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Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advice

A place to post daily news of Kurdistan from valid sources .

Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Mar 11, 2021 4:15 am

Kurdistan lengthens school holiday

The spring holiday for schools in the Kurdistan Region will be almost two weeks long this year, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Ministry of Education announced, as coronavirus case numbers continue to resurge

Schools will be closed from March 13-25, the education ministry said in a statement released Wednesday.

The decision to lengthen the usual spring holiday for schools, usually a week long, was made at a meeting of the Kurdistan Region’s coronavirus crisis cell on Wednesday.

Students in the twelfth grade at both public and private schools are exempt from the extended break.

Schools for refugees that answer to Iraq’s Ministry of Education but are in the Kurdistan Region will also be shut for the 13-day period.

The measure comes amid a continuing spike in coronavirus cases in the Kurdistan Region, with the KRG health ministry announcing on Wednesday that 335 cases of the virus had been recorded in a single day.

Kurdistan Region schools have been ordered shut and re-opened several times over the past year by the government due to the pandemic. They were last reopened on February 7, and only for students in grades one, two, and 12.

The reopening of schools in early February was followed two weeks later by the discovery of a number of cases of the UK coronavirus variant in the Kurdistan Region.

The KRG health ministry has recorded 111,516 cases, including over 3,540 deaths, since the start of the pandemic.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/100320212
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Mar 15, 2021 4:01 am

Adverse effects after vaccines

Iraq on Sunday clarified that Iraqis are entitled to financial compensation from the government should they experience adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines, after passing a bill excusing private companies dealing with the vaccines from civil and penal liability

Iraqi parliament on Sunday passed a bill stipulating that international companies that manufacture, equip and distribute the vaccine, in addition to the Iraqi Ministry of Health and its employees, are exempt from civil and penal liability from damages resulting from the use of the vaccine.

Iraqis are still entitled to financial compensation, but from the government, a representative from parliament’s health and environment committee, state media reported on Sunday.

Iraq has approved Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, Sputnik, and Pfizer coronavirus vaccines for use and distribution. State media said Sinopharm vaccinations began on March 2.

Hassan Khalati, an MP on the committee said on Sunday that the new law was required by Pfizer before vaccines could be delivered.

“All the companies producing the vaccine demanded legal protection,” Khalati told state media outlet al-Sabah.

“Some [companies] were satisfied with a pledge from the Ministry of Health, and others were satisfied with a decision from the Council of Ministers, aside for the company (Pfizer) that demanded that there be a law voted on by the House of Representatives,” added Khalati, saying the Ministry of Health proposed the bill at the request of the company.

The new legislation obligates the Iraqi government to compensate those adversely affected by the use of the vaccine, with the exception of intentional actions that lead to death or serious injury by using the vaccine contrary to medical instructions.

Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Ireland have temporarily suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, followed by Italy and Austria, as a precaution, after reports that a number of people had experienced strokes after receiving the vaccine.

Iraq's Council of Ministers passed a bill earlier in March to give ten million Iraqi dinars (approximately $7,000) to families of those who died of COVID-19 while working as Ministry of Health employees.

Coronavirus cases have recently spiked in Iraq, with 3,866 new cases reported on Sunday. The country has so far registered over 758,184 cases, according to the health ministry.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/140320212
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Mar 16, 2021 1:27 am

Blood clots and Oxford-AstraZeneca

Several countries have suspended the use of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine after a number of recipients suffered blood clots in the days and weeks that followed

But how prevalent have these incidents been - and should Britons who are about to get the jab be concerned?

What has happened?

A review from Norway's medicines agency showed four new cases of "serious blood clotting in adults".

Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) confirmed that one person in Austria was admitted to hospital with pulmonary embolism, where there is a blockage in the arteries of the lungs. They died 10 days after they were vaccinated.

Another death involving a blood clot was reported in Denmark.

Germany has paused use of the AstraZeneca vaccine as a "precaution" and on the advice of its national vaccine regulator, the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI).

The PEI has called for further investigation into seven reported cases of clots in the brains of people who had been vaccinated.

Indonesia said it would delay administering the AstraZeneca vaccine as it awaits a review from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Italian prosecutors seized a batch of 393,600 shots of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in the northern region of Piedmont following the death of a man hours after he had received a jab.

Italy is now - along with France, Spain, Portugal and Slovenia - also suspending use of the Oxford jab.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the EU medicine regulator was expected to give guidance on Tuesday afternoon.

The EMA has stressed that there is "currently no indication that vaccination caused these conditions" - adding that the jab's benefits continue to outweigh the risks.

A review is being carried out into each reported incident, and the regulator says that - of almost five million people given the vaccine across Europe - there have been just 30 reports of blood clots.

An EMA statement on Monday said: "Events involving blood clots, some with unusual features such as low numbers of platelets, have occurred in a very small number of people who received the vaccine.

"Many thousands of people develop blood clots annually in the EU for different reasons. The number of thromboembolic events overall in vaccinated people seems not to be higher than that seen in the general population."

Elsewhere in Thailand, where the rollout of the Oxford jab had been delayed briefly over safety concerns, officials gave the vaccine the green light.

PM: 'These vaccines are safe and effective'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was talking at a coronavirus press conference.

What are British scientists saying?

Overwhelming scientific opinion is that there is no certain link between blood clots and the AstraZeneca jab.

Regardless of vaccination, blood clots are fairly common - and given the sheer number of people who are getting a jab, these incidents could be coincidental.

Professor Stephen Evans of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said: "The problem with spontaneous reports of suspected adverse reactions to a vaccine are the enormous difficulty of distinguishing a causal effect from a coincidence.

"This is especially true when we know that COVID-19 disease is very strongly associated with blood clotting and there have been hundreds if not many thousands of deaths caused by blood clotting as a result of COVID-19 disease.

"The first thing to do is to be absolutely certain that the clots did not have some other cause, including COVID-19."

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford vaccine group who developed the AstraZeneca jab, said there was "very reassuring evidence that there is no increase in a blood clot phenomenon here in the UK, where most of the doses in Europe been given so far".

Prof Pollard said "safety is clearly absolutely paramount" but that about 3,000 cases of blood clots occur every month in the UK from other causes.

An Oxford University spokesperson said: "Thromboembolic disease - not related to vaccines - is reasonably common in the UK general population, occurring in one in every 1,000 people.

"The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are monitoring these and have indicated that they are not seeing an increase from this baseline level as part of the vaccine rollout, which reassures us that it is unlikely to be a problem, which is supported by further data from the Finnish health authorities."

What is the UK's medicines regulator saying?

Earlier in March, the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said that more than 11 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine had been administered across the country with no issues.

Dr Phil Bryan, the MHRA's vaccines safety lead, has urged Britons to "still go and get their COVID-19 vaccine when asked to do so".

He added: "We are closely reviewing reports but the evidence available does not suggest the vaccine is the cause.

"Blood clots can occur naturally and are not uncommon.

"More than 11 million doses of the AZ vaccine have now been administered across the UK, and the number of blood clots reported after having the vaccine is not greater than the number that would have occurred naturally in the vaccinated population."

The World Health Organisation's spokeswoman, Dr Margaret Harris, has described the AstraZeneca vaccine as "excellent".

Which countries have suspended use of the AstraZeneca jab?

Germany and Indonesia both halted their AstraZeneca rollouts on 15 March.

The Netherlands temporarily stopped the rollout of this vaccine, with 43,000 appointments cancelled as a result.

Hours earlier, Ireland also said it would halt the use of the AstraZeneca jab, based on the review released by Norway's medicines agency.

Denmark, Norway and Iceland have all suspended vaccinations while they investigate further.

On Monday it was announced that Italy would be suspending the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine nationwide.

And French President Emmanuel Macron announced the use of the vaccine will be halted in the country as they wait for an assessment from the EMA due on Tuesday.

Confirming that the restrictions would last for 14 days, Denmark's health minister Magnus Heunicke said: "It is currently not possible to conclude whether there is a link. We are acting early, it needs to be thoroughly investigated."

And Geir Bukholm, a senior official at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, added: "This is a cautionary decision."

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said: "This is a professional decision, not a political one."

Meanwhile, Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg and Lithuania have banned jabs from one particular batch of one million vaccines.

What is AstraZeneca saying?

AstraZeneca says it has completed a review examining how safe its vaccine is - based on data covering the 17 million people who have been vaccinated in the UK and the EU.

In a statement, the company added: "A careful review of all available safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and UK with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country."

The company's figures suggest there have been 15 cases of deep vein thrombosis and 22 events of pulmonary embolism so far - with executives stressing this is comparable to the rates seen among other licenced vaccines.

Monthly safety reports are tracking the vaccine's rollout, and are being made available on the EMA website.

Will this affect long-term confidence in the vaccine?

Peter English, who formerly served as a consultant in communicable disease control for the British government, said it was "regrettable" that some countries have stopped vaccinations as a precautionary measure.

He said: "It risks doing real harm to the goal of vaccinating enough people to slow the spread of the virus, and to end the pandemic."

https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-how ... obal-en-GB
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Mar 17, 2021 10:36 pm

No country has banned the
Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine


At the time of writing, 17 countries in Europe have temporarily stopped giving it out whilst waiting for a review from the European Medicines Agency. They have not “banned” it

The data in this piece is correct as of the time of writing, on 17 March 2021.

A post on Facebook has claimed that 17 countries have “banned” the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and the UK hasn’t. The post previously claimed that 12 countries had banned it, but has since been edited.

This is not correct. No country has outright banned the vaccine

At the time of writing, 17 countries in Europe (Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Portugal and Slovenia) have temporarily paused administering the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. An 18th country, Romania, temporarily stopped giving it out but has now restarted.

Outside of Europe, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo have delayed rolling it out. Thailand had temporarily suspended it, but has now restarted vaccinations.

Most of these suspensions are pending results of an investigation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) into blood clots in people after they received the vaccine, due this week. On 16 March, the EMA reportedly said it remained “firmly convinced” that the benefits of the jab outweighed the risks.

