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Japan Joins Growing List Of Countries Closing Borders As More Omicron Cases Detected Globally

Japan Joins Growing List Of Countries Closing Borders As More Omicron Cases Detected Globally

Speaking on CNBC Monday morning following a holiday weekend in the US marked by rising hysteria over the new "Omicron" variant, Moderna CEO Stephane

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Japan Joins Growing List Of Countries Closing Borders As More Omicron Cases Detected Globally

Speaking on CNBC Monday morning following a holiday weekend in the US marked by rising hysteria over the new "Omicron" variant, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel warned that any country that has received flights from southern Africa over the last two weeks very likely has already imported this new, highly infectious variant - even as others push back against claims that the new variant is hyper infectious.

For whatever reason, the mainstream media is choosing to amplify voices like Bancel's who are warning that the variant may be "highly infectious" while affirming that vaccine makers are working on new boosters specially designed to battle variants like omicron and others amid speculation the new variant can get around natural immunity from prior infection, as well as immunity fostered by being "fully vaccinated".

CNBC also bagged an interview with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, who said Pfizer's as-yet-to-be-released antiviral, Paxlovid. It's expected that Paxlovid would likely be just as effective against omicron. Bourla said that the company would have all the information that it needs 'within weeks'. This information would help it ascertain the threat posed by the new variant. Bourla also said Pfizer could tweak its vaccine recipe to deliver an omicron-focused booster.

South African scientists have demanded that jab makers deliver these magical new boosters first to the south African countries where the mutant strain was first detected. Somehow, we highly doubt American vaccine-makers will prioritize African countries when the first cases of omicron have already been detected in the US. More quietly, a Pretoria doctor responsible for advising the South African government said over the weekend that symptoms of domestic cases linked to omicron have been "mild" so far.

In other omicron-related news, Japan announced early Monday in the US that the Japanese government would bar entry of all new foreign visitors beginning Nov. 30 over concerns about the omicron variant.

Japanese PM Fumio Kishida didn't clarify whether the new curbs applied to foreigners living and working in Japan, though he did say that Japanese nationals returning from "countries of interest" would be subject to more restrictive quarantine rules.

Ultimately, Japan is waiting for more information on the new variant as it tries to ascertain whether omicron has a chance of living up to the hype. The World Health Organization is holding a special public session with Dr. Tedros, the nominal leader of the organization. Anybody interested can watch video below:

As far as confirmed cases are concerned, Portugal on Monday said it had identified 13 cases of the omicron variant tied to a Lisbon-based soccer club. The club was forced to take part in a top-flight game over the weekend - a game that was abandoned while in progress.

Portugal's national health institute said the 13 players were isolating and that they were all players or staff members of Belenenses, which fielded a depleted team of only nine players against Benfica on Saturday after reporting a coronavirus outbreak.

One player on the Lisbon team recently returned from South Africa, the country where scientists with the Kwazulu-Natal research Innovation and Sequencing Platform first identified the new variant.

Separately, Portugal's health authorities said they are tracing more than 200 passengers who had arrived in Portugal on Saturday from Maputo, Mozambique, one of a handful of southern African nations seen as most likely to export cases of the variant. At least two people on the flight had tested positive for COVID, although it isn't clear whether these cases have been driven by the new variant.

Circling back to the developed world, where scientists are assuming that any country that has received flights from southern African nations over the last two weeks might be vulnerable to a renewed omicron-driven outbreak, Australia has decided to delay the reopening of its borders for two weeks after confirming that two cases of the variant have been identified in Sydney. Japan, which imposed new travel restrictions, has prohibited all tourists since early in the pandemic.

Around the world, countries tightened restrictions pertaining to the border and travel, while some moved ahead with plans to reopen land borders. For example, Singapore and Malaysia went ahead with plans to reopen their land border, while South Korea, on the other hand, announced planned to delay any loosening of COVID restrictions, according to the NYT.

