The health pass at the Senate, Israel reopens to tourists … Update on the pandemic

While vaccination campaigns for a third dose or for children under 12 are accelerating, research into a treatment for the disease is also advancing. A pill from the American laboratory Merck could be distributed on a large scale and trials on fluvoxamine, an antidepressant, are encouraging, especially against severe forms of Covid-19.

However, beware of new variants which could undermine all the efforts of the various countries to defeat the pandemic. WHO is thus closely monitoring a Delta subvariant, which is already much more contagious than the original strain.

  • The Senate wants to impose a “review clause” for the health pass

No blank check until the summer: the Senate dominated by the right-wing opposition is preparing to introduce this Thursday a “review clause” in the bill including the controversial health pass, which would require the government to return to Parliament before the end of February.

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Presented by the government as a “toolbox”, the text aims to extend beyond November 15 the possibility of using the health pass and a whole battery of measures to curb the Covid-19 epidemic, in the context of ” a post-crisis diet until July 31, 2022.

Adopted at first reading last week in the National Assembly after agitated debates, the text arrives this Thursday in the chamber of the Senate which, in terms of measures involving deprivation of liberties, makes regular control by Parliament a indispensable condition.

  • WHO is monitoring a subvariant

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Wednesday to closely monitor the contagiousness of the AY.4.2 line of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, increasingly present in Covid-19 contaminations. “An increase in the transmission of the AY.4.2 sequence has been observed since July”, indicates the WHO in its weekly update on the pandemic.

The line has three more mutations than the original Delta variant, including two on the Spike protein – the part of the virus that attaches to human cells. “Epidemiological and laboratory studies are underway” to establish whether AY.4.2 is more contagious or weakens antibodies, according to the WHO.

  • Wuhan laboratories would have handled coronaviruses well

New documents published by the American National Institute of Health (NIH) come to accredit the thesis of a genetic manipulation of coronavirus in the laboratory of Wuhan, Chinese city from which the Covid-19 pandemic started, reports Le Figaro.

These virological researches were, moreover, financed by the United States, which puts the professor Fauci, the American “Mr. epidemic”, in the embarrassment since he always affirmed, in particular before the American Senate, that the NIH had not funded research including genetic engineering of the coronavirus. The manipulations made in the Chinese laboratory consist in mutating a virus so that it becomes potentially more infectious for humans. They are highly contested by many researchers, specifies Le Figaro, because of their dangerousness.

  • Agreement for Global Access to Merck’s Anti-Covid Pill

The American laboratory Merck announced on Wednesday an agreement that could make it possible to widely distribute generic versions of its drug intended for people infected with Covid-19 in poor countries.

The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) said it has signed a voluntary licensing agreement with Merck to facilitate affordable global access to molnupiravir, the experimental oral antiviral drug against Covid-19, developed by Merck. Subject to regulatory approval, the deal will help broaden access to molnupiravir in 105 low- and middle-income countries.

  • Encouraging trials of an antidepressant

Fluvoxamine, an antidepressant drug, is able to reduce hospitalizations in patients with Covid-19 and at risk of severe forms, concludes a clinical trial published on Wednesday. “Fluvoxamine, a drug that is already available and whose cost is reduced, decreases the risk of needing advanced care in (a) population at high risk”, conclude the researchers who conducted this study published in the Lancet Global Health.

Fluvoxamine is used as an antidepressant, and also for obsessive-compulsive disorder. The authors of the study conducted trials, in a dozen Brazilian hospitals, to estimate whether it avoids hospitalizations of patients with Covid-19 who receive it quickly.

  • Israel reopens to tourists in November

The Israeli government confirmed on Wednesday the reopening of its borders to foreign tourists vaccinated against Covid-19 from November 1, following a vaccination campaign in favor of booster doses.

Travelers from “all countries” will be able to travel to Israel without having to first apply for an entry permit, provided they present a vaccination certificate not older than six months. Travelers will also be required to present a PCR test no longer than 72 hours prior to departure and take a second test upon arrival.

  • The Covid, “number one challenge” for Beijing 100 days before the Olympics

Millions of residents confined across China 100 days from the Beijing Winter Olympics. The Covid-19 will be “the number one challenge” of the Olympics-2022, the organizers acknowledged on Wednesday. The Imperial City will become the first city in the world to host both the Summer (in 2008) and the Winter Games, from February 4 to 20.

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Last week, the Olympic flame was handed over to China at a ceremony in Athens. Competitions risk being dominated by the fight against Covid-19, six months after the Tokyo Summer Games postponed by a year due to a pandemic. In this context, the Chinese authorities, who follow a policy of zero contamination, have taken great steps to eradicate a very limited epidemic outbreak in recent days in the north of the country.



By Gaël Brustier


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