"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 18th Sep 2020

Isolation Tips
Study results show elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19
Social isolation. Financial worries. They're two unfortunate realities causing great anxiety for many people during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also may raise the risk of death by suicide. While no definitive data exists yet on suicide rates during the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study in late June on mental health, substance use and suicidal ideation in U.S. adults. The results showed elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19. Thirty-one percent of respondents reported symptoms of anxiety or depression and 11% reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days prior to the study.
Should seniors take extra precautions against COVID-19 this fall? Experts weigh in
As the coronavirus pandemic continues and flu season begins, leading to concerns of a "twindemic" in the United States, health experts are urging those who are high-risk for either or both illnesses to limit their social bubbles to stay healthy. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the country, said on Sept. 10 that people needed to prepare to "hunker down and get through this fall and winter." “We've been through this before,” Fauci said. “Don't ever, ever underestimate the potential of the pandemic. And don't try and look at the rosy side of things."
Loneliness doubled among older adults in first months of COVID-19, poll shows
Staying close to home and avoiding crowded places can help older adults reduce their risk of COVID-19. But a new national poll suggests it comes with a cost, especially for those with health challenges. In June of this year, 56 percent of people over the age of 50 said they sometimes or often felt isolated from others -- more than double the 27 percent who felt that way in a similar poll in 2018.
Tips for managing mental health during COVID-19
Months in, the pandemic continues to take a toll on mental health. As part of our #AskReuters Twitter chat series, Reuters gathered a group of experts to share their tips on coping with isolation, caregiving and more. Below are edited highlights. How does isolation affect mental health? What are some strategies we can use to find community during a lockdown? “Before the pandemic, we were already in the middle of a mental health crisis. And the pandemic has only made that more urgent. An August survey from the Centers for Disease Control found that over 40% of adults reported experiencing mental health challenges, including anxiety and depression.”
Crittenton Children's Center offers tips for student mental health during pandemic
A lot of school districts in the greater Kansas City metro area are beginning their second week of school Monday. The combination of virtual learning and isolation at home is really taking a toll on children. Studies have found social isolation can cause mental health challenges for students. Licensed clinical social worker, Brit Broshous with Saint Luke's Crittenton Children's Center, said it's important to check any behaviors that may seem out of the ordinary.
Hygiene Helpers
All countries need consistent Covid-19 messaging - WHO
The World Health Organization has warned of "alarming rates of transmission" of Covid-19 across Europe and cautioned countries against shortening quarantine periods. The WHO's regional director for Europe Hans Kluge said the number of coronavirus cases seen in September "should serve as a wake-up call for all of us." "Although these numbers reflect more comprehensive testing, it also shows alarming rates of transmission across the region," he told an online press conference from the Danish capital Copenhagen. The health body also said it would not change its guidance calling for a 14-day quarantine period for anyone exposed to the novel coronavirus.
Wristband Covid-19 tracker for passengers landing in Abu Dhabi
Passengers arriving in Abu Dhabi are now required to wear a tracking wristband during the mandatory 14-day home quarantine due to Covid-19, according Etihad Airways. Authorities at Abu Dhabi International Airport are giving out the medically-approved tag to all passengers arriving from all countries. "On arrival into Abu Dhabi you must self-isolate for 14 days. Self-isolation must take place at home and you will be required to wear a medically approved wristband for the duration. The wristband will be provided by the authorities at Abu Dhabi Airport after you clear immigration," Etihad Airways said in the new guidelines posted on its website. "If you are holding a diplomatic passport, under the age of 18, over the age of 60, or suffering from a chronic disease, you will be exempt from having to wear the wristband."
One in 7 reported COVID-19 infections is among health workers, WHO says
One in seven cases of COVID-19 reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) is a health worker and in some countries that figure rises to one in three, the agency said on Thursday. The WHO called for frontline medical workers to be provided with protective equipment to prevent them from being infected with the novel coronavirus, and potentially spreading it to their patients and families. “Globally around 14% of COVID cases reported to the WHO are among health workers and in some countries it’s as much as 35%,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
School closures are inevitable if teachers and pupils cannot get Covid-19 tests
As executive head of an alternative provision school and two social, emotional and mental health schools (SEMH), I know from experience that the start of a new academic year brings its challenges. Pupils can take time to settle back into school life after the summer break and routines can take time to be established as well as welcoming many new children and all the issues that come with that. But in my 24-year teaching career, never before have I experienced such a difficult and frankly chaotic start to the school year on a national scale. Our teaching teams have worked tirelessly over the summer to make sure our schools are as safe as they possibly can be, meeting all government “Covid-safe" guidelines. We have introduced meticulous handwashing, created one-way systems, re-arranged classrooms, and ensured social distancing in some form or other where we can.
