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  1. So now that we have reached a significant percentage milestone of vaccination, is it all green light now? Well, now comes the booster shot 🙂 Where to register: https://www.vaccine.gov.sg/ Why booster? https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2021/09/13/covid-19-vaccine-booster-shots-who-can-get-them-when-still-uncertain/5773405001/ https://www.gov.sg/article/expanding-testing-and-surveillance-and-introducing-a-national-vaccine-booster-programme https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02158-6 Booster vaccination strategy MOH, with advice from the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination (EC19V), has reviewed the vaccination strategy in light of the more transmissible variants that have emerged globally. Although evidence globally and locally continues to show that vaccines are very effective in reducing severe illness and death, there is emerging data on the waning of vaccine efficacy against infection with time. MOH and EC19V will commence a booster programme for two groups of individuals: (A) Persons who are moderately to severely immunocompromised They are recommended to receive a third dose of the same Pandemic Special Access Route (PSAR) mRNA vaccine two months after their second dose as part of their primary course of vaccination regimen. They should be referred to do so by their doctors who have the best understanding of their medical condition. These include persons with the following conditions: Transplant patients on medications that suppress the immune system, including solid organ and allogenic stem cell transplants Cancer patients on active treatment with chemotherapy or on other therapies that suppress the immune system Haematological cancers Treatments for non-cancer conditions that suppress the immune system End-stage kidney disease on dialysis Advanced or untreated HIV (B) Persons aged 60 years and above and residents of aged care facilities They are recommended to receive a booster dose of PSAR mRNA vaccine six to nine months after having completed their primary course of vaccination regimen. The first batch of seniors aged 60 years and above completed their second doses around March 2021 and therefore will be eligible for the third dose within the month of September. More details on the implementation of the booster shot will be announced later. Not this type of booster ya https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Coronavirus/COVID-vaccines/Singapore-starts-booster-shots-as-COVID-cases-hit-1-year-high
  2. Guess who's back AN AUTO-OTAKU HEADS TO GERMANY Part 1: https://garage36.wordpress.com/2021/10/26/an-auto-otaku-heads-to-germany/
  3. U.S. Coronavirus Cases Surpass Those of China, Italy Confirmed infections top 82,000 across country, exceeding all other national totals Confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the US have topped the totals in China and Italy, making the US the center of the global outbreak. In the US, confirmed cases hit 82,404 on Thursday evening, surpassing China's 81,782 and Italy's 80,589. The total number of confirmed cases globally is 526,044, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Since the US reported its first coronavirus case on January 20, more than 1,100 people in the country have died from the disease. The death tolls in Italy and China are higher. Many of the new cases in the US are in major cities, like New York and New Orleans, where densely packed residents help the virus spread. Mayors and governors have said that patients with the virus could overwhelm hospitals, which would contribute to a rising death count. To halt the virus' spread, people in many US cities and states are under some form of lockdown order. People are supposed to leave their homes only to go grocery shopping and take care of other essential activities. According to data from Worldometer, coronavirus cases peaked in China in mid-February. The country combated the virus with strict quarantine measures covering 60 million people in Hubei province, where the outbreak originated. Life is returning to normal in China, but the US has a long road ahead, and the economic fallout from the widespread shutdowns has affected millions of workers and companies. US weekly jobless claims for the week ending March 21 totaled 3.28 million, the Labor Department reported Thursday, exceeding the consensus analyst forecast of 1.5 million. That was up from 281,000 in the previous week, which already marked a two-year high, Business Insider's Carmen Reinicke reported. There are early signs that the shutdowns are helping. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday that the aggressive social-distancing measures put in place in the state were starting to slow the virus' spread. New York is the center of the US outbreak, with nearly half the country's cases. https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-us-has-worlds-biggest-outbreak-topping-china-2020-3?IR=T
  4. Kb27

    T-cell COVID vaccine

    UK firm to trial T-cell Covid vaccine that could give longer immunity An Oxfordshire-based company will soon start clinical trials of a second-generation vaccine against Covid-19, an easy-to-administer skin patch that uses T-cells to kill infected cells and could offer longer-lasting immunity than current vaccines. Emergex was set up in Abingdon in 2016 to develop T-cell vaccines, the brainchild of Prof Thomas Rademacher, the firm’s chief executive and professor emeritus of molecular medicine at the University College London medical school. The vaccines prime T-cells to remove infected cells from the body quickly after infection, thus preventing viral replication and disease. While the antibodies produced by the current Covid vaccines stick to the virus and stop it infecting cells, T-cells find and destroy infected cells. Those other vaccines, such as the Pfizer/BioNTech and the AstraZeneca/Oxford University jabs, also produce a T-cell response, but to a lesser extent. Emergex has received the green light from the Swiss drugs regulator to conduct initial human trials in Lausanne, involving 26 people who will receive a high and a low dose of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine, starting on 3 January. Interim results from the trial are expected in June. Robin Cohen, the firm’s chief commercial officer, said: “This is the first time a regulator has approved a Covid vaccine to go into clinical trials whose sole purpose is to generate a targeted T-cell response in the absence of an antibody response and those T-cells look for infected cells and kills them.” Using the analogy of an asteroid hitting a planet, he explained: “The virus is the asteroid: it fires into the planet and a viral code, a signature for that virus, is rapidly displayed all over the surface. These signatures are read by T-cells as foreign, and the T-cells kill the cell before it can produce new live viruses.” Current Covid-19 vaccines mainly elicit an antibody response that wanes over time, which means people need booster shots to maintain protection against the virus. The Emergex vaccine works differently, by killing infected cells quickly. This means it could offer longer-lasting immunity – possibly for decades – and could also be better at fighting virus mutations, said Cohen. A study published in Nature last week showed that some people experience “abortive infection” in which the virus enters the body but is cleared by the immune system’s T-cells at the earliest stage. Scientists said the discovery could pave the way for a new generation of vaccines targeting the T-cell response, which could produce much longer lasting immunity. Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College London, said he doubted that a T-cell vaccine “could do the job on its own” but it could play a complementary role, in a mix-and-match approach where different vaccines are given for the first, second and third doses. He said mRNA vaccines such as the Pfizer/BioNTech shot work so well because they produce a strong neutralising antibody response. The Pfizer vaccine has been shown to be more effective against Covid than the AstraZeneca/Oxford jab, which elicits a stronger T-cell response. But a T-cell vaccine could be used to complement other jabs, he said, as T-cell vaccines might be more impervious to virus mutations. “Antibodies are very sensitive to mutations while T-cells can see many other parts of the virus. Maybe that’s a selling point for T-cell vaccines.” He noted that the idea of T-cell vaccines was not new – for example, Prof Sarah Gilbert, the University of Oxford professor who developed the AZ/Oxford jab, has been working on them for influenza for more than a decade. Cohen said the tricky part was working out the delivery mechanism for the Emergex vaccine to the immune system. Rademacher and his team settled on tiny gold particles coated in peptides (bits of proteins) designed to generate the T-cell response in the body. The vaccine will eventually be administered as a skin patch the size of a thumbnail bristling with micro-needles that release the shot within seconds. It can last for up to three months at room temperature, unlike other jabs that need to be stored in the freezer or fridge. The trial will be conducted by Prof Blaise Genton from the centre for primary care and public health at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. He said: “This exciting new scientific approach to developing a vaccine against Sars-CoV-2 addresses the need to generate a T-cell response to elicit long-term immunity.” However, the Emergex shot will not be available until 2025 at the earliest, the usual timeframe for vaccine development. Last year Covid vaccines were developed within months as the regulatory process was speeded up, but the emergency has passed, said Cohen. Emergex is testing another T-cell vaccine against dengue fever on humans in a separate Swiss trial, with initial results due in January. Half the world is at risk from dengue fever, according to the World Health Organization, and there is no specific treatment or vaccine for it. The firm also wants to deploy its T-cell vaccines against influenza, Zika, Ebola and other infections. Dr Andrew Freedman, a reader in infectious diseases at Cardiff University school of medicine, said last week: “A vaccine that primes T-cell immunity against different viral protein targets that are shared between many different coronaviruses would complement our spike vaccines that induce neutralising antibodies.”
