"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 11th Aug 2020

Isolation Tips
COVID-19 has isolated disabled people from family, love, sex
For the millions of disabled people living in Canada, COVID-19 containment measures have posed unique challenges to their health and well-being. Those challenges have included increased social isolation, loss of personal support workers, disruption of vital health services and difficulties accessing basic necessities and information. Many disabled people are also facing difficulties maintaining and forming intimate relationships during COVID-19. It’s been well-documented that disabled people encounter more complex barriers and constraints to exercising their rights to “intimate citizenship,” which refers to our rights to access family, friends, sex and sexuality, and to parent. These rights are enshrined in the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Canada signed and ratified.
Royal Commission: Australia's COVID-19 aged care death rate one of the highest in the world
The rate of coronavirus deaths in Australia's aged care homes is among the highest in the world, a royal commission has heard. From inside her Glen Waverley aged care facility, Merle Mitchell told the royal commission of life in lockdown. "From the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep I'm sitting in my own room in my one chair," she said. "I know I'm here until I die so every time I wake up I think damn, I'm still alive. "I'm sure if you really ask most people here, they would all say they would rather be dead rather than be living here." The months of isolation are meant to protect residents.
Hygiene Helpers
How Did New Zealand Control COVID-19?
New Zealand, a modern small island nation, has become an emblematic champion of proper prevention and response to the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Leading into this weekend, the country of approximately 5 million has just 2 dozen active COVID-19 cases—a full month after having reported absolutely none, on the backbone of strict initial travel policies, science-based government action, and strategies responsive to testing limitations. What else went into New Zealand’s pandemic response—and what could serve as guidance for other countries?
Reopening after COVID-19 lockdown and impact on disease
In the absence of any effective vaccine or antiviral preventive or therapeutic drug, the only possible response to an extraordinarily contagious and unknown disease was in the form of multiple non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). China implemented what some describe as a ‘Draconian’ lockdown, with total closure of public transport, and all residents ordered to stay at home. Similar measures restricting travel, quarantining people with suspected or confirmed disease, and tracing contacts, were put in place in other Asia countries, and a month later, in Europe. The latter was also characterized by school and non-essential closures, limits on the number of people who could gather, bans on international travel, and shelter-in-place mandates. The response in the US was quite different in many ways. For one thing, both state and local authorities decided on the measures to be taken. Overall, in most affected areas, stay-at-home orders were passed by March 21, 2020. In the early part of the pandemic, there was a significant reduction in the number of people moving around places like retail, grocery, workplace locations, pharmacies, and parks. Research focused on this time showed that combinations of NPIs had significant success in lowering viral transmission. The greatest impact was observed with an intensive reduction in contacts, such as lockdowns.
Coronavirus: Which face covering works best? Scientists test 14 masks - and find one actually increases risk of infection
Scientists have tested 14 different types of face-covering and found that one of them actually increases the risk of coronavirus infection. Researchers at Duke University in North Carolina tested coverings ranging from the kind worn by healthcare professionals to neck fleeces and knitted masks. The study's authors compared the dispersal of droplets from a participant's breath while they were wearing one of the coverings to the results of a control trial where their mouth was fully exposed.
Coronavirus: Contact tracers to be reduced by 6,000 in England
The NHS test and trace system in England is cutting 6,000 staff by the end of August, the government has announced. The remaining contact tracers will work alongside local public health teams to reach more infected people and their contacts in communities. It comes after criticism that the national system was not tapping into local knowledge. The approach has been used in virus hotspots like Blackburn and Luton. And it's now being offered to all councils that are responsible for public health in their area. Test and trace is staffed by NHS clinicians and people who were trained to become contact tracers during the pandemic. NHS staff who offer advice to people who have tested positive for coronavirus will not be laid off.
Europe's biggest countries are seeing Covid surges -- but not this one
A horrifying moment in the Covid-19 pandemic hit Italy on March 27, 2020, when the civil protection authorities announced that 969 people had died in just 24 hours. In the weeks before that, images of coffins stacked up in church parlors and being driven down the streets of the northern Italian town of Bergamo in a caravan of military trucks poured into the homes of Italians, by then locked down for nearly three weeks. Now, just four months later, life in Italy, the country Vice President Mike Pence once said "no one wanted to be like," is nearly back to normal, despite occasional spikes in cases that have been attributed to migrants arriving in the country or living in close quarters.
