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COVID-19 Report: Week of August 16, 2021

Sam Shames, Chandlyr Mickan, Emergency Management, Health, and Hazards (EMH2) Team

Week of Monday, August 16, 2021



The Government of Brazil Meets to Discuss Vaccines[1]

Worldwide Cases: 211,400,000[2] Worldwide Deaths: 4,420,000[3]

*Updated as of August 22, 2021

Notable Outbreaks

Red: 100-200+% increase in cases over the past two weeks

Orange: 75-100% increase in cases over the past two weeks


While COVID-19 cases are surging in Canada, the country will likely experience a decline in cases over the coming weeks as their vaccination campaigns continue to succeed. Despite experiencing an initially slow vaccine rollout, over 65% of the population is now fully vaccinated, and Canada is now in the top 10 countries with populations greater than one million who have the greatest proportion of residents vaccinated. In the coming weeks, some venues will be reopening without restrictions thanks to these high vaccination rates. Although Canada has not yet reached herd immunity, hospitals will likely be relieved of some pressure as the vaccine has proven effective at reducing severe illness and death. Australia, on the other hand, was successful at combating the pandemic early on but is now experiencing its worst surge yet. Vaccination rates are still extremely low partly due to supply shortages and a lack of initial information on side effects of the vaccine, which is likely contributing to the sustained spread of the Delta Variant and an increase in hospitalizations and deaths.[4] The country is still in lockdown, but government officials claim restrictions will be lifted once 70-80% of the population is vaccinated.[5] Current protests will likely make the situation worse, as they often serve as superspreader events and can lead to violence.


Japan is still experiencing a COVID-19 surge as the Olympic Games conclude and the Paralympic Games begin. After a case was detected in a Paralympian, the government extended the state of emergency the country was under.[6] Hospitals are still extremely overwhelmed and have had to turn away patients as they lack the capacity to continue admissions. The country has been rather successful in pushing its vaccination campaigns in the wake of the Olympics, managing to increase its fully vaccinated population from around 25% to nearly 40% in one month.[7] While this will likely relieve some pressure on health systems, higher rates of vaccination are required for the state of emergency to end and for cases and hospitalizations to decline. Sri Lanka is experiencing a similar situation, and public officials such as religious leaders have called for lockdowns to address the current surge. The country has an even lower vaccination percentage than Japan, with only about a quarter of the population fully vaccinated.[8] As a result, it is likely that the country will continue to experience increases in cases and hospitalizations over the coming weeks. In Congo, low vaccination rates will likely continue as the country is experiencing high rates of vaccine hesitancy.[9] Not only is the country having difficulty obtaining the required quantity of vaccines to combat the Delta Variant, but vaccine misinformation is hindering vaccination campaigns. As a result, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths will likely increase over the coming months. As other countries get closer to reaching herd immunity, excess vaccines will be sent to African countries that have struggled with equitable vaccine access but, these vaccines will go to waste if misinformation is not combated.


Notable News

  • Data shows increased cases of COVID-19 among children[10]

  • Doctors are increasingly concerned about the Lambda and B.1.621 variants[11]

  • One study shows that the Astrazeneca antibody therapy reduces the risk of COVID-19 infections by 77%[12]

  • First case of COVID-19 reported in the Paralympic Village[13]

  • The UK has approved an antibody treatment called Ronapreve created by Regeneron and Roche[14]

  • First case of Lambda Variant reported in Philippines[15]

Global Vaccination Progress

  • Singapore donates 100,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to Brunei as part of a bilateral agreement[20]

  • Israel is now allowing Pfizer booster shots for teachers and Israelis over 40 years of age[21]

  • One study shows that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are less effective in protecting against the Delta Variant after three months[22]

  • Research indicates that COVID-19 vaccines are less effective in protecting the elderly in Long Term Care Facilities and Nursing Homes[23]

  • Vaccine campaign stalled in Haiti amidst earthquake[24]

  • WHO does not recommend booster shots[25]

  • US will begin offering vaccine booster shots beginning September 20, 2021[26]

  • UK approves Moderna vaccine for ages 12-17[27]

  • Early data on the efficacy of the GlaxoSmithKline and CureVac vaccine on macaques is promising[28]

  • Australia purchases 1 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine from Poland[29]

  • FDA Approves Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine[30]


International Vaccination Developments


Vaccination misinformation continues to inhibit the willingness of many people to be inoculated. The continued increase of deadly outbreaks affecting younger adults and children, particularly in the United States and Australia, may encourage previously hesitant citizens to go through with being vaccinated. Efforts such as social distancing and mask-wearing are highly likely to remain an important part of preventing the further transmission of COVID-19, even among those who are fully vaccinated.[31] Areas that have opened back up and lessened restrictions should continue to monitor cases, as outbreaks have spread quickly among the unvaccinated, and in some cases in vaccinated people as well.

Global vaccination rates rose in the past week, with over a 9% increase in fully vaccinated people. Efforts to distribute vaccines to at-risk populations and countries remain critical, as the transmission of COVID-19 variants continues to overwhelm healthcare systems. Booster shot campaigns have sparked discussions between medical fields and those in leadership, largely due to so many people not having even received the first vaccination. It is likely that several countries will allow the distribution of a third vaccine shot by the end of the year; Israel began promoting booster shots in July, and now allows healthcare workers, teachers, and anyone over 40 years of age to receive one. As evidenced by hospitalizations and death rates, higher rates of vaccination seem to prevent severe infection and mitigate deaths.


Covax Updates

  • 1.7 million doses of the Astrazeneca vaccine donated to Egypt[32]

  • UK donates 300,000 doses of the COVID vaccine to Uganda[33]

  • UK donates 249,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Ghana[34]

  • US donates 29,250 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Grenada[35]

  • US donates 31,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Kosovo[36]

  • Denmark donates 509,400 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Ukraine[37]

  • Japan donates 100,000 doses of the COVID vaccine to the Maldives[38]


Summary:

Both global vaccination efforts and severe outbreaks of COVID-19 have increased in the past week. The EMH2 Team has focused on monitoring the transmission of different variants, their severity, and how they interact with vaccines. The trend of younger adults and children having severe symptoms when infected having to be hospitalized is likely to continue until larger percentages of local populations become fully vaccinated. The Delta Variant continues to be the most prevalent strain, but the Lambda Variant continues to be monitored as outbreaks appear. Early data suggest that this variant is highly infectious and that vaccines may not be as effective. The emergence of additional variants remains extremely concerning. Vaccination efforts remain critical, as outbreaks in places such as Canada, Australia, and India overwhelm healthcare systems and other resources.

[1]Adolescentes com 17 anos serão vacinados na próxima semana” by Agência Brasília licensed by Creative Commons

[2] What is the cumulative number of confirmed cases?, Our World in Data, August 2021, https://ourworldindata.org/covid-cases

[3] What is the cumulative number of confirmed deaths?, Our World in Data, August 2021, https://ourworldindata.org/covid-deaths

[4] What's gone wrong with Australia's vaccine rollout?, BBC, June 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-56825920

[5] Australian Prime Minister hints at end to 'Covid zero' amid protests and record infections, CNN, August 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/22/australia/australia-morrison-zero-covid-19-borders-intl-hnk/index.html

[6] First COVID case reported in Tokyo 2020 Paralympic village, Al Jazeera, August 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/8/19/first-covid-case-tokyo-2020-paralympics-japan

[7] The Latest: Japan imposes ‘emergency’ measures against virus, AP News, August 2021, https://apnews.com/article/europe-business-health-coronavirus-pandemic-united-nations-6df5cf5da22e53fa1dbd2c8cee42f9b5

[8] Sri Lankans seek full COVID-19 lockdown ahead of president's address, Channel News Asia, August 2021, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/asia/covid-19-sri-lankans-seek-lockdown-gotabaya-rajapaksa-2126051

[9] ‘They thought Covid only kills white people’: myths and fear hinder jabs in DRC, The Guardian, August 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/05/covid-only-kills-white-people-myths-and-fear-hinder-jabs-in-drc-congo

[10] Child Covid-19 hospitalizations soar, filling pediatric wings, data show, NBC, August 2021, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/child-covid-19-hospitalizations-new-high-august-2021-n1277119

[11] Child Covid-19 hospitalizations soar, filling pediatric wings, data show, ​​Kxan, August 2021, https://www.kxan.com/news/coronavirus/lambda-and-b-1-621-new-covid-variants-could-be-worst-yet-doctor-warns/?utm_source=t.co&utm_campaign=socialflow&utm_medium=referral

[12] AstraZeneca's antibody therapy prevents COVID-19, study shows, Channel News Asia, August 2021, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/astrazeneca-covid-19-antibody-therapy-trial-2125736

[13] First COVID-19 case reported in Paralympic Village, Channel News Asia, August 2021, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/sport/covid-19-tokyo-paralympic-village-first-case-japan-cases-2122596

[14] UK approves Regeneron-Roche antibody cocktail for COVID-19, Channel News Asia, August 2021, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/uk-approves-regeneron-roche-antibody-cocktail-covid-19-2125771

[15] Philippines reports first case of Lambda COVID-19 variant, second-highest daily new cases, Channel News Asia, August 2021, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/asia/philippines-reports-first-case-lambda-covid-19-variant-second-highest-daily-new-cases-2114126