On 17 March, the World Health Organisation said that it “considers that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks and recommends that vaccinations continue.”

Most of these suspensions were announced since the Facebook post was first written on 13 March. It’s possible the creator of the post was also referring to the fact that a number of EU countries have suspended the use of a certain batch of the vaccine, labelled batch ABV5300.

In Austria, following vaccinations from the ABV5300 batch, two people suffered from blood clot related issues: one died as a result of “severe coagulation disorders” and the other is recovering from a pulmonary embolism.

Although there is no evidence of a causal relationship between these issues and the vaccine, the country’s Federal Office for Safety in Health Care said that to be on the safe side, the remaining stocks of the affected vaccine batch would no longer be distributed or vaccinated.

In total, 17 countries received the batch and, of these, four countries in the EU (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Luxembourg) specifically suspended use of this batch. The EMA says this is a “precautionary measure, while a full investigation is ongoing”. As we’ve mentioned, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg have since temporarily suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in general.

Italy banned a different batch, AB2856, and later suspended use of the vaccine on 15 March.

Does the AstraZeneca vaccine cause blood clots?

There is no evidence showing that it does.

As of 10 March, 30 cases of “thromboembolic events” (meaning an issue relating to a blood clot blocking a blood vessel) had been reported in the five million people who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine in the European Economic Area (all EU member states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). As the EMA itself said, “The number of thromboembolic events overall in vaccinated people seems not to be higher than that seen in the general population.”

Some of these people would be likely to experience those issues anyway, at a background rate of around 1 in 1000 (or likely higher in the vaccinated group as they are largely older).

So in a group of about five million people, as Professor David Spiegelhalter, chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at Cambridge University calculated, we’d expect about 100 people a week to have issues with blood clots, which is far more than the 30 seen over a month or so following the AstraZeneca vaccine.

In clinical trials of the AstraZeneca vaccine, where healthy people were given the vaccine, and a control group were given either a placebo or meningitis injection, there were slightly fewer serious adverse events in those who got the actual vaccine.

Many of the governments that have temporarily suspended the vaccine have said that it is too early to say there is any evidence of a link, and say they have suspended it as a precaution.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as partly false because 17 countries have not banned the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Can you chip in to help us do more?

You’ve probably seen a surge in misleading and unsubstantiated medical advice since the Covid-19 outbreak. If followed, it can put lives at serious risk. We need your help to protect us all from false and harmful information.

We’ve seen people claiming to be health professionals, family members, and even the government – offering dangerous tips like drinking warm water or gargling to prevent infection. Neither of these will work.

The longer claims like these go unchecked, the more they are repeated and believed. It can put people’s health at serious risk, when our services are already under pressure.

Today, you have the opportunity to help save lives. Good information about Covid-19 could be the difference between someone taking the right precautions to protect themselves and their families, or not.

Could you help protect us all from false and harmful information today?

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.

https://fullfact.org/online/blood-clot-az-ban/
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Mar 19, 2021 1:51 am

EU states to resume
AstraZeneca vaccine


Germany, France, Italy and Spain were among the countries to pause their rollouts of the vaccine as a precaution

The EU's leading states are to restart their roll-out of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine after Europe's medicines regulator concluded it was "safe and effective".

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) reviewed the jab after 13 EU states suspended use of the vaccine over fears of a link to blood clots.

It found the jab was "not associated" with a higher risk of clots.

Germany, France, Italy and Spain said they would resume using the jab.

It is up to individual EU states to decide whether and when to re-start vaccinations using the AstraZeneca vaccine. Sweden said it needed a "few days" to decide.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday called on countries to continue using the vaccine, and is due to release the results of its own review into the vaccine's safety on Friday.

The agency's investigation focused on a small number of cases of unusual blood disorders. In particular, it was looking at cases of cerebral venous thrombosis - blood clots in the head.

Decisions to suspend use of the vaccine sparked concerns over the pace of the region's vaccination drive, which had already been affected by supply shortages.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced new measures for his country on Thursday, saying the pandemic was clearly accelerating and a "third wave" of infections looked increasingly likely.

Mr Castex, 55, said he would receive the jab himself on Friday afternoon.

What did the EMA say exactly?

Emer Cooke, the agency's executive director, told a news conference: "This is a safe and effective vaccine."

"Its benefits in protecting people from Covid-19 with the associated risks of death and hospitalisation outweigh the possible risks."

The EMA's expert committee on medicine safety, Mrs Cooke said, had found that "the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of... blood clots".

But the EMA, she added, could not rule out definitively a link between the vaccine and a "small number of cases of rare and unusual but very serious clotting disorders".

Therefore the committee has, she said, recommended raising awareness of these possible risks, making sure they are included in the product information. Additional investigations are being launched, Mrs Cooke added.

"If it was me, I would be vaccinated tomorrow," Mrs Cooke added. "But I would want to know that if anything happened to me after vaccination what I should do about it and that's what we're saying today."

Welcoming the review's endorsement of the vaccine as safe and effective, German Health Minister Jens Spahn added, "Doctors should be informed about the risk of venous thrombosis in women under 55 years of age, so that they in turn can inform patients."

Why did European countries act?

Thirteen EU countries suspended use of the vaccine, after reports of a small number of cases of blood clots among vaccine recipients in the region.

Leading EU states said they had opted to pause their use of the drug as a "precautionary measure".

Covid vaccine safety: How does a vaccine get approved?

"There were a few very unusual and troubling cases which justify this pause and the analysis," French immunologist Alain Fischer, who heads a government advisory board, told France Inter radio. "It's not lost time."

In Germany, the health ministry also pointed to a small number of rare blood clots in vaccinated people when justifying its decision. It postponed a summit on extending the vaccine rollout ahead of the EMA's announcement.

Other countries, such as Austria, halted the use of certain batches of the drug, while Belgium, Poland and the Czech Republic were among those to say they would continue to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Decisions to halt rollouts of the AstraZeneca vaccine were criticised by some politicians and scientists.

A spokeswoman for Germany's opposition Free Democrats said the decision had set back the country's entire vaccination rollout. German Greens health expert Janosch Dahmen, meanwhile, argued that authorities could have continued using the drug.

Dr Anthony Cox, who researches drug safety at the UK's University of Birmingham, told the BBC it was a "cascade of bad decision-making that's spread across Europe".

What has AstraZeneca said?

The company says there is no evidence of an increased risk of clotting due to the vaccine.

It said it had received 37 reports of blood clots out of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the EU and UK as of 8 March.

These figures were "much lower than would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of this size and is similar across other licensed Covid-19 vaccines", it said.

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford vaccine group which developed the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, told the BBC on Monday that there was "very reassuring evidence that there is no increase in a blood clot phenomenon here in the UK, where most of the doses in Europe [have] been given so far".

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Mar 26, 2021 11:40 pm

Erbil receives AstraZeneca vaccine

“I’m pleased to announce the arrival of a new batch of 43,800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Baghdad today,” tweeted Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, adding that the vaccine “will be administered according to our group-based rollout plan.”

This is the Kurdistan Region’s share of 336,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine delivered to Iraq on Thursday through the COVAX initiative, designed to provide equitable access to vaccines across the globe. They will be distributed to all health facilities “fairly and freely,” the Iraqi health ministry said.

Some European countries have suspended use of the Oxford-developed AstraZeneca vaccine over blood clot fears. World Health Organization (WHO) and European regulators have said there is no evidence the vaccine causes adverse effects.

Barzani said his government is also continuing efforts to acquire more vaccines directly from suppliers.

First priority to receive the jab is healthcare workers, followed by security forces, the elderly, and the chronically ill.

Receiving the delivery on Friday morning, Kurdistan Region Minister of Health Saman Barzanji said he expects more vaccines soon. “Hopefully, in the near future more doses of both AstraZeneca and other vaccines will arrive to the Kurdistan Region,” he told Rudaw’s Dlnia Rahman.

Iraq previously received 50,000 doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine and is due to also receive the Russian-made Sputnik vaccine in the coming weeks. Five thousand of the Sinopharm doses were gifted to the Kurdistan Region from China.

The Iraqi health ministry has also signed a deal with Pfizer for 1.5 million doses of its vaccine.

Baghdad is expected to receive a total of 16 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, confirmed on Thursday by Iraqi health minister Hassan al-Tamimi.

Kurdistan is seeing a second wave of the coronavirus, recording a steady increase in daily new infections since mid-February. On Thursday, the health ministry recorded 601 new cases and five deaths, adding to a total of 117,412 cases and 3,622 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/26032021
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Mar 30, 2021 1:45 am

No Covid-deaths in London

London reported zero Covid-19 deaths on Sunday for the only the second time this year, according to Government figures

There is normally a reporting lag over the weekend, with fewer deaths recorded. But the most recent complete data shows the seven-day average of deaths in the capital now stands at 2.7, compared to 196 on January 16.

There have been 15,413 confirmed Covid deaths in London, out of 126,592 across the country.

The data came hours before the Government eased lockdown restrictions across the country, allowing groups of six people to meet outside and outdoor sports to restart.

The Government’s “stay at home” message will end, but people will still be urged to stay local.

Outdoor swimmers flocked to their favourite lidos across the capital as they reopened on Monday morning.
Coronavirus: Outdoor Sports and Rule of Six returns in Lockdown easing

Serpentine swimmers

It is the second major easing of England’s lockdown imposed in early January, after schools were reopened to all pupils on March 8.

While greater outdoor freedoms are now permitted, the Government is still advising people to work from home where possible and minimise the number of journeys they take.

The next step in the roadmap to easing England’s lockdown is April 12, which is earmarked for non-essential shops to reopen and for outdoor hospitality, including pubs and restaurants.

An official Government spokesperson stressed: “Whilst the ‘stay at home’ rule has ended, many restrictions remain in place.

