"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 28th Sep 2020
Coronavirus: Sea swims help with lockdown mental health
A sea swim before dawn to help those struggling with mental health issues has been attracting more than 100 people every week. Chris Reeves set up the Win the Morning, Win the Day group on social media six weeks ago, offering to meet up in Gosport with anyone wanting to get some exercise and talk about their problems. The group meets every Friday at 05.30 BST and Chris has imposed coronavirus safety measures, such as splitting people into groups of six and enforcing staggered starts to the walk. The idea is now gaining popularity, with groups also starting in Leeds, Manchester and Bahrain.
Coronavirus: Students 'scared and confused' as halls lock down
Students have spoken of their worry and confusion at being locked down in their university halls, in a situation described by unions as "shambolic". Up to 1,700 students at Manchester Metropolitan University and hundreds at other institutions, including in Edinburgh and Glasgow, are self-isolating following Covid-19 outbreaks. In Manchester, students are being prevented from leaving by security. Universities UK said the wellbeing of students was "the first priority". Robert Halfon, the conservative chairman of the Education Select Committee, said 3,000 students were in lockdown at universities from Dundee to Exeter. He called for the government and its scientific advisers to reassure students and families by setting out the policy for England - and warned having students in lockdown at Christmas would cause "huge anguish".
People could suffer impact of having Covid for years, professor warns | ITV News
A specialist in infectious diseases has warned that people could suffer from the impact of having coronavirus for years, with many experiencing prolonged symptoms. Professor Sam McConkey, associate professor and head of the Department of International Health and Tropical Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), said some patients continue to have “significant dysfunction” of the lungs, heart or brain up to three or six months later. Those recovering from Covid-19 have reported feeling faster heart rates than usual, others suffer panic attacks, while some say they cannot walk as far and some have reported having “brain fog” and difficulty concentrating.
One in five will refuse Covid vaccine when it becomes available
A fifth of people in the UK say they are unlikely to get a coronavirus vaccine if one is approved, a study highlighting “concerning” levels of misinformation has found. Three-quarters (78%) of 17,500 adults surveyed by University College London (UCL) researchers said they would be “likely” to get vaccinated, with 49% saying they were “very likely” to do so. But 22% said this was unlikely, and one in 10 said this was “very unlikely”, with factors including worries about unforeseen effects, preferences for natural immunity, concerns about commercial profiteering, and mistrust of vaccine benefits.
COVID-vaccine results are on the way — and scientists' concerns are growing
Two weeks ago, the UK trial of a leading vaccine candidate developed by the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca restarted after a six-day pause to investigate safety concerns. Halted trials of the same vaccine in South Africa and Brazil have also since resumed, but the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet given the green light for US studies to start again. The trial’s sponsors have so far released few details about what caused the pause, and why the trial was allowed to resume. Some scientists say this lack of transparency could erode public trust in the vaccine.
Test Results From NHS Or Government Labs Can't Be Linked With Covid-19 App, Official Admits
Tens of thousands of test results delivered each day by NHS or Public Health England (PHE) labs can’t be linked with the official Covid-19 app, officials have admitted. An issue with the long-awaited technology – which arrived on Thursday months later than hoped – means that Pillar 1 test results, which are provided by the NHS and PHE, cannot be connected to the app. On Friday, 210,375 tests were taken – 61,481 of which were handled by PHE and the NHS.
NHS Covid-19 app refuses to let users enter negative test results and insists they STAY in 14-day quarantine in flaw that has affected 60,000 people in 24 hours
App tells users to self-isolate if they alert it to any coronavirus-like symptoms But if they fail to book a test through the app they then cannot enter the results This means they are unable to turn off a warning advising them to self-isolate The Department of Health said that they had now fixed the problem
Covid-19: Fewer than 0.1% fined for no masks on trains
Fewer than 0.1% of people stopped by police for not wearing masks on trains received a fine, figures have revealed. British Transport Police (BTP) said it stopped 14,726 people from 15 July to 15 August for failing to comply, resulting in 14 fixed penalty notices. The rules, introduced in June, state anyone travelling on public transport must wear a face covering. BTP said enforcement in the form of fixed penalty notices was only used as a "last resort". It said, from 30 July to 8 September, officers recorded 50,729 "interventions" with passengers not wearing face coverings, with 3,545 - 7% - of those told to leave the train.
England’s coronavirus tracing app positive test result function fixed but problems continue
An issue preventing users of the NHS Covid-19 app in England logging a positive test result has now been resolved. However, people who book a test outside the app still cannot log negative results. Concerns were expressed when it emerged people tested in NHS hospitals or Public Health England (PHE) labs or those taking part in the Office for National Statistics infection survey could not enter their results on the newly-launched app.
Coronavirus: More than 1,000 New Yorkers test positive in a day for first time since June
More than 1,000 New Yorkers have tested positive for Covid-19 in a single day on Friday. It was the first time since 5 June that the state has reported a daily case number that high. Positive cases in the state have been rising steadily over the last few weeks, according to ABC7. The rise may be attributed to the reopening of businesses and schools. The state was seeing an average of approximately 660 people test positive each day. The state reported it had averaged 817 positive tests per day in the seven-day period that ended Friday
Coronavirus: Children behind rising demand for tests in England
Demand for coronavirus tests has almost trebled among young children in England this month - but only 1% were found to have the virus, figures show. In the first two weeks of September, more than 200,000 under-nines were tested, according to government's test-and-trace programme. That is nearly three times as many as in the previous fortnight. A large study review has also confirmed that children are less likely to be infected than adults. But the role that children and adolescents play in transmitting the virus "remains unclear", it said.
