemic

Swedish reports and surveys clearly show that young people’s mental health is negatively affected during the coronavirus pandemic.

Curt Hagquist, visiting professor of public health science at the University of Gothenburg, is concerned about the consequences: Especially for the young people who have already had worries in life before. And that health gap, the gap between those who are well and those who are less well. That gap widens during this pandemic, if we do not see what is happening with open eyes and try to parry for it, says Curt Hagquist.

He also says that a lot of research shows clear links between financial anxiety and increased mental illness. High school students have been affected by the pandemic at an important start in life; and many, after a year of pandemic, mostly distance education and social isolation, see a rather uncertain future for themselves.

Sverigesradio.se report

 

Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni from Pixabay

Finland Prime Minster Sanna Marin on #coronavirus: “It may be we’ll be in this situation for years to come”

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marinin is concerned about possible new variants of the coronavirus that may be resistant to vaccines.

“I’m worried about what happens next fall or next spring. It may be that this is not even a marathon, but we will be in this situation for years to come,” she told reporters when he went to the board evening school at the Helsinki Estates House on Wednesday afternoon.

Marin said that she had constantly emphasized at EU meetings the need to create a common “emergency procedure” at the borders of EU countries, which would prevent the spread of viral variants in the event of their occurrence. “We need consistent practices across the EU.”

Helsingin Sanomat report

 

Image by Laura Kotila, valtioneuvoston kanslia, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons