"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 3rd Aug 2020
Coronavirus: Shielding advice ends as lockdown easing is put on hold
The government has ended shielding advice meaning the most vulnerable during the coronavirus outbreak can now leave their home and go to work. Some 2.2 million people with underlying severe health conditions were advised to stay at home and avoid non-essential face-to-face contact under the guidance. Around 595,000 (28%) of those usually work, according to charities. Shielding advice has now ended in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
'I'm Getting Panic Attacks': How Shielders Feel About Returning To Work
The official shielding period has ended in England. Now, some people are having to choose between their health or earning money.
Coronavirus: Millions of over-50s 'could be told to stay at home' to avoid second nationwide lockdown
Millions of people aged over 50 could be told to stay at home under a "nuclear" option to prevent a new nationwide lockdown if there is a second wave of coronavirus, according to reports. Boris Johnson is said to be considering asking a greater number of people in England to take part in the shielding programme should there be a big spike in COVID-19 cases. A Sunday Times report said people aged between 50 and 70 could be given personalised risk ratings, taking into account factors such as age and medical conditions, before being asked to shield in the event of an outbreak.
With borders closed, our lifelines to family overseas have been cut. The isolation is suffocating
Thanks to Covid-19, the great global experiment that, in recent years, invited so many of us to call so many distant shores our homes has lost a little of its sheen
Fewer than half of adults understand the current coronavirus lockdown rules, study suggests
Fewer than half of people in England understand the current coronavirus rules, a study has revealed. Researchers found that as measures eased at different rates across the UK, levels of understanding of what is and what is not permitted dropped, particularly among younger adults. University College London (UCL) research conducted on more than 70,000 adults showed that 45 per cent only had a “broad understanding” of the current rules in place.
Can you get Covid-19 through your eyes? Possibly. Should we all be wearing goggles? Probably not.
We know that the coronavirus can enter the body through the nose and mouth -- hence the constant recommendations from doctors to wear face coverings and practice social distancing. But what about the eyes? Should we all be wearing goggles or face shields as well? It's certainly possible that a person could get Covid-19 through the eyes, said Dr. Thomas Steinemann, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. There is "emerging evidence" that people are catching the virus from droplets floating in the air, the World Health Organization confirmed earlier this month. One of the ways those droplets can enter your body is through the eyes. It's also possible to get infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching the eye, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Aboard the Diamond Princess, a Case Study in Aerosol Transmission
Technology has tried to tease out the ways in which the virus passed from person to person in the staterooms, corridors and common areas of the Diamond Princess. It found that the virus spread most readily in microscopic droplets that were light enough to float in the air, for several minutes or much longer. The new paper has been posted on a preprint server and submitted to a journal; it has not yet been peer-reviewed, but it was shown by Times reporters to nearly a dozen experts in aerosols and infectious disease. The new findings, if confirmed, would have major implications for making indoor spaces safer and choosing among a panoply of personal protective gear.
The Coronavirus Infected Hundreds at a Georgia Summer Camp
The staff and counselors gathered at the overnight camp in late June. Within a week of the camp orientation, a teenage counselor developed chills and went home. The camp, which the C.D.C. did not name, started sending campers home the next day, and shut down a few days later. By then, 76 percent of the 344 campers and staffers whose test results were available to C.D.C. researchers had been infected with the virus — nearly half the camp. The study is notable because few outbreaks in schools or child care settings have been described to date, said Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “The study affirms that group settings can lead to large outbreaks, even when they are primarily attended by children,” she said. “The fact that so many children at this camp were infected after just a few days together underscores the importance of mitigation measures in schools that do reopen for in person learning,” Dr. Rivers added.
Northern Ireland launches UK's first COVID-19 tracker app
Northern Ireland on Friday launched the United Kingdom’s first COVID-19 tracing app, and the first one that can also trace users in another country, Ireland, who have been in contact with someone suffering from the disease. The developer NearForm, which hopes the app will become a blueprint eventually synching up all of Europe, launched a similar app in Ireland on July 8, and cases can now be traced across the island’s open border by two separate health services. NearForm’s technical director Colm Harte said the technical approach it used in developing StopCovid NI would work with apps across the rest of the UK and that it could apply across Europe if countries agree how to share and store data.