  5. Pfizer says its experimental pill reduces risk of hospitalization, death from Covid-19 By Maggie Fox, and Amanda Sealy, CNN Updated 1045 GMT (1845 HKT) November 5, 2021 (CNN)Drugmaker Pfizer said Friday its experimental pill designed to fight coronavirus reduced the risk of hospitalization and death for high-risk patients taking part in a trial of the drug. The company hopes it can eventually offer the pill, given in combination with an older antiviral drug called ritonavir, to people to take at home before they get sick enough to go to the hospital. A so-called interim analysis -- done before the trial was scheduled to end -- showed an 89% reduction in the risk of hospitalization or death from Covid-19 if patients got it soon enough, the company said. Pfizer released the results in a news release and did not provide scientists to discuss the data ahead of release. The data has not been peer reviewed or published. The company says it will share more specifics in a peer-reviewed paper and with its submission to the US Food and Drug Administration. The company has been testing the drug in adults with Covid-19 who are considered at high risk of progressing to severe illness. The volunteers have been randomly given either the pill combination or a placebo within three days or five days of their symptoms starting. The pill, still known by its experimental name PF-07321332, is what's known as a protease inhibitor. It's designed to stop the virus from multiplying. Giving it along with ritonavir slows its breakdown in the body, the company said. Pfizer said 0.8% of patients who got the drug combination within three days were hospitalized within four weeks -- three out of 389 patients -- compared to 7% of patients who got placebos, or 27 out of 385. And seven of those who got placebos died, Pfizer said. No one who got the treatment died within a month. "Similar reductions in COVID-19-related hospitalization or death were observed in patients treated within five days of symptom onset; 1% of patients who received PF-07321332 (with) ritonavir were hospitalized through Day 28 following randomization (6/607 hospitalized, with no deaths), compared to 6.7% of patients who received a placebo," the company said. It said 19% of patients given the treatment suffered adverse events, compared to 21% who got placebo, but declined to disclose what those adverse events were. "These data suggest that our oral antiviral candidate, if approved by regulatory authorities, has the potential to save patients' lives, reduce the severity of COVID-19 infections, and eliminate up to nine out of ten hospitalizations," Albert Bourla, chairman CEO of Pfizer, said in a statement. Currently, remdesivir, sold under the brand name Veklury, is the only antiviral approved by FDA for treatment of Covid-19. It's given by intravenous infusion, so it's not as simple to administer as a pill. People can also be treated with monoclonal antibodies, which are injected or infused therapies that kickstart the immune system to help fight off infection. They are not as easy to take as a pill and must be administered by a trained professional. Merck is seeking FDA emergency use authorization for molnupiravir, an antiviral capsule people could take at home. It's been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by about 50%. On Thursday, UK drug regulators authorized molnupiravir under the brand name Lagevrio.
  6. Four Asiatic lions at Singapore's Night Safari have tested positive SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. This was after the cats were exposed to infected staff from Mandai Wildlife Group. The lions displayed mild signs of sickness such as coughing, sneezing and lethargy on Nov. 6, and were subsequently tested by the Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS). Another African lion at the Singapore Zoo has exhibited similar symptoms on Nov. 8, and is undergoing testing as well. AVS has issued an order for Mandai Wildlife Group to isolate all nine Asiatic lions and five African lions in their respective dens. This includes the five symptomatic cats. The authority added that it is working with the Mandai Wildlife Group to closely monitor the health of the lions, and will be testing samples from the remaining lions. Citing the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), AVS assured members of the public that there is currently no evidence that animals play a role in the spread of the disease to humans. However, there have been sporadic cases where animals tested positive after being in close contact with infected persons.
  7. https://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/merck-says-research-shows-its-covid-19-pill-works-against-variants Merck says research shows its Covid-19 pill works against variants Molnupiravir instead targets the viral polymerase, an enzyme needed for the virus to make copies of itself.PHOTO: REUTERS WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Laboratory studies show that Merck & Co's experimental oral Covid-19 antiviral drug, molnupiravir, is likely to be effective against known variants of the coronavirus, including the dominant, highly transmissible Delta, the company said on Wednesday (Sept 29). Since molnupiravir does not target the spike protein of the virus - the target of all current Covid-19 vaccines - which defines the differences between the variants, the drug should be equally effective as the virus continues to evolve, said Jay Grobler, head of infectious disease and vaccines at Merck. Molnupiravir instead targets the viral polymerase, an enzyme needed for the virus to make copies of itself. It is designed to work by introducing errors into the genetic code of the virus. Data shows that the drug is most effective when given early in the course of infection, Merck said. The US drugmaker tested its antiviral against nasal swab samples taken from participants in early trials of the drug. Delta was not in wide circulation at the time of those trials, but molnupiravir was tested against lab samples of the variant behind the latest surge in Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths. Merck said earlier this year that a small, mid-stage trial found that after five days of molnupiravir treatment, none of the patients taking various doses of the drug tested positive for infectious virus, while 24 per cent of placebo patients did have detectable levels. Merck is currently conducting two Phase III trials of the antiviral it is developing with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics - one for treatment of Covid-19 and another as a preventive. Merck anticipates that the Phase III treatment study will finish in early November, Grobler said. The trial enrolled non-hospitalised Covid-19 patients who have had symptoms for no more than five days and are at risk for severe disease. The latest analysis was presented during IDWeek, the annual meeting of infectious disease organisations, including the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Shares of Merck were up 2.3 per cent at US$75.04 on Wednesday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange.
  8. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Coronavirus/Singapore-s-upcoming-leaders-tested-as-COVID-wave-rattles-public?utm_campaign=GL_coronavirus_latest&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NA_newsletter&utm_content=article_link&del_type=10&pub_date=20211011150000&seq_num=7&si=44594 Singapore's upcoming leaders tested as COVID wave rattles public PM hopefuls in tight spot between virus containment and vow to unchain economy A sign encourages social distancing in Singapore in late September, as coronavirus cases rise. © Reuters DYLAN LOH, Nikkei staff writerOctober 11, 2021 13:05 JST SINGAPORE -- The Singaporean government is fighting a relentless wave of COVID-19 infections, with daily cases topping 3,700 for the first time on Saturday despite a full vaccination rate above 80%. The crisis has ensnarled key ministers tipped as potential leadership candidates in a battle to manage public fears and expectations. The city-state's long-term plan is to "live with" the coronavirus as an endemic disease like the flu, backed by widespread jabs. The vaccines are largely working as advertised, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday stressed that Singapore "must press on" with the strategy while taking precautions. "Singapore cannot stay locked down and closed off indefinitely," Lee said in a televised address, as the city-state revealed plans to reopen its borders further. "It would not work, and it would be very costly." But as the case numbers rise and the death toll creeps above 160, there are signs of public uncertainty and unease. For the government ministers tasked with guiding the way -- including prime minister hopefuls -- the pressure of balancing safety and economic considerations is growing as online petitions criticize their performance. For the rest of the world, Singapore is becoming a case study in communication and the challenges of preparing a population to coexist with COVID. Eugene Tan, a 37-year-old researcher, is one resident struggling to shake worries about the virus despite living in one of the world's most vaccinated countries. As cases climbed, he pulled his three children out of preschool. Part of his concern was that the children, all under 5, are in an age group that has not yet been approved for shots. Their grandparents, among the most vulnerable to breakthrough infections, care for the kids on a daily basis. But Tan also feels the government's evolving strategy has left the public unsure. He recalled how last year officials would "go hard on the brakes" on social activity whenever there was an outbreak. This time, they have stopped short: In late September they reintroduced limits on gatherings and dining out to two people, explaining they needed to buy time to scale up health care capacity. But they have not reimposed sweeping restrictions, avoiding the "zero tolerance" policies still seen in some parts of Asia, such as mainland China. "While the government has tried to prepare Singaporeans for an increase in cases and justify its rationale for opening up, I think it has misjudged how the public would accept the trade-off of increased death rates and critical illness," Tan said. "With the current wave, the tweaking of its own policies suggest that the government seems to be playing catch-up on the worsening COVID situation, while still wanting to capitalize on opening up." The researcher is not alone in harboring doubts. Pockets of Singaporeans are calling out the coronavirus task force led by Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung and Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong. The first two are rising leaders in the ruling People's Action Party and considered potential candidates to succeed Prime Minister Lee. "As Singapore has agreed to choose ... living with COVID, it does not mean that you should just leave everything and allow this situation to blow up," reads a petition on the website change.org, calling for Ong to resign over the infection surge. It had gathered over 8,000 signatures as of Monday morning. Another petition called for Wong and Gan to quit -- but for the opposite reason. It charged that they