COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Jump the vaccine line? In Germany, you could face prosecution.
Coronavirus vaccine line jumping in the United States has raised eyebrows and tested friendships. British Home Secretary Priti Patel has called people who skip ahead in the queue "morally reprehensible." But Germany has taken prioritization rules to another level, investigating and threatening to prosecute people who don't wait their turn.

In various German cities, prosecutors have probed politicians, police officers and others. A mayor accused of deliberately circumventing the official vaccine priority list was suspended last week after having his office searched.

German coalition government lawmakers even proposed fines of up to $30,000. Although those have not gone through, line jumpers can be prosecuted under existing laws — for fraud, embezzlement or accepting undue advantage.

That’s similar to what happened in Canada, where a wealthy couple flew to a rural Yukon in January and took vaccine doses intended for Indigenous elders. They now face fines for not self-quarantining and for violating the terms of their entry into the territory.
Read the full article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/covid-vaccine-line-jumping-germany/2021/04/14/3827db70-9bc6-11eb-b2f5-7d2f0182750d_story.html

Brazil’s Congress investigates the Bolsonaro administration’s handling of the pandemic.
The investigation is expected to give critics of Mr. Bolsonaro a high-profile forum to outline missteps by the government over the past year that turned Brazil into the hardest hit nation at this stage of the pandemic.

Mr. Bolsonaro has spoken dismissively about the severity of the virus, calling it a “measly flu,” and has opposed restrictive measures to limit its spread, including lockdowns and business shutdowns. Even as the death toll from Covid-19 in Brazil exceeded 4,000 a day for the first time last week, Mr. Bolsonaro’s government was fighting in court to keep churches open.

Mr. Bolsonaro has also endorsed the use of a cocktail of drugs that leading medical organizations have concluded are ineffectual, and in some cases dangerous, for Covid-19 patients.


... Health experts say Brazil’s response to the pandemic has been disastrous. A highly contagious variant of the virus that was first discovered in Brazil last year has overwhelmed hospital systems in several states and driven up contagion in neighboring countries. Brazil is now averaging more than 70,000 new cases a day, rivaling the United States, whose population is half again as large.

“Brazilian authorities’ refusal to adopt evidence-based public health measures has sent far too many to an early grave,” Christos Christou, the international president of Doctors Without Borders, said in a statement. “This has put Brazil in a permanent state of mourning, and led to the near collapse of Brazil’s health system.”

Last week, Brazil accounted for 26 percent of the world’s Covid deaths and 11 percent of newly reported cases, according to the organization. Brazil’s population is about 2.7 percent of the world’s population.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/04/14/world/covid-vaccine-coronavirus-cases#brazils-congress-investigates-the-bolsonaro-administrations-handling-of-the-pandemic

Empty Middle Seats on Planes Cut Coronavirus Risk in Study
Keeping the middle seats vacant during a flight could reduce passengers’ exposure to airborne coronavirus by 23 to 57 percent, researchers reported in a new study that modeled how aerosolized viral particles spread through a simulated airplane cabin.

“Farther is always better in terms of exposure,” said Byron Jones, a mechanical engineer at Kansas Sate University and co-author of the study. “It’s true in airplanes, it’s true in movie theaters, it’s true in restaurants, it’s true everywhere.”

But the study may have overestimated the benefits of empty middle seats because it did not take into account mask-wearing by passengers.

“It’s important for us to know how aerosols spread in airplanes,” said Joseph Allen, a ventilation expert at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health who was not involved in the study. But he added, “I’m surprised to see this analysis come out now, making a big statement that middle seats should stay open as a risk-reduction approach, when the model didn’t include the impact of masking. We know that masking is the single most effective measure at reducing emissions of respiratory aerosols.”


Although scientists have documented several cases of coronavirus transmission on planes, airplane cabins are generally low-risk environments because they tend to have excellent air ventilation and filtration.

Still, concern has swirled around the risk of airplane travel since the pandemic began. Planes are confined environments, and full flights make social distancing impossible. Some airlines began keeping middle seats vacant as a precaution.

... The cost-benefit analysis is tricky for airlines. But purely from a health perspective, keeping middle seats open would be helpful, providing a buffer between an infectious person and others nearby, according to Alex Huffman, an aerosol scientist at the University of Denver who was not involved in the study. “Distance matters, for both aerosols and droplets,” he said.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/14/health/covid-plane-middle-seat.html

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It has since spread worldwide, leading to an ongoing pandemic.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are variable, but often include fever, cough, fatigue, breathing difficulties, and loss of smell and taste. Symptoms begin one to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. Most people (81%) develop mild to moderate symptoms (up to mild pneumonia), while 14% develop severe symptoms (dyspnea, hypoxia, or more than 50% lung involvement on imaging) and 5% of patients suffer critical symptoms (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction). At least a third of the people who are infected with the virus remain asymptomatic and do not develop noticeable symptoms at any point in time, but can spread the disease. Some patients continue to experience a range of effects—known as long COVID—for months after recovery and damage to organs has been observed. Multi-year studies are underway to further investigate the long term effects of the disease.

Source: Coronavirus disease 2019 - Wikipedia