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"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 3rd Dec 2020

Isolation Tips
Joy as Britain's care home residents share first hugs with relatives since March
Residents of Britain’s care homes shared their first precious hugs and kisses with relatives since March on Wednesday, after homes were able to give visitors rapid tests for COVID-19 which give results in 30 minutes. Bob Underhill, an 84-year-old retiree, was reunited with his wife Patricia, 82, who has Alzheimer’s. Both were overcome as they met, then hugged and kissed through their face masks. “I’ve only seen her twice since March because they had a shutdown here, and we just had to sit and wait,” said Underhill.
Only working age care home residents allowed to leave for visits over Christmas
Only residents of working age should be allowed leave care homes for Christmas, according to Government guidance. An exemption can be made in exceptional circumstances, such as visiting a loved one at the end of their life. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the risks are usually significantly greater for older people than for those of working age. The guidance says that residents, their families and care homes should very carefully consider whether making visits out from the home is the best thing to do, or whether a visit at the care home would provide meaningful contact in a safer way.
Hygiene Helpers
WHO tightens mask guidelines
The World Health Organization (WHO) is tightening its mask guidelines, telling people who live in areas where the coronavirus is still spreading to wear masks at all times in a variety of public places. The new guidelines, rolled out on Tuesday, specify that those entering stores, workplaces and schools with low ventilation should make sure that they are wearing a mask. The WHO is also asking that people wear masks if they cannot keep a physical distance of at least three feet from others within an enclosed area. The guidelines also call for children 12 and older to wear masks and state that face coverings should be worn outdoors if it is not possible to socially distance.
COVID-19 vaccine: How exactly does the cold supply chain work?
The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in the UK is manufactured in Belgium and needs to be stored at -70C (-94F) to avoid spoiling before it is administered. The government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has confirmed its priority list for the first phase of the UK's mass vaccine rollout, which will begin early next week. But the prime minister has acknowledged the government faces "immense logistical challenges" in distributing the vaccine to those who need it over the coming weeks and months. These vaccines will need to be transported from Pfizer's manufacturing plant in Belgium to some of the most distant parts of the British Isles, including the Isle of Arran. Here's how that will work:
These Covid-19 Vaccines Are Safe, Right?
Sam Fazeli, a Bloomberg Opinion contributor who covers the pharmaceutical industry for Bloomberg Intelligence, answered questions about the safety of new Covid-19 vaccines that are set to win approval for broad use in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere as early as this month. The conversation has been edited and condensed.
Community Activities
Hawaii’s new remote-work program will cover your airfare in exchange for volunteering
While you might be eyeing remote-work visas abroad as a way to travel internationally again, Hawaii just created a long-term-stay program for U.S. residents to get away from the mainland. Movers & Shakas, a state- and company-funded program, will provide airfare to Oahu to 50 out-of-staters willing to spend at least a month in Hawaii volunteering with nonprofits. The program begins Dec. 15. A spokesperson for the program said that depending on how the Oahu pilot program goes, future volunteering remote workers heading to other islands could be eligible for the free roundtrip airfare.
U.S. employers could mandate a COVID-19 vaccine, but are unlikely to do so -experts
Private U.S. companies have the right under the law to require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but are unlikely to do so because of the risks of legal and cultural backlash, experts said. Companies are still in the early stages of navigating access and distribution of vaccines against the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, but inoculation is considered the key to safely resume operations at crowded warehouses, factory lines and on sales floors.
CVS, Walgreens to Give Covid-19 Shots at Nursing Homes
CVS Health Corp. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. are preparing to administer Covid-19 vaccines in tens of thousands of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities across the country, with shots possibly rolling out in just weeks. Federal advisers on Tuesday urged that residents at long-term care centers be first in line for the Covid shots, along with at-risk health-care workers. In making the recommendation, the advisers said the move would be well-supported by a new partnership formed between the Department of Health and Human Services and pharmacy companies to vaccinate at the centers.