[16] More Vaccine-resistant, Highly Transmissible: FAQs on Epsilon Covid Variant Detected in Pakistan, News 18, August 2021, https://www.news18.com/news/india/more-vaccine-resistant-highly-transmissible-faqs-on-epsilon-covid-variant-detected-in-pakistan-4033169.html

[17] “SARS-CoV-2 Lambda variant exhibits higher infectivity and immune resistance,” BioRxiv, 2021, https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.07.28.454085v1

[18] “SARS-CoV-2 Lambda Variant Remains Susceptible to Neutralization by mRNA Vaccine-elicited Antibodies and Convalescent Serum,” BioRxiv, 2021, https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.07.02.450959v1

[19] “SARS-CoV-2 Lambda variant exhibits higher infectivity and immune resistance,” BioRxiv, 2021, https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.07.28.454085v1

[20] Singapore sends 100,000 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Brunei, Channel News Asia, August 2021, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/covid-19-vaccine-moderna-brunei-mfa-singapore-2127791

[21] Israel extends COVID-19 vaccine boosters to people over 40, teachers, Channel News Asia, August 2021, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/israel-extends-covid-19-vaccine-boosters-people-over-40-teachers-2124561

[22] British study shows COVID-19 vaccine efficacy wanes under Delta, Channel News Asia, August 2021, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/british-study-shows-covid-19-vaccine-efficacy-wanes-under-delta-2122161

[23] Drop in COVID-19 vaccine efficacy against Delta seen in US nursing homes, Channel News Asia, August 2021, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/drop-covid-19-vaccine-efficacy-against-delta-seen-us-nursing-homes-2121781

[24] Haiti quake has stalled COVID-19 vaccination campaign, PAHO says, Channel News Asia, August 2021, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/haiti-quake-has-stalled-covid-19-vaccination-campaign-paho-says-2121621

[25] No need for COVID-19 booster jabs for now: WHO, Channel News Asia, August 2021, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/no-need-covid-19-booster-jabs-now-who-2121386

[26] US to begin offering COVID-19 vaccine booster shots in September, Reuters, August 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-begin-offering-covid-19-vaccine-booster-shots-september-2021-08-18/

[27] UK regulator approves Moderna COVID-19 shot for 12 to 17-year-olds, Channel News Asia, August 2021, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/uk-moderna-covid-19-vaccine-approve-12-17-years-2118716

[28] GSK, CureVac's next-gen COVID-19 vaccine shows promise in monkey trial, Channel News Asia, August 2021, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/gsk-curevacs-next-gen-covid-19-vaccine-shows-promise-monkey-trial-2116286

[29] Australia purchases Pfizer vaccines from Poland as COVID-19 infections spike, Channel News Asia, August 2021, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/covid-19-australia-1-million-more-pfizer-vaccine-doses-cases-spike-2113471

[30] FDA Approves First COVID-19 Vaccine, FDA, August 2021, https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-covid-19-vaccine

[31] Evidence mounts that people with breakthrough infections can spread Delta easily, National Geographic, August 2021, ​​https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/evidence-mounts-that-people-with-breakthrough-infections-can-spread-delta-easily?cmpid=org=ngp::mc=crm-email::src=ngp::cmp=editorial::add=SpecialEdition_20210820&rid=138F39325EBE3696CFFA66500DA1734C

[32] Egypt gets new AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine batch via COVAX, Channel News Asia, August 2021, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/egypt-gets-new-astrazeneca-covid-19-vaccine-batch-covax-2112646

[33] On the occasion of the UK donated COVID-19 vaccines to Uganda under the COVAX Facility, Reliefweb, August 2021, https://reliefweb.int/report/uganda/occasion-uk-donated-covid-19-vaccines-uganda-under-covax-facility

[34] 249,000 UK-donated AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines reach Ghana, News Medical, August 2021, https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210819/249000-UK-donated-AstraZeneca-COVID-19-vaccines-reach-Ghana.aspx

[35] United States Donates 29,250 Pfizer Vaccines to Grenada, US Embassy in Barbados, August 2021, https://bb.usembassy.gov/united-states-donates-29250-pfizer-vaccines-to-grenada/

[36] US Ships Pfizer Vaccine to Kosovo amid Delta Variant Surge, VOA News, August 2021, https://www.voanews.com/europe/us-ships-pfizer-vaccine-kosovo-amid-delta-variant-surge

[37] Ukraine receives half a million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by Denmark [EN/UK], Reliefweb, August 2021, https://reliefweb.int/report/ukraine/ukraine-receives-half-million-doses-astrazeneca-vaccine-donated-denmark-enuk

[38] The Provision of COVID-19 Vaccines to the Maldives through the COVAX Facility, Reliefweb, August 2021, https://reliefweb.int/report/maldives/provision-covid-19-vaccines-maldives-through-covax-facility


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