“We ask everyone to act responsibly and cautiously and minimise travel where possible as these restrictions ease.”

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/lond ... 26781.html
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Apr 05, 2021 1:19 am

Social media video makes false claims about Covid-19

What was claimed

The “corona vaccine” is not safe or effective

Our verdict

False. Clinical trials have shown that vaccines for Covid-19 work and are safe.

A video on social media, featuring three people who state they are healthcare professionals, includes a number of false claims about Covid-19 vaccines.

The clip has been taken from a longer video which has been circulating on social media for a while.

"The corona vaccine is not proven safe or effective.”

In the UK, three Covid-19 vaccines have been approved for use made by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca. All of these vaccines have been found to be safe and effective.

In clinical trials the Pfizer vaccine was 95% effective, meaning the number of infections among people who were given the vaccine was 95% lower than the number in the group that wasn’t.

While mild to moderate side effects such as nausea, tiredness and pain around the injection site, are common, these tend to pass quickly.

The Moderna vaccine reduced cases of symptomatic Covid-19 by 94% and all cases of “severe Covid-19” occurred in the group who were not vaccinated.

Like the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine commonly produced mild or moderate side effects which passed quickly, but the rate of severe side effects was similar in both the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups.

The vaccines may cause allergic reactions and so people with a history of allergic reactions, especially to any of the ingredients, should inform healthcare staff beforehand.

The latest data on the AstraZeneca vaccine shows it reduces the rate of symptomatic Covid-19 by 76%, and is 100% effective against severe or critical Covid-19 and hospitalisation.

Previous safety data showed the rate of serious adverse events was no higher in the group which received this Covid-19 vaccine than the control group, who either received a meningitis vaccine or a saline solution.

“This vaccine is just not proven safe. It has been developed too quickly.”

The Covid-19 vaccines have been developed much more quickly than previous vaccines. There are good reasons for this.

For one, a lot of the groundwork had already been done. Years of developing mRNA vaccine technology and working on vaccines against other coronaviruses like SARS meant researchers had a headstart with Covid-19 vaccines.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is not an mRNA vaccine, but uses a technique that had already been successfully used to vaccinate against other infections.

Money was also a factor. A lot of the time it takes to develop vaccines is spent waiting for funding. With Covid-19, the global need for a vaccine was so great that funding was more accessible than usual.

Nevertheless, the vaccines in use have all passed multiple stages of animal and human trials and been shown to be safe and effective.
“It might possibly change your DNA. This is irreversible, irreparable for all future generations, an experiment on humanity.”

The claim that vaccines will change your DNA is false, and has its roots in the fact that some of the Covid-19 vaccines, including the Pfizer vaccine, contain mRNA, which is chemically similar to DNA.

The mRNA in these vaccines is essentially code which instructs the human body on how to build proteins which are found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus which causes Covid-19.

This, in turn, prompts the immune system to build antibodies to those proteins meaning that, if the vaccinated person then actually contracts the virus, they already have the protective antibodies which will recognise the surface proteins and attack the harmful virus.

But this RNA doesn’t come into contact with human DNA (which is stored in the nucleus of cells) let alone change it. Even if it could enter the nucleus, it can’t merge with human DNA or get converted in DNA.

We’ve fact checked similar claims several times before.

“This vaccine could be sterilising women and girls”

The British Fertility Society says: “There is absolutely no evidence, and no theoretical reason, that any of the vaccines can affect the fertility of women or men.”

We’ve written about this several times before.

The NHS also says that anyone planning to get pregnant doesn’t need to avoid the vaccine.

“Mortality rate [of covid] is similar to seasonal influenza virus”

We have written many times about the differences between Covid-19 and seasonal flu in terms of mortality.

The deaths caused by Covid-19 in the period between January 2020 and March 2021 are far greater than the deaths caused by flu for the same period.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for England and Wales shows that 119,728 people died with Covid-19 as the underlying cause of death, compared to 23,406 people dying with flu and pneumonia as the underlying cause of death between January 2020 up to March 2021.

We do not yet have the figures for 2020, but for 2019 for flu alone (excluding pneumonia), this figure was much smaller, and was the direct cause of 1,213 deaths.

2020 saw far fewer cases of flu than previous years, and so perhaps isn’t a fair comparison. However, figures from Public Health England (PHE) for the last five years show that there were 11,292 deaths per year on average associated with flu in England. The year with the highest number of deaths in that period was 2017/2018, when there were 22,087 deaths associated with flu. This is far fewer than the number we have seen over the past year directly caused by, or even related to Covid-19.

“There is no worldwide pandemic for Covid-19.”

The definition of a pandemic is “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people”.

The Covid-19 crisis meets this criteria, and Covid-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation in March 2020.

“[PCR tests] have never been indicated to diagnose any infections.”

We’ve checked similar claims before.

Although some have claimed that the inventor of the Polymerase Chain Reaction, Kary B Mullis, who died before the pandemic, said that PCR tests could not detect infections, this is a mis-quote.