lacked the "will" to follow through on living with endemic COVID. This petition, however, gained little traction, managing well below 100 signatures. Many, like Singaporean financial adviser Michelle Ngiam, recognize the tight spot the ministers are in. "They are doing what they can to the best of their ability," Ngiam said. "They are also limited by certain factors like manpower and available resources so we can't expect them to be perfect." But experts do see the situation testing the upcoming leaders' standing in the eyes of the public. "With zigzagging policymaking, they risk losing [the] favor of the electorates that prefer more certainty, which is one of the features the government once had," Yu Liuqing, country analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit told Nikkei Asia. Yu argued Wong and Ong should still be seen as good policymakers and technocrats, with their calibrated approach to containing COVID. But he said public trust "is expected to have deteriorated a little amid the oscillation of policy approach between 'containment' and 'freedom.'" He also suggested public guidance on the changing strategy may have been "inadequate" -- "failing to manage the expectation of this wave of COVID-19 and [to] fully destigmatize COVID-19." Put another way, Singapore wants to live with the virus, but the public may not be primed to accept what that means. Official statistics over the past month or so show 98% of cases had no or mild symptoms, indicating the Pfizer and Moderna jabs Singapore has used are working to prevent severe infections. To allocate resources to those most in need, the authorities are letting fully vaccinated people with nonserious cases recover at home. "With vaccinations, COVID-19 has become a treatable, mild disease for most of us," Lee said on Saturday. Singaporean Health Minister Ong Ye Kung and other coronavirus task force ministers are in the spotlight over the government's "living with COVID" strategy. © AP Yet with the government urging the public to regularly self-test for COVID -- kits are available from vending machines -- medical helplines and facilities have been inundated with inquiries from alarmed residents who tested positive. This has put extra, some might say unnecessary, stress on the health system. "We are still very afraid of the virus despite the low numbers of serious infections reported every day," observed Paul Tambyah, president of the Asia-Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection in Singapore. At the same time, Tambyah noted that around 1,500 COVID patients have ended up in hospital wards in recent weeks. That, he said, is equivalent to "about one and a half general hospitals, which is quite a significant impact." "I think that people have a lot of questions and it would be good to have these answered in a frank and open way," Tambyah said. Health Minister Ong, who has stressed that the delta variant "doesn't follow our script," has pledged to work out kinks in the government's response. He acknowledged in parliament recently that the home recovery initiative was not ready to deal with the surge in COVID-19 patients. He has also warned that the country should brace itself for a possible scenario with 5,000 cases reported a day. Ong's colleague Wong, on the other hand, has tried to assure Singaporeans they need not be alarmed, since severe cases are likely to remain limited. He has also sought to "destigmatize" the virus, as the EIU's Yu suggested. "There's nothing to be embarrassed about if you catch COVID," Wong said earlier this month. "Sooner or later, many of us will end up catching the virus, but we will have zero or mild symptoms." Lee on Saturday appeared determined to set the record straight and calm a worried public. He acknowledged that "many have found it difficult to keep up with new policies and changes to measures," and that "'living with COVID-19' has not been a smooth and easy journey." He warned the government "may have to tap on the brakes again if cases again grow too fast." But he called for a change in mindset. "We should respect COVID-19," Lee said, "but we must not be paralyzed by fear."
  9. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Coronavirus/Pfizer-vaccine-94-effective-in-real-world-Israel-study?utm_campaign=RN Subscriber newsletter&utm_medium=coronavirus_newsletter&utm_source=NAR Newsletter&utm_content=article link&del_type=10&pub_date=20210225150000&seq_num=12&si=44594 Pfizer vaccine 94% effective in real world: Israel study Results from fast rollout help ease uncertainty in fight against COVID The research in Israel - two months into one of the world's fastest rollouts -- is providing a rich source of data outside of clinical trials. © Reuters February 25, 2021 10:35 JST JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- The first big real-world study of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be independently reviewed shows the shot is highly effective at preventing COVID-19, in a potentially landmark moment for countries desperate to end lockdowns and reopen economies. Up until now, most data on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines has come under controlled conditions in clinical trials, leaving an element of uncertainty over how results would translate into the real world with its unpredictable variables. The research in Israel - two months into one of the world's fastest rollouts, providing a rich source of data - showed two doses of the Pfizer shot cut symptomatic COVID-19 cases by 94% across all age groups, and severe illnesses by nearly as much. The study of about 1.2 million people also showed a single shot was 57% effective in protecting against symptomatic infections after two weeks, according to the data published and peer-reviewed in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday. The results of the study for the Clalit Research Institute were close to those in clinical trials last year which found two doses were found to be 95% effective. "We were surprised because we expected that in the real-world setting, where cold chain is not maintained perfectly and the population is older and sicker, that you will not get as good results as you got in the controlled clinical trials," senior study author Ran Balicer told Reuters. "But we did and the vaccine worked as well in the real world." "We have shown the vaccine to be as effective in very different sub-groups, in the young and in the old in those with no co-morbidities and in those with few co-morbidities," he added. The study also suggests the vaccine, developed by U.S drugmaker Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech, is effective against the coronavirus variant first identified in the UK. Researchers said they could not provide a specific level of efficacy, but the variant was the dominant version of the virus in Israel at the time of the study. The research did not shed light on how the Pfizer shot will fare against another variant, now dominant in South Africa, that has been shown to reduce the efficacy of other vaccines. Of the nine million people in Israel, a nation with universal healthcare, nearly half have received a first dose, and a third have received both doses since the rollout began on Dec. 19. This made the country a prime location for a real-world study into the vaccine's ability to stem the pandemic, along with its advanced data capabilities. The study examined about 600,000 vaccinated people against the same sized control group of unvaccinated people. Researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital also collaborated. "This is more great news, confirming that the vaccine is around 90% effective at preventing documented infection of any degree of severity from 7 days after the second dose," said Peter English, a British government consultant in communicable disease control. "Previous recently studied papers from Israel were observational studies. This one used an experimental design known as a case-control study ... giving greater confidence that differences between the groups are due to their vaccination status, and not to some other factor." The study published on Wednesday was the first analysis of a national COVID-19 vaccination strategy to be peer-reviewed. It also offered a more detailed look at how the vaccine was faring at weekly intervals, while matching people who received the shot to unvaccinated individuals with similar medical histories, sex, age and geographical characteristics. Other research centres in Israel, including the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Israel Institute of Technology have shared several studies in recent weeks that show the vaccine to be effective. At least three studies out of Israel have also suggested the vaccine can reduce coronavirus transmission, but the researchers have cautioned that wider studies must be conducted in order to establish clear-cut conclusions. The Weizmann Institute's latest data shows a dramatic drop in illness - which began this month with the first age group vaccinated, the over-60s - has now extended to the two subsequent groups to have completed both doses. As infections have fallen in Israel, the country has eased its third national lockdown and reopened swathes of its economy including malls, shops, schools and many workplaces in the past two weeks. Recreational venues such as theatres, gyms and hotels opened on Sunday, but are open only to those deemed immune - holders of a "Green Pass", a health ministry document available for download only by people seven days after their second dose or people who have recovered from COVID-19. On Wednesday, Tel Aviv held one of the country's first live concerts after months of gatherings being banned under coronavirus restrictions. "This is so exciting, we are really so happy to be here today. It's unbelievable after one year of staying at home, it's great to be out to see some culture," said 60-year-old Gabi Shamir as she took her seat at the open-air show. Still, the vaccine's efficacy does not mean the country will be pandemic free any time soon. Like elsewhere in the world, a large proportion of the population are under 16 - about a third in Israel - meaning that they cannot yet get vaccinated as there have not been clinical trial results for children. "This is definitely not the end of the pandemic," said Eran Kopel, an epidemiologist at Tel Aviv University. "Once there is a safe vaccine for the children in Israel and all over the world we can then start to say that we could be approaching herd immunity."
  10. ComfortDelGro is offering its passengers the option to be insured against accidents or covid for $0.30 per ride Some features: - coverage for personal accidents such as accidental death and permanent total disability of up to $50,000 for 24 hours starting from the time they board the taxi - $500 cash payout for anyone who has taken the COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction test and is tested positive for COVID-19, within 14 days from the date of the ride; and is hospitalised to receive in-patient treatment for a consecutive period of at least three days after testing positive for COVID-19. 30 cents, you will pay anot? Source: https://www.sgcarmart.com/news/article.php?AID=25772
  11. Playtime

    Westlite dorm incident.