Japan's remote workforce packs on a few pounds amid pandemic
Who could have known there are tangible, physical benefits to commuting to an office for work every day? Back in the first weeks of the state of emergency, working from home may have initially seemed like a dream come true. However, recent reports on websites such as My Navi and Suits Women suggest that sitting in front of a computer surrounded by all the comforts of home more than likely didn’t help workers’ waistlines, with women putting on an average of 2.6 kilograms in April and May and men an average of 3.3 kilograms. This might not sound excessive but, as people have continued to work from home during summer, shedding the extra weight seems to be proving a little more difficult.
178,000 people given the all-clear in mass test sparked by asymptomatic workers
Two men at Qingdao port test positive for Covid-19 after working night shift unpacking frozen food - Two ships put on temporary blacklist after coronavirus found on goods they were carrying
Coronavirus: London placed on Covid-19 watch-list as cases rise
London has been added to the government's Covid-19 watch-list following a rise in cases in the city, officials have said. All boroughs have been classed as areas of concern, but no additional restrictions have been announced. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the city was at "a worrying tipping point" with hospital admissions increasing. Councils in the city have urged residents to abide by current restrictions. The watch-list, published each week, categorises local councils seeing a higher infection rate as "areas of concern", "areas of enhanced support" or "areas of intervention". Tighter restrictions are usually introduced for areas in the third category.
Coronavirus: NHS tracing app problem that left tens of thousands of tests unlogged has been fixed, government says
A problem that prevented tens of thousands of people from logging the result of their coronavirus tests on the new NHS contact-tracing app has been fixed, according to a Department of Health spokesman. In a statement, they said: "Everyone who receives a positive test result can log their result on the app. "A minority of people, such as hospital patients, who were unable to log their positive result can now request a code when contacted by NHS Test and Trace to input on their app." It came after the app's developers admitted it had not been able to link more than 60,000 coronavirus tests carried out in England on Friday - just under a third of the total - to its systems
NHS Covid-19: App app issue fixed for people who test positive
The government has fixed a problem with its new NHS coronavirus app in England and Wales which meant many positive test results were not being logged. Users were unable to record a positive test result, if they had booked a test elsewhere and not via the app. But the Department of Health said everyone who tests positive can now log it, however they booked the test. However, people who test negative are still unable to share their result if they did not book it via the app.
UK will see 100 coronavirus deaths per day within three or four weeks claims SAGE expert
Professor Graham Medley from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, SAGE, said the high death toll was "inevitable" if the infection rate rises to 10,000 new infections per day. The 100 deaths per day is based upon a fatality rate from coronavirus remaining at 1 percent. This death rate is disputed as the World Health Organisation suggests fatalities from coronavirus is estimated at 0.5 percent.
Coronavirus mutation emerges that may outmaneuver mask-wearing and hand-washing
New preliminary research suggests a dominant strain of coronavirus may be more contagious than others. A virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) who reviewed the study said the findings suggest the virus may have become more contagious and could possibly be responding to health measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing. Other experts questioned the study, saying they have yet to identify a mutation that would change how infectious or deadly the virus is.
When Will We See a Covid-19 Vaccine for Kids?
The pandemic has many parents asking two burning questions. First, when can I get a vaccine? And second, when can my kids get it? It may come as a surprise that the answers are not the same. Adults may be able to get a vaccine by next summer. But their kids will have to wait longer. Perhaps a lot longer. Thanks to the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed and other programs, a number of Covid-19 vaccines for adults are already in advanced clinical trials. But no trials have yet begun in the United States to determine whether these vaccines are safe and effective for children.
After The Covid-19 Deluge, A Bankruptcy Tidal Wave?
The number of people filing for bankruptcy could set records next year. And, while bankruptcy reform artificially spurred the 2005 record of nearly 2.1 million cases filed, this peak will be all about the reality of a Covid-19-blasted economy. That’s a bankruptcy tidal wave of a different color. So far, 2020 has avoided a surge of personal bankruptcies. In fact, total bankruptcy filings year to date trail the 2019 figures.
Perth campaigner says lack of clarity over Covid-19 measures is leaving blind people unable to shop safely
A Perth disability campaigner fears a lack of clarity over coronavirus restrictions in shops are making it extremely difficult for blind people to visit stores safely. Jon Attenborough, who can only see shapes and colours, feels he in no longer able to go shopping on the high street by himself due to the visual nature of the majority of restrictions implemented by stores. The campaigner has called for shops to adopt a uniform approach to the guidelines to help people with impaired visibility safely navigate stores on their own. “Going into shops was difficult before the restrictions were put in place but with some shops there’s now queues you don’t know about or a one-way system and it’s very difficult to know which way to go.
Covid-19: Swansea soprano stars in drive-in London opera
A night at the opera might summon up images of people in suits and ballgowns sitting in stalls and boxes overlooking a stage. But when she performs in Europe's first drive-in opera this weekend, Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw will be singing to an audience sitting in their cars. Ms Romaniw, from Swansea, is starring in Puccini's La bohème, in the grounds of London's Alexandra Palace. The 32-year-old said she felt "lucky to be performing again". Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, performances have been cancelled with many venues remaining closed due to social-distancing measures.
‘We’re suddenly drowning in people’: Argentinians flock to Uruguay amid pandemic
“It started as a trickle when the pandemic first hit Argentina, but now we’re getting over 20 calls a day,” she said from her office in Uruguay’s luxury beach resort of Punta Del Este. Valls runs a thriving business guiding well-off Argentinians through the red tape of acquiring Uruguayan residence – a skill she learned arranging her own residency application after marrying a Uruguayan lawyer last October. “The pandemic hit us like a sledgehammer – we are suddenly drowning in people wanting to come here,” said her husband Diego Torres. About 15,000 to 20,000 Argentinians are estimated to have moved to Uruguay since the pandemic began in March – a number equivalent to about 0.6% of Uruguay’s population of 3.5 million.
