Europe’s ’virus fatigue' as trial vaccine causes ‘fever, aches’
The World Health Organisation has warned European countries about "pandemic fatigue" which it says threatens the continent's ability to tackle the coronavirus.
"Although fatigue is measured in different ways, and levels vary per country, it is now estimated to have reached over 60 per cent in some cases," WHO Europe director Dr Hans Kluge said.
He said this is based on "aggregated survey data from countries across the region."
Citizens have made "huge sacrifices" over the last eight months to try and contain the coronavirus, he said in a statement.
"In such circumstances it is easy and natural to feel apathetic and demotivated, to experience fatigue."
Dr Kluge called on European authorities to listen to the public and work with them in "new and innovative ways" to reinvigorate the fight against COVID-19, which is on the increase throughout Europe.
He cited a local authority in the UK which has consulted communities to gauge their feelings, and a municipality in Denmark where students have been involved in drawing up restrictions that allow them to return to university.
Turkey has employed social media polls to understand public sentiment, while Germany's government "has consulted philosophers, historians, theologians, and behavioural and social scientists," Dr Kluge said.
The WHO's Europe region, which encompasses 53 countries including Russia, has seen more than 6.2 million cases and nearly 241,000 deaths related to the virus, according to the organisation's official statistics.
TRIAL VOLUNTEERS REPORT 'FEVER, CHILLS'
Meanwhile, some participants in leading vaccine trials have reported experiencing gruelling side effects after receiving the shot such as high fever, body aches, headaches and exhaustion.
According to reports out of the US, five participants - three in Moderna's study and two in Pfizer's late-stage trials - said the uncomfortable side effects usually went away within a day, but some were surprised by how severe they were.
"If this proves to work, people are going to have to toughen up," one of the Moderna participants, an American woman in her 50s who declined to be identified, told CNBC in the US.
"The first dose is no big deal. And then the second dose will definitely put you down for the day for sure. … You will need to take a day off after the second dose."
The New York Post reported that the woman said he didn't experience a fever but had a bad migraine that left her exhausted and struggling to focus, the outlet reported. But the next day, she woke up feeling better after taking Excedrin.
While she was uncomfortable, the side effects outweigh the risks of becoming infected with the virus, she said.
"My hope is that this works but also that the communication [on side effects] is good," she said, adding that Moderna may need to tell people to take a day off after a second dose.
Meanwhile, another participant in his 20s said that came down with a high fever after receiving the shot.
"I wasn't sure if I needed to go to the hospital or not because [40 degrees] is pretty high," he told CNBC. "But other than that, it's been fine."
Some participants have compared the ordeal - which lasted for 12 hours - to "full-on COVID-like symptoms".
A Moderna spokeswoman said the company doesn't comment on participants in ongoing trials, but noted that safety committees have given the study the green light to continue at each review, CNBC reported.
It comes as Swiss authorities said on Tuesday (local time) they had begun assessing AstraZeneca and Oxford University's COVID-19 vaccine - the first such treatment submitted for authorisation in the country.
The vaccine is one of the most advanced western efforts, having already been tested on tens of thousands of volunteers worldwide.
Switzerland's medical regulator Swissmedic said in a statement that the candidate vaccine had been submitted by the British-Swedish company earlier this month.
Swissmedic said it had "begun the scientific assessment" under a so-called "rolling submission" procedure, which allows pharmaceutical companies to submit applications for COVID-19 treatments before they have concluded development and without the complete supporting documentation.
VIC COVID AVERAGES DROP
Victoria has recorded 15 new coronavirus cases with the all-important 14-day metro average now falling below 11.
The state also recorded one new virus death, taking the total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic to 807.
In NSW, there were 11 new cases of coronavirus but for the 11th consecutive day there has been no community transmission, deputy chief health officer Dr Christine Selvey confirmed.
Victoria's 15 new infections in the past 24 hours have dropped Melbourne's metropolitan 14-day average to 10.6. On Monday it was 11.6.
That figure must be around five for the State Government to consider reopening the city.
Premier Daniel Andrews said there are 21 Victorians in hospital. One is in intensive care, and no Victorians are on a ventilator.
There are 66 active cases in aged care, he said.
Regional Victoria's 14-day average has remained at 0.3 after it was revealed the case reported in Greater Shepparton on Monday was a false positive and removed from the data.
But another new regional case has been reported Kilmore after a cafe staff member tested positive after coming into contact with the infected diner.
The number of cases from an unknown source in the last 14 days is 13 for Melbourne and zero for regional Victoria.
For the first time in about three decades, Victoria is introducing learner permit testing online early next year.
"We know it's a milestone event, getting your identification, but also getting behind the wheel for the very first time. And we want to make sure that we support every young Victorian to get back behind the wheel safely and securely," Roads Minister Ben Carroll said.
The minister also announced "as a goodwill measure" some 80,000 postponed appointments will be refunded for their $19 application fee until the backlog of bookings is dealt with - that could take until April.
The cost of that will be about $27m, including $7m to design a secure online learner's permit system to allow people to take their test (which includes no practical component) in their home.
Originally published as Europe's 'virus fatigue' as trial vaccine causes 'fever, aches'