Bugs in online booking system add to UK's Covid-19 testing crisis
The website for booking coronavirus tests is struggling to cope with the number of requests, adding more problems to those already accrued by the NHS test-and-trace scheme. People in the UK who attempt to book a test for Covid-19 online are directed – once they have passed screening questions to ensure they are entitled to the test – to a purpose-built website where they can theoretically book either a home test kit or a walk-through or drive-through test. However, in practice, an increasing number of users are reporting errors on the site itself that prevent them from even attempting to book a test.
The risk of a second lockdown exposes the UK government's failures on Covid-19
Almost two million people across Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland will face bans on mixing with other households and a 10pm curfew from midnight tonight, in an attempt to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Is this a sign that the United Kingdom is heading for a second lockdown? Not according to health minister Ed Argar, who denied that a two-week nationwide lockdown is on the cards. Downing Street also remains keen to avoid a second shutdown.
Contact Tracing, the West’s Big Hope for Suppressing Covid-19, Is in Disarray
When countries across the West emerged from lockdown in the spring, governments trained legions of investigators to identify and isolate people potentially infected with the coronavirus. The goal was to prevent a resurgence of the pathogen. Four months later, the systems to find people who might pass on infections, known as contact tracing, are in disarray. Europe and the U.S. are each recording tens of thousands of new daily infections. In France, Spain and England—nations where cases are now rising quickly—investigators have been interviewing far fewer contacts of infected people than officials expected. In some U.S. states and big cities, investigators aren’t even reaching many people who test positive and those who are reached often don’t disclose their contacts. That has prevented investigators from casting a wide net to stop new infections.
Coronavirus cases rocket 167% in just two weeks, figures show
Cases of the coronavirus have rocketed by 167 per cent in just two weeks, figures from Test and Trace have revealed. The NHS Test and Trace programme was launched at the end of May and the figures released today show the highest weekly number of infections of the virus since the scheme was implemented.
Community Activities
How courageous schools partnering with local communities can overcome digital inequalities during COVID-19
Across the U.S., “pandemic pods,” or quarantine learning bubbles, are being established to protect students and teachers from the coronavirus, or COVID-19, and limit possible exposure within the group. Homeschooling has become an increasingly viable option for parents who can offer the space, time, structure, and technology to their children. Private and charter schools are also drawing the attention of families with children in public schools by offering more robust digital resources and student support.
Indonesians caught without a mask forced to dig graves for Covid-19 victims
Villagers who refuse to wear masks are being forced to dig graves for victims of Covid-19 by local authorities in one part of rural Indonesia, in the hopes that a little bit of manual labor and empathy will convince others to do their part to help stop the pandemic. Three middle-aged men and five minors in Cerme district of Gresik Regency, East Java, were given the unique punishment on September 9, authorities said.
Coronavirus: Speak to those breaking rule of six first before calling police - PM
In an interview with the Sun, Boris Johnson said he had "never much been in favour of sneak culture, myself". It comes after policing minister Kit Malthouse, called on people to report neighbours breaking the coronavirus rules. The new measures came into force in England, Scotland and Wales this week. Speaking to the Sun, Mr Johnson said: "What people should do in the first instance is obviously if they are concerned is raise it with their friends and neighbours. "But I think what is reasonable for anyone to do is if they think there is a serious threat to public health as a result of their neighbour's activities - if there is some huge kind of Animal House party taking place, as I am sure, hot tubs and so forth - and there is a serious threat to public health then it's reasonable for the authorities to know."
Working Remotely
Love working from home? Here are 20 of the best jobs and careers for being remote
To help guide those who are job searching amid a pandemic, and particularly looking for jobs they can do from home, our friends at FlexJobs have pinpointed 20 of the most common remote job titles, along with their average pay. We also reached out to those in co-working spaces to take a pulse on remote work and learn, from an on-the-ground level, what fields tend to excel in remote work environments.
What is the future of remote working for charities?