Australians want to work from home more post-COVID
75% of workers think employers will support future work from home plans - More Australians want to work from home an average of two days per week after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey by the University of Sydney Business School. The Transport Opinion Survey, conducted by the University of Sydney Business School’s internationally respected Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS), found that across all industries, one in five employees worked from home regularly before the pandemic. Three in four workers believe that post-COVID-19, their employers are more likely to support work from home than they did before the pandemic. During the pandemic, the number of work from home days doubled for managers and almost tripled for employees in sales and clerical/administration work.
The looming legal minefield of working from home
A poll of more than 750 European employers published last week showed 41 per cent have plans to make it easier for staff to keep working remotely once offices reopen. They may not give a fig if their staff are lighting up at home, but they do care about much else, such as how much work is being done. That is already raising potential legal headaches, as I discovered after calling UK employment lawyers last week.
One of the consequences of the coronavirus on employers has been an increase in the number of persons working remotely, very often working from home. This did not happen just in Malta but also in other countries. Although specific numbers are not fully known, indications are that as many as a third of employees have worked from home during this period. Business meetings were also held online. We got to realise how much time we wasted by being stuck in traffic going to work or driving back home or going to meetings. When I broached the subject of remote working with both employers and employees, I was told that they expect that remote working will remain as staff have got accustomed to it. There is general agreement that it will not be remote working for five days a week but more like one or two days working from home and three days working at the workplace
‘Working remotely requires more individual contact, not less’
“The last six months have been like playing a game of chess where all the pieces can move in any direction, even the pawns,” says one middle manager in financial services. “My team has changed twice and I’ve had little or no say in the selection process. I’ve ended up with a very mixed group who don’t know each other and have different expectations and levels of experience. None of us has worked from home before and I’m supposed make it all work seamlessly on Zoom while not dropping the ball on productivity.” This is not untypical of the situation many of those now running distributed teams find themselves in. Working from home sounded great in theory and initially everyone was upbeat about being able to work from the sofa in their PJs if they felt like it. But it hasn’t taken long for the realities of remote working to kick in and for people to realise how much we rely on formal and informal interactions to provide stability and structure during the working day.
How global teams working remotely build trust
You were hoping to take advantage of the eight-hour time difference to get answers while you were sleeping, and now you’re annoyed. Do you hold onto that feeling, growing increasingly resentful during the day, and drafting passive-aggressive emails to your Japanese co-worker? Or do you let it go, knowing there was likely a reason they didn’t reply, and that you should be patient? The difference between those two responses is trust. Organizational psychologists and good managers know that a lack of trust between co-workers can quickly lead to a breakdown in teams, particularly those that work across geographies and cultures. Research has shown that the quicker you can establish trust, the more efficiently a team can work on a task, and the more resilient it is to the inevitable stresses caused by time zones, cultural differences, pressures, miscommunications, and conflict. Academics call a global team’s ability to do this at the beginning stage of a project “swift trust formation.”
Five exotic destinations inviting remote workers, including Barbados and Bermuda
Working from home has become the new normal for many of us due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While some have struggled to adapt to this new working mode, others have come to the welcome realisation that their job requirements can be completed from anywhere and are beginning to explore their options. As a result, a number of exotic destinations which have seen their tourism revenue pretty much vanish over the past few months are using the situation to their advantage by offering extended visas to remote workers in a bid to inject money into their economies.
Unhappy With Your Old Life? Pandemic Frees Formerly Office-Bound Workers to Experiment With New Ones
Back in July, Chelsea Alexander Paul and her husband, Evan, sat down in their San Francisco apartment and made a spreadsheet of places where they could live and work for the same amount of money or less. The Pauls had lived in the city for four years and once lockdowns began, they spent months working from their one-bedroom home in the Mission District. As of now, their offices won’t reopen until August 2021, freeing them up to focus on a place with better work space and more outdoor activities. “It felt like what we had in the city wasn’t really there anymore and isn’t going to be there for a little while,” said Ms. Paul, who is 32 and senior marketing lead at the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation.
Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top remote work concerns | TheHill
Six months after states began issuing stay-at-home orders, many employees have settled into working-from-home routines that are likely to persist in some form beyond the pandemic. But with that seismic shift comes concerns about productivity, fatigue and cybersecurity. Those issues are likely to become more prominent as a greater share of the labor force make remote work a long-term practice. A record 49 percent of Americans reported having telecommuted in a Gallup poll released last month, and the average telecommuter spent nearly 12 out of 20 days working at home, up from just below six days the year prior. Among college graduates, 76 percent reported having telecommuted.
The rise of the 'half-tourist' who combines work with a change of scene
Covid-19 has accelerated the decline of the office, but not everyone wants to work from home. We look at travel firms catering to the growing number of nomadic workers
The Rise of Remote Work Can Be Unexpectedly Liberating
In the initial months of the pandemic, remote work seemed full of upsides: more flexibility for employees and an expectation of greater profits, productivity and retention for their employers. But what if the long-studied benefits of remote work look different in a post-pandemic world? In particular, what if employee loyalty and engagement decrease once remote work is no longer an exception but rather the norm? And what if that’s not a bad thing? What if a more disconnected work force leads to changes that could make employees happier and companies more compassionate?
New York City school principals vote ‘no confidence’ in Mayor de Blasio over reopening plan
Just two days before New York City schools are set to reopen for tens of thousands of elementary school students, the union representing school principals called for state education officials to step in and take the reins from Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose ambitious plan to reopen school buildings has faced fierce opposition. The Executive Board of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, which represents more than 6,000 school principals and other school leaders, voted unanimously Sunday to declare a vote of “no confidence” in de Blasio, hoping to draw attention to the acute teacher shortages faced by schools across the city. “We’ve been calling out the staffing shortage all summer long,” said Mark Cannizzaro, president of the council. “I’m not confident right now that everyone has the teachers that they need.”
One farmer finds answer to ESL students' virtual learning struggles
Virtual classrooms are the new normal for many students, but for non-native speaking English students, trying to get good grades can be challenging in the best of times. As classes turn virtual due to COVID-19, some students are being left behind. Valeria Gonzalez, 11, told Fox News that her school in Buckeye, Az., doesn’t offer a virtual English as a second language (ESL) program. All of her classes are taught by an English speaking teacher with no Spanish translation.
