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Posted on 3rd January 2022
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Show all posts in this thread (Covid-19).
Tougher Travel Regulations
International travel continues to get more difficult.
The BBC reports that, from the 10th January, the UAE (United Arab Emirates) will ban citizens who have not had three doses of a vaccine against Covid-19 from travelling abroad. As of the 24th of December only 34% had received the booster jab.
Schengen Visa Info reports that all people arriving in Czechia (the Czech Republic) from other countries, irrespective of their vaccination status, must undergo a COVID-19 PCR test, starting from 27th of December.
Also on Schengen Visa Info, Norway will, from 20th of December, require arrivals from Romania, the Azores and some regions of Italy, Finland & Sweden to quarantine.
Again, on Schengen Visa Info, from the 21st of December, all arrivals in Sweden from the EU and EEA countries are required to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination, recovery from the illness within the previous six months, or negative results of a test performed in the last 72 hours before arrival.
Also on Schengen Visa Info, the EU has announced that it is limiting the validity of COVID-19 Vaccination Certificates to only 9 Months (270 days), effective from the 1st of February 2022.
Yet again, on Schengen Visa Info, “All travellers from the age of 12 years from outside the EU/Schengen need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result for travel to the Netherlands. This needs to be a NAAT/PCR test with the sample taken a maximum of 48 hours before departure or an antigen test with the sample taken a maximum of 24 hours before departure. This includes travellers with proof of vaccination or recovery”.
Other Health Regulations
DW (Deutsche Welle) reports that Germany will limit private gatherings after Christmas, to dissuade people from holding and attending large New Year's Eve celebrations. Specifically, a maximum of 10 people who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 will be allowed to attend a private gathering. In cases when an unvaccinated person is present, only one other household will be allowed to attend. The new participation limits will apply to both indoor and outdoor celebrations. Access to restaurants remains limited to people who can provide proof of vaccination or recovery. From the 28th of December, spectators will be banned from sporting events, cultural shows, concerts and other large public events. All this is in addition to the general ban on fireworks, on both Germany and the Netherlands, announced in December.
The BBC reports that Israel, which has from the beginning of the pandemic been ahead of the curve, is starting to give a fourth dose of vaccine to over 60s.
The New Scientist reports that the protection against the Omicron variant provided by the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines begins to wane within 10 weeks. This is likely to mean that everyone will need to have even more frequent boosters (Germany has already reduced the recommended interval from 6 months to 5 months, and will probably reduce it even more in the coming months).
The Delta and Omicron variants have already supplanted other variants almost everywhere, with Omicron now out-competing Delta.
The BBC reports a summary of the mix of good news and bad news about Omicron.
The BBC reports that the Omicron variant is milder than previous variants. This risk of hospitalisation if you catch Omicron is 30% to a 70% reduced (the 70% figure applies to fully vaccinated people), but there is double the chance of catching it.
The Daily Mail reports that some (a very few) people seem to be naturally immune, even without vaccination or previous infection. Obviously, scientists are very interested in this phenomenon. It would be nice to know how this immunity works, and to be able to use it as the basis of a vaccine or treatment, but that seems a long way off.
Treatments and Prevention
This report on New Atlas describes the growing scandal and disappointment surrounding molnupiravir, a drug developed by Merck and issued emergency use authorisation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Now the FDA is calling the authorisation the "worst decision in its history". Molnupiravir’s Phase 3 data revealed a stark drop in efficacy, down to levels bordering on insignificant. There are also now questions about the drug’s safety. Luckily, there are alternative treatments.
This report on the BBC describes a trial by Australian researchers to see whether squirting a blood thinner into the nose could offer protection against Covid. The nasal spray uses the cheap drug heparin in an attempt to neutralise Covid's spike protein. The heparin in the nasal spray is not absorbed into the bloodstream, so there are no blood-thinning side-effects from using the spray. When sprayed into the nose of a Covid-infected person it appears to make them non-infectious, the researchers say.