‘Door knocks’ a possibility for Covid-19 contacts as 6,000 staff cut
People who have been in contact with confirmed coronavirus cases may get a knock on their door if tracers are unable to reach them over the phone. Health officials have announced plans to strengthen regional test and trace powers in England, while 6,000 national contract tracers will be cut in a fortnight. In pilot schemes, local authorities have been able to visit people at home where national contact tracers have been unable to reach them. The changes come after criticism that the national system was not tapping into local knowledge. Labour said the new plans showed that the system was nowhere near “world-beating” as the Government claims.
Community Activities
Care packages halved for most people with learning disabilities during Covid, report carers
Care packages have at least halved for most people with learning disabilities during the Covid-19 lockdown as their needs have increased, carers have reported. The impact has been reduced independence, poorer health and more pressures on carers, found the online survey of 1,069 family members and carers carried out by Mencap in late June and the first half of July. Two-thirds of respondents (65.3%) said the amount of social care support their loved-one received from their local authority had at least halved, in terms of hours, during the lockdown. The lockdown has seen mass closures of day and short break services services, shut special schools and residential colleges, reduced social support and cut home care in line with social distancing requirements. Most carers (67.4%) reported increases in need among the people with learning disabilities they care for during the shutdown, with 35.9% saying it had increased a lot.
£400,000 Lottery grant to help make most of Covid-19 volunteers
A £400,000 National Lottery grant will enable a Wiltshire charity to tap into the appetite for volunteering discovered by hundreds of people during the coronavirus pandemic. All over Wiltshire people who are self-employed, were on furlough or who just wanted to help, came forward to help Covid response groups and other charities, giving up their time to do shopping, collect prescriptions and even tend graves for elderly and vulnerable people who were shielding.
Working Remotely
Four-fifths of CEOs expect COVID-19 to entrench remote working: PwC
Almost four out of five chief executives expect remote working to become more widespread in their businesses as a result of COVID-19, a global survey from accountancy firm PwC showed on Tuesday. New York, London and some other major cities currently have only a fraction of their normal workforce in offices as employers and governments have told staff to work from home where possible. While some authorities are now encouraging a return to work, PwC said 78% of the chief executives it surveyed expected that at least some of the shift towards remote collaboration would prove enduring. “A blend of office and home working is most likely to be the future norm,” PwC UK’s chairman Kevin Ellis said.
COVID-19 could have a lasting, positive impact on workplace culture
The COVID-19 lockdown has become synonymous with working from home for many people. While some research has suggested that remote work can be isolating, it also makes the competing priorities that workers are juggling very visible — even sometimes literally so due to the popularity of video calls. This has the potential to unite workers with the feeling that they are in this struggle of balancing work and personal responsibilities together. Whether it’s kids or pets that are popping up onscreen during Zoom calls, remote work has caused a relaxation in the traditional rules of professional presentation and resulted in a virtual workplace that is not only more flexible, but also more humane.
Working Remotely From The Pyrenees Peaks Of France
An increasing number of companies are announcing that employees can work from home—at least until the year 2021 (as a result of coronavirus pandemic concerns). Such companies include Sony Music, Amazon corporate, Viacom and Google. For others, such as Twitter, Facebook and Zillow, the switch can be permanent. Working remotely provides obvious advantages such as—potentially—increased flexibility with work hours and less commuting. It can also include disadvantages, such as less personal interaction with co-workers or clients, and lapses in clear communications.
Coronavirus work from home might become work done overseas
Forced away from city centres to slow the spread of coronavirus, the work-from-home revolution has shown many jobs can be done from the suburbs as easily as they were in humming office buildings housing thousands of workers. Could the shift be the change that regional Australia has long waited for? Or does it mark the moment Australians have to compete in the global market for jobs, with equally qualified but much cheaper workers?
Survey finds ‘huge appetite’ for remote working
The majority of Irish workers would like a mix of working from home and being in the office or workplace, a new survey has indicated. The study by Amarách Research for the trade union, Fórsa, found that 86 per cent of respondents were interested in working remotely. Over 80 per cent of those who favour home working expressed a preference for a hybrid arrangement where they blend time worked remotely and in the workplace. The coronavirus has dramatically changed the way employees live and work with thousands now working from home for the first time. As a result, many companies are actively exploring the possibility of moving forward with a reduced office space.