Varsities will bloom online
Throughout the world, the decision to reopen university campuses has been a source of fierce controversy. The University of Notre Dame, University of North Carolina and Michigan State University in the United States have been forced to suspend in-person classes following a surge in Covid-19 cases on campus. At the same time, opposing arguments, such as that of Brown University president Christina Paxson, emphasise a host of issues that students and universities will face if campuses remain closed, highlighting the difficulties remote learning presents for less privileged students. What does all this mean from the educational point of view? Just like the impact of earlier technological novelties, higher education will adapt and come out stronger with virtual learning. Rather than being disrupted, the institutions that survive this crisis will be augmented by the new technology.
New virtual Chester Zoo visits launched as part of exciting educational workshops for kids
Brand new virtual zoo visits and animal workshops with experts are just part of an educational programme Chester Zoo has launched for youngsters. The zoo is offering a huge range of bookable educational activities for school groups, community groups and workshops for teachers, which include curriculum linked workshops at the zoo, at school and virtually through a brand new virtual visit programme
Women feel the squeeze of work, kids' remote learning
Reveles recently asked CVS, where she has worked for more than 20 years, to reduce her hours to 24 per week so that she could be home during the day to help her daughter while allowing her to keep some of the benefits that come with being a full-time employee. “I like my job and I am thankful for it, but I am a single parent and I can’t be there for my daughter,” she said. A CVS spokesman said the company was working with Reveles’ union to try to accommodate her request. Reveles is not alone. As the pandemic wears on and school begins across the country, women working in retail say they are being forced to choose between keeping their jobs and making sure their children can keep up with remote learning.
The positives of virtual learning that nobody is talking about
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, universities across the world pivoted to virtual learning, and a host of negative consequences quickly followed. Virtual learning exhausts students, exacerbates social class differences and mirrors the gender inequities that exist in in-person classes. And yet for all its drawbacks, virtual learning has an equalizing power that is undeniable. More institutions of higher learning must leverage many of the features that virtual learning provides to reduce bias and increase accessibility and inclusion for students, and to improve learning outcomes in ways not possible in person.
Calrossy Anglican School Tamworth to introduce 'eCalrossy' virtual classroom learning for distance education in 2021
A new system of distance learning is set to bring isolated kids closer than ever, by makinb virtual classrooms a reality
Remote learning keeps children safe from the coronavirus, but it hampers their social skills development
It is the first day of school. There are no buses. No sounds of the bell ringing or morning announcements over the loudspeaker. There is no chatter, laughter, high fives or even elbow bumps between the students in the classrooms. Hallways and lockers are empty. The cafeteria floor is sparkling clean. This first day of school is different. It is too silent – no feelings of nostalgia and excitement. Meeting new students, new teachers, new friends, new experiences and new opportunities is just a distant memory.
China says WHO gave blessing for coronavirus vaccine emergency use programme
The World Health Organization supported China's campaign to vaccinate certain people against coronavirus in July while clinical trials were still under way, a Chinese health official said on Friday, although some experts have expressed concern about the move.
It may take several tries to find right COVID-19 vaccine, PAHO director says
It may take several tries to find the right vaccine for COVID-19, the Pan American Health Organization's (PAHO) director Carissa Etienne said on Wednesday, as she urged countries to begin preparing vaccination plans. Global reported infections of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, are climbing toward 32 million, according to a Reuters tally, while deaths approach 1 million. Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are reporting about a million new infections every two weeks. "We hope scientists do uncover an effective vaccine that offers lasting protection against COVID but it may take a few tries before we find the right one," Etienne said during PAHO's weekly virtual press conference. "Early vaccines may only provide partial protection or may not work for everyone. We don't yet know which vaccine will be found safe and effective and how it will work," she said.
'It's going to end' — Dr Anthony Fauci tells Ireland a Covid vaccine could arrive in 2020
Donald Trump’s top coronavirus expert still believes there is a chance a Covid-19 vaccine could arrive this year. Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US, offered the positive assessment during an appear on The Late Late Show in Ireland. Speaking to host Ryan Tubridy, urged people to “hang in there” just a little longer. “This is going to end,” he told the RTE presenter. “We should know by the end of this calendar year – let’s say November, December – whether we have a safe and effective vaccine that can then be started to be deployed," he added. “Once we get vaccines distributed in the population – we won’t be completely avoiding and not adhering to public health measures – but clearly, they will be much less restrictive.
Coronavirus: Boris Johnson urges world to unite against COVID-19 and stop comparing death rates
Boris Johnson has urged the world to unite against coronavirus, suggesting it had made nations seem "selfish" and apparently warning against the comparison of countries' death rates. In a pre-recorded speech to the United Nations General Assembly, the prime minister said "the very notion of the international community looks tattered" nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic. "Unless we unite and turn our fire against our common foe, we know that everyone will lose," he said. "The inevitable outcome will be to prolong this calamity and increase the risk of another."
Experts are warning of a coming surge of Covid-19 cases in US
The US could see an explosion of Covid-19 cases as fall and winter set in, one expert says, joining a chorus of health officials who have warned about the challenges of the coming months. Two things will likely help drive that expected winter surge, according to Dr. Chris Murray, director of the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
Coronavirus: Israel tightens second lockdown amid acrimony
Israel has tightened restrictions on its population in the fight against coronavirus, one week after a second lockdown came into effect. From Friday afternoon, businesses not officially considered essential were ordered closed, and travel restricted to 1km (0.6 miles) from people's homes. Other planned rules which would affect protesters and synagogue-goers have not yet been approved amid acrimony. Covid-19 cases in Israel have continued to rise despite the latest lockdown. A new record of more than 8,000 infections for a single day were recorded on Thursday in Israel, which has one of the highest rates of infections per capita in the world.
