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China tests entire city for virus as WHO slams herd immunity idea

China rushed Tuesday to test an entire city of nine million within days after a minor coronavirus outbreak, as the WHO warned that letting the pathogen run free to achieve herd immunity was “scientifically and ethically problematic”.

The virus is still spreading rapidly around the world, with well over 37 million infections, and nations that had suppressed their first outbreaks are now struggling with fresh surges — especially in some parts of Europe.

In the absence of a vaccine, governments are wary of allowing the virus to spread unchecked, with China launching a sweeping drive to test all residents of Qingdao after a handful of cases were detected on Sunday.

“As of 8 am… our city has taken 3.08 million samples for nucleic testing,” the city’s health commission said Tuesday, adding that no new positive samples were found.

Chinese officials intend to test the entire city — around 9.4 million people — by Thursday.

In scenes contrasting with the fumbled testing efforts of other nations, health workers in protective clothing swiftly set up tents and residents queued deep into Monday night to provide samples.

In opposition to economically painful lockdowns and social distancing, there have been proposals in some countries to let the coronavirus circulate in the population to build up “herd immunity” — where so much of the population has been infected there are insufficient new victims for the virus to jump to.

But the World Health Organization said such plans were unworkable, and required mass vaccinations to work.

“Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday, describing the idea as “scientifically and ethically problematic”.

“Allowing a dangerous virus that we don’t fully understand to run free is simply unethical. It’s not an option.”

Further illustrating the challenge, a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal indicated that exposure to the virus may not guarantee future immunity — and the second infection could come with even more severe symptoms.

– Vaccine setback –

The pandemic has claimed more than one million lives worldwide, and spurred breakneck efforts to develop vaccines and effective treatments.

Some have made it to late-stage clinical testing, but the optimism was dented Monday when Johnson & Johnson announced it had temporarily halted its 60,000-patient trial because of an unexplained illness in one participant.

There are ten firms conducting Phase 3 trials of their candidates globally, including Johnson & Johnson.

The pharma giant has been awarded about $1.45 billion in US funding under Operation Warp Speed, championed by President Donald Trump, who is keen for a political boost ahead of the November election with a coronavirus breakthrough.

Critics have excoriated Trump for his handling of the crisis, with more known infections and deaths in the United States than anywhere else in the world.

Trump was sidelined from the campaign trail for 10 days after he got Covid-19, but returned to the stage Monday.

“I went through it and

Actors’ Equity Association Slams Cuts to Live Theatre Actors’ Health Plan

The Actors’ Equity Association, which represents actors and stage managers in live theatre, is upset with the changes made by the Equity-League to the stage actors’ health plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes will increase the minimum number of weeks that actors will have to work per year to qualify for the health plan. Currently, members who work 11 weeks qualify for six months of coverage, and 19 weeks earns a year of coverage. As the plan is jointly managed by trustees from both the union and employers, Association President Kate Shindle and the union’s council voted in favor of a resolution directing union trustees to withdraw support from the changes and to postpone any public announcement regarding the health plan until further studies could be performed. Also Read: How TV Animation Survived Mid-Pandemic: Zoom, Puppeteers and Voice Actors in Closets Instead, the Equity-League Health Fund announced on Thursday that actors would have to work 16 weeks for six months of the standard health plan coverage, and that 12 weeks would only qualify for a plan with higher out-of-pocket costs and only covers in-network providers. Shindle said that the changes risk costing thousands of actors their health…

Read original story Actors’ Equity Association Slams Cuts to Live Theatre Actors’ Health Plan At TheWrap

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