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Lockdowns had a role: they saved lives

There are threats and lists and all manner of abuse towards those who promoted or supported measures that saved lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. I just…



There are threats and lists and all manner of abuse towards those who promoted or supported measures that saved lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. I just want to make it clear that I supported measures to protect life until we could be adequately vaccinated. And I’ll support them again if a new deadly pathogen emerges tomorrow for which we have no specific treatments or vaccines.

In those countries that effectively used stay-at-home orders (“lockdowns”), closed borders and mandated masks, a lower proportion of lives were lost compared to countries that got on board well after the virus was already established in their jurisdiction. And even then, many of those countries continued to import viruses through travel. Early and thorough use of restrictions prevented the levels of death seen in countries where the response was slow or partial. The aim – although not always well stated – was only to do this until understanding improved, and vaccines, drugs and better management of the sick were available and accessible for all.

Restrictions caused harm but their delay/absence resulted in death

If we can take the heat out of our feelings for a moment, perhaps we can stand back in 2022 and honestly say that are no easy or harmless ways to protect lives during a pandemic. There are only ways of keeping people away from each other and hopefully doing that while minimising all the other harm – hopefully all much less severe than death – that can result from that. A pandemic is just an utterly crappy event. There’s no good. There’s just bad and not so bad.

We needed to be better at explaining why we had to be subjected to the things we were. We needed to be quicker to lift restrictions when they were not useful. We needed to tailor them with more finesse where possible. We needed to be authentic when we could see one restriction contradicted another – discussing why, even though the answer was something like “because we need this to keep being done”.

While lockdowns caused a range of harms [a few recent examples: 8,9,10,11,12,13,15], others have not found such a clear correlation [a few recent examples: 1,4,5,7] and in some cases, there were improvements to health and levels of infectious disease.[6,14,16,17]

Lists, threats and restrictions

I’m not complaining about being singled out, abused or threatened with being put on trial as I’ve had few of those approaches compared to many others. Although I block a lot quicker than I used to as well.

Most recently I’ve been added to a list of 101 people who “pushed for lockdowns”.[2] The premise of this particular article is kinda dumb though. It’s correlating the current lockdowns in Shanghai in 2022 with comments made before good vaccination levels were attained in other parts of the world. From my perspective, I was supportive of Australia’s border closures early in 2020.[3] I wouldn’t be now. But 2020 was a very different and pre-vaccine stage of the pandemic – it just isn’t comparable to the use of lockdowns in 2022 anywhere today.

The false dichotomy that was always a lie

“It’s either health or the economy!” …they told us.

And of course, many believed them. But it was never that. It was health and the economy.

We saw some great evidence to support this back in July 2021 from the Grattan Institute’s report, Race to 80: our best shot at living with COVID.[19]

From the Grattan Institute’s July 2021 report, Race to 80: our best shot at living with COVID.[19]

If we look at those top countries versus countries that were late to lockdown or lockout or to respond with restrictions in general, the death rate tells a standout tale.

Even Taiwan suffered “prevention fatigue” – a term that sums up what happened anywhere there were humans in 2021.[20] But to their credit and that of their leadership, they turned that outbreak around.[21]

Countries that responded quickly and strongly to the pandemic – including Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea – did not suffer as high a case fatality rate as did countries that did respond less quickly.
From Our World In Data, Mortality Risk of COVID-19 [22].

In some instances – for example, in Australia and New Zealand – the removal of influenza and other inflammatory respiratory viruses from the winter mix due to the cessation of the global influenza travellator, may have added to a reduction of annual death compared to the average year pre-pandemic.

Countries that responded quickly and strongly to the pandemic – including Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea – did not suffer the high rate of excess death seen in countries that did not respond as quickly.
From Our World In Data, Mortality Risk of COVID-19 [22].

And despite the use of lockdowns, Australia (overall – sorry Victoria, I know you guys suffered extra hard) and New Zealand actually had a lot of time not locked down than did some other countries. We dipped in, and once back under control, we relaxed those lockdowns and went on with life, relying on a hotel quarantine (HQ) system at the border. For a while that was leaky, but then it sealed up as the airborne nature of transmission finally (?maybe) was addressed. We didn’t hear as much about HQ working as we did when it failed though.

From the Grattan Institute’s July 2021 report, Race to 80: our best shot at living with COVID.[19]

Of course, one Australian State (New South Wales) lost control of the virus not long after this and spread it to other sites. It, like Victoria after it, also suffering from the public’s prevention fatigue, couldn’t maintain the martial mindset needed to prevent an efficient virus from transmitting.

Until then, restrictions, including lockdowns, quarantine, testing, tracing, isolation and (eventually) masks, had been working across all of Australia’s States and Territories to keep the virus out and contain the spread when it got in, while vaccines were ordered and administered. Lives were saved. When employed quickly, they were also able to be turned off fairly quickly as their effect allowed contact tracing to get ahead of spread.