Coronavirus: More than a quarter of UK under stricter rules
More than a quarter of the UK population is set to be under stricter coronavirus rules, as new measures come into force this weekend. From Saturday in England, households in Leeds, Wigan, Stockport and Blackpool are banned from mixing in each other's homes or gardens. In Wales, Llanelli became subject to new rules at 18:00 BST, with Cardiff and Swansea to follow 24 hours later. It comes as the rate at which the virus is spreading appears to be speeding up. There have been 6,042 new coronavirus infections in the UK over the past 24 hours, according to the latest government figures - and 34 deaths among those who tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 28 days. It marks the fourth consecutive day that new infections across the UK have topped 6,000.
Italy avoids Europe's dramatic Covid-19 surge but for how long?
The first Western country to be struck by the devastating coronavirus pandemic, Italy is today an outlier in Europe with limited new cases compared with neighbours. The question is why, and will it last. While France reported a record 16,096 new Covid-19 infections on Thursday and Spain over 10,000, Italy's number has for weeks remained below 2,000. It has carried out fewer tests -- some 120,000 per day, versus France's 180,000 -- but not enough to explain the sharp difference in new infections. Experts largely point to the success of a severe and lengthy lockdown, combined with a collective trauma. Horrific memories of coffins stacked up as cemeteries in the north overflowed and intensive-care beds ran out appear to have ensured Italians stick diligently to the rules, many even wearing masks in situations where it is not obligatory.
Uruguay is winning against covid-19. This is how
Uruguay is Latin America’s positive outlier in a region ravaged by the pandemic. Luke Taylor explains how simple measures and following the science has put it head and shoulders above richer countries in fighting the novel coronavirus. Latin America continues to suffer some of the worst tolls of covid-19, with over seven million recorded infections1 accounting for nearly half of all daily deaths.2 But in the region's Southern Cone there is a clear outlier wedged between Brazil to the west, with over 3.5 million confirmed cases, and Argentina to the east, with half a million. Somehow, Uruguay has a lid on the pandemic. Its relatively small population of 3.5 million made controlling the transmission of covid-19 easier but never guaranteed its success—Panama, home to four million in Central America, has recorded over 100 000 cases and 2000 related deaths.
Spain’s Covid response is plunged into chaos
Spain’s response to the worst resurgence of coronavirus in Europe was plunged into chaos on Friday as Madrid regional authorities defied a national government call to put the whole capital city under new restrictions. The dispute highlights the governance crisis that has accompanied the pandemic in Spain and the lack of political consensus over how to handle it. It signals a more difficult phase of managing coronavirus around the world as winter looms and infections accelerate, with efforts to build up locally differentiated responses and people more reluctant to comply with harsh restrictions on public life and business activity.
Sanofi/Glaxo to Supply 70M Coronavirus Vaccine Doses in Canada
Sanofi SNY and its partner GlaxoSmithKline GSK announced an agreement with the government of Canada to supply up to 72 million doses of the adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine that the companies are developing together, if approved. The vaccine will be produced at Glaxo and Sanofi’s manufacturing sites in Canada. Sanofi’s recombinant protein-based technology is being combined with Glaxo’s pandemic adjuvant technology to develop an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine.
Covid-19: What do scientists think of the PM's plan?
After dangling the possibility of a mini-lockdown to break coronavirus's chain of transmission, Boris Johnson has opted for a much softer strategy. The new Covid restrictions for England - which allow pubs and restaurants to remain open and households to continue mixing - have been met by scientists with responses ranging from praise to despair. Dame Anne Johnson, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London, said it was essential to act quickly to stop the growth in the epidemic. She is "pleased" to see the government acting now, and says the change in messaging may be enough to change the virus's course.
History Will Be "Severe Judge": Australia PM On Not Sharing Covid Vaccine
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday insisted that any nation that develops a Covid-19 vaccine share it universally, warning that history will be a "severe judge" if not. Morrison made the strongly worded appeal at the United Nations as the United States, a historic ally of Australia, resists global efforts to collaborate on a vaccine. "When it comes to a vaccine, Australia's view is very clear -- whoever finds the vaccine must share it," Morrison said in a message to the virtual UN General Assembly recorded in front of the iconic Sydney Opera House. "This is a global responsibility and it's a moral responsibility for a vaccine to be shared far and wide," he said.
AstraZeneca Signs Deal With Canada to Provide 20 Million Coronavirus Vaccine Doses
AstraZeneca signed a large coronavirus vaccine-delivery deal with Canada on Friday. The big pharmaceutical company will deliver up to 20 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine candidate, AZD1222. This isn't the first time AstraZeneca has signed a commitment to deliver enormous quantities of its coronavirus vaccine candidate before it's had a chance to prove itself safe and effective in a phase 3 clinical trial. In June, the company agreed to supply Europe with up to 400 million doses of AZD1222 with deliveries beginning by the end of the year. The company also has a deal with Brazil to provide around 30 million finished doses of the vaccine by December.
Pope wants Covid-19 vaccine preferential treatment for the poor and weakest
The poor and weakest members of society should get preferential treatment when a vaccine for the coronavirus is ready, Pope Francis told the United Nations on Friday. Speaking from the Vatican in a video address to the UN General Assembly, Francis said the worldwide pandemic had highlighted the urgent need to promote public health and ensure access to vaccines. “If anyone should be given preference, let it be the poorest, the most vulnerable, those who so often experience discrimination because they have neither power nor economic resources,” he said. Francis has said rich countries should not hoard a coronavirus vaccine and the World Health Organization has warned against “vaccine nationalism”, urging countries to join a global pact to share vaccine hopefuls with developing countries.