We examine how the last few months of remote working have brought charity service delivery in line with people’s wider experience of digital services - and how the pandemic will shape the future of charity service delivery
Aruba Is Inviting Professionals Working From Home to Work From Paradise Instead — What to Know
Aruba Tourism Authority’s new “One Happy Workation” program welcomes professionals working from home to work from the island instead for up to three months
Parents struggle with remote learning while working from home: 'I'm constantly failing'
In the early days of the pandemic, when schools suddenly shut down and millions of employees were sent to work from home, many parents looked forward to fall as the point when they believed life would return to normal. But back-to-school this fall is anything but routine, with schools across the country either going partially or fully remote. What many thought was going to be a short-term problem could drag into 2021 and beyond. As a result, working parents are panicking as they struggle to figure out how to juggle remote learning and full-time jobs.
Working from home: four in five develop musculoskeletal pain
Poor home working set-ups could be causing thousands of workers discomfort, with four in five who began working remotely in lockdown developing some form of musculoskeletal pain. Charity Versus Arthritis called on firms to encourage their staff to be more open about their home working needs, after it found 89% of those suffering with back, shoulder or neck pain as a result of their new workspace had not told their employer about it.
Over 60% of Canadians say they would rather continue to work remotely
Are you dreading heading back to the office? Or, have you gone a little stir-crazy at home and are itching to go back? While the majority of Canadians worked from an external workplace prior to the pandemic, many of them have been working from home during these unprecedented times.
Remote workers completing a week's worth of work in four days
It has long been suggested that remote working boosts employee productivity, but a new report from TalkTalk has shed light on the extent of the improvement. According to the firm, UK workers are in overdrive at home, completing a week's worth of work in four days. “Lockdown Britain has seen a boost in skills and productivity for home workers, with unexpected lessons for how we emerge from the pandemic,” said Tristia Harrison, TalkTalk CEO.
Bring some fun into remote work
As a manager of people there seems to be many more things to take into consideration. Work is far more than endless video calls, work is also about building connection and creating shared experiences for all team members. This edition we look at the research and talk to some customers about shared experiences. We’ve looked at best practice and have a number of ways to recognise people (even if working remotely) - a simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way. We've even got ideas on keeping the kids entertained and having fun this school holidays too.
Will Ireland's next remote working guidelines include a right to disconnect?
William Fry associate Darran Brennan outlines what he expects to see in the Government’s reviewed guidelines for remote work. In July, the Irish Government launched a public consultation on remote working guidelines. Submissions were open up to 7 August, with the responses collected set to help shape public policy on remote working. Darran Brennan, an associate in William Fry’s employment and benefits team, would like to see that any updated guidelines reflect the lessons learned from the nation’s recent dramatic shift to remote working.
Virtual Classrooms
NYC again delays in-person learning for most students
New York City has again delayed the start of in-person learning for most of the more than 1 million students in its public school system
The future of education: moving to virtual classrooms
Jan Alexa, research manager at IDC Europe, explains the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on education and predicts how it may impact the way students are taught in future
How one Texas teacher is navigating virtual school during the pandemic
Spend a day with Westfield High School teacher Cris Hernandez, and you'll see the frustrations and uncertainties of virtual teaching. More than four weeks into the school year, he still can't tell if he's connecting with his students.
Citing Safety Concerns, Education Austin Calls for Extension of Online Learning
Education Austin, the union for Austin Independent School District teachers and staff, is claiming victory after calling for an extension of the online learning period amid the coronavirus pandemic. The union on Wednesday tweeted, “The superintendent will file for a TEA waiver ‘to extend the opportunity to remain in a virtual capacity for an additional 4 weeks.’ We organized, and the district heard us loud and clear: the safety of our students, staff, and community is our only priority.”
Higher education was already ripe for disruption—then, COVID-19 happened
Back in the spring, when COVID-19 was emerging around the world and leading to widespread shutdowns, schools at all levels had to adapt quickly. Classes went online. Students were sent home. Everyone did their best to get comfortable with teaching and learning over video conferencing apps like Zoom.
Tutoring program going virtual due to COVID-19
A tutoring program called Grade A Plus, which offers free tutoring from MU students, is moving online this year. This program involves students from the University of Missouri that volunteer to tutor students in grades K-12. This year, it has over 30 college student volunteers who will be working with the younger students. These college students consist of sophomores and juniors within the College of Education preparing for roles as classroom teachers, counselors and special education leaders for the elementary and high school level.
UT-Austin Rolls Out Holographic Professors Amid Coronavirus
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the virtual classroom is a brave new world. Extending the new reality further, the business school at the University of Texas at Austin is poised to beam holographic professors at students to further ensure physical distancing safeguards. The McCombs School of Business has contracted with locally based Contextual Concept Group to create a new 3D immersive video that combines in-person, hybrid and online teaching to deliver an interactive distance learning experience, officials said in an emailed advisory.