Confusion seems to have arisen from quotes of his in a 1996 article about HIV and AIDS. The author actually quotes Dr Mullis as saying “Quantitative PCR is an oxymoron” within the context of testing viral load (the amount of virus present) in people with HIV. This doesn’t mean he thought PCR testing didn’t work at all, but that there are limitations in detecting the specific levels of a virus from a sample using PCR testing.

PCR is the gold standard test for SARS-CoV-2 as mandated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Public Health England (PHE). Like all tests, there are some false negatives and false positive results associated with PCR testing, however overall it is thought to be very effective. We have previously written about how PCR tests work, and how effective they are.

“This vaccine is experimental on the human race.”

Two of the vaccines approved for use in the UK are mRNA vaccines (the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines).

While these are the first mRNA vaccines to be rolled out to the general public, the technology behind mRNA vaccines has been developed over a number of years.

Both mRNA Covid-19 vaccines have passed the same safety tests and procedures any other vaccine would.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because the main claims are not true.

We can’t sugar coat how difficult this year has been for good information.

News this year has fractured communities, and caused confusion and panic for many of us. No one can control what will happen next. But you can support a debate based on fair, accurate and transparent information.

As independent, impartial fact checkers, we rely on individuals like you to ensure the most dangerously false inaccuracies can be called out and challenged.

https://fullfact.org/health/antivax-video-march-2021/
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Apr 05, 2021 10:36 pm

UK businesses to reopen 12 April

Non-essential retail will reopen including but not be limited to:

    Clothing stores and tailors

    Charity and antique shops

    Homeware and carpet stores

    Showrooms (such as for vehicles as well as kitchens and bathrooms)

    Electronic goods and mobile phone shops

    Florists and plant nurseries

    Retail travel agents

    Photography stores

    Auction houses and markets

    Tobacco and vape stores

    Betting shops (subject to additional COVID-Secure measures, such as limiting the use of gaming machines).

    Car washes (except for automatic car washes that are already open)

    Personal care facilities and close contact services will reopen. This will include:

    Hair, beauty and nail salons

    Body and skin piercing services

    Tattoo studios

    Spas and massage centres (except for steam rooms and saunas)

    Holistic therapy (including acupuncture, homeopathy, and reflexology)

    Tanning salons

    Gyms and leisure centres

    Sports courts

    Swimming pools

    Dance studios and fitness centres

    Driving and shooting ranges

    Riding arenas

    Archery venues

    Climbing wall centres
Outdoor attractions to reopen including:

    Water and Aqua parks

    Adventure parks and activities

    Animal attractions (such as at zoos, safari parks and aquariums)

    Drive in events, such as for cinemas, theatres, and other performances

    Film studios

    Funfairs and fairgrounds

    Model villages

    Museums

    Skating rinks

    Theme parks

    Trampolining parks

    Galleries
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:09 am

Covid passports

Leading figures in the UK entertainment industry have expressed reservations about the prospect of using Covid passports as venues reopen, especially if they require proof of vaccination

The government has said Covid-status certificates could be used at theatres, nightclubs and festivals from June.

They could be used to prove if a person has been vaccinated, has had a recent negative test or has natural immunity.

But some industry figures say they have "deep concerns" over the proposals.

The announcement of a series of pilot events, which will start later this month, has already proved controversial.

Trial events are due to take place at venues in Liverpool, as well as sporting fixtures including the Snooker World Championships and FA Cup Final.

Everyone will need to take a test before and after their event, and the government has said "Covid-status certification will also be trialled as part of the pilot programme".

But confusion over whether that will include proof of vaccinations led Liverpool's Hot Water Comedy Club - which was scheduled to host the first pilot event on 16 April - to pull out. It got online abuse after the media wrongly reported that a vaccination would be required for entry.

The government has said any use of Covid-status certificates would be "time-limited".

It's safe to say those in the entertainment industry are desperate to welcome back gig-goers, clubbers, film fans and theatre lovers. But how do those in the industry feel about the proposals?

Clubbing

Out of 700 businesses surveyed by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which represents businesses like nightclubs, bars and festivals, 70% felt that vaccine certificates, negative testing or immunity proof were not necessary to reopen, the organisation said.

And 69% felt they would have a negative impact on business.

NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said there were still "deep concerns over the measures required for all businesses to reopen" on 21 June, which is the earliest date for step four of the government's reopening roadmap.

"The positive news from the roadmap has been overshadowed by the potential impact of Covid status certificates being implemented by the government for businesses to allow for the ease of social contact restrictions, with the overwhelming majority of UK nightlife sector believing the measures will have a detrimental impact on trade," he said.

He added that initial feedback from customers was that "many are not comfortable using health information to gain access to venues or events in the UK", and the requirement to produce such certificates would discourage people from going out in the future.

Cinemas

Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association, has similar reservations. "We remain very much opposed to any requirement to ask customers to prove their Covid status," he told BBC News.

"That's a point of principle in terms of whether it's appropriate to ask someone to prove they've had a medical procedure when going to what's supposed to be a place of entertainment.

