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Carnival Cruise Line Cuts Passenger Capacity

International safety standards are proving to be a challenge for the cruise industry.

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International safety standards are proving to be a challenge for the cruise industry.

The cruise line industry has been working overtime to ensure the safety and health of their guests, spending millions on updating their ships in order to get back to full fleet.

It has also been requiring proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 in some cases in order to take certain cruises.

When the pandemic hit, the cruise line industry was hit especially hard, with many ships only now getting back to the seas after getting docked in the spring of 2020. 

Because, as we’ve noted, cruise lines nearly always flag their ships outside of the U.S. in order to work around American labor laws, “this gives the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more sway over the cruise industry than it has over perhaps any other form of travel.”  

There’s also the matter that cruise lines sail and dock around the world, and each country has different safety standards, so the main lines tend to err on the side of being as cautious as possible.

The Pandemic Is Not Over Yet

While we’d all love for the pandemic to be over, it's not, and health officials recently identified the ultra contagious Omicron Subvariant BA.2.12.1. 

The new subvariant is set to become dominant in the United States soon, but new infections are already starting to cause headaches for everyone, the cruise industry very much included. 

Already, Carnival Cruises  (CCL) - Get Carnival Corporation Report has announced that it’s begun limiting passenger capacity on several sailings on its U.K.-based Cunard Line, canceling several bookings in the process.

Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

What Ships Have Been Affected?

Carnival has revealed that ongoing travel difficulties across international borders are causing challenges for the company.

That is making it difficult to fully staff its ships, owing to difficulties with testing requirements, quarantine periods, and other health and safety protocols.

Carnival Cruise has some of the highest guest-to-crew ratios for larger ships in the cruise industry.

Rather than cut back on the quality of service, which would result in longer lines and waits and reduced amenities, they’ve opted to reduce guest capacity for the Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2.

“As you may have seen in the news, the wider impact of Covid-19 is affecting hospitality and is disrupting airlines and as such this is impacting the number of crew members we are able to get to our ships,” said the company in a statement.

“We naturally want to ensure that all guests across the fleet experience the high standards of service on board that they would expect from Cunard and which we are committed to delivering,” the company added. 

“We are therefore limiting the number of guests sailing as we build crew numbers back up."

The company then issued another statement.

“Due to our framework of protocols to protect the health and wellbeing of all crew and guests we are currently operating at a reduced guest capacity and we need to take an approved number of staterooms out of service,” it said.

It’s Unclear Which Lines Are Impacted

The company has not announced which guests, cabins of sailings are impacted by the cut back. 

Cunard Line has been contacting affected guests directly, who will be given a 100% refund of their cruise fare, taxes, and prepaid items, with no penalties deducted. 

The rescheduled guests will also be given a 25% Future Cruise Credit based on their fare paid, which can be used on any future Cunard Line sailing.

All impacted sailings are expected to still set sail. 

Other Ships Have Cut Back As Well

Carnival isn’t the only line that has been impacted, as P&O Cruises canceled seven sailings of Arcadia last month, citing crew availability.

 

 

 

 

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Spread & Containment

Joined up thinking needed for joined up data plans

Joined up data could transform the pharmaceutical industry and help create a healthier Europe for decades to come
The post Joined up thinking needed for…

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Joined up data could transform the pharmaceutical industry and help create a healthier Europe for decades to come – but the route to change is far from smooth sailing.

Without careful consideration and full stakeholder input, the EU’s plans for a connected data system could end up being counterproductive.

That’s the view of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), which has published a list of recommendations aimed at helping the sector get the most of out of the data it holds.

“If the European Health Data Space (EHDS) and the rules surrounding access to the data are not carefully thought through, with the involvement of all stakeholders, there could be unintended consequences that limit the utility of the data for developing innovative medicines,” said the organisation.

Huge potential

The EFPIA Recommendations on a Connected Data System in Europe, published at the end of April, welcomes the proposals, which are part of the European Strategy for Data, to create common data spaces.

Said the authors: “A connected health data ecosystem has the potential to empower more effective and efficient research and development of new treatments and diagnostics. It would also ensure better planning and delivery of patient-centred care through personalised medicine.

“This, combined with value-based healthcare, can result in better allocation of resources and more sustainable healthcare systems.”