Public Policies
Further funds announced to control Covid-19 infections in care homes
An emergency support fund to help limit the spread of Covid-19 in care homes in England is being topped up with an additional £546m ahead of the winter. A key purpose of the Infection Control Fund is to help the care sector restrict the movement of people in and out of the home
Under lockdown, Israel faces bitter start of Jewish New Year
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has imposed a three-week lockdown, beginning on Friday afternoon — just hours before Rosh Hashana starts. Israel's first lockdown, in March and April, put a damper on Passover, the Jewish spring holiday marking the deliverance of the ancient Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. Now, the Jewish High Holidays look to be similarly subdued. Israel has seen new daily cases of COVID-19 skyrocket in recent weeks, climbing to more than 5,000 on Wednesday — one of the highest per capita infection rates in the world. Since the pandemic began this year, it has recorded more than 169,000 cases, including 1,163 deaths, as of Wednesday, according to Health Ministry figures.
Tighten UK Covid restrictions or risk a national lockdown, warn scientists
Scientists have warned the government must act fast to contain the spread of coronavirus, including further restrictions on public mixing, though ministers have denied they are considering a full England lockdown. Prof Susan Michie, the director of the Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London and a member of the scientific pandemic influenza group on behavioural science, a government advisory group, said that with cases doubling every eight days in England, urgent action was needed. “If more restrictions aren’t done very soon then I think we risk being back into the situation where a national lockdown may be necessary,” she said. “Business as usual isn’t an option.”
Coronavirus: Madrid lockdown targets poor areas
Tighter restrictions will be introduced in Madrid this weekend as Spain struggles with Europe’s highest number of coronavirus infections. The curbs on movement will most likely be imposed on the city’s southern working-class districts, where infection rates are highest. Madrid, home to 6.6 million people, is by far Spain’s worst-affected region at present, with an infection rate of 651 per 100,000 people in the past 14 days.
Spain’s Andalucia records deadliest COVID-19 figures since end of lockdown
Andalucia has recorded its blackest COVID-19 figures since the end of lockdown with 25 deaths and 1,389 detected cases in the past 24 hours. The figures, released by the Junta, represent the deadliest day since the beginning of summer and the highest ever daily increase in cases.
COVID-19 Has Crushed Everybody's Economy—Except for South Korea's
As the United States struggles with a stubbornly persistent pandemic and a stubbornly slow return to economic growth, South Korea seems to have found the recipe to succeed on both fronts—if it can survive a late-year uptick in new coronavirus cases. In the latest economic projections by the OECD, South Korea is looking at a mere 1 percent GDP contraction for 2020, the second-best performer among major economies behind only China. In contrast, the euro area is expected to shrink by around 8 percent, and the United States could see full-year contraction on the order of almost 4 percent of GDP.
Rich nations grab coronavirus vaccine stocks in global race
Rich nations representing a fraction of the global population have already bought up over half the promised COVID-19 vaccine stocks, a study showed, as U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to begin inoculating Americans within weeks. Big Pharma is racing to produce an effective vaccine to counter a virus that has now killed more than 935,000 people around the world and infected almost 30 million. European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday warned against “vaccine nationalism” that she said could put lives at risk by depriving the most vulnerable in poorer nations of immunity. But a study released by Oxfam showed a group of wealthy countries representing just 13 percent of the world population has already secured the lion’s share of doses. “Access to a life-saving vaccine shouldn’t depend on where you live or how much money you have,” said Robert Silverman of Oxfam America.
Why Indonesia Became a Testing Ground for a Chinese Covid-19 Vaccine
On a scorching August day in Bandung, the capital of West Java province, two dozen volunteers arrive at a small community clinic inside a narrow alley to take part in the last stage of one of the world’s fastest-moving trials for a coronavirus vaccine. There, surrounded by cramped homes and kids playing outdoors without masks, they prepare to take an experimental shot developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd., which many in Indonesia hope will bring an end to the destruction wreaked by the virus. With about a quarter-million infections, Indonesia’s outbreak is the second-worst in Southeast Asia after the Philippines, its daily case count hitting records every week since the end of August.