    I guess if your philosophy is you only need to have a small place to have sex and live... this isn't too bad. 😑 https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/workers-at-jurong-dorm-allege-neglect-frustrated-with-lack-of-medical-care-for Workers at Jurong dorm allege neglect, frustrated with lack of medical care for Covid-19 1 of 2 Workers at the Westlite Jalan Tukang dorm said they were not given proper access to medical support or properly isolated after they tested positive for Covid-19. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO David Sun and Dominic Low PUBLISHED OCT 14, 2021, 6:50 PM SGT FACEBOOKWHATSAPP SINGAPORE - A scene of chaos and neglect has emerged at a newly built foreign worker dormitory in Jurong, with residents alleging poor living conditions and a lack of timely access to medical help for Covid-19. Photos and videos of workers at the Westlite Jalan Tukang dorm voicing their frustrations with how they are being treated have been uploaded on multiple online platforms since Tuesday (Oct 12). Workers there said they were not given proper access to medical support, and were not properly isolated. About a quarter of the 2,000 workers staying in the dorm have reportedly tested positive for Covid-19, workers told a Wechat-based news portal. But Sembcorp Marine, which employs a large number of the workers, and the dorm’s operator Westlite Accomodation said on Thursday (Oct 14) that the dorm has been observing Covid-19 health testing and movement protocols. The situation reached a tipping point on Wednesday (Oct 13), when residents gathered en masse to confront the dormitory's management. Armoured riot police were later called in. Photos that have surfaced online showed workers believed to have Covid-19 infection sleeping at the corridors and walkways outside the dorm rooms. They alleged that they did so to prevent their roommates from catching the virus from them, as no one came to isolate them while they awaited medical care. A dorm resident, believed to have tested positive for Covid-19, sleeping outside his room as a form of self-isolation. PHOTO: RESIDENT OF WESTLITE JALAN TUKANG DORMITORY A resident who wanted to be known only as Mr Ren, 41, told The Straits Times that residents have been frustrated with the lack of medical assistance. "(The dormitory management) does not care about those who are sick - these men had been sick for about seven or eight days," he said. "Their fever had gotten very high, and we had to make noise about it before anything was done." Westlite Jalan Tukang residents believed to be Covid-19 positive in their beds He added that the situation escalated on Wednesday, when the residents confronted the management as a group. Although there were raised voices, the workers did not resort to violence, he said. The police were called in at about 1pm, and deployed at least four vehicles from the Special Operations Command. Armoured police officers and vehicles were also seen at the dormitory. One video showed the workers shouting as riot police formed up just outside the dorm entrance. ST understands that the dorm residents are of different nationalities, but had banded together to voice their frustrations. Aside from a lack of timely medical support, they also claimed poor living conditions, and that they were given food that had worms or had gone bad. Some of the workers had threatened to quit and return to their homelands because they were frustrated with how they were being treated. Residents of Westlite Jalan Tukang gathering Mr Ren said he has since resigned and just wants to go home. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Wednesday that it was aware of allegations of a breach of healthcare protocols, lack of access to medical support, and poor quality of food at the dorm. Its preliminary investigations found that there were indeed delays in transferring workers who tested positive for Covid-19 to the appropriate facilities. "We are working on transferring those who required further medical care to the appropriate healthcare facilities for treatment," said an MOM spokesman. Westlite Jalan Tukang resident being taken away by ambulance However, a spokesman for Sembcorp Marine claimed its employees living at the dorm may not have been fully aware of the current protocols. About 1,400 of the 3,420 beds at the dorm are occupied by workers from Sembcorp Marine, according to Westlite Accommodation, which is under the Centurion group. “The company understands that Westlite is following the mandatory Covid-19 health testing and movement protocols and they have been working closely with the relevant authorities,” said the Sembcorp Marine spokesman. “The company is mindful that the current protocols in Singapore may not be apparent to the residents in the Tukang dorm, and may differ from Covid-19 management measures from their home country.” A police car at the Westlite Jalan Tukang dormitory on Oct 14, 2021. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO Sembcorp Marine also said it had issued reminders to its caterer to strictly adhere to hygiene standards. The company did not address the issues raised by the workers, such as why they were not isolated and taken to the relevant facilities immediately upon testing positive, as is the stated protocol. Westlite Accomodation also said that prevailing Covid-19 protocols have been followed at its Jalan Tukang dorm, but acknowledged delays in moving affected workers to the appropriate facilities. “Over the past week, there has been a spike in cases detected among Sembcorp Marine workers,” it said. “Due to the large numbers, there have been delays in conveyance to recovery facilities and healthcare facilities.” Westlite added that it has been working closely with MOM to deal with the issue. ST has contacted MOM for further comment.
  12. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/Singapore-soul-searching-over-economy-as-COVID-surges?utm_campaign=GL_asia_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NA_newsletter&utm_content=article_link&del_type=1&pub_date=20211005190000&seq_num=2&si=44594 Singapore hopes its vaccination rate above 80% will allow it to leave COVID-19 restrictions behind, but for now it is focused on keeping infections in check. © Nikkei montage Singapore 'soul searching' over economy as COVID surges Even if vaccines help city-state 'live with' the virus, long-term questions loom KENTARO IWAMOTO, Nikkei staff writerOctober 5, 2021 06:00 JST SINGAPORE -- As pedestrians once again dwindled in Singapore's central business district on Sept. 27, the manager of a health food restaurant let out a sigh of frustration. "No one is coming back," he said. In normal times, workers from nearby offices would be chatting over a light lunch of seafood and vegetables on rice. But renewed COVID-19 restrictions imposed that day made working from home the default, and limited dining in eateries to pairs -- less than two months after such rules were eased. The restaurant had made it through the first year and a half of the pandemic. The manager wasn't sure it would survive much longer. He said he might have to "close because we are losing money over the year." As one of the world's first countries to fully vaccinate 80% of its population against the coronavirus, clearing the threshold in late August, Singapore was set to accelerate its economic reopening. The government had devised a "living with COVID" strategy, outlined by virus task force ministers in June, under which it would treat the disease as endemic like influenza and restore a semblance of normal life. Now, the authorities are fighting an exponential rise in infections, which began after the government relaxed some rules in August. A record 2,909 new cases were reported last Friday, more than 10 times the number a month earlier and marking one of the highest per capita rates anywhere. The rapid increase is partly due to frequent testing, and since 98% of new patients are asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms, the country of 5.45 million has not abandoned its plan to coexist with the virus. But it has hit the brakes. "We had all hoped that we could put these restrictions behind us, especially with our high vaccination rates and with our plans to move forward to a COVID-resilient nation," Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the task force, said when the government announced the rule-tightening on Sept. 24. "But the reality is that with the current infection trajectory, our health care system and our health care workers are facing many pressures." Even if the government shows Singapore can live with COVID-19, longer-term challenges loom. As the health crisis changes the way the world does business, can a travel and trade hub find new ways to attract people and investment? Domestically, can Singapore address its aging population and improve the lives of low-wage workers? The People's Action Party, which has led the nation since independence in 1965, is seeking answers while facing a burning question of its own: Who will succeed 69-year-old Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong? In many ways, Singapore stands at a critical juncture. "I think there is indeed soul searching at the highest levels of the government about building competitive advantages beyond some of our traditional strengths," said Walter Theseira, associate professor at Singapore University of Social Sciences. The pandemic has highlighted some of those strengths. Carefully calibrated safe distancing measures, including the use of digital technology for contact tracing, drew global attention as an example of a smart response. The city-state has limited its COVID-19 death toll to slightly over 100. And Singapore was the first major Asian economy to start vaccinations, in December, securing Pfizer-BioNTech shots initially and later adding Moderna. Yet the crisis has also exposed weak links in Singapore's advanced economy and wealthy society. Explosive infections in crowded dormitories for migrant workers last year showed how much the construction, shipyard and other industries rely on low-cost labor. Global travel restrictions, including Singapore's own tight border controls, have not only dampened tourism and related businesses but also hindered inflows of new labor, blue- and white-collar alike. Population statistics released late last month revealed that the number of foreign nationals was down 10.7% on the year, to 1.47 million, as of June. Growth was not exactly booming before COVID-19. Gross domestic product grew 1.3% in 2019, the slowest since the global financial crisis, amid disruptions in trade. Then, in 2020, Singapore suffered its steepest economic contraction on record, 5.4%. The economy has since shown signs of recovery. The government in August upgraded its 2021 GDP projection to a range of 6% to 7%, from 4% to 6%, thanks to vaccinations and improving conditions in key trade partners. But the rebound is proving bumpier than expected. A man sits among empty seats at a free movie screening in Singapore on Sept. 29, after restrictions on social gatherings were tightened. © Reuters The latest tightening of restrictions "will likely hurt some of the services segments, particularly food and beverage, retail, recreation and hospitality," Maybank Kim Eng economist Chua Hak Bin said, while noting that these sectors constitute a relatively small portion of the economy. External headwinds are gathering, too. China's economic slowdown bodes ill for countries like Singapore with strong business ties to the world's No. 2 economy. Singapore's largest bank, DBS Group Holdings, warned in a recent report that "slower China growth in [the second half of 2021] will affect export performance going forward." Already, the year-on-year growth of Singapore's manufacturing sector -- core products include electronics, machinery and pharmaceuticals -- downshifted in August for the second consecutive month, to 11.2%. The country's benchmark non-oil domestic exports also slowed for the second month in a row, growing 2.7%. "The transition from pandemic to COVID being endemic is expected to be tepid and uneven," DBS economist Irvin Seah said. More worrying for officials is persistent uncertainty over the viability of Singapore's economic model. An attempt to preserve travel, one element of the model, has not gone according to plan. In February, a facility called Connect@Changi opened near Changi Airport as an international "bubble" for business. The idea was to have visitors fly in and stay on-site, attending meetings with local partners in rooms separated by airtight glass partitions. But, for now, the complex has been converted into a care facility for COVID-19 patients without severe symptoms. This reflects both Singapore's rising cases as well as the slow rebound in travel demand. "The facility was intended for travelers, but given the tight border measures that are still in place, Connect@Changi adapted and repurposed itself," Health Minister Ong Ye Kung explained on Facebook. While COVID-19 has stopped travelers from coming, authorities worry new global tax rules could keep companies away as well. Connect@Changi, a facility meant to host safe international business meetings, is being used as a care facility for COVID-19 patients without severe symptoms for now. © Reuters In July, Finance Minister Wong was questioned in parliament about how a proposed global minimum corporate tax would affect Singapore's low-tax model. While the country's corporate tax rate of 17% is higher than the suggested minimum of 15%, many foreign companies appear to have benefited from lower effective rates. "It will make it harder for us to attract investments and we have to work harder, particularly, given our size," Wong said, conceding some other locations "offer equally, if not more, attractive and compelling attributes." The hard work, he continued, could include "upgrading of our workforce, our infrastructure, our connectivity, our overall business environment." Social trends may complicate any such efforts. Besides the sharp decline in foreign workers, the latest population statistics show a quickly graying population. Excluding foreign nationals, residents aged 65 or older accounted for 16% of the total, up from 15.2% a year earlier. Of particular concern is how to support lower-income seniors and encourage their participation in the workforce. Tan Poh Lin, assistant professor at the National University of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said "generation-specific solutions" are necessary due to large gaps in education and income, including technology training "to narrow the perceived disadvantages of hiring older workers with outdated skill sets and expertise." But she said in the near term, "especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic fallout, a mix of policies aimed at monetizing households' assets and government support would be more important for generating financial security for lower-income elderly. "There is also an opportunity to take advantage of the shift toward more flexible work arrangements to increase elderly labor participation." Prime Minister Lee emphasized worries over low-wage earners -- not only seniors but also informal "gig" workers like delivery drivers -- in his National Day Rally speech on Aug. 29. "Lower-wage workers are more stressed than others," Lee said. "They have less savings to tide over hard times. In the pandemic, their situation has been precarious." Whether it is reducing inequality or stopping the COVID-19 surge, Lee and his ruling PAP may be feeling the weight of citizens' expectations more than usual. For much of Singapore's history, the party could count on strong public support driven by a brisk economy, coupled with an election system that democracy advocates have long described as unfair. But in the 2020 election, the opposition won a record 10 seats, while the PAP's share of the popular vote plunged to 61.2%, close to its worst performance of 60.1% in 2011. Arguably, the party's position has only become more uncomfortable. Its succession plan was thrown into disarray when heir apparent and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat abruptly withdrew from consideration, saying the next leader should be someone younger. That "someone" has yet to be named. After the opposition's breakthroughs last year, the PAP will be looking to confirm Lee's successor and convince the public Singapore is on the right path before the next vote, due by 2025. Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong receives a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot on Sept. 17. © Reuters Experts stress that even in a world reshaped by the coronavirus, Singapore still has plenty going for it. "Singapore's financial center continues to thrive even during the pandemic, strengthening its standing as a fund management and private banking hub," said Maybank's Chua. "Concerns over the national security law in Hong Kong are also diverting investments and funds into Singapore," he said, while the city-state is "benefiting from the reconfiguration of manufacturing supply chains toward ASEAN from China." As the pandemic pushes businesses to go digital and pursue sustainable development, Singapore is doing its best to capture these trends, creating frameworks to support fintech and leading the region in green financing. Singapore University of Social Sciences' Theseira argued the nation continues to offer a combination of safety, stability and economic vibrancy that is hard for its neighbors to match. He sees a major manufacturing opportunity as well, if Singapore can sharpen its innovation and productivity so it is not "competing just on price." Theseira cautioned that "the way ahead won't be smooth." "But I think COVID-19 has certainly thrown us opportunities as well as challenges, because it is more clear now that global business and production networks are really too concentrated and vulnerable," he said. "Singapore has a good chance of picking up momentum as it seeks to build capabilities in advanced manufacturing and digital technologies."
  13. Saw this commentary article on CNA with an interesting question. We all know that anti-vaccination movements in western countries like the US is pretty strong but in sg I feel that its not as prominent?? Are there actually people in sg that are strongly against vaccination? Not sure if its because of gov censorship or Singaporeans generally have a lack of opinion on this matter. So it comes back down to the commentary question: Will you unfriend someone because they refuse to get vaccinated? 😂 Gov also making gatherings with friends harder with the whole only vaccinated people get to dine-in rule and to constantly accommodate that one friend who is unvaccinated may get annoying after a while? Share some stories leh.
  14. AstraZeneca seeks U.S. OK for new COVID treatment Tue, October 5, 2021, 5:00 PM AstraZeneca is seeking U.S. approval for its new COVID treatment. It's asked for emergency authorisation from the Food and Drug Administration. That's according to a statement from the UK firm. It concerns an antibody therapy dubbed AZD7442. AstraZeneca says a late-stage trial shows it reduces the chances of developing COVID-19 symptoms by 77%. It says the treatment could help people who don't develop a strong immune response after vaccination. Regular shots require a healthy immune system to develop antibodies in response, while the new treatment contains lab-made antibodies. U.S. approval would be a big win for the company. Its widely used shot still hasn't been approved for use there. AstraZeneca says talks regarding supply of the new treatment are ongoing with the U.S. and other countries. https://news.yahoo.com/astrazeneca-seeks-u-ok-covid-090024339.html
  15. Just sharing some tips, my friends and I learnt from our experiences. First, choice: - right now you have no other choice, and that's not a bad thing, because the Pfizer vaccine is the front runner and thus far, millions of doses have been given and the frequency of side effects has been well documented and within control. Realistically there will be some issues, even potential fatalities, but it's also important to see the details, because it may not be a direct result of the vaccine or the jab. Do it now as you might get the sinovac, unless you're up for it - we also excel at logistics and the cold chain will be pretty much assured in SG Location: - if you're in healthcare, you'll probably do it in a hospital / clinic setting. That's good. If you have a choice, do it where there are resuscitation facilities. If you're going to a clinic, make sure they can rescue you if you do go into anaphylaxis What's that you say: "Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death. It typically causes more than one of the following: an itchy rash, throat or tongue swelling, shortness of breath, vomiting, lightheadedness, low blood pressure. These symptoms typically come on over minutes to hours." - Timing: Choose a day where you have a couple of days where you might have a lighter schedule The reaction can be mild or you may have some arm ache, flu symptoms or even have more reactions. So don't schedule something heavy on the same day, or the day after. Be prepared to sleep like a log after. Avoid heavy lifting for a couple of days Also make sure you have friends or family who can check in on you after the jab, especially those who are living alone - What to prepare: I'll suggest taking a panadol or NSAID before the jab, so the aches are less - How do you feel right after: the arm ache doesn't start immediately, but when I took it in the afternoon, you feel like the flu is coming, this happened after dinner, and I went to bed early to sleep I woke up with a bit of soreness, and arm ache, and it continues through the day. Typically it last for a couple of days or so - What else to bring? Bring a camera! Take a pic of the event, share it 🙂 - you'll be monitored for about 30 min. Bring your phone and a drink, you have to pass time away, and it will be boring without a book or phone to while the time away.. - you'll get a card, keep it in your wallet. Don't put it in or fold it immediately the ink tends to run For others who have gone for it, do share your experiences too cheers Do your part for herd immunity!