But despite our economy bouncing back from lockdowns, once the virus started to spread without restriction, even in an 80% vaccinated population, we’ve seen this year that businesses, hospitals, aged care, airlines, you name it – they’ve all struggled to field enough staff because of illness. And we’ve seen lots of trouble with deliveries due to supply chain interruptions (something we spoke about in 2020 [23]) both in delivery at this end and production and manufacture at the source.

Lockdowns in 2022

Now I sound defensive. But there really isn’t a reason for lockdowns in the post-vaccine age. Before vaccines, we saw a huge number of deaths. And even though we know most COVID-19 deaths occur among the elderly and those with underlying conditions, they were each the death of loved ones and they added to eth anxiety, depression and loss this pandemic is responsible for.

As we now know – even though severe disease and death happen in a relatively small proportion of those infected, when millions are infected that small percentage becomes a big very number of lost loved ones!

What’s my point?

Lockdowns had a role, as did stopping travel, quarantine and isolation. Masks still do have a role as does completely revamping our indoor air quality. It’s appalling that during the current election campaign in Australia we have yet to hear any plan about measures any “leader” will take to keep us safe from the inherent dangers of contaminated air. So many lessons, so little learned.

The role of lockdowns was to save lives that would (and were as Australian and New Zealand, Taiwan and others observed time and time again) have been lost if not enacted quickly. They could have been done better but when used surgically – quickly on, quickly off with financial support, communication and enhanced mental and other health support – they reduced lockdown-related harms while also preventing the death they were intended for.

I don’t stand down from my support of these measures in the early stages of the pre-vaccine pandemic. Despite what threatening lists and articles may seek.

But to be clear, lockdowns don’t have a place now because we got through any temporary need.


  1. The impact of Victorian COVID-19 lockdowns on the presentation and management of acute appendicitis
  2. Who Pushed for Lockdowns? 101 Leading Voices
  3. COVID-19 cases slow a little in Australia
  4. A Global Longitudinal Study Examining Social Restrictions Severity on Loneliness, Social Anxiety, and Depression
  5. Lockdown surgery: the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 measures on cardiac cases
  6. The impact of lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic on work-related accidents in Austria in 2020
  7. Risk Behaviors, Family Support, and Emotional Health among Adolescents during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Israel
  8. Rise in depression and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic: results from a cross-sectional national survey
  9. Adolescents, Suicide, and the COVID-19 Pandemic
  10. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on eating disorders: A systematic review
  11. Impact of the first national COVID-19 lockdown on referral of women experiencing domestic violence and abuse in England and Wales
  12. The links of stress, substance use and socio-demographic factors with domestic violence during the Covid-19 pandemic in Portugal
  13. Women’s mental health: acute impact of COVID-19 pandemic on domestic violence
  14. Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple community lockdowns on total live birth rates and preterm births in Melbourne, Australia
  15. Impacts of COVID-19 lockdowns on frailty and wellbeing in older people and those living with long-term conditions
  16. Transmission of paediatric respiratory syncytial virus and influenza in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic
  17. Air pollution declines during COVID-19 lockdowns mitigate the global health burden
  18. Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus during the COVID-19 pandemic: Time for a new paradigm?
  19. Race to 80: our best shot at living with COVID
  20. ‘Prevention fatigue’ driving sudden COVID surge in Taiwan: Expert
  21. Why Taiwan Is Beating COVID-19 – Again
  22. Mortality Risk of COVID-19 – Our World in Data
  23. So you think you’re about to be in a pandemic?

Hits: 21

The post Lockdowns had a role: they saved lives appeared first on Virology Down Under.

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Spread & Containment

U.S. FDA will decide on redesigned COVID vaccines by early July

U.S. regulators plan to decide by early July on whether to change the design of COVID-19 vaccines this fall in order to combat more recent variants of…



U.S. FDA will decide on redesigned COVID vaccines by early July

By Michael Erman

“The better the match of the vaccines to the circulating strain we believe may correspond to improve vaccine effectiveness, and potentially to a better durability of protection,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said at a meeting of outside advisers to the regulator.

Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine labels are seen in this illustration picture taken March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The committee is scheduled to vote on a recommendation on whether to make the change later on Tuesday.

The updated shots are likely to be redesigned to fight the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, experts say. read more The exact composition of the retooled shots and whether they also will include some of the original vaccine alongside new components will be considered at the meeting.

Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) and Novavax Inc. (NVAX.O) are scheduled to present data at the meeting. All three companies have been testing versions of their vaccines updated to combat the BA.1 Omicron variant that was circulating and led to a massive surge in infections last winter.