Greece extends mask-wearing requirement as coronavirus infections flare up
Greece will make mask-wearing compulsory in all indoor public spaces and also in outdoor spaces where proper social distancing cannot be observed, its deputy civil protection minister said on Friday, following a further rise in COVID-19 infections. Greece reported 78 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections on Friday, its highest tally in about two months. Overall, it has so far confirmed 4,447 COVID-19 cases with 202 deaths, a relatively low number compared to many European countries, after imposing an early lockdown in the spring. “The decisive factor in successfully confronting the pandemic in the first phase was citizens’ responsibility, the individual responsibility of every one,” Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said in a televised address. “This was the ‘secret’ of Greece’s success and we must all show the same responsibility and alertness in this phase.”
Germany adds 3 coronavirus-hit Spanish regions to quarantine list
Germany on Friday (July 31) added three northern Spanish regions to its list of high-risk destinations, meaning anyone arriving from those areas will have to produce a negative coronavirus test or go into quarantine for 14 days. Germany's Foreign Ministry said it had toughened up its warning against travel to the regions of Catalonia, Navarre and Aragon following a spike in Covid-19 cases there. The move comes after Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control added the three regions to its high-risk list.
Vietnam braces for a fresh wave of coronavirus despite earlier success in containing the outbreak
Vietnam, once praised for its success in containing the coronavirus outbreak, is now battling a resurgence in cases and has warned that the disease could spread wider across the country. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc warned that every province and city in the country is at risk of further infections, reported Reuters, citing state broadcaster Vietnam Television. Authorities have tightened containment measures in Danang, such as stepping up contact tracing, limiting crowd sizes and halting non-essential services. Flights to and from the city have also been temporarily suspended.
Indian Billionaires Bet Big on Head Start in Coronavirus Vaccine Race
In early May, an extremely well-sealed steel box arrived at the cold room of the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker. Inside, packed in dry ice, sat a tiny 1-milliliter vial from Oxford, England, containing the cellular material for one of the world’s most promising coronavirus vaccines. Scientists in white lab coats brought the vial to Building 14, carefully poured the contents into a flask, added a medium of vitamins and sugar and began growing billions of cells. Thus began one of the biggest gambles yet in the quest to find the vaccine that will bring the world’s Covid-19 nightmare to an end.
Kashmir's open-air classes offer stunning solution to lockdown
Schools across India are struggling to teach online as the pandemic forces them to stay shut. But this town in Indian-administered Kashmir has found a novel solution, reports Abid Bhatt. Every morning, students in Doodpathri, a town in Budgam district, walk past streams and bridges, and up the hill to their new classroom: a picturesque spot with the snow-capped Himalayas as a backdrop. The outdoor school is a breather for both parents and children after months of a grinding lockdown to slow down Covid-19 infections. The state has reported more than 19,000 cases and some 365 deaths. "It's far better that our kids attend such schools than grow weary in homes where they often end up frustrating themselves," says Mushtaq Ahmad, whose son is attending the open air school. Officials should collaborate with locals to set up more such schools, he adds.
Japan's kabuki theatre resumes, socially distanced, after coronavirus hiatus
Japan’s stately traditional kabuki theatre resumed performances on Saturday after a five-month break due to the novel coronavirus, with musicians in masks, actors farther apart on stage and only half the usual number of seats. The re-opening of Tokyo’s famed Kabukiza Theatre, which called off performances from March due to the spread of the coronavirus, came even as new cases have spiked to record highs around the country. “We’re re-opening based on guidelines from infectious disease experts, paying attention to audience safety from the time they enter until the time they leave,” Kabukiza manager Yoshitaka Hashimoto said at a Friday preview for journalists. Onstage, the number of musicians is limited and all wear draped black cloth masks from nose to chest.
‘We have to change to survive’: Japanese bathhouses’ future in doubt amid plunge in customers
Although the Japanese government kept bathhouses open during the pandemic, the number of customers taking communal baths, long a tradition, is way down The owner of one bathhouse, Takuya Shimbo, has plans to enhance it with craft beer and live music, hoping to point to a way of keeping the businesses going
Good time for a 'workation' but is Japan Inc. ready?
The word, alternately spelled “workcation,” is a largely alien concept in Japan that has emerged only in the last couple of years, attracting the attention of a smattering of companies and municipalities, such as Japan Airlines Co. and Wakayama Prefecture. Similar to the concept of digital nomads, it is typically understood to be a hybrid activity in which employees telecommute from hotels, resorts and other destinations that allow them to escape the mundane reality of everyday life. The Japan Tourism Agency said it was looking into the concept even before the pandemic. But Suga’s unexpected mention of the term Monday, coming hot on the heels of the recent outcry over the controversial Go To Travel campaign, has catapulted it into the public spotlight, stoking concerns it could blur the line between work and personal life to the point of encouraging overwork.