  16. German politicians expressed shock on Tuesday over the killing of a 20-year old petrol station worker after an argument about a face mask and said that coronavirus deniers who are willing to use violence will not be tolerated. The killing on Saturday evening in the western town of Idar-Oberstein has hit the national headlines as it is one of the only such cases linked to COVID-19 restrictions. Prosecutors have said that the petrol station cashier had asked a 49-year old man who wanted to buy beer to comply with the rules and put on a mask. The customer refused and left but returned later wearing a mask which he pulled down when he approached the cashier who again referred to the rules. "Then the perpetrator pulled a revolver and shot the cashier in the head from the front. The victim fell to the floor and was immediately dead," prosecutor Kai Fuhrmann told reporters. The suspect later gave himself up at a police station, saying the coronavirus measures were causing him stress, said Furhmann. He is being detained. This is why I'm thankful guns are not allowed in our country. With the number of crazies we have surfacing, it'll be terrible if everyone pulls out a gun just to express their dissatisfaction.
  17. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Coronavirus/Malaysia-s-island-paradise-reopening-stirs-hope-for-tourism-revival?utm_campaign=GL_asia_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NA_newsletter&utm_content=article_link&del_type=1&pub_date=20210920123000&seq_num=11&si=44594 Malaysia's island paradise reopening stirs hope for tourism revival Langkawi hotels cheer return of domestic visitors but COVID fears linger ][/img] A seaside restaurant prepares to reopen to domestic tourists in Langkawi, Malaysia, on Sept. 16. © Reuters P PREM KUMAR, Nikkei staff writerSeptember 19, 2021 10:31 JST LANGKAWI, Malaysia -- With six children in tow, Khatijah Ibrahim was soaking in the ocean breezes and picturesque scenery of Malaysia's Langkawi on Saturday. "It's definitely a relief that we can finally step out from Kuala Lumpur to a beautiful island," said the accountant. Although she had some concerns about the trip, due to COVID-19, she said it was worth it to relieve the pandemic's mental strain. "In the last year, it has been the shuttle between work and home for me. It has been the worst for my children. So it's great to finally get some fresh air," she said. Since Thursday, thousands of Malaysians like Khatijah and foreign residents have been streaming back to the island tourist haven that served as a backdrop for movies like "Crazy Rich Asians" and "Anna and the King." The government that day reopened the duty-free resort area to domestic travelers who have received two COVID-19 vaccine doses, in a pilot project aimed at reviving the tourism industry. All visitors are subject to virus tests before entry, which detected nine positives in the first two days. Industry watchers hope the Langkawi bubble will be a precursor to allowing interstate travel -- which remains restricted as the country fights a persistent wave of infections -- and ultimately international arrivals. The government has warned that it could reverse the Langkawi reopening if it proves too risky. But for now, businesses are simply relieved to see planeloads of passengers return. Visitors arrive at Langkawi's airport as the resort area reopens to vaccinated domestic travelers on Sept. 16. © Reuters David Macklin, general manager of the swanky Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, told Nikkei Asia that the hotel has seen a rise in reservations and inquiries since the reopening announcement was made. "Many of our guests are already making reservations for the fourth quarter of 2021," he said. "We are excited to see that the fourth quarter of 2021 will be our best quarter since the first quarter of 2020," Macklin said. "We also have reservations coming in 2022 already, and some of those are international tourists waiting for borders to reopen." The excitement is mixed with a sense of caution, however. Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who represents Langkawi in parliament, told Nikkei Asia that the reopening effort is to be welcomed but that the government should sharpen the regulations. "We need to improve the standard operating procedures further because the main issue I see among the tourists is a lack of social distancing, especially on flights inbound to Langkawi," the 96-year-old said during a walkabout to greet visitors and local residents. Mahathir and others look to Thailand's reopening of Phuket to vaccinated international travelers this year for lessons. The island subsequently saw a flare-up of COVID-19 cases, largely among local residents. "In Thailand, they opened and made their people too free to move while their [nationwide] vaccination rate was low," he said. Despite his concerns about social distancing, Mahathir said the Langkawi reopening was "more strict." Eugene Dass, a member of the Malaysian Association of Hotels board, echoed the need to draw on Thailand's experience. "It should be a lesson learned by all, both to the hotels and the authorities," he said. "As for hotels, we have put in place COVID-19 prevention and care measures and all hotel staff on the island are also fully vaccinated." Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who represents Langkawi in parliament, tours the area on Sept. 18 after it reopened to visitors. (Photo by P Prem Kumar) Still, the reopening of Langkawi to domestic visitors is a much-needed glimmer of hope for an economy that relies heavily on small and midsize enterprises, tourism and leisure. Malaysia's economy has not been fully open since its first cases of COVID-19 were detected in February 2020. The country's economic heart -- the Greater Klang Valley, which includes the capital Kuala Lumpur -- remains in the "recovery" phase, with all economic sectors allowed to operate at only half capacity. Unemployment has jumped since the initial movement control orders were imposed in March last year. As of August 2021, the rate stood at 4.8%, equivalent to about 770,000 people, according to the Department of Statistics. The country is still locked in a serious battle with COVID-19, with infections remaining close to 20,000 a day. As of Friday, total cases had surpassed 2 million with more than 22,000 deaths. On the other hand, Malaysia is making significant progress with vaccinations. The country is inoculating over 200,000 people daily and has given double doses to about 56% of its adult population, with 67% having taken one shot. That has allowed initiatives like the Langkawi reopening -- and allowed people like businessman Mokhtar Ibrahim to finally get away. Mokhtar is on a long-delayed honeymoon with his wife. The couple got married in January of this year, as COVID-19 cases surged in the country and enhanced movement controls were imposed. "We got married at home with our parents as witnesses. We thought we could use the money for our honeymoon, and we have been eagerly waiting for this opportunity," he said. "Thank God it's Langkawi and not some other place." Read Next
  18. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/Indonesia-and-Philippines-face-persistent-anti-vax-hurdle?utm_campaign=GL_asia_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NA_newsletter&utm_content=article_link&del_type=1&pub_date=20210914190000&seq_num=17&si=44594 Indonesia and Philippines face persistent anti-vax hurdle Asian hesitancy weighs as inoculation drives make progress AKANE OKUTSU, CLIFF VENZON and ERWIDA MAULIA, Nikkei staff writersSeptember 14, 2021 06:00 JST TOKYO/MANILA/JAKARTA -- The number of people in Asia getting vaccinated against COVID-19 has been rising. But further progress in battling the pandemic could be slowed by the continuing appearance of social media hoaxes and disinformation that make it harder to combat hesitancy. Some of the uglier postings have been in Indonesia, which says it has found and had taken down 2,000 vaccine-related hoaxes on social media platforms. One posting in July showed five coffins in a mosque, with a deliberately-wrong caption saying they contained residents of one house who just got vaccinated. In an earlier hoax, an Indonesian TV report quoting a scientist was manipulated so captions had him saying "our people will be killed by Chinese vaccines" and that jabs "make the virus more savage" -- which was completely different from what he was saying. Before Facebook took it down, the post received 11,000 "likes" and was shared 182,000 times. Last month in the Philippines, the Health Department debunked a video -- which went viral on Facebook -- by a "Doc Ron" who asserted that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine contains HIV particles. That too was taken down. Japan too has been hit by misleading social media posts. In the first seven months of 2021, as many as 110,000 Twitter posts that were retweeted at least once suggested that getting vaccinated leads to infertility, Nikkei's research found. A health worker tends to a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient in the chapel of Quezon City General Hospital turned into a COVID-19 ward amid rising infections, in Quezon City, Metro Manila on Aug. 20. © Reuters In many Asian countries, governments and experts are trying to find ways to communicate more effectively with the public and -- where there are anti-vax efforts -- to knock them down. There have been some improvements, but it's proving difficult to crush vaccine hesitancy. This is part of the reason there's a long way to go to get vaccination levels high enough to resume most normal activities and travel. A 31-year-old mother of one