With regard to Biden's "racist" ban, the travel restrictions do not ban flights or apply to U.S. citizens and lawful U.S. permanent residents (barring only foreign travelers from South Africa and seven other southern African countries). However, until the ban started at 12:01 ET Monday, flights from South Africa continued to carry foreign nationals.

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, the two airlines that fly direct to Johannesburg said on Friday they do not plan any changes to their South Africa-U.S. flights after the variant was discovered. United currently operates five flights per week between Newark and Johannesburg. Delta operates three from Johannesburg to Atlanta.

Globally, it appears the trend is toward shutting down, not reopening, as a cascade of border closures and travel restrictions began to recall the earliest days of the pandemic, even in the absence of scientific evidence about whether such measures might help to stop the virus's spread. Hours after Israel announced its blanket ban over the weekend, Morocco said Sunday that it would deny entry to all travelers, even Moroccan citizens, for 2 weeks starting Monday. The country will also ban all incoming and outgoing flights for two weeks.

Broad restrictions like these contrasted with restrictions imposed by the US, UK, Canada and the EU, which have all announced bans on travelers from southern Africa only. Indonesia on Monday joined a small but growing list of countries that have barred travel from Hong Kong as well as the southern Africa region. HK detected 2 cases of omicron back on Thursday, as we learned over the weekend. India and Pakistan cited the Hong Kong cases as inspiration for its own travel ban.

Despite the fact that it has delivered more boosters than any other nation (while also vaccinating a higher percentage of its citizens), Israel has imposed some of the most restrictive new travel rules, barring all entrants except those needed for "urgent humanitarian reasons" that must be approved by a special committee.

As far as confirmed cases of the new variant, it has been detected in South Africa and Botswana, as well as in travelers to Australia, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands and Hong Kong. The variant officially arrived to North America late Sunday as public health officials in Ontario confirmed two cases. It's unclear whether the variant has arrived in the US.

Here's a map of the variant's spread courtesy of the NYT:

Source: NYT

And here's a list, courtesy of WaPo:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Botswana
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • South Africa
  • Switzerland (probable case)
  • UK

As for the total number of cases confirmed globally, it's not clear how many omicron cases have been confirmed.

Within the UK, six cases of the variant have reportedly identified in Scotland, according to a Monday morning report from the BBC.

The variant was first identified in South Africa with the first confirmed cases in Botswana and nearby countries.

As the WHO reminds us, fewer than 200 cases of omicron have been confirmed around the world. It's also not clear yet whether the new variant will be as effective at evading vaccine-induced protections as some scientists fear.

As we have noted before, other scientists believe the variant would likely only produce mild symptoms in patients who have already been infected, along with the vaccinated.

Omicron carries about 50 mutations not seen in combination before, including more than 30 mutations on the spike protein that the coronavirus uses to attach to human cells. But as for whether omicron will ultimately prove more deadly than earlier strains, well, it's not yet clear: a growing number of scientists in South Africa and elsewhere have said the symptoms caused by the new strain are "mild to moderate", and ultimately less severe than other strains like delta.

Tyler Durden Mon, 11/29/2021 - 10:34

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Easyjet share price down 3% as pandemic losses hit £2.2 billion

The EasyJet share price shed over 3% today to give up a chunk of…
The post Easyjet share price down 3% as pandemic losses hit £2.2 billion first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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The EasyJet share price shed over 3% today to give up a chunk of the gains the budget airline had made earlier in the week. The new slide came after it announced a £213 loss for the last quarter of the year covering the Christmas period, taking losses for the Covid-19 pandemic period to £2.2 billion. The airline also told investors it is still burning through £150 million in cash every month as it struggles to build capacity back up.