Anti-vaxxers on social media could ruin chance of an effective treatment
Social media influencers and celebrities with millions of followers are boosting anti-vaccination messages worldwide, as more people say that they will not take a coronavirus vaccine. Politicians and experts have given warning that the rapid spread of misinformation about a Covid-19 vaccine could mean that it cannot be rolled out effectively. Damian Collins, a former chairman of the Commons committee on digital, media, culture and sport, said that the findings required urgent legislation.
'We don't feel pressure to go back': England's firms in no hurry to resume office life
From this week, companies in England can decide whether it is safe for employees to go back to the office after the coronavirus lockdown prompted more people to work from home. However, few businesses appear to be preparing for a mass return to desks, meeting rooms and cafeterias on Monday. Here are the views of some firms on the notion of resuming office life.
Remote Work Isn’t Going Away. So Let’s Deal With the Obstacles.
Six months into the Covid crisis, remote work is no longer looking like a blip in the lives of millions of people, but rather a long-term realignment of how those workers and their organizations operate. It’s time for people working from home to assert more control over how that transformation is reshaping their lives and careers.
Millions won't return to offices as Boris Johnson's 'back to work' plea snubbed
Millions of employees won’t be returning to the office anytime soon after bosses snubbed Boris Johnson’s “back to work” plea. Firms can now ask workers to come into the office, even if it is not absolutely necessary for them to be there. Announcing the change earlier this month, the Prime Minister said: “It’s very important that people should be going back to work if they can now.” The move, from Saturday, comes amid fears for cafes and shops in city centres deserted since the start of the coronavirus lockdown.
Remote Work Is Here to Stay. Bosses Better Adjust.
It was mid-June, three months after the Covid-19 crisis had forced the top executives in a fast-growing tech startup to leave their offices and work from home. Executives had believed this “work from home thing” would last a few weeks, one of the company’s vice presidents told me, so they treated it like a brief emergency that required all hands on deck, all the time. It was only when the vice president sent an email at midnight and got detailed comments from two colleagues within 15 minutes that he realized: This work from home thing wasn’t going away anytime soon, and things needed to change.
Culture is the key to remote working success
How can companies reduce the conduct risks around remote working? While the technological revolution in the workplace has made the idea of remote working a reality for many, the complex governance and control requirements for businesses regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority have meant financial services has traditionally been slow to adopt this growing trend. But cue the Covid-19 crisis and, all of a sudden, this new way of working has been imposed on us all. And with some companies already eyeing up the potential cost savings of a permanent shift from their plush headquarters to smaller satellite bases, this could signal the end of office life as we know it.
Victoria schools: how Covid-19 lockdown will affect education, remote learning and childcare
As Melbourne moves into stage four restrictions and regional Victoria to stage three, learning and childcare will look different throughout the state.Schools across the state will return to remote learning while on-site supervision will be offered for students who need it
Schools' plan B for autumn Covid spike: online lessons for all
Schools are getting ready to carry on teaching pupils at home in case a second wave of the coronavirus prevents them from reopening in the autumn. They are drawing up a plan B even though Boris Johnson insisted last week that it was a “national priority” to have all pupils back in classrooms in September. If children do return, some secondary schools and teaching unions have demanded that they wear masks in lessons. Robert Halfon, the Tory chairman of the education select committee, said children and parents should not be forced to endure more “catastrophic failures” of the kind made during the lockdown.
IIM Lucknow to start virtual classes on August 4 over Covid-19 concerns
Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Lucknow will start classes on the virtual mode for the new batch (2020-22) from August 4 to overcome the covid-19 challenge, which has disrupted conventional classroom teaching since March 2020. The online classes will begin for the incoming 36th batch of Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGP) and of Post Graduate Programme in Management in Agri Business Management (PGP ABM). Recently, IIM Calcutta also announced that it would start online classes for its students on August 10.