Both Moderna and Pfizer with partner BioNTech (22UAy.DE) have said that their respective redesigned vaccines generate a better immune response against BA.1 than their current shots that were designed for the original virus that emerged from China.

They have said that their new vaccines also appear to work against the more recently circulating BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, even though that protection is not as strong as against BA.1.

Experts also want to know if the new shots will boost protection against severe disease and death for younger, healthier people or merely offer a few months’ additional safeguard against mild infection.

Scientists who have questioned the value of booster shots for young and healthy people have said a broad campaign is not needed with an updated shot either.

Other experts have championed any additional protection new vaccines may offer.

Reporting by Michael Erman Editing by Bill Berkrot and Bernadette Baum

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Source: Reuters


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Stock Market Today: Dow Jones, S&P 500 Edge Higher; Stock Surges From China Covid Easing

Markets opened in the green today as they rebound from Monday’s losses.
The post Stock Market Today: Dow Jones, S&P 500 Edge Higher; Stock…



Stock Market Today Mid-Morning Updates

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up by 270 points as it followed modest losses on Wall Street. Investors are still weighing the risks of red-hot inflation as rates continue to rise. Aside from the U.S., European Central Bank Leader Christine Lagarde downplayed recession concerns in the eurozone, already being destabilized by Russia’s war on Ukraine. She also says that her team is ready to raise rates at a faster pace if needed, in order to combat inflation.

Shares of Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) raised their dividends after passing their annual stress tests. For instance, Goldman Sachs is boosting its dividend payout by 25% to $2.50 per share. On the other hand, shares of Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ: WYNN) are up today after China announced that it will be easing Covid-19 quarantine rules for international arrivals.

Among the Dow Jones leaders, shares of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) are up by 0.13% today while Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is down by 0.79%. Meanwhile, Disney (NYSE: DIS) and Nike (NYSE: NKE) are trading mixed on Tuesday. Among the Dow financial leaders, Visa (NYSE: V) is up by 0.17% while JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) is also up by 1.67%

Shares of EV leader Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) are up by 0.83% on Tuesday. Rival EV companies like Rivian (NASDAQ: RIVN) are down by 0.17%. Lucid Group (NASDAQ: LCID) is down by 1.09% today as well. However, Chinese EV leaders like Nio (NYSE: NIO) and Xpeng Motors (NYSE: XPEV) are trading mixed today. 

Dow Jones Today: U.S. Treasury Yields Inches Higher; House Price Increases Slows Down In April 

Following the stock market opening on Tuesday, the S&P 500, Dow, and Nasdaq are trading higher at 0.68%, 0.89%, and 0.31% respectively. Among exchange-traded funds, the Nasdaq 100 tracker Invesco QQQ Trust (NASDAQ: QQQ) is up by 0.28% while the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEARCA: SPY) is also up by 0.67%. 

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield currently hovers around 3.22% as the market continues to push against a bear market. Oil prices rallied for the third day today as major producers like Saudi Arabia looked unlikely to be able to boost output significantly. This comes as the West agreed to explore ways to cap the price of Russian oil. Brent crude, for instance, currently trades at around $116 per barrel.

Home prices increased slower than before in April and could be a potential sign of a cooling in prices. Diving in, prices rose by 20.4% nationally in April compared with a year earlier. This is according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index. For comparison, home prices increased by 20.6% year-over-year in March. Cities like Tampa, Miami, and Phoenix continue to lead the pack with the strongest price gains. Tampa home prices, for instance, are up by a whopping 35.8% year-over-year.

[Read More] Top Stock Market News For Today June 28, 2022 Stock Gains Following Better-Than-Expected Quarterly Performance On Travel Rebound; China Covid Easing Group (NASDAQ: TCOM) seems to be among the top gainers in the stock market now. Evidently, TCOM stock is now up by over 14% at the opening bell today. Overall, this likely stems from the company’s latest financial update. Getting straight into it, reported a quarterly loss per share of $0.01. Furthermore, the company’s total quarterly revenue is $649 million. For reference, consensus figures on Wall Street are a loss per share of $0.08 on revenue of $575.04 million. With these commendable results, investors looking to bet on the return of travel would be considering TCOM stock.

According to, the company has recovering travel demand in global markets to thank for its latest quarterly performance. In particular, highlights a bump in activity from consumers across its Europe and Asia Pacific user bases. This, the company believes, is a result of easing travel restrictions amidst countries in these regions. Moreover, also notes that staycation-related travel in China is another notable contributor to growth for the quarter. Accordingly, its local hotel bookings are now up by 20% year-over-year.