The short-haul airline that makes most of its income shuttling holidaymakers and business travellers around Europe said it is still only operating at around half of its pre-pandemic capacity. However, it is hopeful that pent-up demand and an end to travel restrictions mean it will return to pre-pandemic levels by summer and enjoy much brisker trade than of late over the Easter and spring period.

easy jet plc

But before then the airline company will again have to absorb deep losses over the current quarter, which is traditionally its weakest of the year. Even a strong summer period, think most analysts, will be insufficient to see the company return to profit this year. EasyJet’s value is still less than half of what it was in February 2020 before the coronavirus-induced market sell-off that hit later that month and saw markets dive into March before starting to recover. The share prices of rival budget airlines Ryanair and WizzAir have recovered much more strongly in comparison to EasyJet’s and are now close to their pre-pandemic levels. There have been concerns around whether EasyJet could survive the pandemic but investors contributed £1.2 billion last autumn to bolster its balance sheet.

The EasyJet share price is closing the week at around £6.15 compared to over £15 before the pandemic. However, there is now hope the worst may be behind the airline and it can begin its, potentially long, journey back to health. Chief executive John Lundgren attempted to soften the announcement of another hefty loss with a bullish statement on where things go from here for his company:

“Booking volumes jumped in the UK following the welcome reduction of travel restrictions announced on January 5, which have been sustained and given a further boost from the UK government’s decision this week to remove all testing requirements.”

“We believe testing for travel across our network should soon become a thing of the past. We see a strong summer ahead, with pent-up demand that will see easyJet returning to near-2019 levels of capacity, with UK beach and leisure routes performing particularly well.”

For now, however, forward guidance for the immediate quarter remains cautious with the company admitting it has fallen short of its expectations to be at 80% capacity by this quarter, sitting at just 67%. However, with most analysts confident the company will eventually return to strength, and profit in the 2022-23 financial year, EasyJet shares could offer a good buying opportunity at current levels.

The post Easyjet share price down 3% as pandemic losses hit £2.2 billion first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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Authoritarian Madness: The Slippery Slope From Lockdowns To Concentration Camps

Authoritarian Madness: The Slippery Slope From Lockdowns To Concentration Camps

Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwal

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Authoritarian Madness: The Slippery Slope From Lockdowns To Concentration Camps

Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwald, the Auschwitzes—all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers.”

- Rod Serling, Deaths-Head Revisited

In the politically charged, polarizing tug-of-war that is the debate over COVID-19, we find ourselves buffeted by fear over a viral pandemic that continues to wreak havoc with lives and the economy, threats of vaccine mandates and financial penalties for noncompliance, and discord over how to legislate the public good without sacrificing individual liberty.

The discord is getting more discordant by the day.

Just recently, for instance, the Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board suggested that government officials should mandate mass vaccinations and deploy the National Guard “to ensure that people without proof of vaccination would not be allowed, well, anywhere.”

In other words, lock up the unvaccinated and use the military to determine who gets to be “free.”

These tactics have been used before.

This is why significant numbers of people are worried: because this is the slippery slope that starts with well-meaning intentions for the greater good and ends with tyrannical abuses no one should tolerate.

For a glimpse at what the future might look like if such a policy were to be enforced, look beyond America’s borders.

In Italy, the unvaccinated are banned from restaurants, bars and public transportation, and could face suspensions from work and monthly fines. Similarly, France will ban the unvaccinated from most public venues.

In Austria, anyone who has not complied with the vaccine mandate could face fines up to $4100. Police will be authorized to carry out routine checks and demand proof of vaccination, with penalties of as much as $685 for failure to do so.

In China, which has adopted a zero tolerance, “zero COVID” strategy, whole cities—some with populations in the tens of millions—are being forced into home lockdowns for weeks on end, resulting in mass shortages of food and household supplies. Reports have surfaced of residents “trading cigarettes for cabbage, dishwashing liquid for apples and sanitary pads for a small pile of vegetables. One resident traded a Nintendo Switch console for a packet of instant noodles and two steamed buns.”

For those unfortunate enough to contract COVID-19, China has constructed “quarantine camps” throughout the country: massive complexes boasting thousands of small, metal boxes containing little more than a bed and a toilet. Detainees—including children, pregnant women and the elderly— were reportedly ordered to leave their homes in the middle of the night, transported to the quarantine camps in buses and held in isolation.