"Also because of the whole range of discrimination issues which might arise," he added. "A roadmap requiring them to have a negative test will act... as a massive deterrent to people coming to the cinema. Many visits by young people, given their lifestyles, are spontaneous.

"It's not to say that we're not alive to concerns around public health... we were able to open last year and did so effectively and successfully. No new cases of Covid were traced back to the UK cinema."

Theatres

Jon Morgan from the Theatres Trust said he would rather not use Covid certificates, but would consider it as a short-term measure to help get back to normality.

"As we await the outcome of the planned events research programme [the pilots], it is too early to say whether Covid certification can play a meaningful role in helping theatres reopen without social distancing," he said.

"It would be preferable if full reopening could be achieved without the use of Covid certification, but if it were to be used it would need to be only a temporary measure on the road to normalisation, and to be as broad and as non-discriminatory as possible, including both testing and proof of immunity alongside proof of vaccine."

Stephanie Sirr, chief executive of the Nottingham Playhouse and vice president of UK Theatre, said she was not in favour of vaccination passports, but that testing alone would be the best route.

"We think that testing could be delivered in such a way as it's quick and easy, it becomes a normal part of life," she said. "A testing passport seems like a very sensible way forward.

"Vaccination passports will be much more complicated to deliver, and potentially quite unfair - probably about 30% of our audience is under 26 and they're not being vaccinated until the autumn."

She added: "There are a lot of people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and there's no way on Earth that we're going to have a Nottingham Playhouse where we can't welcome all people. You cannot exclude a whole tranche of people."

Testing would have to be free or very low cost "as our margins have been cut to the bone", she said.

Festivals

Paul Reed, chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals, was also concerned about vaccination passports. "As things stand, it seems Covid status certification would cover not only vaccine status but also testing and proof of immunity," he said.

"If Covid certification was just about vaccine status, it would not be enabling for summer festivals given the timeframe of the vaccination programme for all adults. We would also be wary of discrimination against customers who may not have had vaccines for various reasons.

"Until we know more, it is too early to meaningfully comment on the implications and viability of Covid certificates for festivals. We will reserve judgement until we understand exactly what the government is proposing in terms of specifics and mechanics."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-56647673
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Apr 08, 2021 10:13 pm

KRG curfew due to virus

Kurdistan Region’s interior ministry has announced a curfew across the Region following a spike in coronavirus cases

The curfew will be in place from 8pm to 6am, the ministry said in a statement, with the new measures to take effect from Thursday until April 12.

UN-affiliated organizations, security forces, health workers, oil companies, and journalists are exempt from the curfew.

A number of pharmacies will remain open with ministry approval.

The announcement comes after the Region’s health ministry on Wednesday recorded 1,217 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 deaths in 24 hours, the highest number of new cases in months.

The ministry has recorded a total of 128,264 cases and 3,756 deaths since the pandemic began last year.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region Masrour Barzani raised concerns regarding the spread of the virus.

"I hope that people take this virus seriously," Barzani said in a press conference. "I ask the people of Kurdistan to abide by the health measures set by the ministry, and use the vaccines that have been provided.”

New rules and restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus were announced before the Newroz holiday, but were largely ignored by the public.

The government introduced further restrictions last week, closing all cafes, restaurants, malls and shisha venues from 9pm - 6am, and completely shutting gyms, cinemas, wedding halls and swimming pools.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/070420213
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Apr 15, 2021 3:03 am

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Covid-status certificate scheme

Covid-status certificates being considered by ministers to help open up society could amount to unlawful indirect discrimination, the government’s independent equalities watchdog has advised

As ministers decide whether the documents should be introduced as passports to certain events later this year, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has told the Cabinet Office they risk creating a “two-tier society”.

The watchdog also said employers should not be allowed to hire workers on a “no jab, no job” policy until all young people had been offered a vaccine, and that plans to make them mandatory for care workers helping older people may not be lawful.

According to a submission seen by the Guardian, the EHRC said Covid-status certificates could be a “proportionate” way of easing restrictions, given the toll lockdown has taken on people’s wellbeing and livelihoods.

But it said they risked further excluding groups among whom vaccine take-up is lower – including migrants, those from minority ethnic backgrounds and poorer socio-economic groups – from access to essential services and employment.

“There is a risk of unlawful discrimination if decisions taken in this process disadvantage people with protected characteristics who have not received, or are not able to receive, the vaccine, unless they can be shown to be justified,” it said. “Any mandatory requirement for vaccination or the implementation of Covid-status certification may amount to indirect discrimination, unless the requirement can be objectively justified.”

The warnings emerged as the health secretary, Matt Hancock, gave the clearest indication yet that care workers would be required to have a vaccination or be refused deployment in care homes.

Launching a five-week consultation on the proposal, the government said the initiative could later be extended to the wider health and social care workforce. “Due to the importance of this issue, we intend to change the law quickly,” it added.

Despite care workers being in the highest priority category for jabs, Hancock said only around half of care homes in England had enough people vaccinated. Government scientific advisers believe 80% of staff and 90% of residents need to be vaccinated to provide a minimum level of protection against outbreaks of the virus.