Coronavirus: UK CEOs lead the pack on employee mental wellbeing during pandemic
Business leaders around the world have been making moves to protect their employees with their COVID-19 response, with UK CEOs leading the pack on mental wellbeing support. Almost a quarter (24%) of UK CEOs provided additional financial support to employees, according to a new survey of business leaders by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Alongside this, 15% of UK CEOs have sourced and/or manufactured medical supplies for their businesses (compared with 13% of CEOs globally), while nearly half (49%) contributed resources such as volunteers or essential goods to helping during the pandemic. This was compared with 42% of CEOs globally.
Virtual Classrooms
COVID-19 is widening the education gap. This is how we can stop it
Coronavirus-induced school closures in the US has removed a safety-net for many, going beyond education. Virtual classrooms are highlighting social inequalities, be it differences in home furnishings or a lack of internet to even join the call. Just as important as how virtual the autumn 2020 term should be, is the question of how inclusive it can be made.
Is this new online-only private school the future of education?
Virtual classrooms, pastoral care via Zoom: as a new online-only school opens up, is this a better option for children post Covid?
Coronavirus: Frontier Elementary student tests positive, classroom moves to temporary virtual learning
An elementary school student who attended Frontier Elementary Aug. 6 and 7 tested positive for coronavirus, Superintendent Dan Sichting confirmed Monday. In response, the student’s classroom was switched to remote learning for Monday and plans to return to in-person teaching Tuesday, Sichting said. The student is asymptomatic and was tested after he was in contact with a person who tested positive, Sichting said. Frontier School Corp. restarted the school year Aug. 6, offering both an in-person and virtual option for students. The elementary school is located in Brookston, about 14 miles north of Lafayette. Frontier Junior/Senior High School and school district office are four miles north of there, in Chalmers. Students and teachers in other classrooms at Frontier Elementary and at Frontier Junior/Senior High School were not in contact with the student, Sichting said, and continue to operate for in-person classes.
Gov. Andy Beshear recommends virtual learning for Kentucky schools until Sept. 28
Citing fresh concern over the state's COVID-19 cases and positivity rate, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday that Kentucky schools should now wait to resume in-person classes until Sept. 28. The Democratic governor had recommended in late July that schools postpone in-person instruction until at least the third week of August. In giving his new recommendation for K-12 schools, Beshear said Monday that the state had taken "good steps" to fight COVID-19 but that "we do not have control of the virus."
'A lot to learn': 27-year teacher goes digital during coronavirus
Twenty-seven years of teaching have boosted Kristin Barrus’s confidence inside the classroom. “I could teach standing on my head on any normal school day,” the sixth-grade teacher recently told EdNews. But 2020-21 isn’t any normal school year. K-12 leaders and health officials are still wrestling with how to safely reopen Idaho’s schools amid the coronavirus pandemic. Trustees in the state’s biggest districts last week responded by delaying the school year and voting to go fully online.
Iowa teachers 'working feverishly' to create online curriculum in time for start of school
Educators in Eastern Iowa have spent their summer creating virtual classrooms for students enrolled in online learning to avoid exposure to COVID-19 in schools. While online education in the spring was reactive as schools hastily closed because of the coronavirus in mid-March, online learning for this fall is proactive, said Ty Haren, a sixth-grade Wickham Elementary School teacher in Coralville, who has spent the past several months creating an online Language Arts curriculum for kindergarten through sixth-grade students in the Iowa City Community School District. “This isn’t our preferred way of doing things, but at the same time it’s asking the question of what are the health needs of our families, students and teachers,” Harem said.
Rabbi-dad starts online US Jewish day school to help families through pandemic
“Are you worried about sending kids to school physically next year?” Rank wrote. “If you’re interested in Jewish education amidst all this, let’s talk; I’m building a network now.” At the time, Rank may have sounded like a pessimist: Many summer camps hadn’t even been canceled yet. With the disease appearing to be in retreat in most places, the idea of an online fall semester seemed far-fetched. But now, with the disease widespread and schools across the country reopening online, Rank looks more like a prophet. And the conversation he began that day has yielded the outlines of an online Jewish elementary school program: Yesod, or foundation in Hebrew.