If this last scenario sounds chillingly familiar, it should.

Eighty years ago, another authoritarian regime established more than 44,000 quarantine camps for those perceived as “enemies of the state”: racially inferior, politically unacceptable or simply noncompliant.

While the majority of those imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camps, forced labor camps, incarceration sites and ghettos were Jews, there were also Polish nationals, gypsies, Russians, political dissidents, resistance fighters, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals.

Culturally, we have become so fixated on the mass murders of Jewish prisoners by the Nazis that we overlook the fact that the purpose of these concentration camps were initially intended to “incarcerate and intimidate the leaders of political, social, and cultural movements that the Nazis perceived to be a threat to the survival of the regime.”

As the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum explains:

“Most prisoners in the early concentration camps were political prisoners—German Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats—as well as Roma (Gypsies), Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and persons accused of ‘asocial’ or socially deviant behavior. Many of these sites were called concentration camps. The term concentration camp refers to a camp in which people are detained or confined, usually under harsh conditions and without regard to legal norms of arrest and imprisonment that are acceptable in a constitutional democracy.”

How do you get from there to here, from Auschwitz concentration camps to COVID quarantine centers?

Connect the dots.

You don’t have to be unvaccinated or a conspiracy theorist or even anti-government to be worried about what lies ahead. You just have to recognize the truth in the warning: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

This is not about COVID-19. Nor is it about politics, populist movements, or any particular country.

This is about what happens when good, generally decent people—distracted by manufactured crises, polarizing politics, and fighting that divides the populace into warring “us vs. them” camps—fail to take note of the looming danger that threatens to wipe freedom from the map and place us all in chains.

It’s about what happens when any government is empowered to adopt a comply-or-suffer-the-consequences mindset that is enforced through mandates, lockdowns, penalties, detention centers, martial law, and a disregard for the rights of the individual.

The slippery slope begins in just this way, with propaganda campaigns about the public good being more important than individual liberty, and it ends with lockdowns and concentration camps.

The danger signs are everywhere.

Claudio Ronco, a 66-year-old Orthodox Jew and a specialist in 18th-century music, recognizes the signs. Because of his decision to remain unvaccinated, Ronco is trapped inside his house, unable to move about in public without a digital vaccination card. He can no longer board a plane, check into a hotel, eat at a restaurant or get a coffee at a bar. He has been ostracized by friends, shut out of public life, and will soon face monthly fines for insisting on his right to bodily integrity and individual freedom.

For all intents and purposes, Ronco has become an undesirable in the eyes of the government, forced into isolation so he doesn’t risk contaminating the rest of the populace.

This is the slippery slope: a government empowered to restrict movements, limit individual liberty, and isolate “undesirables” to prevent the spread of a disease is a government that has the power to lockdown a country, label whole segments of the population a danger to national security, and force those undesirables—a.k.a. extremists, dissidents, troublemakers, etc.—into isolation so they don’t contaminate the rest of the populace.

The world has been down this road before, too.

Others have ignored the warning signs. We cannot afford to do so.

As historian Milton Mayer recounts in his seminal book on Hitler’s rise to power, They Thought They Were Free:

“Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things and never had. There was no need to. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about—we were decent people‑—and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the 'national enemies', without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us.”

The German people chose to ignore the truth and believe the lie.

They were not oblivious to the horrors taking place around them. As historian Robert Gellately points out, “[A]nyone in Nazi Germany who wanted to find out about the Gestapo, the concentration camps, and the campaigns of discrimination and persecutions need only read the newspapers.”

The warning signs were there, blinking incessantly like large neon signs.

“Still,” Gellately writes, “the vast majority voted in favor of Nazism, and in spite of what they could read in the press and hear by word of mouth about the secret police, the concentration camps, official anti-Semitism, and so on. . . . [T]here is no getting away from the fact that at that moment, ‘the vast majority of the German people backed him.’”

