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Religião e Espiritualidade / 05/01/2021


Pandemic: the UK is considering full lockdown

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Pandemic: the UK is considering full lockdown

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Faced with the new strain of coronavirus, which threatens to block the health system and infect children, scientists consider a strategy similar to that of China and South Korea. What's more: a Russian vaccine could improve the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

INTERNAL PRESSURE

Boris Johnson is facing intense pressure to impose a third national lockdown within days. According to the Guardian, cases of infection by the new variant of the virus have already been detected across the UK, and yesterday the government's scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, admitted to the press that the new strain is "every" and the cases would increase after the “inevitable mix” of Christmas.

Therefore, scientists believe that the variant is unlikely to be contained with a lockdown restricted to the south and east of England. According to them, the country is heading towards a situation similar to that of the first peak of the pandemic, with congestion in the public health system worsened by the winter. The country confirmed 33,364 cases and 215 deaths yesterday.

It is uncomfortable to think that just two weeks separate the optimism caused by the image of the first person vaccinating in the western world, right there in the United Kingdom, and the debate about a new total closure of the country. It is still another valuable lesson this pandemic - even more so for those, like us in Brazil, started to bet all the cards on the vaccine in the face of the refusal of the authorities and the population itself to take the virus seriously.

There, the discussion of pursuing the “zero covid strategy” resurfaces. It would be to enact a national lockdown, wait for the transmission to drop significantly and invest everything in tests, contact tracking and isolation, following the Chinese and South Korean model. "It looks expensive, but the alternative could be a catastrophic collapse in the country's confidence in controlling the virus - followed by an economic, human and social disaster," argues Robert West of University College at the Guardian.

To make matters worse, with the imminence of Brexit - still in its version without agreement with the European Union - the fear that the United Kingdom will suffer some kind of shortage grows. Yesterday, the government asked the population not to stock up on food as France, despite a public appeal by Johnson, maintained the ban on the movement of not only people but also loads between countries.

NO LOCK

More than 40 countries have already imposed air blocks on the United Kingdom. Among them, our South American colleagues Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru. Brazil is not on that list. In demand, the government once again demonstrated its high degree of inability to deal with the pandemic. This is because, in theory, we are in the club of nations that accept travelers of any nationality who present a negative RT-PCR test for coronavirus, according to an ordinance last week. But it turns out that this rule only takes effect on December 30th. Until then? Nobody knows.

After affirming that “it monitors the coronavirus situation in Brazil and in the world on a daily basis”, the Casa Civil closed in cups. Sought, asked journalists to question the various ministries that make up the executive group (GEI) responsible for making this type of decision if they wanted to get more details. The folders, in turn, redirected the questions to the Casa Civil.

Meanwhile, even the always diplomatic World Health Organization (WHO) agrees with the blockages this time. The organization's emergency director, Michael Ryan, said yesterday that these measures are "prudent" because they follow the precautionary principle.

EFFECT ON CHILDREN

At a news conference yesterday, scientists advising the British government said they now have "high confidence" that the new strain has a transmission advantage over other variants of the virus that were already circulating in the UK. "We still don't understand the exact biological mechanisms," said Peter Horby, professor of infectious diseases emerging at Oxford University, who chairs the group of advisers. "So there is still a lot of uncertainty about how it is happening and the extent of the extra transmissibility," he warned.

The novelty of the day was that scientists suspect that this variant is easier to reach children. Children are usually less likely than adolescents and adults to become infected or transmit the virus. "We have not established any causality, but we can see in the data," said Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College - who, however, also admitted that more information is needed to hit the hammer.

AND IMMUNITY?

In addition to the transmission capacity, another issue that needs to be exhausted is whether the variant has an effect on the protection that people have acquired against the virus, either because they have already been infected or because they are being vaccinated against it. Although several vehicles have pointed out that there is no risk - and it is true that this is the opinion of the majority so far -, we found good reportage We give room for more cautious arguments.

The main counterpoint is given by Kristian Andersen, a virologist at the Scripps Research Institute. He has explained that vaccines would not become useless overnight, but less effective if the variant has the right adaptations. "We don't know, but we will know soon," he said. The answers will come ongoing studies in the UK, which involve extracting antibodies the blood of people who have recovered covid-19 or been immunized and, in the laboratory, testing whether they still neutralize the variant.

Yesterday, at the same press conference given by scientists advising the British government, the head of infectious diseases at Imperial College, Wendy Barclay, also spoke about the possibility of reinfection. "There is a chance that the antibodies produced at the first infection will not work as well against the new variant," he said. But she also stressed that the immune system has other weapons against the virus, such as T cells. And, in the case of vaccines, it is unlikely that mutations in the variant will be able to completely eliminate the antibodies produced, since they are housed in different parts of the crown-shaped protein and have different approaches to fight the virus.

The vaccines authorized so far in the world - Pfizer and Moderna - were designed to teach the immune system to produce antibodies that can recognize and block the proteins of the spike, precisely the part of the genome that has the most worrying mutations in this variant B.1.1 .7. More than half a million people have already received the Pfizer vaccine in the UK.