Covid: Coronavirus cases in England up 60% in a week
The rate at which the Covid-19 virus is spreading appears to be speeding up. The R number, indicating how fast the coronavirus epidemic is growing, has risen from 1.1-1.4 to 1.2-1.5. An Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey estimated there were 9,600 new cases a day in England in the week to 19 September - up from 6,000 the week before and three times that being picked up by general testing. It comes as more restrictions come into effect in parts of England and Wales. On Friday, the daily number of positive cases in the UK picked up by coronavirus testing rose to a new high of 6,874, government figures show. A further 34 deaths were announced, although figures were not available for Scotland because of a power cut at the National Records of Scotland.
India’s coronavirus infections surge to 5.82 million
India’s coronavirus case tally surged to 5.82 million after it recorded 86,052 new infections in the last 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed on Friday. A total of 1,141 people died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the ministry said, taking mortalities to 92,290, which is a relatively low 1.6% of all cases. Globally, India has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases, behind the United States where infections crossed 7 million on Thursday.
Coronavirus: Two million deaths 'very likely' even with vaccine, WHO warns
The global coronavirus death toll could hit two million before an effective vaccine is widely used, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned. Dr Mike Ryan, the WHO's emergencies head, said the figure could be higher without concerted international action. Almost one million people have died with Covid-19 worldwide since the disease first emerged in China late last year. Virus infections continue to rise, with 32 million cases confirmed globally. The start of a second surge of coronavirus infections has been seen in many countries in the northern hemisphere as winter approaches.
Coronavirus: Whitty and Vallance faced 'herd immunity' backlash, emails show
As the UK introduces fresh restrictions on social contact to curb the spread of coronavirus, controversy continues to rage about whether the government had initially considered trying a very different approach. At the start of the pandemic, the government's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, spoke about "herd immunity" - the idea that once enough of a population had been exposed to the virus, they would build up natural immunity to it. Sir Patrick and the government have both insisted this was never official policy. The government also denies there was any delay in locking down the country, as some critics have suggested. Emails obtained by the BBC reveal the alarm among the government's top scientific advisers at the reaction to Sir Patrick's words. In one email from March, Sir Patrick asks for help to "calm down" academics who have expressed anger at his repeated references to herd immunity and the delays in announcing a lockdown.
Canada secures supply of COVID-19 drug remdesivir, more vaccine doses
Canada will see a dramatic resurgence of COVID-19 cases unless people limit contact with others in coming days, the country's chief public health officer warns. Dr. Theresa Tam said Tuesday the public has a vital role to play in helping health agencies limit the spread of the virus. “The challenge we face now is to stay the course no matter how weary we may feel,” Tam told a news briefing in Ottawa. She made a special appeal to young Canadians, saying COVID-19 levels won't return to a slow burn without their help, given the incidence has been highest among people age 20 to 39 since late June..
China begins emergency use of Covid-19 vaccine despite safety concerns
Hundreds of thousands of people in China have been given a coronavirus vaccine despite the fact it has not been finally approved by regulators. The move has prompted concerns among onlookers that China is pushing ahead to gain an edge in the race to develop a successful vaccine without following proper safety measures. Chinese companies Sinopharm and SinoVac have given vaccine shots to more than 350,000 people in recent months and that number is likely set to rise.
India offers Covid vaccine production facilities to the world
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged at the United Nations on Saturday that his country's vaccine production capacity would be made available globally to fight the Covid-19 crisis. "As the largest vaccine-producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today," Mr Modi said in a pre-recorded speech to the UN General Assembly. "India's vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis." Mr Modi said India was moving ahead with Phase 3 clinical trials – the large-scale trials considered the gold standard for determining safety and efficacy – and would help all countries enhance their cold chain and storage capacities for the delivery of vaccines.
New CSP Covid-19 rehabilitation standards launched
They apply to anyone with rehabilitation needs– aged 18 or over - who has or has had Covid-19, and are relevant to people at all stages of their Covid-19 recovery, their families and carers. This is whether their care is managed in community settings throughout or if they were admitted to hospital at any stage. There are seven quality standards: Needs assessment, rehabilitation planning and review - Personalised rehabilitation - Self-management - Communication and information - Coordinated rehabilitation and care pathways - Evaluation, audit and research - Personal protective equipment and infection control
Covid-19: What has it meant for the 'busiest' trains?
Newly released figures have revealed the 10 most overcrowded trains in England and Wales. Among them was the 07:16 service from King's Lynn, in Norfolk, into London King's Cross. But has coronavirus changed things? Spoiler alert. It has. The data released by the Department for Transport on Thursday suggested nearly one in five train passengers had to stand due to overcrowding during the morning rush hour. But these latest figures are for last autumn and seem to reflect a different world from today's Covid-19 reality. Great Northern, which runs the King's Lynn to King's Cross service, had told us it had already been working hard to reduce crowding before the pandemic struck. The government's figures show the service was running at 165% capacity when it was measured last year.
Military to support Birmingham's Covid-19 testing
Military support is being brought in to help with the coronavirus testing programme in Birmingham. About 100 military personnel will aid Birmingham City Council with its "drop and collect" testing programme. At a weekly briefing, the council's deputy leader said it would assist civilian efforts to maximise the numbers of tests able to be done. It comes as the number of cases in the city reached 107.6 per 100,000 people - the highest in the West Midlands. The "drop and collect service" sees tests dropped off at a resident's door and then collected by staff and is aimed at areas with high rates of infection, to provide a service to people who can't leave their homes and to encourage those who may not be proactive in getting tested.
UK Government local coronavirus testing site opens in Edinburgh
A new walk-through coronavirus testing centre has opened in Edinburgh. The new facility is being provided by the UK Government as part of a UK-wide drive to continue to improve the accessibility of coronavirus testing for local communities. The centre, in the Usher Hall, will offer pre-booked tests for those with coronavirus symptoms. The new site is situated so as to be easily accessible without a car. Those being tested will be required to follow public health measures, including social distancing, not travelling by taxi or public transport, practising good personal hygiene and wearing a face covering throughout, including while travelling to and from the testing centre.