Half a century later, the wife of a prominent German historian, neither of whom were members of the Nazi party, opined: “[O]n the whole, everyone felt well. . . . And there were certainly eighty percent who lived productively and positively throughout the time. . . . We also had good years. We had wonderful years.”

In other words, as long as their creature comforts remained undiminished, as long as their bank accounts remained flush, as long as they weren’t being locked up, locked down, discriminated against, persecuted, starved, beaten, shot, stripped, jailed or killed, life was good.

Life is good in America, too, as long as you’re able to keep cocooning yourself in political fantasies that depict a world in which your party is always right and everyone else is wrong, while distracting yourself with bread-and-circus entertainment that bears no resemblance to reality.

Indeed, life in America may be good for the privileged few who aren’t being locked up, locked down, discriminated against, persecuted, starved, beaten, shot, stripped, jailed or killed, but it’s getting worse by the day for the rest of us.

Which brings me back to the present crisis: COVID-19 is not the Holocaust, and those who advocate vaccine mandates, lockdowns and quarantine camps are not Hitler, but this still has the makings of a slippery slope.

The means do not justify the ends: we must find other ways of fighting a pandemic without resorting to mandates and lockdowns and concentration camps. To do otherwise is to lay the groundwork for another authoritarian monster to rise up and wreak havoc.

If we do not want to repeat the past, then we must learn from past mistakes.

January 27 marks Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a day for remembering those who died at the hands of Hitler’s henchmen and those who survived the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps.

Yet remembering is not enough. We can do better. We must do better.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, the world is teetering on the edge of authoritarian madness.

All it will take is one solid push for tyranny to prevail.

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/28/2022 - 23:40

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Eli Lilly says FDA could deny expanded use of arthritis drug for eczema

Eli Lilly said on Jan. 28 the company expects the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to decline the approval of expanded use of the rheumatoid arthritis drug Olumiant as a treatment for adults with moderate-to-severe eczema.

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Eli Lilly says FDA could deny expanded use of arthritis drug for eczema

(Reuters) – Eli Lilly and Co (LLY.N) said on Friday it expects the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to decline the approval of expanded use of its rheumatoid arthritis drug as a treatment for adults with moderate-to-severe eczema.

“At this point, the company does not have alignment with the FDA on the indicated population,” the drugmaker said.

Olumiant, discovered by Incyte Corp (INCY.O) and licensed to Lilly, belongs to a class of drugs called JAK inhibitors, which came under regulatory scrutiny after Pfizer’s (PFE.N) arthritis drug Xeljanz showed an increased risk of serious heart-related problems and cancer in a February trial. read more

The path to approval for the drug has been arduous, with the FDA extending its review timeline repeatedly.

AbbVie’s (ABBV.N) rival eczema drug, Rinvoq, also faced similar regulatory hurdles before being finally approved by the FDA earlier this month, as well as Pfizer’s Cibinqo. read more

“While not specified by the company, we wonder if the FDA may be looking to limit the use of the product (Olumiant) to an even smaller subset of patients than what Rinvoq and Cibinqo were approved for,” Mizuho analyst Vamil Divan said in a client note.

An Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceutical manufacturing plant is pictured at 50 ImClone Drive in Branchburg, New Jersey, March 5, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

Lilly also said it has decided to discontinue its program for testing use of Olumiant in autoimmune disease lupus, based on early results from two late-stage trials.

The decision would adversely affect Lilly which continues to bet on upcoming regulatory decisions on the drug for treating COVID-19 for certain hospitalized patients and severe alopecia areata, a type of hair loss.

In the United States, the drug is already authorized for emergency use in hospitalized adults with COVID-19 and children aged two or older requiring supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation. Lilly awaits Olumiant’s full approval in certain hospitalized COVID-19 patients, with an anticipated regulatory action in the second quarter.

Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Shinjini Ganguli

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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