SOURCE

The best guess so far to explain why this variant of the virus has accumulated so many mutations (which, depending on the source, are 23 or 17) is at its origin. It is possible that the virus remained active within the same sick person for weeks or months - and this long-term infection would have given the pathogen time to adapt.

STRAW

The expected results of the CoronaVac phase 3 tests are scheduled for tomorrow, but last night the Wall Street Journal took an early look. Based on anonymous sources linked to the development of the vaccine, the newspaper said its effectiveness has exceeded 50%, which is the minimum required for approval. Of course, this is very poor information - "over 50%" is not exactly a good measure; moreover, it has not been confirmed by the Butantan Institute, which maintains the forecast of disclosure for a press conference on Thursday.

As soon as the results are presented, Anvisa will be ready to issue the emergency authorization. One obstacle to this was that the agency had not yet issued the certificate of good practices to the immunizing plant in China, but this has just been done: the certificates for the manufacture of the raw material CoronaVac and sterile products used in its formulation. They come after the analysis by a team of Anvisa technicians who inspected Sinovac's facilities in early December.

In fact, the same group also visited the factory that will produce the raw material for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, but this certificate should only come out next year.

TO STRETCH EFFECTIVENESS

Yesterday a news was confirmed that had already been advanced by AstraZeneca: the company signed an agreement to test a combination of its vaccine with Sputnik V, the Gamaleya Institute, in Russia. The idea is to try to increase the effectiveness of the first (which was estimated at around 70%, but with errors in the study and confusion about the best dose regimen) the second (whose preliminary data point to 91.4% effectiveness, but have not yet been published in detail). It was the developers of Sputnik V who suggested this partnership, via Twitter, even in November.

"The tests are not going to require, I imagine, large investments and a lot of time for the simple reason that the two technological platforms on which the AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines are created are fundamentally similar, very similar," said the director of the Gamaleya Institute, Alexander Gintsburg , when announcing the beginning of the contract. Both immunizers use adenoviruses as vectors.

The new studies do not interfere with the approval of the current formulation of the AstraZeneca vaccine, as it is a different product. By the way: although the Brazilian plan relies predominantly on this immunizer, it is not yet known when an authorization or registration request will be made to Anvisa.

NOW, EUROPE

The EMA (European Medicines Agency, European Union regulator) has authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine. In several countries, immunization is scheduled to start next week: in Germany, France, Austria and Italy, this should happen the 27th. The distribution will not be uniform, however. Some countries are still trying to install the freezers needed to store the product, others have not yet made plans to define priority groups.

Meanwhile, at an event broadcast live on TV, US President-elect Joe Biden received his first dose of the vaccine.

YOU MISSED

An outbreak of covid-19 with at least 36 infected has been identified in Antarctica. It was the only continent that was free of the disease. The coronavirus arrived at a base maintained by the Chilean army, which in turn received a ship recently, for logistical support work.

HERE ONLY WORSHIP

Yesterday, we completed ten days of uninterrupted rise in the pandemic's lethal curve. In the accounts of the press consortium, the average of deaths in seven days reached 769, a variation of 25% in relation to the rate verified 14 days ago. All five regions of the country continue to accelerate: South and Midwest have the highest rates, with 28% home; Southeast (25%), North (23%) and Northeast (18%) follow. UOLtraz reports graphs state by state.

In São Paulo, after deaths grew 34% and cases jumped 54% in the last four weeks, the government even signaled yesterday that it could enact more restrictive measures on circulation, but it has not yet been this time.

STUPID DEATH

By order of Minister Tereza Cristina, a task force with civil servants linked to several regional superintendencies began to work in person in Brasília on November 17. Of the 21 people in the group, six were infected with the coronavirus. And a 42-year-old server died. Alcides Flores was 64 years old and moved Porto Velho, he lived, to work. The death generated revolt for two reasons: employees say that everything they did in the capital could be done in a home office regime, since the portfolio's processes are digitalized. And also because, arriving at the office, there was no plan for the work to take place safely and the servers would have been placed in a room, with four people per table. “The task force group blames the ministry for the death of their colleague,” says reporter Raquel Lopes, Folha, who listened to employees who, for obvious reasons, requested anonymity. She also had access to WhatsApp conversations. In one of them, the following report appears: “During the days when colleagues were in Brasilia, the anguish and lack of information was clear, given that there was no contingency and relief plan. In fact, at first, after Alcides was confirmed with covid-19, the orientation, contrary to the rules of prevention, was that colleagues could return to the sanitized room ”.

ONLY IN STOCK

The drug busulfan, used to prepare the body of those who are going to receive a bone marrow transplant, may be in short supply next year. The French laboratory Pierre Fabre is the only one that has the drug registered in Brazil, but announced, at the end of November, that it will stop distributing it to the country. As a result, imports will have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis by Anvisa - inventories in the country should only last until June. The possible interruption is a problem because it can make treatments unfeasible and even lead to death, warn medical and patient associations.

The versions to explain the end of the sale to Brazil are conflicting. Pierre Fabre distributes the product, but it is manufactured by another laboratory; the company says that this laboratory had its certifications denied by Anvisa. But the agency says no: "The break in supply, in the current situation, is not linked to any pending order with Anvisa", says the agency. The Ministry of Health was approached by Estadão, but it did not respond…


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