The value of this approach, which places real-world data in the hands of the right people at the right time, was demonstrated in abundance over the last few years, they went on.

It was, they explained, stakeholders from across the healthcare ecosystem coming together to share insights, whether from clinic, research, or genomics, that changed the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applying the same ethos to healthcare in general, then, could give the drug development sector all the information it needs to contribute to a fitter, healthier Europe.

“For the research-based industry, access to data is critical at every step. From accelerating drug discovery to understanding patients’ behaviours and the outcome of treatment, the availability of data is essential to testing hypotheses, identifying trends and assessing proposed treatments,” they said, adding that improved access to, and transmission of, health data could “transform the pharmaceutical industry”.

“A connected health data ecosystem has the potential to empower more effective and efficient research and development of new treatments and diagnostics. It would also ensure better planning and delivery of patient-centred care through personalised medicine.”

 

Significant challenges

While EHDS is a lofty ambition, bringing it to fruition will not be without its challenges, both practical and regulatory.

As the EFPIA paper points out, health data is currently held in a wide range of repositories, from clinical notes and electronic health records to insurance claims, patient registries, patient-reported outcomes records, and continuous patient monitoring data from apps and wearables.

Unlocking their value, then, requires a high level of interoperability between different IT systems, providers, data sources, and software, all based in different countries with different levels of infrastructure maturity.

“Healthcare system information must be better connected. This will allow stakeholders to use this data for optimising and improving health outcomes,” said the paper, adding that interoperability was a “critical enabler of the digital transformation of healthcare in Europe”.

Conflicting national laws could be another important barrier to data access and use. Varying interpretations of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for example, present challenges for clinical development of innovative medicines, said the authors.

“Conflicting interpretations of Article 9 of the GDPR, and the additional limitations on processing of health and genomic data that member states have enacted under this article, cause significant delays in study start-up and patient enrolment.

“Some member states take the position that the only lawful basis for processing health data is when individuals have given their consent for its collection and use. Others… take the position that processing this health data, when necessary for scientific research, is lawful.”

EU Data Protection Supervisors, the paper recommends, must reach a common understanding of key GDPR terms if citizens are to enjoy the same rights across the EU.

Practical solutions

The EFPIA paper makes a number of recommendations on how the EU could embrace the full potential of the proposed EHDS.

First, it says that developing a shared understanding of the relevant requirements in digital health is essential, and calls for an EU-wide approach to how data is accessed, pooled, compared and used, while also protecting privacy.

In terms of possible solutions, it points to the use of Federated Data Networks (FDN), in which separate networks share mutual RWD resources.

“In an FDN, data is not moved from its host source, though hybrid models can exist with local and central data hosting. The research question or query moves to where the data is originally hosted, with results aggregated centrally or delivered to the researcher,” said the authors.

This, they went on, could unlock the power of data in primary or secondary care settings, in clinical care decision-making, and in research, whilst preserving the privacy of the RWD at a local level.

Common data models (CDM), which standardise the logical infrastructure of software systems to enable interoperability, are also required.

“CDM is essentially a construct, a means to an end to help organise RWD into a common structure, formats, and terminologies across diverse, heterogeneous, and multiple source datasets,” said the paper.

“It addresses a central need to be able to curate data for analysis on a contemporaneous and continuous basis (not on a per study basis) or for largescale, geographically diverse, network studies of multiple data sources.”

 Joined up approach to joined up data

Ultimately, building a usable EU-wide health data system requires input from all stakeholders, and decisions on FDNs and CDMs should be taken internationally, as a sector.

Because, as the EFPIA says, we all have one goal: using the power of data to improve the health of the citizens of Europe.

About the author

Amanda Barrell is a freelance health and medical education journalist, editor, and copywriter. She has worked on projects for pharma, charities and agencies, and has written extensively for patients, HCPs and the public.

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Government

Large UK study suggests vaccination helps treat long COVID

An observational study in the UK has found evidence that COVID-19 vaccination can help alleviate the lingering symptoms
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An observational study in the UK has found evidence that COVID-19 vaccination can help alleviate the lingering symptoms that afflict some people who contract the virus, often referred to as ‘long COVID’.

There have been persistent anecdotal reports that vaccines can help people with persistent symptoms get better, but the study published in the British Medical Journal is the first to explore the connection in large numbers of patients.