in Japan's Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, is an example of the hesitancy that the government has not been able to eradicate. She and her husband are aware that the health ministry and other public institutions insist there is no evidence that getting vaccinated is harmful for pregnant women. Still, the woman -- who is not pregnant -- refuses to get COVID-19 shots. "Because we want a second child, my husband and I decided we would not get vaccinated," she said. In her view, the vaccines were "just developed, and I am worried that something might happen in a few years, even if there was no [worrying side-effect] for now." Many younger people in Japan are yet to take the vaccines. Based on its research in Tokyo and surrounding areas in July, a government expert committee found that only 45% of people in their 20s and 30s were either already vaccinated or wanted to be, compared with 60% for those in their 40s and 50s. According to the committee, it is ideal to vaccinate 75% of the younger group, and 80% for the older one. Japan, which just rolled out its vaccination program this year, had fully vaccinated half of its population. It has done well with seniors, fully vaccinating about 88%. Government leaders and experts have been desperately trying to convince the still reluctant, especially among Japan's young. "There are false rumors that the COVID-19 vaccine makes people infertile, but various institutions around the world are saying that [rumor] is totally not true," Taro Kono, a minister who's in charge of the vaccination program, told a major youth fashion event, Tokyo Girls Collection, on Sept. 4. "I hope you will take [the vaccines] with no such fear," he said. His tweet about TGC was liked 20,000 times. All parts of the world have varying degrees of vaccine hesitancy, and some have found that the percentage of a nation's people vaccinated starts to plateau after reaching 50% to 70%. As of early September, about 40% of people in the U.S. haven't had any jabs, according to Our World in Data. About 30% still have not been vaccinated in the UK and Israel. In the Philippines, where 15.4% were fully vaccinated as of Sept. 12, a survey by Pulse Asia in June showed that 43% of respondents said they wanted to be vaccinated, 36% said they didn't, and the rest were undecided or had been vaccinated. This was an improvement from a February poll, which showed only 16% willing to be vaccinated while 61% were not. Sometimes, minds do change. "Before, I didn't want to be vaccinated, because of news that some people died after being vaccinated," Kathlyn Marcos, a 31-year-old Manila cashier, told Nikkei Asia after receiving her first shot of Sinovac. She was the last to be vaccinated in her family, which eventually convinced her to get it. A medical worker injects a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Indonesia on Sept. 6. A survey found 60% of respondents either "less willing" or "very unwilling" to get a jab. © Getty Images In Indonesia, 15.4% of the population was fully vaccinated by Sept. 12. Factors slowing progress include some delays in delivery and distribution of the vaccines, but there's also coolness to vaccinations. A survey released by Jakarta-based pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia on Aug. 25 found 60% of respondents were either "less willing" or "very unwilling" to get a jab, half of whom cited worry about unknown side-effects. Disinformation about vaccines is not new, according to Shinichi Yamaguchi, an associate professor at International University of Japan who researches social media and fake news. Vaccination involves technical knowledge, causing some people to feel anxious because of their lack of understanding. And drivers of fake news being shared are anger or anxiety, according to Yamaguchi. "Anyone can be fooled, regardless of age or gender," he told Nikkei Asia. Countering fake news is a challenge for the government, especially when political confidence is low. Amid Japan's recent surge of COVD-19 new cases, support for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's government dropped to the 30% range in July for the first time since its inauguration in September 2020. (Suga later announced he will not seek reelection in ruling Liberal Democratic Party's presidential election on Sept. 29.) Lack of trust in the government creates a breeding ground for conspiracy theories and fake news, said Yamaguchi, adding "Unless there's trust in the government, the vaccination rate will not become high." According to research published in the medical journal Lancet in 2020, Japan in 2018 was among the countries with the lowest vaccine confidence in the world even before the pandemic. Another survey by Imperial College London as of August also shows Japan is lagging behind the U.K. and the U.S. in building strong trust in COVID-19 vaccines. Japan has had some bitter experiences with vaccines and drugs. One major setback was when the government lost when defending against lawsuits that made side-effect claims for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines. As a result, Japan stopped requiring MMR vaccines in 1993 and made such vaccinations non-mandatory in 1994. Since 1994, attitudes of the health ministry toward vaccines "have always been passive," said Akihiko Saitoh, a professor of pediatric medicine at Niigata University. Vaccination is now an individual choice, and "the power of the government recommendation is not as [strong] as in the US," he said. Also, the Japanese government has been sued by more than 100 recipients of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines against cervical cancer, which are widely used globally. The class-action case, filed in 2016, remains in court. Women in face masks walk in the famous Shibuya crossing in Tokyo. Many young people in Japan are yet to get vaccinated against COVID-19 . (Photo by Ken Kobayashi) Kensuke Yoshimura, president of an educational project called Cov-Navi that provides information to the public on COVID-19 vaccines, said Japan's vaccine policies "had repeated failures, especially for communication," and that the HPV vaccines scare indicated "the ultimate example of failure." Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population, historically has seen some resistance to medicines on the basis they were not certified as halal, or acceptable for Muslims. In August 2018, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued a fatwa (edict) saying that the MMR vaccine was "forbidden" because of the use of pork or derivatives in its production, but that the use of the vaccine itself was "permissible" because of Islamic law's leniency in emergency situations. For COVID-19, the government involved MUI from the beginning in its vaccination drive. In January, the council declared Sinovac, which was the first vaccine used and accounts for the bulk of doses administered in Indonesia so far, as halal. Indikator Politik said that in its poll, 4% of respondents said they either didn't believe or were unsure if government-provided vaccines were halal. Indonesia's Communications Ministry, in addition to finding and getting social media platforms to take down hoaxes, has been fact checking against problematic contents and publishing counternarratives regularly on its website. In May, it launched a national digital literacy program to educate the public not to easily trust information spreading on the internet. In the Philippines, unfounded allegations that a dengue vaccine caused the death of children grabbed headlines a few years ago, fueling skepticism on vaccines for a time. Another issue in the Philippines for COVID-19 is higher trust in Western-made vaccines than Chinese ones which dominate the country's supply. The bias forced the government in May to stop announcing in advance the brands that will be administered in vaccination centers. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte holds a vial of Sinovac Biotech's CoronaVac in February. © Reuters Confidence in COVID-19 vaccines improved after a government's information campaign on vaccine effectiveness regardless of the brand. Doctors received Sinovac jabs on national TV, while President Rodrigo Duterte's inoculation with a jab of China-made Sinopharm vaccine was also publicized. (Duterte has threatened to jail people who didn't get vaccinated, but it hasn't happened.) For Yoshimura of the Cov-Navi project in Japan, the key to battling COVID-19 is getting people accurate, easy-to-understand information. Yoshimura, who is also a professor at Chiba University Hospital, launched the project with other experts to educate the medical workers and Japan's general public, communicating information backed by peer-reviewed academic reports and public institutions. He added that efforts must be made to educate youths in their teens, or even younger and their parents. Vaccine hesitancy is not the sole obstacle to accelerate inoculation drive. There is still more to be done about making vaccines available for those who are wanting to get one. In Japan, vaccination at some universities and companies was put on hold due to lack of supply. A new vaccination site set up for young people under 39 years old at the end of August in Tokyo's Shibuya district was overcrowded on its first day, before the site started to accept online bookings. Vaccines are believed to be effective for preventing severe symptoms that require extra care in hospitals. "No matter how much the number of beds increases and capacity expands, the main plug must be closed," said Cov-Navi's Yoshimura. Combined with social distancing and border control, "vaccination would be the most effective" measure for fighting COVID-19, he said.