Public Policies
Lockdown management lifted in medium-risk areas of NE China's Dalian
Northeast China's Dalian city lifted the neighborhood lockdown policy in another medium-risk area from Monday after no new domestically-transmitted COVID-19 cases had been reported in the city for several days, local authorities said. The city government told a press conference that lockdown management in all four medium-risk areas of Dalian, Liaoning Province, had been lifted after the adjustment. The coastal city now has one high-risk zone. As of Sunday, Dalian reported zero newly confirmed locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases as well as zero asymptomatic cases for four consecutive days. At present, 72 cases of domestic transmission are being treated in a hospital, and all patients are in stable condition. Zhao Lian, deputy director of the municipal health commission, said Dalian would further strengthen the epidemic prevention and control measures, resolutely prevent its spreading and resurgence, and restore normalcy as soon as possible
US tops 5 million confirmed virus cases, to Europe's alarm
With confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. hitting 5 million Sunday, by far the highest of any country, the failure of the most powerful nation in the world to contain the scourge has been met with astonishment and alarm in Europe. Perhaps nowhere outside the U.S. is America’s bungled virus response viewed with more consternation than in Italy, which was ground zero of Europe’s epidemic. Italians were unprepared when the outbreak exploded in February, and the country still has one of the world’s highest official death tolls at over 35,000. But after a strict nationwide, 10-week lockdown, vigilant tracing of new clusters and general acceptance of mask mandates and social distancing, Italy has become a model of virus containment.
New Zealand records 100 days without domestic virus case but warns against complacency
New Zealand marked 100 days without a domestic transmission of the coronavirus on Sunday, but warned against complacency as countries like Vietnam and Australia which once had the virus under control now battle a resurgence in infections.
Will the UK have a second lockdown? Boris Johnson warns UK to “be vigilant” amid fears of coronavirus second wave
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was warned that the UK must “be vigilant” amid the threat of a second wave of coronavirus. Mr Johnson is reportedly “extremely concerned” that there could be a spike in infections here in the UK, following the recent surge in cases in Spain. The recent outbreak of new coronavirus infections in Spain prompted the UK government to advise against all but essential travel to the country on 26 July, with travellers now facing a 14 day quarantine restriction on their return.
UK prime minister says schools must open in September
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Johnson said restarting schools was a national priority. Schools would be the last places to close in future local lockdowns, he was quoted by another newspaper as telling a meeting on Thursday. Schools in England closed in March during a national lockdown, except for the children of key workers, and reopened in June for a small number of pupils. The government wants all pupils to return to school by early September. “Keeping our schools closed a moment longer than absolutely necessary is socially intolerable, economically unsustainable and morally indefensible,” Johnson wrote.
WHO chief says there are 'green shoots of hope' in fight against coronavirus
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was 'never too late' to contain an outbreak He gave the North of England lockdown as an example of 'strong measures' WHO chief hailed New Zealand for reaching 100 days with no domestic spread
How China Controlled the Coronavirus
A few days before my return to classroom teaching at Sichuan University, I was biking across a deserted stretch of campus when I encountered a robot. The blocky machine stood about chest-high, on four wheels, not quite as long as a golf cart. In front was a T-shaped device that appeared to be some kind of sensor. The robot rolled past me, its electric motor humming. I turned around and tailed the thing at a distance of fifteen feet.
Italy sounds alarm over spike in imported virus cases
Italy sounded the alarm over the rise in coronavirus cases in fellow European countries after a spike in the number of infections discovered among returning Italian holidaymakers. "Not to worry (about new cases from abroad) would be unconscionable," Health Minister Roberto Speranza told the Corriere della Sera daily, which noted: "France, Spain and the Balkans... Italy is surrounded by contagions". Fear over new outbreaks imported by returning holidaymakers has been fuelled by the much-publicised case of 30 young Italians from the Veneto region who visited in Croatia and returned with coronavirus at the start of August.
Spain will NOT see a second coronavirus lockdown, believes WHO expert
Director of WHO's Public Health and Environment department Maria Neira told Efe yesterday that a new confinement of the population would have to be justified by a 'very alarming' epidemiological scenario/ And while there has been an increase in cases, Neira said the circumstances for another lockdown simply do not exist
Havana back on lockdown as coronavirus rebounds
Cuba placed Havana back on a strict lockdown on Saturday following a rebound in coronavirus cases, ordering restaurants, bars and pools once more to close, suspending public transportation and banning access to the beach. Cuba, which has been hailed as a rare success story in Latin America for its textbook handling and containment of its coronavirus outbreak, had eased lockdown restrictions last month after cases dwindled to but a handful per day. But they have risen back to April levels over the past two weeks, with the health ministry reporting 59 cases on Saturday and saying the situation could become “uncontrollable” if authorities did not act fast.