YourSpace: Virtual learning is a safe option now, say Pune readers
The coronavirus situation has forced the shift towards online classes. Is online education the best way to assess a child’s academic progress? What are the pros and cons of brick-and-mortar and virtual classrooms? Readers share their take on the ‘homebound’ form of education
Victoria shuts down schools and brings back remote learning in bid to control coronavirus outbreak
Melbourne goes into Stage 4 lockdown from 6pm on Sunday and rest to Stage 3 Curfew bans anyone being out 8pm-5am unless working or on medical grounds Premier Daniel Andrews announced schools will be closed to control outbreak Students will go back to at-home learning for the duration of the six-weeks
An Arizona superintendent on safely reopening schools: 'It's a fantasy'
The governor has told us we have to open our schools to students on August 17th, or else we miss out on five percent of our funding. I run a high-needs district in middle-of-nowhere Arizona. We’re 90 percent Hispanic and more than 90 percent free-and-reduced lunch. These kids need every dollar we can get. But covid is spreading all over this area and hitting my staff, and now it feels like there’s a gun to my head. I already lost one teacher to this virus. Do I risk opening back up even if it’s going to cost us more lives? Or do we run school remotely and end up depriving these kids?
Coronavirus threat rises across U.S.: ‘We just have to assume the monster is everywhere’
The coronavirus is spreading at dangerous levels across much of the United States, and public health experts are demanding a dramatic reset in the national response, one that recognizes that the crisis is intensifying and that current piecemeal strategies aren’t working. This is a new phase of the pandemic, one no longer built around local or regional clusters and hot spots. It comes at an unnerving moment in which the economy suffered its worst collapse since the Great Depression, schools are rapidly canceling plans for in-person instruction and Congress has failed to pass a new emergency relief package. President Trump continues to promote fringe science, the daily death toll keeps climbing and the human cost of the virus in America has just passed 150,000 lives.
After 'warning light', Johnson halts COVID lockdown unwind
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday postponed a planned easing of the coronavirus lockdown in England after a rise in infections amplified fears of a second deadly surge in COVID-19 cases.
Greater Manchester declares major incident after rise in Covid-19 cases
A major incident has been declared in Greater Manchester in response to increases in coronavirus infection rates across “multiple localities”. The decision to up the readiness of emergency and public services to react to the escalating Covid-19 transmission rate in the region comes after the government announced new lockdown restrictions for parts of north-west England on Thursday. Gold command meetings of senior figures from the police, local authorities and other agencies to discuss the pandemic have been taking place over the weekend. Major incidents are often declared as a result of a terror attack or natural disaster and mean a region can access extra national resources if necessary, with the police able to draft in the army if they need support.
Coronavirus: track and trace fails in 50% of 'easiest' cases
The government’s £10bn contact-tracing programme failed to reach almost half the contacts named by infected patients in “non-complex” cases — including people living under the same roof. The outsourcing giants Serco and Sitel are being paid £192m to provide 18,500 call handlers who are responsible for tracing non-complex contacts referred to them. “Non-complex” cases, such as when the infected person came into contact with a friend, are dealt with by the two firms, while “complex” ones involving a potential outbreak in a school or workplace are referred to experienced Public Health England teams. People who test positive for Covid-19 in England are traced, told to isolate and asked for details of those they have come into contact with.
New push to raise Covid-19 testing capacity in England to 500,000 a day
Plans to raise Covid-19 testing capacity in England to 500,000 people a day have been signalled by the government as infections rise in Europe and ahead of a feared winter surge in cases. More people without symptoms are to be tested; the goal is to reach 150,000 tests a day for people who may be asymptomatic, such as those working in health and social care and other jobs that involve contact with other people. Anyone who has even mild symptoms can be tested and is urged to do so. In the latest week for which data has been published, from 16 to 22 July, 366,397 people were newly tested in hospitals, care homes and the community, and just over 4,000 were positive. But this falls considerably short of the number of new infections in England estimated by modellers, such as the MRC Biostatistics Unit in Cambridge, which published new data on Wednesday showing there were 3,000 a day – a figure similar to that produced by the Office of National Statistics.
All staff across three NHS trusts in north-west England being urgently tested
All staff across three NHS trust areas in north-west England are in the process of being rapidly tested for coronavirus to control the spread of the disease. There is growing concern in the region after cases rose in Lancashire and tracers were unable to get in touch with thousands of people who may have been in contact with someone with Covid-19. It is understood that the staff mass testing is being rolled out across Bolton, Stockport and Blackpool foundation trusts. “In line with previous PHE/chief medical officer advice, additional staff testing is sometimes deployed on a precautionary basis,” an NHS North West spokesperson said. “As usual, staff who test positive will be given support to self-isolate in line with government rules.”