  19. welik72

    Opening of nightspots

    More than 20 pivoted nightspots allowed to reopen for F&B as of end August SINGAPORE: A month after authorities introduced tighter measures as a condition for nightspots operating as food outlets to reopen, more than 20 such establishments have been given the go-ahead to resume operations. In response to queries from CNA, the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) on Tuesday (Sep 7) said that as of Aug 30, it had approved the reopening of these outlets that have pivoted to food and beverage operations. "These establishments have implemented the additional Safe Management Measures (SMMs), passed inspections, and received a conditional permit from MTI to resume operations," said MSE. "Establishments that do not pass inspections are not allowed to reopen until they pass a later inspection, which they may apply for when they are ready." In July, the emergence of a COVID-19 cluster linked to former KTV lounges and nightclubs led to a two-week shutdown of more than 400 pivoted nightspots. All employees of such establishments were told to undergo a one-time polymerase chain reaction test and the nightspots had to receive approval from the authorities before being allowed to reopen. Another condition that these pivoted nightspots had to meet before being allowed to reopen: Only the main hall was to be used for F&B operations. All private rooms were to be locked and not to be used for "any purpose". Blackout windows or opaque doors were also not allowed to be used along the perimeter of the outlet, with the interior to be made "clearly visible" to people outside. Upon the resumption of operations, all employees would also have to undergo fast and easy testing at a Health Promotion Board Quick Test Centre every seven days. SafeEntry Gateway would also have to be implemented at the entrance and exit of the premises, while prevailing licensing conditions were to be complied with. As of Monday, data from the Health Ministry showed that there were 253 cases in the KTV COVID-19 cluster. Source: CNA – https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/covid-19-nightlife-establishments-inspections-operations-reopen-2161541 -------- What do ya'll think of this new measure for the night scene? Is it too early considering that the last cluster from this group is only 2 months ago AND the extent of the spread? I'm personally quite worried cause I feel that its not possible to effectively regulate and monitor these establishments. hmmm
  20. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/120-bus-captains-across-seven-interchanges-infected-with-covid-19-so-far-lta A total of 120 bus captains have been infected with Covid-19 so far, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) which is working with public transport operators to minimise the impact on services. The number of clusters involving bus interchanges has grown to seven after the first two - at Bishan and Sengkang - were announced on Aug 14. An LTA spokesman told The Straits Times on Monday (Aug 30) that there are currently 23 infected bus captains in the Bishan cluster and 14 in the Sengkang one. Two new clusters - identified on Aug 26 - currently involve 33 bus captains at the Toa Payoh interchange, and 13 at the Punggol one. Another three clusters - announced over the last three days - currently involve nine bus captains in the Clementi interchange, 15 in the Jurong East interchange and 13 in the Boon Lay interchange. According to the Ministry of Health (MOH) website, another 54 cases - staff from these interchanges and their contacts- are also linked to the seven clusters. The LTA spokesman said many of the cases were picked up early and clusters isolated as a result of community surveillance testing and proactive regular testing. Of the 120 infected bus captains, four were unvaccinated. The rest are fully inoculated, and most are asymptomatic or showing only mild symptoms. Overall, 99 per cent of front-line public transport workers have completed their first dose of the vaccine, and over 95 per cent are fully inoculated, said the spokesman. Asked what is being done to ensure commuter safety at bus interchanges, he added: "Once a cluster at a public transport node is detected, deep cleaning and disinfection is carried at the location as well as on all affected buses and common facilities. This is in addition to the stepped up cleaning regime that operators have put in place since last year." Safe management measures are also strictly enforced, and in light of the recent developments, workers will have to take their meals and smoke breaks alone even if they are fully vaccinated, said the spokesman. He added that the authorities are monitoring the situation closely and will work with the operators to make further adjustments where necessary. ===================== Oof, everyone should be more careful when they visit bus interchanges during this period! 😞 It's so scary how asymptomatic cases can spread so quickly over a short amount of time. Stay safe guys! 😥
  21. welik72

    Mask wearing SHOULD continue!

    Is there anyone out here who thinks that we should continue to mask up even after the covid situation has died down? I’m not saying that it should be made into a law permanently, but rather strongly encourage the general public to do so?? Let’s face it, the coronavirus will most probably become endemic. Aside from concealing boredom in long meetings and everything else you’re hiding beneath that mask, think of how much better hygiene standards will be if we all just kept this habit of putting that mask on. My only worry is the environment with all the disposable masks strewn around… WEAR YOUR REUSABLE MASKS YALL!! ps how many of yall actually use reusable masks vs disposable masks? 🤔
  22. Timeline: How a COVID-19 cluster emerged at Learning Point tuition centre https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/covid-19-cluster-learning-point-tuition-centre-timeline-14816706 SINGAPORE: A COVID-19 cluster has emerged linked to a tuition centre, with a tutor, seven children and a 41-year-old household contact testing positive. Identified as Case 63131, the tutor - a 50-year-old Singaporean woman teaching at the Learning Point branch at Parkway Centre - was confirmed to have COVID-19 on Wednesday (May 12). 42 students from 30 schools in S'pore infected in past month https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/37-students-from-25-schools-infected-so-far Affected schools range from pre-schools all the way to institutes of higher learning A total of 42 students from 30 schools have been infected with Covid-19 over the past four weeks, including six new cases reported on Thursday (May 20). This includes 15 cases linked to a cluster at the Learning Point tuition centre and another 11 to one at Changi Airport Terminal 3. The affected schools range from pre-schools to primary and secondary schools, a madrasah, junior college and several institutes of higher learning.
  23. Mockngbrd

    Why MCF on wkend always spoil one?

    How come always slow n broken on wkend one?
  24. https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Transportation/Singapore-Airlines-grapples-with-delta-variant-as-COVID-losses-persist?utm_campaign=GL_coronavirus_latest&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NA_newsletter&utm_content=article_link&del_type=10&pub_date=20210730123000&seq_num=11&si=44594 Singapore Airlines grapples with delta variant as COVID losses persist SIA kicks off second fiscal year under pandemic pressures with $302 million net loss SIA managed to cushion some of the devasting effects of the pandemic on the travel industry by removing seats from some aircraft to allow the transport of cargo. © Reuters DYLAN LOH, Nikkei staff writerJuly 29, 2021 21:22 JST SINGAPORE -- Singapore Airlines faces an uneven road to recovery as the more contagious delta variant of the new coronavirus and a persisting pandemic threaten to upend the resumption of mass travel worldwide. The Singapore Exchange-listed company on Thursday reported a net loss of 409 million Singapore dollars ($302 million) for the April to June quarter -- the first in its new financial year, after racking up an annual net loss of SG$4.27 billion the year before. "The growing pace of mass vaccination exercises across many countries provides hope for further recovery in international air travel demand," SIA said in a press release. "However, the risk of new variants and fresh waves of COVID-19 infections in key markets remains a concern." During the second quarter, SIA showed in an SGX filing that it was operating at 24% to 28% of pre-COVID passenger capacity across the group -- still a far cry from its days before the pandemic, but an improvement over the 3% to 5% of pre-COVID capacity it experienced in the same period a year ago. The SG$409 million net loss in itself was also already an improvement over the SG$1.12 billion in losses it sustained over the same quarter a year ago. "Border controls and travel restrictions remained largely in place," SIA noted of the three months to June. It expects passenger capacity to be around 33% of pre-COVID levels in the July to September quarter. By the end of September, the company said it expects to serve around 50% of the points that were part of its passenger network before the onset of the pandemic. SIA re-instated services to Cape Town in July, as well as services to Manchester and Rome. Scoot, its budget subsidiary, re-introduced flights to Sydney in July as well, and will resume flights to Berlin in August subject to regulatory approvals. An increase in both passenger and cargo flown revenue resulted in SIA's group revenue for the quarter increasing by SG$444 million, or 52.2%, on the period a year ago, to SG$1.3 billion, the company said. It removed seats from passenger cabins in some planes to be able to load cargo, including in two Boeing 777-300ER and two Airbus A320 aircraft under the Scoot brand, creating modified freighters, SIA highlighted. Operating cargo-only flights to tap what it said was strong demand for freight operations, the carrier said it reached 58% of pre-COVID cargo capacity in June. Additionally, its pivot to e-commerce through its online shop has led to a 121% growth on the year in sales through the shop, which helped cushion the loss of travel retail. SIA said it had raised SG$21.6 billion in liquidity since April last year, as the devastation of air travel severely cut earnings for the carrier. The amount was raised from shareholders, rights issues of shares and mandatory convertible bonds, among other sources. The airline maintains that it is still closely watching its expenditure, and said it moved to reduce 20% of positions in its previous fiscal year, kept pay cuts in place, deferred non-critical projects and renegotiated contracts. The city-state of Singapore plans to establish travel corridors with countries or territories that have coped well with COVID-19 and where infections are minimal, which could open the doors to boosting SIA's services. The country and Hong Kong have repeatedly put off plans to start such a travel corridor, due to the shifting COVID-19 situation. Both places have agreed to revisit the idea in late August upon review of the public health conditions on each side.
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