Flu vaccine demand seems up in northern hemisphere: WHO
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, there seems to be an increased demand for influenza vaccine in the northern hemisphere with some countries experiencing shortages, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert said on Friday. Dr. Ann Moen, WHO chief of the Influenza Preparedness and Response, said at a news briefing that at the same time, some parts of the southern hemisphere reported fewer influenza cases this year. "We've heard from specific countries saying that they were trying to get additional vaccines, and they were trying to source it. And some countries are having trouble sourcing additional vaccines," said Moen. She said WHO is helping countries manage prevention, control, and treatment of respiratory illnesses "holistically," including both influenza and COVID-19.
Coronavirus: Potential vaccine passes another hurdle as 10,000 UK volunteers to test jab
Novavax has started its Phase 3 trial of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine in the UK. The US biotechnology firm is to enrol 10,000 people out of 250,000 volunteers aged between 18 and 84 over the next four to six weeks. The company joins AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna as its coronavirus vaccine candidate enters the final step of the regulatory approvals process.
Coronavirus: Hundreds of thousands in China given emergency use Covid vaccine
Hundreds of thousands of people in China have been given an emergency use coronavirus vaccine, raising serious welfare concerns among experts. An emergency use vaccine means they have been given people to before final regulatory approval. It is unclear how many people have been given the vaccine, but the state-owned Sinopharm subsidiary CNBG has given the vaccine to 350,000 people outside its clinical trials, which have about 40,000 people enrolled, a top CNBG executive said recently. It has also provided tens of thousands of rounds of its CoronaVac for the Beijing city government. Another candidate being jointly developed by the military and CanSino, a biopharmaceutical company, has been approved for emergency use in military personnel.
Iceland's infection rate spikes after French tourists blamed
Iceland's infection rate per 100,000 people has risen from 7.3 to 89.7 in 10 days French tourists have been linked to at least 100 cases at two bars in Reykjavik Nordic country was praised for its successful testing and tracing in the first wave Only one person is in hospital with Covid-19 and nobody has died of it since April
Derry and Strabane COVID-19 cases double in ten days: 24 infections among people over 60 in the past week
In total 295 positive coronavirus cases have been registered in Derry and Strabane between September 19 and September 25, according to the latest Department of Health data that was released this afternoon. Since the pandemic began there have been 700 confirmed cases in Derry and Strabane. More positive COVID-19 cases were registered in the city and district in the past week than were recorded between the start of the pandemic and Sunday, September 6.
China delivers more COVID-19 preventive supplies to Zambia
China delivered more COVID-19 preventative materials to Zambia. Li Jie, Chinese Ambassador to Zambia, said on Friday the international community still needs to support Zambia as the country has continued to see a rise in both new cases and deaths. He said the two countries have been all-weather friends for a long time and that the two sides have been united in fighting the pandemic since it broke out in the southern African nation. “These supplies have just arrived in Zambia by air. I am handing over them to the Ministry of Health. I believe they will play a positive role in the treatment of critically ill patients and the protection of medical staff,” he said.
Johnson & Johson becomes fourth coronavirus vaccine study to enter final stages in the US
Johnson & Johnson is starting a huge final study today to determine if a single-dose coronavirus vaccine can provide protection against the disease. The vaccine candidate, which was developed by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, is the fourth US company to begin Phase 3 trials in the US, following Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca. From Wednesday, 60,000 volunteers across the US, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru will be involved with testing of the vaccine.
Carriers of two genetic mutations at greater risk for illness and death from COVID-19
Researchers suggest that carriers of the genetic mutations PiZ and PiS are at high risk for severe illness and even death from COVID-19. These mutations lead to deficiency in the alpha1-antitrypsin protein, which protects lung tissues from damage in case of severe infections. Other studies have already associated deficiency in this protein with inflammatory damage to lung function in other diseases.
Vitamin D 'cuts chance of coronavirus death by half', study finds
Patients who take a daily dose of vitamin D are less likely to experience complications and die from coronavirus, according to a new study in the US. The vitamin was linked to higher levels of immune cells in the blood and much lower inflammatory markets, scientists at Boston University’s school of medicine found. This meant there were far fewer cytokine storms, a potentially deadly overreaction of the immune system sparked by coronavirus that overloads the blood with proteins.
China's annual production capacity of COVID-19 vaccines expected to reach 610 million doses by end-2020, official says
China’s annual production capacity of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to reach 610 million doses by end-2020, the country’s National Health Commission said on Friday. Production capacity of the vaccines is forecast to reach 1 billion doses per year by 2021, Zheng Zhongwei，Director General of the Development Centre for Medical Science and Technology of the commission, told a news briefing.
Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support in COVID-19: an international cohort study of the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization registry
Data for 1035 patients with COVID-19 who received ECMO support were included in this study. Of these, 67 (6%) remained hospitalised, 311 (30%) were discharged home or to an acute rehabilitation centre, 101 (10%) were discharged to a long-term acute care centre or unspecified location, 176 (17%) were discharged to another hospital, and 380 (37%) died. The estimated cumulative incidence of in-hospital mortality 90 days after the initiation of ECMO was 37·4% (95% CI 34·4–40·4). Mortality was 39% (380 of 968) in patients with a final disposition of death or hospital discharge.