Covid-19: Cases to be reviewed over weekend ahead of phase-four reopening
The number of Covid-19 cases will be monitored “very carefully” over the weekend, the Taoiseach has said ahead of a Cabinet decision on Tuesday on moving to phase four of the reopening roadmap. Last night marked 38 additional cases of Covid-19 reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team following a spike of 85 new cases on Thursday. The acting chief medical officer warned “we may be beginning to see more cases which we cannot link to outbreaks or close contacts”. Phase four, due to commence on August 10th, would mean pubs which do not serve food reopen as well as gatherings of up to 100 people indoors and 500 outdoors. Mr Martin yesterday said the spike in cases was a concern and the Government will “watch and monitor very carefully” what happens in the coming days. “We have to see if a pattern has emerged or if it was relating to specific clusters that have emerged in recent days,” he said.
Namibia to close schools, limit public gatherings as COVID-19 cases surge
Namibian schools will be suspended for the second time in four months next week, while limits on public gatherings will be tightened further to 100 from 250 amid surging cases, President Hage Geingob said. In a televised speech on Friday, Geingob said the decision to suspend schools from Aug. 4 for 28 days came after considering the risks associated with the spread of the virus. The measure affects early childhood development, pre-primary, primary and the first two grades of high school. Namibia has 2,129 confirmed cases and 10 deaths with the country’s rate of daily new cases now the fourth highest on the continent following South Africa, Eswatini and Gabon, according to Geingob. People will also not be allowed to consume alcohol at bars and taverns. They will only be permitted to drink it at home.
Coronavirus: Russia plans mass vaccination campaign in October
Russian health authorities are preparing to start a mass vaccination campaign against coronavirus in October, the health minister has said. Russian media quoted Mikhail Murashko as saying that doctors and teachers would be the first to receive the vaccine. Reuters, citing anonymous sources, said Russia's first potential vaccine would be approved by regulators this month. However, some experts are concerned at Russia's fast-track approach. On Friday, the leading infectious disease expert in the US, Dr Anthony Fauci, said he hoped that Russia - and China - were "actually testing the vaccine" before administering them to anyone. Dr Fauci has said that the US should have a "safe and effective" vaccine by the end of this year. "I do not believe that there will be vaccines so far ahead of us that we will have to depend on other countries to get us vaccines," he told US lawmakers.
Coronavirus: Scots warned to avoid Covid hotspots in England
The Scottish government has warned people not to visit areas of England affected by new local lockdown rules. It said travel between Scotland and Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire should only be undertaken if "absolutely essential". First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said those already in the affected areas do not need to return to Scotland early. But she said they should be "more careful than normal" after their return home. They are being advised to minimise contact with other households for 14 days, avoid indoor hospitality and be vigilant in monitoring for symptoms. The advice was issued as 30 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Scotland.
Trump planning for U.S. rollout of coronavirus vaccine falling short, officials warn
As scientists and pharmaceutical companies work at breakneck speed to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, public health officials and senior U.S. lawmakers are sounding alarms about the Trump administration’s lack of planning for its nationwide distribution. The federal government traditionally plays a principal role in funding and overseeing manufacturing and distribution of new vaccines during pandemics, which often draw on scarce ingredients and need to be made, stored and transported carefully. There won't be enough vaccine for all 330 million Americans right away, so the government also has a role in deciding who gets it first, and in educating a vaccine-wary here public about its potential life saving merits. Right now, it is unclear who in Washington is in charge of oversight, much less any critical details, some state health officials and members of Congress told Reuters.
Argentina lockdown: Reports of abuse by security forces
The Argentinean government deployed thousands of security personnel in March to enforce a nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus. But reports of abuse and violence have been on the rise. Al Jazeera's Teresa Bo reports from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Melbourne declares 'state of disaster' as coronavirus sweeps through Victoria
Australia on Sunday introduced sweeping new measures to control a growing coronavirus outbreak in its second-biggest city, including an overnight curfew and a ban on weddings for the first time during the pandemic. Despite a lockdown that began in early July, Melbourne has continued to report hundreds of new cases daily, and authorities said the city's residents would now face a curfew from 8 pm to 5 am for the next six weeks. Declaring a "state of disaster" on Sunday, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said the state capital would move to Stage 4 restrictions until September 13 given "unacceptably high" levels of community transmission.