Senior government figures had for months denied that any form of “vaccine passport” for domestic or international use would be introduced as the rollout of jabs got under way in the winter. But at the end of February, Boris Johnson announced a review would be launched into the idea to explore the complex ethical issues behind it. He touted the documents – that would be used to prove someone’s vaccine, test or antibody status – as a possible requirement to enter a pub or a theatre.

Since then, an interim report from the Cabinet Office review has ruled out the documents ever being necessary on public transport or in essential shops – though the government has declined to provide any definition of these. It has expanded access to testing in England this week, by offering everyone two lateral flow tests a week – a measure it would argue means the certificates would not just be available to those who have been vaccinated.

Johnson faces the prospect of a significant Tory rebellion if he pushes ahead with introducing the certificates and calls for a vote in parliament, with 41 Conservative backbenchers vowing to oppose them. Labour has previously vowed to vote against “vaccine passports” but has been less clear about its stance on a wider certificate scheme used to show someone’s vaccine, test or antibody status. It says it is still waiting for the government to formally present a firm proposal.

Marsha de Cordova, the shadow women and equalities secretary, said: “We share the EHRC’s concerns and hope the government will take note.”

Responding to the government’s call for evidence on Covid-status certificates, the EHRC said that if they were introduced, it should only be for a limited time and subject to regular review, along with “strict parliamentary scrutiny”.

Care home operators are divided over mandatory jabs. Barchester, one of the largest private operators, has already said it will make vaccines a condition of work, starting as soon as 23 April. Its chief executive, Pete Calveley, said: “It is a professional duty for care home staff to accept the vaccine unless there is a medical reason they should not.”

Other operators fear it will drive away staff in an already depleted workforce and that it is unreasonable to only make vaccines compulsory for care workers and not NHS staff.

The government has previously acknowledged the legal difficulty of mandatory vaccines. In February, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “Taking a vaccine is not mandatory and it would be discriminatory to force somebody to take one.” Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, has also said he believes making vaccines mandatory for existing staff is likely to require testing in the courts.

Employment lawyers said on Tuesday that the rule could breach the Human Rights Act and amount to indirect discrimination, if refusal was related to religious belief for example, and it was likely to be tested in the upper courts.

“There would have to be a very strong justification that mandating vaccines really does put a dent in the Covid case numbers,” said Ryan Bradshaw, an employment and discrimination lawyer at Leigh Day.

The government wants to make vaccination of carers part of the “fundamental standard” of providing safe care, enshrined in the Social Care Act. Care homes which fail to show their staff are vaccinated could, in the most serious cases, have their registration to operate cancelled.

Unison, a trade union representing health workers, described the plan as “the wrong approach” and called for persuasion – rather than coercion – of care workers, many of whom have cited fears, albeit so far unfounded, that the vaccine could affect pregnancies. Others have cited religious concerns, while practical issues of not being on shift when GPs arrived to deliver doses have also been highlighted.

With the vaccine programme in England now being extended to those in their late 40s and the government not promising to offer all those over the age of 18 a jab until the end of July, the EHRC said employers should not be able to discriminate when looking to hire only those who had been vaccinated. It advised: “The implementation of any policy would need to reflect the status of the vaccine rollout programme and ensure that it does not discriminate against younger people, who are unlikely to be vaccinated until later in the process.”

A government spokesperson said: “Covid-status certification could have an important role to play both domestically and internationally, as a temporary measure. We are fully considering equality and ethical concerns as part of our ongoing review.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/ ... warns-ehrc
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Apr 19, 2021 12:50 am

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103-year-old woman recovers

A 103-year-old woman from Deir ez-Zor has recovered from coronavirus after ten days in hospital

Hospital staff applauded as she was discharged from hospital in Hasaka, Western Kurdistan (Rojava Kurdistani) on Saturday.

From the town of al-Mayadin in Deir ez-Zor, Hacir Mohammed al-Henuna lives in the Areesha camp in Hasaka.

"I had a fever. I felt dizzy and fainted. I went to the hospital with my son. I was hospitalized and given medication, and now I'm back," she told Rudaw.

Hasaka's COVID-19 hospital, which has 60 beds, is currently treating 43 people confirmed to have coronavirus, said hospital director Hozan Ismael.

"We do not have enough oxygen. Each patient needs four to five oxygen tanks. There is a limited number of oxygen tanks in Hasaka, because there is only one plant making them. They cannot keep up, they are overwhelmed by demand."

Kurdish health authorities in Western Kurdistan (Rojava Kurdistani) have recently made an urgent call for help to international organizations as they continue to battle COVID-19, hitting out at the World Health Organization (WHO) for not doing enough to get vaccines to the autonomous area.

“We have reached a really dangerous stage. The situation is leading to a catastrophe in northeast Syria. The number of cases is increasing and we are unable to stop this,” Jwan Mustafa, the co-chair of Western Kurdistan's (Rojava Kurdistani) health board, told reporters last week.

Link to Article - Video:

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeas ... /180420212
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