France may be added to UK Covid quarantine list this week and Netherlands and Malta could be next
Fears are growing today that France will be added to the UK's quarantine travel list within days, leaving thousands of Britons facing weeks in isolation upon their return. Ministers are believed to be planning new measures for a swathe of countries that also includes Switzerland, Poland and the Netherlands amid a surge in European coronavirus cases. They could join Spain and its islands on the list of countries where returnees will face 14 days of self-isolation, possibly putting their jobs at risk.
Thailand to allow in Chinese fruit traders, sports spectators amid lockdown ease
Thailand's Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) announced on Monday that its panel had decided to allow fans to attend sports events, as well as allow Chinese traders to enter Thailand for fruit export. The CCSA said that as Thailand inches toward 80 days free of COVID-19 local transmission, it is believed to be safe for spectators to attend large sports events, however, measures will tighten should the sports event be held indoor. CCSA spokesman Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin also said that the CCSA panel has also agreed to allow Chinese traders to return to Thailand, to buy Thai fruits for export, in order to help Thai farmers. "However, the Chinese travelers will be subject to strict COVID-19 screening upon arrival and will have to go through 14 days mandatory quarantine at their own expenses," said Taweesin. Taweesin also said the CCSA panel had also decided to grant full resumption of class attendance in schools, adding that if a school prefers online learning, it can use that option.
Federal government had no Covid-19 aged care plan, royal commission hears
A parliamentary inquiry was told last week that 97 Victorian aged care facilities had been affected in the second wave, with 657 residents and 594 staff infected with Covid-19. A further 25 home care services for the elderly were also affected. Seventeen recipients of these services were infected, as were 24 staff working in-home care. There had been 108 fatalities. The royal commission will later this week examine evidence of a “stand-off” between commonwealth and state health authorities over how to best handle an outbreak at Sydney’s Newmarch House, where the medical recommendation to send infected residents to hospital was discouraged out of an “intolerable” fear of setting a precedent. Health professionals on Monday gave evidence that attempts to replicate a “hospital in the home” were futile, due to issues including poor building airflow and staff undertrained in infection control. The commission heard that when outbreaks occurred, a facility’s workforce could be almost entirely replaced with surge staffing, who needed to be “oriented” to that particular aged care home.
'We failed': one scientist's despair as Brazil Covid-19 deaths hit 100,000
For months Natalia Pasternak has implored Brazilians to take science and coronavirus seriously, in a marathon of TV appearances, newspaper columns, live streams and podcasts. “I’ve given interviews at 2am,” said the microbiologist and broadcaster who runs a civil society group called the Question of Science Institute. As the epidemic has raged, Pasternak has condemned President Jair Bolsonaro’s chaotic, anti-scientific response; denounced fake news and unproven treatments such as chloroquine and ozone therapy; and urged her country’s 210 million citizens to respect quarantine measures aimed at controlling coronavirus. “Reopening … is a recipe for disaster,” the 43-year-old scientist warned on a recent talkshow, as lockdown efforts withered despite the soaring number of infections and deaths.
Cuba reports record number of COVID-19 cases
Cuba reported a record 93 cases of the new coronavirus on Monday as a surge of the disease in the Havana area threatened to stall the re-opening of the country after a partial lockdown beginning in March. Most of the cases were in Havana, where a partial lockdown was re-imposed on Monday, and in neighboring Artemisa province. The area has been isolated from the rest of the country where with but few exceptions no cases have been reported in more than two months. In Havana, restaurants, bars and pools are once more closed, public transportation suspended and access to the beach banned.
Coronavirus: Ministers seek to reassure over schools and lockdown eases in Wales
Ministers are pushing ahead with plans to have all school children in England back in classrooms next month, as Education Secretary Gavin Williamson seeks to reassure parents and teachers over the safety of such a move. Mr Williamson says research from a large global study suggests there is little evidence coronavirus is transmitted in schools. But one teaching union says pupils may have to be taught in class on a week-on, week-off basis in the event of local lockdowns.
Maintaining Services
Will Cars Rule the Roads in Post-Pandemic New York?
When New York went into lockdown five months ago to contain the virus, traffic virtually disappeared, and the mostly deserted streets suddenly became a vast trove of open space in one of the world’s most crowded cities. But now as New York slowly recovers and cars have started to return, a battle for the 6,000 miles of city streets is just beginning.