On the whole, travel firms like continue to thrive as consumers book their vacations. For its latest quarter, the company’s air-ticket bookings on global platforms are now up by a whopping 270% year-over-year. As mentioned earlier, this is mainly led by a rebound in demand from its European and Asian Pacific operations. Looking forward, CEO Jane sun notes that will “remain adaptive to embrace the changing environment and be flexible with our strategies to swiftly seize growth opportunities.” With all this in mind, I could understand if TCOM stock is turning some heads in the stock market today.

TCOM stock
Source: TradingView

[Read More] Best Oil Stocks To Buy Right Now? 5 For Your Late June 2022 Watchlist 

Occidental Petroleum On The Rise Following Latest Berkshire Hathaway Stake Increase

Meanwhile, the likes of Occidental Petroleum (NYSE: OXY) seem to be gaining attention in the stock market now. For the most part, this is likely a result of the latest regulatory filing from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A). Namely, Berkshire disclosed a purchase of an additional 794,000 shares of Occidental. This adds up to a $44 million transaction, bringing its total stake to about 16.4%. In total, Berkshire currently holds about 153.5 million shares of OXY stock, worth $9 billion.

All in all, Buffett’s focus on Occidental would likely draw attention to the energy firm’s shares. This is apparent as OXY stock is currently gaining by over 6% in the stock market now. According to Berkshire’s filings since March, the company’s average purchase price per share of OXY stock is $53. Following this investment, Berkshire would be bolstering its position as Occidental’s largest stakeholder. In second place on this front is investment firm Vanguard with an almost 11% stake. As a result of all this, it would not surprise me to see OXY stock making the rounds in the stock market now.

OXY stock
Source: TradingView

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The post Stock Market Today: Dow Jones, S&P 500 Edge Higher; Stock Surges From China Covid Easing appeared first on Stock Market News, Quotes, Charts and Financial Information |

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Royal Caribbean Shares Huge News on Covid Testing, Vaccine Rules

President Michael Bayley gave some straight answers on pre-cruise covid testing and potentially dropping vaccine requirement at a Q&A during the cruise…



President Michael Bayley gave some straight answers on pre-cruise covid testing and potentially dropping vaccine requirement at a Q&A during the cruise line's President's Cruise.

Being on a cruise has largely returned to the same experience it was before the pandemic. Mask requirements have been dropped, capacities have returned to normal, and social distancing requirements have been dropped.

In fact, aside from crew members still having to wear masks and some stray passengers opting to do so in certain indoor situations, there's really no sign of covid rules once you board your cruise.

Before you board, however, the pandemic still has an effect on cruising. Every passenger 12 and older must be vaccinated (and must prove so before getting on board) and all passengers must produce a negative covid test taken no more than two days before getting on the ship.

And, while covid remains a problem, the cruise industry sees some light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to pre-cruise protocols. Executives from the major cruise lines -- Royal Caribbean International (RCL) - Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) - Get Carnival Corporation Report, and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) - Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report -- have said very little about plans to drop pre-cruise testing and vaccination requirements,

Now, however, Royal Caribbean President Michael Bayley has spoken out on both issues and has given cruise fans some real answers.


When Will Covid Tests and Vaccinations Get Dropped?

The major cruise lines have largely stayed quiet about covid protocols because they remain somewhat beholden to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The current CDC rules are voluntary, but voluntary is sort of a relative term when it comes to the power the federal agency has over the cruise industry.

It makes sense that the industry has been cautious in commenting on when covid protocols may change, but with the end at least seeming feasible Bayley answered questions about both the end of pre-cruise testing and potentially dropping vaccination requirements during the 2022 Royal Caribbean President's Cruise on Ovation of the Seas, the Royal Caribbean Blog reported.

"I think pre-cruise testing is going to be around for another couple of months," Bayley said. "We obviously want it to go back to normal, but we're incredibly cognizant of our responsibilities to keep our crew, the communities and our guests safe."

Bayley was less hopeful about the end of vaccinations, according to the blog, which has no connection to Royal Caribbean.

"The no vaccine question is is a huge question that none of us know the answer to," he said. "I'm skeptical that's going to change in the in the real short term. Many and most of the destinations that we visit require a high degree of vaccination, and they expect our crew to be vaccinated."

Cruise Lines Covid Protocols Are Working

Covid has not gone anywhere, but the cruise industry has been very successful at controlling the impact of the virus. Bayley noted that the CDC shares some information with him about the "millions" of people who have sailed from U.S. ports over the past 12 months.

"And the number of people who died from COVID who'd sailed on ships over the past year was two," the Royal Caribbean Blog reported. "Two is terrible. But against the context of everything we've seen, that's it's truly been a remarkable success."

Vaccine requirements remain a touchy issue as some people have chosen not to be vaccinated and that means they cannot cruise. That seems unlikely to change anytime soon given the destinations Royal Caribbean visits and the CDC information which shows that the current protocols are working.

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