Global report: China locks down border city in response to two Covid cases
China has locked down a city on its border with Myanmar and launched a campaign to test the city’s entire population of more than 200,000 people. Officials in Ruili in Yunnan province said the city had entered a state of “wartime” defences against Covid-19 after two new cases emerged among travellers from Myanmar. Residents have been ordered to stay at home and authorities have set up checkpoints to prevent anyone entering or leaving Ruili and restricting access to border areas nearby. Most businesses have been closed. On Thursday, more than 360 testing sites were set up and almost 1,200 people deployed to conduct testing around the clock. Ruan Chengfa, deputy secretary of Yunnan’s party committee, said in a meeting on Wednesday that local authorities were implementing a strict policy of “complete inspection, strict quarantine. No entry and no exit.” As of Tuesday evening, 60,000 people had been tested.
Melbourne’s lockdown set to surpass Wuhan’s
Residents in Melbourne’s original 10 hot spots have already been through 78 days of lockdown, beating the 77 days faced by residents of Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus was first detected. Those living in other parts of Melbourne will surpass Wuhan’s lockdown next week. The Chinese city, which went into lockdown on January 23 and came out of it on April 8, had about coronavirus 70,000 cases. As of Thursday, Victoria has 19,970.
New Zealand in Covid recession after worst quarterly GDP fall on record
New Zealand has entered a recession with the economy contracting 12.2% in the June quarter – the largest drop since such records began in 1987. Paul Pascoe at Stats NZ said the GDP fall was “by far the largest on record in New Zealand” and reflected months spent in lockdown. Industries such as retail, accommodation, restaurants and transport saw significant declines; as did construction and manufacturing at 25.8% and 13% respectively. Household domestic spending dropped by 12%.
Huge area of England goes back into lockdown with 2,000,000 under curfew
Residents in the north-east of England will no longer be allowed to meet up with friends and hospitality venues will be placed under a curfew in a matter of hours. From midnight tonight, around 2 million residents will be banned from mixing with other households, announced the health secretary on Thursday morning. Pubs, restaurants and other licensed premises will also be forced to close their doors to the public between 10pm and 5am and move to table service only.
France to implement extra COVID measures in two new cities
France is to implement extra measures to curb the COVID-19 epidemic in the cities of Lyon and Nice, the health minister said, adding to the three other regions deemed as virus “red zones” where additional measures are already in place. The minister, Olivier Veran, did not say what those measures would be, but that local officials in Lyon and Nice would have until the weekend to submit their plans for extra measures to the government in Paris. France has this month seen a resurgence in the number of virus cases, surpassing the daily record reached earlier this year. Numbers in hospital and intensive care with COVID-19 are climbing too, though they are still a long way short of the peak reached in the spring.
Maintaining Services
Canada could lose ability to manage COVID-19 cases, says chief medical officer
Canada could lose its ability to manage the coronavirus pandemic due to a worrying recent spike in new COVID-19 cases, the country's top medical officer said on Thursday. The warning from Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam is the clearest indication yet of how worried authorities are about the potential for the outbreak to spiral out of control. An average of 779 new cases had been reported daily during the most recent week, more than double the level in July, Tam said. Officials in major provinces blame social gatherings for the spike. "The ongoing increase in new cases being reported daily continues to give cause for concern," Tam said in a statement. "With continued circulation of the virus, the situation could change quickly and we could lose the ability to keep COVID-19 cases at manageable levels."
Coronavirus outbreaks hit French universities
At least 12 coronavirus clusters have been detected in French universities this month, prompting concern that students, including those in medical faculties, are failing to respect social distancing. The clusters have emerged since the start of the academic year and have forced the temporary closure of some of the country’s leading institutes. Students have been accused of behaving irresponsibly, notably at parties, but they blame overcrowded lecture theatres. A Twitter hashtag, #Balancetafac, which translates roughly as Denounce Your Uni, has been set up for students to post images and comments illustrating widespread sanitary failings in higher education. Concern is particularly acute since about half of French students live at home.
Why India’s Covid problem could be bigger than we think
India is approaching the ninth month of the coronavirus pandemic with more than five million confirmed cases - the second-highest in the world after the US - and more than 80,000 reported deaths. Infection is surging through the country in a "step-ladder spiral", a government scientist told me. The only "consolation" is a death rate - currently 1.63% - that's lower than many countries with a high caseload. The increase in reported cases has partly to do with increased testing - but the speed at which the virus is spreading is worrying experts. Here's why. It took 170 days for India to reach the first million cases. The last million cases took only 11 days. Average daily cases have shot up from 62 in April to more than 87,000 in September. In the past week, India has recorded more than 90,000 cases and 1,000 deaths every day. Seven states are worst affected - accounting for about 48% of India's population.