Genetic variants mimicking therapeutic inhibition of IL-6 receptor signaling and risk of COVID-19
Few effective therapeutic options are available for the treatment of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. IL-6 receptor blockade has been proposed as one potential therapeutic strategy, and more than 40 clinical trials of anti-IL-6 receptor antibodies (including tocilizumab and sarilumab) in the setting of SARS-CoV-2 infection are underway (appendix p 2). Early evidence from observational studies and open-label, uncontrolled trials has suggested that IL-6 receptor blockers might confer benefit, particularly in patients with severe COVID-19.1
Hidden immune weakness found in 14% of gravely ill COVID-19 patients
From the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists baffled by the disease’s ferocity have wondered whether the body’s vanguard virus fighter, a molecular messenger called type I interferon, is missing in action in some severe cases. Two papers published online in Science this week confirm that suspicion. They reveal that in a significant minority of patients with serious COVID-19, the interferon response has been crippled by genetic flaws or by rogue antibodies that attack interferon itself. “Together these two papers explain nearly 14% of severe COVID-19 cases. That is quite amazing,” says Qiang Pan- Hammarström, an immunologist at the Karolinska Institute
Coronavirus vaccine: Johnson & Johnson jab shows response in 98% of test participants
One of the numerous proposed coronavirus vaccines has produced a strong immune response in test subjects according to a report issued Friday. Johnson & Johnson's JNJ.N Covid-19 vaccine, called Ad26.COV2.S, was well-tolerated by subjects at two dosing instances in early-to-mid stage coronavirus clinical trials. It is the only Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial in the US that is testing a single dose vaccine. Researchers said 98 per cent of participants in the study whose data was available had neutralising antibodies, which help the body fight off pathogens, a month after they received the vaccine.
Trials of Russia coronavirus 'vaccine' show questionable results 'very unlikely' to be a coincidence
Initial reports on Sputnik V vaccine were published in the Lancet earlier this month. International scientists have falgged up several apparent anomalies. Graphs show the level of immune response in different people after taking the vaccine seems to be different in nature
Merck, advancing single-dose and oral coronavirus vaccines, could still make Warp Speed: Bloomberg
The U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed has already inked COVID-19 vaccine research and manufacturing pacts with major vaccine players—excluding Merck & Co., that is. But the group’s description of an as-yet-unnamed participant matches Merck’s early-stage research, Bloomberg reports, indicating the drugmaker could still get in. Merck publicly entered COVID-19 vaccine research later than its peers through a buyout of the biotech Themis and a partnership with nonprofit research group IAVI. The company started phase 1/2 testing earlier this month with technology acquired in the Themis buy. The IAVI partnership uses the same platform as Merck's Ebola vaccine, which won FDA approval late last year. Merck’s vaccines are live attenuated candidates, meaning they use weakened viruses that replicate in the body to generate an immune response. Merck is testing a vaccine that could be given orally, which would “help lower the barrier to vaccination should it be effective,” Merck R&D chief Roger Perlmutter said on a July conference call.
Czech coronavirus vaccine successfully passed first phase of testing on rodents
Czech researchers have successfully completed the first phase of vaccine development against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The prototype tested on rodents is safe and elicited an immune response, daily Lidove Noviny reported on September 23. The vaccine has been developed by the National Institute of Public Health (SZU), the Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion (UHKT) with the Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine (IKEM). Further development will depend on the decision of the Ministry of Health. The ministry announced the start of the development of the COVID-19 vaccine in early May. The news of the successful completion of the first stage was reported by the ministry's scientists on September 18.
Why so many people are hopeful about an mRNA coronavirus vaccine
The whole world is watching — including investors and public health specialists — as more than 30 biotech and pharmaceutical companies race to develop a safe Covid-19 vaccine. But there’s a big question lingering over the process: How do we balance safety with speed? The process is moving quickly with several vaccine candidates entering late stage trials in a matter of months. Pfizer and biotech Moderna are two of the companies the White House has chosen to fast track through the FDA’s regulatory process. Both companies are attempting to use messenger RNA, or mRNA, to produce their vaccines, a technology that has never before received regulatory approval....
Sanofi isn't cutting corners in coronavirus vaccine development despite acceleration, CEO says
“We haven’t changed anything in the way we do things, we’ve just accelerated,” Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson told CNBC’s Jim Cramer. Hudson expressed confidence in the company’s coronavirus vaccine candidates, noting it produces about a billion doses of other vaccines each other. “We feel pressure to get it right and maintain the standards and to play a big part in helping people get back to normal,” Hudson added on “Mad Money.”
Johnson & Johnson Initiates Pivotal Global Phase 3 Clinical Trial of Janssen's COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate
Johnson & Johnson today announced the launch of its large-scale, pivotal, multi-country Phase 3 trial (ENSEMBLE) for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, JNJ-78436735, being developed by its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies. The initiation of the ENSEMBLE trial follows positive interim results from the Company's Phase 1/2a clinical study, which demonstrated that the safety profile and immunogenicity after a single vaccination were supportive of further development. These results have been submitted to medRxiv and are due to be published online imminently. Based on these results and following discussions with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ENSEMBLE will enroll up to 60,000 volunteers across three continents and will study the safety and efficacy of a single vaccine dose versus placebo in preventing COVID-19.
50 patients infected with coronavirus and 14 dead: How Covid-19 ripped through one Irish hospital
More than 50 patients were infected with Covid-19 in a Dublin hospital over six weeks, and 14 of whom died, according to a pioneering genome study by Irish scientists. The patients in most cases caught the virus from healthcare workers, while an older patient who was agitated and “wandered” the corridors was identified as a potential “super spreader”. The study, conducted at the height of the pandemic, investigated the genome sequences of 52 cases of hospital-acquired Covid-19 over March and April to track its transmission routes. The research sheds new light on how the virus spread across wards and between health workers and finds that, in most cases, the virus was spread to patients by healthcare workers — not the other way around.
In the race for a Covid-19 vaccine, here come the tortoises
The race is not always to the swift, as the cocky hare learned in Aesop’s classic fable, “The Hare and the Tortoise.” Those handicapping the so-called competition to develop Covid-19 vaccines would do well to keep an eye on the slower runners in this pursuit. Corporate giants Sanofi and Merck, which got a relatively late start in developing Covid-19 vaccines, may seem far behind the frontrunners. But experts say they also have such deep experience developing and testing vaccine candidates, and producing vaccine at commercial scale, that both could well close the gap considerably in the months ahead. Each is developing two vaccines, in partnership with others.