It is based on responses from more than 28,300 adults who are taking part in the UK’s COVID-19 Infection Survey, carried out by the Office for National Statistics, and focused on individuals who reported symptoms that lasted for 12 or more weeks after infection.

The likelihood of long COVID symptoms was found to decrease after COVID-19 vaccination, and evidence pointed to an even greater improvement after a second dose. However, the authors say more data is needed before vaccination can be considered a treatment for the condition.

The team, led by ONS’ Daniel Ayoubkhani, found that before vaccines were available, the chances of experiencing long COVID were fairly constant after infection, but fell around 13% after a first dose, and a further 9% after a second.

The trial completed before the third booster doses were rolled out, and researchers say there is no data yet on whether the improvements reported after vaccines will be sustained with further follow-up.

They speculate that vaccination may “reset” immunity in people with long COVID who are thought to develop dysregulation of the immune system, similar to an autoimmune condition.

“Although causality cannot be inferred from this observational evidence, vaccination may contribute to a reduction in the population health burden of long COVID,” says the paper.

Further research is needed to look at the long-term relationship between vaccines and long COVID, and to gauge the effect of boosters and reinfection with SAS-CoV-2, particularly with the now-dominant Omicron variant, which had not emerged when the data was collected, according to the researchers.

Commenting on the results, Prof Penny Ward, visiting professor in pharmaceutical medicine at King’s College London, said: “These data broadly support prescribers encouraging patients with ‘long COVID’ to be vaccinated, or to complete the course of vaccination if they have not already done so.”

Meanwhile, Dr Peter English, a retired consultant in communicable disease control, said it is likely that long COVID is, in fact, a collection of different conditions, only some of which may respond to vaccination.

“The large scale of this study means that we can be fairly confident about what has been observed; but it does not mean we can be sure what it means,” he cautioned.

Nevertheless, faced with the potentially very significant consequences the condition could have on the health of the population, “anything that can reduce the burden of disease from Long COVID at reasonable cost is…important and valuable”.

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Economics

JPY forecast amid the Bank of Japan keeping the monetary policy easy

The rapid depreciation of the Japanese yen (JPY) in the last couple of years led to one of the most impressive moves seen in the FX market in recent history….

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The rapid depreciation of the Japanese yen (JPY) in the last couple of years led to one of the most impressive moves seen in the FX market in recent history. The yen simply melted, losing value against all its peers – not only against the US dollar.
Speaking of the US dollar, the yen dropped to over 131 recently before gaining some ground in the last few days. How will the yen perform for the rest of the year, and is the Bank of Japan right in keeping the monetary policy easy?

Bank of Japan still sees inflation as transitory

The main reason for the JPY’s move lower is the Bank of Japan’s policy. The central bank sees inflation as transitory, and, for this reason, it keeps the monetary policy easy.

It keeps buying government bonds, despite PPI or Producers Price Index (i.e., inflation on the producers’ side) rising at a four-decade high.

But so did the Fed, before dropping the transitory word when talking about inflation. If the PPI transfers to consumers, as it should, then the Bank of Japan would have to reverse its policy.

Truth be said, inflation in Japan is below 2% for decades, hurting the Bank of Japan’s credibility. It might have dramatic implications on the FX dashboard if it rises considerably above the target.

Only that the FX market is a leading one. Traders speculate and position themselves well before a central bank acts.

So did we see the lowest point in the JPY or not?

AUD/JPY daily chart points to a possible reversal

All JPY pairs’ charts look more or less like the AUD/JPY daily chart below. It shows that following the COVID-19 pandemic dip in 2020, the market rallied relentlessly.

But the recent breakout in 2022 following the Bank of Japan’s yield curve control comments is only the last leg of an otherwise super long trend. In other words, the yen was sold well ahead of the Bank of Japan’s comments. It followed the US stock market higher.

Now that the US stock market is coming down (i.e., Nasdaq 100 dropped -28% YTD), the JPY pairs may follow. The AUD/JPY chart above shows a possible head and shoulders pattern at the top which might just signal the top of a bigger head and shoulders pattern.

In other words, should the recent highs hold, a move back to 80 should not be discounted, especially if the US stock markets keep falling.

The post JPY forecast amid the Bank of Japan keeping the monetary policy easy appeared first on Invezz.

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