'It's like March in slow motion': Doctors in Madrid face coronavirus resurgence
"In a way, it’s like the situation in March but in slow motion," said Dr. Carlos Velayos, who works as an intensive care unit physician at the public hospital in suburban Fuenlabrada. The hospital is expanding its ICU capacity from 12 to 24 beds by the end of September, as all of them are currently filling up with coronavirus patients. With 1,273 patients in ICUs, Spain has as many beds devoted to treat grave patients of COVID-19 as France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy together. And 359 of them are in the Madrid region, which for the past week has accounted for roughly one-third of a national average of 8,200 new infections per day. Spain has a virus caseload above 600,000, one of the world's highest, and more than 30,000 confirmed deaths for the new virus
Southern hemisphere has record low flu cases amid Covid lockdowns
Health systems across the southern hemisphere were bracing a few months ago for their annual surge in influenza cases, which alongside Covid-19 could have overwhelmed hospitals. They never came. Many countries in the southern half of the globe have instead experienced either record low levels of flu or none at all, public health specialists in Australia, New Zealand and South America have said, sparing potentially tens of thousands of lives and offering a glimmer of hope as winter approaches in the northern hemisphere. General practitioners in New Zealand have not detected a single influenza case since they started screening patients in June, health data shows; last year about 57% of the samples they collected were positive.
Healthcare Innovations
Coronavirus is NOT mutating to become more virulent: Scientific review suggests a vaccine is likely to work while debunking the myth the virus was created in a Chinese lab
Study traced the evolutionary origins of the coronavirus back to its origin. Found it is too different to other coronaviruses to have been man-made. The virus has an unusually slow mutation rate and is not changing to become more severe or infectious
Steroid improves survival chances of sickest Covid-19 patients, study involving Cambridge University Hospitals finds
The survival chances for severely ill Covid-19 patients are improved by treating them with the steroid hydrocortisone, research involving Cambridge University Hospitals has shown. Patients had up to a 93 per cent chance of a better outcome if given an intravenous seven-day dose of the drug, results from the REMAP-CAP study suggested.
US experts stress over safety of AZ's COVID-19 vaccine
US medical experts are reportedly concerned that a neurological side effect picked up in AstraZeneca’s closely-watched COVID-19 vaccine trial could compromise the whole project, as the FDA weighs whether to give the go ahead for US studies to resume. While tests of the vaccine co-developed with Oxford University have resumed in the UK, experts from the US National Institutes of Health have launched an investigation into the incident, which is still being kept under wraps by the UK pharma for patient confidentiality reasons. Side-effects that caused AstraZeneca to pause its coronavirus vaccine trial are unlikely to be caused by the shot according to documents posted online and cited in other press reports – but the FDA is yet to give the go ahead for US testing to restart.
NIH hands out seven digital health contracts to fight COVID-19
The US National Institutes of Health has awarded seven contracts to companies and academic institutions to develop digital health solutions to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the US-government funded NIH, the work could lead to user-friendly tools like smartphone apps, wearable devices, and software that can identify and trace contacts of infected individuals, keep track of verified COVID-19 test results, and monitor the health status of infected and potentially infected individuals. The NIH’s The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), selected the seven projects from nearly 200 ideas. Contracts are being awarded in two phases – initial awards will go to pilot projects to demonstrate feasibility, after which the NIH has an option to provide additional funding for further development.
An 'uncoordinated' immune response may explain why COVID-19 strikes some hard, particularly the elderly
Even a world-class orchestra will produce a cacophony if its strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion sections don’t play in harmony. Similarly, the sophisticated human immune system can fail to beat back a pathogen if its many players don’t hit the right notes at the right times. A new study now finds that people who suffer the most from COVID-19 have an immune response that’s out of sync. The results help clarify how the disease progresses and could possibly inform how best to use various treatments and how to design the most effective vaccines. “We need to know exactly how the immune response is shaped to this virus,” says Donna Farber, an immunologist at Columbia University who was not involved in the research. “This is probably the most comprehensive analysis of virus-specific immunity in people who either had COVID or are acutely infected.”
Pfizer vaccine trial bets on early win against coronavirus, documents show
Pfizer Inc is betting that its coronavirus vaccine candidate will show clear evidence of effectiveness early in its clinical trial, according to the company and internal documents reviewed by Reuters that describe how the trial is being run. Pfizer’s clinical trial protocol outlines for the company, scientists and regulators how the drugmaker could show that its vaccine meets efficacy and safety standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A company’s protocol is submitted to the FDA for review and is overseen by an independent panel of experts known as a Data and Safety Monitoring Board.