Spike in Covid-19 cases puts reopening of pubs at risk amid worries over spread of virus
Pubs may have to agree to shorter opening times and limits on customer numbers as a price for reopening. Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said at least 19 cases over the two days have been identified as community transmission with an unknown source, while 20 cases remain under investigation. "We may be beginning to see more cases which we cannot link to outbreaks or close contacts. The National Public Health Emergency Team will continue to monitor this situation closely over the coming days," he said. The Irish Dog Foods factory in Naas, which was the centre of a large outbreak, remained closed yesterday for a deep clean
Indonesia kindergarten explores new ways to teach over pandemic
As schools struggle to keep pupils engaged during the pandemic, a kindergarten on Indonesia’s Java island is getting pupils back in the classroom using makeshift transparent cubicles and also sending teachers on home visits with social distancing barriers. Permata Hati Kindergarten, a private kindergarten with 135 pupils in the city of Semarang in Central Java province, is allowing six pupils per day to spend time in the classroom, giving children a chance to attend school once every two weeks. Central Java has recorded Indonesia’s fourth highest number of infections and at least 287 people have died in Semarang alone, according to government data.
One of the first US schools to reopen had student test positive for Covid-19 on first day
One of the first US school districts to reopen had to snap into swift action after a student tested positive for coronavirus on the first day. Hours into the first day of classes at Greenfield Central Junior High School in Indiana, the health department called to alert the school that a student tested positive for Covid-19 after sitting in multiple classrooms and roaming the halls. School administration immediately began emergency protocol and isolated the student. They also ordered anyone who came in contact with the student to isolate for two weeks
US COVID: child care closures disproportionally affect women
A survey found that 13 percent of working parents had to resign or reduce work hours because of a lack of child care. The pandemic upended child care plans for many parents in the US, forcing them - particularly mothers - to grapple with tough choices that are only becoming more difficult as states push return-to-work policies to try to revive the battered economy.
Great News About Births During Covid-19
Here at last is some good news about the Covid-19 pandemic and the wholesale disruption to our lives it has caused: In many places with strict lockdowns this spring, there were far fewer premature births than is considered normal. The trend doesn’t appear to be universal, but where it applies, the data are staggering. In Denmark, the number of babies born after less than 28 weeks of gestation — 40 weeks is the norm — dropped by 90% during the country’s month-long lockdown this spring. In one region of Ireland, the rate of preemies with very low birth weight was down by 73% between January and April compared with averages over the preceding two decades. Somewhat smaller decreases have been observed in parts of Canada, Australia and the Netherlands. Elsewhere, clinics and doctors are now scurrying to examine their own data.
Surviving a COVID-19 ICU stay is just the start. We're ignoring what else it takes to recover.
After the ICU, coronavirus patients need rehab facilities and staff to get them back to normal functioning, if they even can — the U.S. is short on both.
COVID-19: WHO warns of 'lengthy' pandemic as cases rise
The coronavirus pandemic is likely to be "lengthy", the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Saturday as countries from France to Mexico reported a rise in cases. The WHO said it "highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this COVID-19 pandemic" in a statement after its emergency committee met on Friday to evaluate the crisis six months after it rang the global alarm on January 30. The group also warned of the risk of "response fatigue" given the socio-economic pressures on countries. "WHO continues to assess the global risk level of COVID-19 to be very high," said its latest statement.
Antibody tests fail to detect people who had mild coronavirus symptoms
Tests designed to check whether people have had coronavirus might be missing those who only experienced mild symptoms, a new study has found. Researchers at Oxford University gave an antibody test to more than 900 healthcare workers and found significant numbers came back negative, even among those who were likely to have contracted Covid-19. The findings have thrown fresh doubts over the accuracy of the tests and how they can be used to help the UK avoid another lockdown.
Vaccine Confronts Humanity With Next Moral Test
When it comes to Covid-19, “It’s pretty hard to have informed consent when we barely know anything about this yet.” There are fears that the virus can cause lasting damage even in twentysomethings, for example, but little clear evidence. Can volunteers really consent to expose themselves to such poorly understood risks?
When It Comes to Covid Shots, Rich Nations Are First in Line
Although international groups and a number of nations are promising to make vaccines affordable and accessible to all, doses will likely struggle to keep up with demand in a world of roughly 7.8 billion people. The possibility wealthier countries will monopolize supply, a scenario that played out in the 2009 swine flu pandemic, has fueled concerns among poor nations and health advocates.