Coronavirus Greece: Curfew in top island bars and eateries
Greece has announced a night curfew for restaurants and bars in certain areas Venues will be forced to close from midnight until 7pm from Tuesday - Officials have also put in place new entry restrictions from several EU countries - British holidaymakers are turning to Greece after Spanish quarantine enforced
In the next lockdown, schools should close last
For young people, coronavirus lockdowns have been a bewildering experience. Children have been plucked from classrooms and forced — at best — to make do with learning-by-Zoom. Some have been barred from taking exams they worked towards for years. From Tuesday, schools in Scotland will start to reopen; prime minister Boris Johnson is right to say there is a “moral duty” to ensure schools in England follow suit next month. Many other countries are doing the same, or locked in debates over how to do so. The return to school should be prioritised and safeguarded, even if virus cases start to rebound more broadly.
Lockdown reduces cases of flu, colds and bronchitis in England
Lockdown and physical distancing measures have helped reduce the incidence of flu, colds, bronchitis and a host of viruses other than Covid-19 in England, monitoring suggests. The low incidence of these and other viral infections, including laryngitis and tonsillitis, has helped relieve pressure on the NHS when resources have been dedicated to fighting the coronavirus pandemic. The flipside, however, is that as lockdown eases it is not just cases of Covid-19 that may increase. Prof Martin Marshall, the chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “We would expect to see a drop in influenza-like illness during the warmer months but the latest figures from our research and surveillance centre (RSC), which collects data from more than 500 GP practices in England, shows that it’s lower than the five-year average for this time of year.
Fighting for breath: how the medical oxygen industry is failing African hospitals
One nurse in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, says that in her hospital doctors frequently have to choose who receives oxygen and who does not. The Linde Group did not comment on any of the allegations but said it would “do everything possible to continue to reliably supply our customers”. Air Liquide says: “We have done everything we can to secure supply through the pandemic.” It added: “We are committed to making sure as many patients as possible in sub-Saharan Africa receive treatment and work with Unicef and a range of other international institutions, governments and NGOs to increase access to oxygen in the region.”
COVID-19 cases in U.S. children soared in late July, report says
The number of new COVID-19 cases among children in the United States rose 40% in the last two weeks of July, according to a report released just weeks before tens of millions of American students are scheduled to begin the new school year. The new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association found that more than 338,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the U.S. epidemic, with 97,078 new cases reported in the July 16-30 period.
Covid-19 poses a new challenge for point-of-care manufacturing
The spread of covid-19 outbreaks has led facilities in medical device manufacturing to rigorously anticipate, plan, and innovate. By Ali Burns, managing director of Siemens Healthineers Sudbury, UK manufacturing facility. In its Sudbury facility, the work Siemens Healthineers does is intrinsically linked to the preservation of life; supply chains and distribution networks are constantly monitored and reinforced for the critical work the company undertakes.
America's window of opportunity to beat back Covid-19 is closing
The good news: The United States has a window of opportunity to beat back Covid-19 before things get much, much worse. The bad news: That window is rapidly closing. And the country seems unwilling or unable to seize the moment. Winter is coming. Winter means cold and flu season, which is all but sure to complicate the task of figuring out who is sick with Covid-19 and who is suffering from a less threatening respiratory tract infection. It also means that cherished outdoor freedoms that link us to pre-Covid life — pop-up restaurant patios, picnics in parks, trips to the beach — will soon be out of reach, at least in northern parts of the country.
Healthcare Innovations
The people with hidden immunity against Covid-19
The clues have been mounting for a while. First, scientists discovered patients who had recovered from infection with Covid-19, but mysteriously didn’t have any antibodies against it. Next it emerged that this might be the case for a significant number of people. Then came the finding that many of those who do develop antibodies seem to lose them again after just a few months. In short, though antibodies have proved invaluable for tracking the spread of the pandemic, they might not have the leading role in immunity that we once thought. If we are going to acquire long-term protection, it looks increasingly like it might have to come from somewhere else.
China's military takes centre stage in Covid-19 vaccine race
While governments around the world are planning to give the first doses of a proven Covid-19 vaccine to healthcare workers who are most exposed to the virus, China is prioritising people on a different frontline: the military. CanSino Biologics, a Chinese vaccine maker that has announced several sets of positive trial results, is already providing a vaccine to People’s Liberation Army soldiers, even though safety testing for commercial sale of the product is not yet complete. The decision has set the country apart in the frantic global race for a vaccine — and highlighted the central part played by the PLA in broader attempts to vanquish Covid-19.