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February 14, 2022

Covid-19 update: Likelihood of surviving Covid-19 improving

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 5.8 million, with a figure of 5,816,042 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have raced past 410 million to a world wide figure of 411,744,858.

The pandemic looks a whole lot different in 2022. Vaccines are working and treatments are advancing, so the likelihood of surviving Covid-19 is improving around the world. In the US, there were nearly four times as many positive cases for each death this year when compared with last winter’s peak, according to a new analysis from Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker. In the European Union, where more people have been vaccinated, this survival ratio was 11 times higher than last winter. Even in countries with lower vaccination rates, Covid patients were increasingly likely to recover.

A future variant of Covid-19 could be much more dangerous and cause far higher numbers of deaths and cases of serious illness than Omicron, leading UK scientists have warned. As a result, many of them say that caution needs to be taken in lifting the last Covid restrictions in England, as Boris Johnson plans to do next week.

News by region

Americas

US: Covid -19 infections have now passed 77.7 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has increased to more than 919,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The busiest US-Canada border crossing has reopened after protests against Covid-19 restrictions cumulated in a six-day blockade. Canadian police cleared protesters from the Ambassador bridge linking the country to the United States on Sunday allowing North America’s busiest trade route to reopen.

President Joe Biden said his message to people who want the pandemic to be over is to “be careful” and get vaccinated. Biden’s interview comments aired on NBC’s pregame show as fans gathered for this year’s Super Bowl at the 70,000-capacity SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. “We know the shots work,” he said.

Europe

EU: Demonstrators against Covid-19 restrictions in France and the Netherlands staged protests on Saturday inspired by the “freedom convoy” demonstrations in Canada. In France police fired teargas at demonstrators on the Champs Élysées in Paris shortly after a convoy protesting against restrictions made it into the capital. A convoy of vehicles from across the Netherlands also brought The Hague’s city centre to a standstill earlier in the day.

The prospect of Canada-inspired motor convoy protests spreading from Paris to Brussels has led the Belgian federal police to warn against traveling to the capital by car on Monday. In a tweet Sunday afternoon, the police advised against driving to Brussels and said protesting with vehicles was banned except for one parking spot at an exhibition center on the outskirts of the city.

UK: The announcement of a plan to expand England’s Covid vaccinations to all children aged five to 11 has been delayed amid an apparent impasse between the government and its vaccinations watchdog. While the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) made its decision more than a week ago, Downing Street is reviewing the verdict. A decision is now expected to be announced on 21 February, when Boris Johnson unveils the government’s long-term Covid plan.

France: France has dropped its Covid testing requirement for vaccinated travellers arriving from the UK. The French interior ministry said that from 12 February, travellers will not need to test as long as they are vaccinated according to European regulations.

Meanwhile, anti-vaxxers in France are reportedly buying fake vaccine passes online to get around the country’s Covid restrictions, which are often promoted on mainstream social media platforms, research has revealed.

Germany: Germany hopes the arrival of 34m Nuvaxovid (Novavax) doses in 2022 will convince many to get the Covid-19 vaccine. Around 4m doses should be delivered in the first quarter, a spokesperson for the health ministry said.

Asia pacific

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has said an “onslaught” of Covid-19 infections has dealt a heavy blow and overwhelmed capacity 13 times over the past two weeks, from about 100 cases at the start of February to more than 1,300 on 13 February, with authorities scrambling to control the deepening outbreak. Hong Kong authorities also said supplies of vegetables and chilled poultry to the global financial hub may be temporarily disrupted after some mainland goods vehicle drivers preliminarily tested positive for Covid-19. Hong Kong imports 90% of its food, with the mainland its most important source, especially for fresh food.

Vietnam: Vietnam will remove its Covid-19 restrictions on international passenger flights with all markets starting 15 February with no limitation on the number of flights.

South Korea: South Korea will begin giving out fourth doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of the month and supply millions of additional home test kits to ease shortages amid a surge in Omicron infections, authorities confirmed on Monday.

Australia: There were 47 Covid deaths announced across Australia on Sunday, as Western Australia’s premier Mark McGowan warned that Covid rules could tighten further.

Meanwhile, shoes, women’s fashion and stationery are just some of the goods Australian shoppers face difficulty finding on shelves as an international shipping crisis sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic shows little sign of abating.

New Zealand: New Zealand’s response to Omicron will move to a new phase from midnight Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a news conference. A confirmed case will need to self-isolate for 10 days rather than 14, while a close contact must isolate for seven days rather than 10. The period of self-isolation for New Zealanders returning home from Australia from the end of February drops to seven days. People in a critical industry can keep going to their workplace if they test negative using a daily rapid antigen test.

Japan: Merck & Co.’s Japan unit MSD said it will accelerate delivery of its Covid-19 drug to the Japanese government, providing enough pills to treat 220,000 people in February and another 330,000 people in March as infections in the country rise. Japan’s health ministry also agreed to buy 10 million additional doses of Pfizer Inc.’s Covid vaccine in the first quarter as the country ramps up its booster program.

Taiwan: Taiwan plans to shorten quarantine for arrivals to 10 days from 14, Liberty Times reported, citing Health Minister Chen Shih-chung.

Singapore: Singapore’s health minister, Ong Ye Kung, said the nation’s health-care system is still holding up despite coronavirus cases hitting five figures on certain days, according to media reports. The government’s coronavirus task force would hold a press conference “soon,” Ong said when asked about changes to Covid-19 measures. The island nation received its first batch of Pfizer Inc.’s antiviral oral pill, Paxlovid, this week, Ong said Saturday.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health is conducting a study to assess the efficiency of antigen rapid testing kits for passengers arriving at Changi Airport, potentially replacing polymerase chain reaction testing, Business Times reported. Under current rules, most travellers to Singapore are required to take a PCR test on arrival and isolate until returning a negative test result. A move toward ART tests would ease burdens on inbound passengers by slashing costs and cutting the waiting time for results from several hours to 15 minutes.

Economy news

Global: Group of 20 finance chiefs meeting in Indonesia will confront a much-altered global economy menaced by widespread inflation, the threat of war and a legacy of disease. The scope of the consumer-price shock afflicting many member countries is unprecedented since the group’s foundation at the end of the last century, and has been stoked by persistent supply worries and soaring energy costs. Related to that last pressure is military tension with Russia that could yet transform into conflict in Ukraine. The gathering takes place Thursday and Friday.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s government issued a paper to the Legislative Council to seek an injection of HK$27 billion ($3.5 billion) into its anti-epidemic fund, according to a statement. Legco’s finance committee will deliberate the funding proposal on 15 February.

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