US gov announces $2.1bn deal with pharma companies to make 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine
French firm Sanofi and British company GlaxoSmithKline will make the vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is being developed by both firms working together. They will receive up to $2.1 billion to supply vaccines for 50 million people. The U.S. government has the option to buy another 500 million doses
1 in 5 Londoners who have had Covid-19 were symptomless, study suggests
One in five people in London and the South East who have had coronavirus did not show any symptoms, a new study suggests. It also found that more than a quarter (27 per cent) of people who fell ill did not display the three main signs of Covid-19 – persistent cough, fever and loss of smell (anosmia). Researchers said this is the first UK-based pre-print study linking detailed ongoing symptom collection data with antibody testing, and highlights the likely extent of Covid-19 infection across the region.
The Three Key Hurdles for a Coronavirus Vaccine to Clear
Vaccines have transformed the world, saving hundreds of millions of lives. They are also by far our best hope to stop the Covid-19 pandemic. Our other choices for stopping the disease are staying apart, which hammers our economy and society, or building “herd immunity” through natural infection, which would mean more than a million deaths in the U.S. and 10 million or more deaths world-wide. But the push for a Covid-19 vaccine faces three key hurdles.
EU Poised to Secure Sanofi Deal for Coronavirus Vaccine
Sanofi SA and GlaxoSmithKline Plc on Friday said they are in advanced discussions to supply up to 300 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine for the 27-country European Union. Armed with an emergency fund of more than 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion), the European Commission wants to strike deals with up to six drugmakers for their vaccines for their 450 million citizens against the coronavirus that has killed 674,000 people worldwide. The Commission said the aim of the talks with Sanofi was to clinch an advance purchase deal.
Large U.S. COVID-19 vaccine trials will exclude pregnant women for now
The first two COVID-19 vaccines to enter large-scale U.S. trials will not be tested in pregnant women this year, raising questions about how this vulnerable population will be protected from the coronavirus, researchers told Reuters. Moderna (MRNA.O) and Pfizer (PFE.N), which has partnered with Germany’s BioNTech (22UAy.F), this week separately launched clinical trials that use a new and unproven gene-based technology. Both companies are requiring proof of a negative pregnancy test and a commitment to using birth control from women of childbearing age who enroll. Drugmakers say they first need to make sure the vaccines are safe and effective more generally. In addition, U.S. regulators require that drugmakers conduct safety studies in pregnant animals before the vaccines are tested in pregnant women to ensure they don’t harm the fetus or lead to miscarriage.
US agrees to buy Sanofi-GSK Covid-19 vaccine
The US has agreed to pay Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline up to $2.1bn to accelerate the development of the experimental Covid-19 vaccine the companies are developing and secure an initial 100m doses. The majority of the funding will go to Sanofi since the French pharma group came up with the vaccine candidate, which will be paired with GSK’s adjuvant, an extra ingredient designed to boost its effectiveness. The agreement is part of what President Donald Trump dubbed “Operation Warp Speed”, where the US is aiming to compress the time it takes to bring a vaccine to market from the usual decade to 12 to 18 months. It is also the eighth deal struck through the US’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (Barda) and brings the total pledged to over $8.3bn, more than any other country or government to date.
Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine performs well in early tests
A single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s experimental coronavirus vaccine elicited “robust” protection against Covid-19 when tested on animals, with clinical human trials now under way in the US and Belgium. The pre-clinical data, published in Nature magazine, show the drugmaker’s dose successfully prevented subsequent infection in non-human primates, spurring so-called “neutralising antibodies”. It also provided complete or near-complete protection against Covid-19 in their lungs. “The findings give us confidence as we progress our vaccine development and upscale manufacturing in parallel,” said Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer.
Scientists discover why coronavirus leads to a loss of smell
Scientists have discovered why coronavirus causes some patients to lose their sense of smell. Temporary loss of smell, or anosmia, is one of the earliest and most commonly reported warning signs of Covid-19. Studies suggest the “devastating” symptom better predicts the disease than other well-known symptoms such as a fever or cough. But the actual cause for loss of smell in Covid-19 patients has been unclear – until now. Researchers at Harvard Medical School in the United States have identified which cell types used for smelling are most vulnerable to infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.