Working Remotely
Robotic arm does Glasgow students’ lab work remotely
University students are carrying out lab work using pioneering remote robotics enabled by 5G as part of a new connectivity push. The Scottish Government-funded Scotland 5G Centre said the country is making substantial progress in developing much-needed applications using the technology. One project that has been tested and is ready to go to market is led by the University of Glasgow. Funding from the Scotland 5G Centre has enabled the university to build its own leading 5G network ecosystem, that will enable test and development of multiple use cases.
Optimising collaboration in the post-pandemic workplace
A recent research study of IT and business professionals revealed that, as the pandemic hit, they achieved the implementation of a 4.7x increase in the level of home working, sometimes in a matter of days. 35% of those surveyed said “90-99%” of employees are now working from home, compared to a response of 0% for this band pre-pandemic! Without technology there is no virtual collaboration, so having the right infrastructure in place is a key challenge. Remote support, business-grade devices and cloud-based software are essential, enabling everyone to work efficiently and securely away from the workplace.
Do Your Remote Employees Feel Included in Meetings?
I’ll never forget a 30-minute pre-pandemic conference call I once had with some colleagues. Three of the participants, including the host, called from the office; two of us called in from home. The host waited until the 26th minute to ask the virtual team if we had any questions. Up until that point, he seemed to have forgotten that we were on the other end of the line, waiting to give our input about the project at hand. Not only did he come across as self-centered, but by not allowing his virtual team to contribute to the conversation until the very last minute, he short-changed himself. It was innocuous, but it perfectly epitomized a classic problem that remote workers often run into: being an afterthought to the “core” office team.
How to Create a Productive Working from Home Space
The ‘soft office’ (i.e. the bed and sofa) is often seen as the natural home of freelancers and remote workers, but many have experienced for the first time during the pandemic that in reality: it’s not quite conducive to working at your best. Living and working in the same space (perhaps with little ones trundling around too) is something millions of people have been forced to become accustomed to due to COVID-19. It’s no mean feat – but we are here to help. If you are looking for inspiration on how to create an optimal working from home setup – whether in a dedicated room or simply a spot in the corner, read our tips below to create a tranquil, productive space for working.
Virtual Classrooms
Simulation Lab Works To Expand Potential of Virtual Instruction
With nearly $1 million in national and local grants, Marjorie Zielke PhD’07 is developing a platform that will deliver virtual teaching via augmented reality and holograms. “The need for high-fidelity virtual teachers is compelling and certainly growing,” she said. “Emergent virtual teachers can be delivered at home, in schools, in special situations, in a variety of languages and with specific skill sets.” Zielke, research professor and director of the Center for Simulation and Synthetic Humans, recently won the $20,000 5G Grand Challenge from the Tech Titans, the largest technology trade association in Texas. She also is part of a UT Dallas team that has been awarded a three-year, $750,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and three $10,000 grants from the NSF’s U.S. Ignite/Smart and Connected Communities.
Building Self-Efficacy: How to Feel Confident in Your Online Teaching
Now that we are into the realities of teaching in a COVID-world, I keep hearing similar sentiments from my colleagues, something to the effect of, “It’s going fine, but I don’t feel like a good teacher anymore.” What I hear in these statements is not a bad teacher but one who has lost confidence in their teaching. Whether teaching fully online, a hybrid model, or in-person with social distancing requirements, everyone has had to make changes to the way they teach. The pedagogical style and practices that we previously relied on are either no longer an option or are not as effective given the current constraints. So, we have adapted, learned the technology, and made necessary adjustments. We’re doing it, but we don’t feel like we’re doing it well.
GAO Report Shows Virtual Learning Disparities for Disabled Students
When the pandemic closed schools in March, perhaps nobody was impacted more than students with disabilities. These classes, and ancillary therapies that reinforce and expand on class work, benefit from close interaction. So how has distance learning changed things? A new report out from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) gives the first look into how schools managed two unique situations: special education and instruction for English language learners (ELL) during the spring 2020 term. The study was conducted as part of the GAO’s requirements for the CARES Act to identify and track the impact of money received and spent. Both groups of students struggled significantly with learning, the study showed.
Broward Students Push Back on Policy to Keep Cameras on During Virtual Learning
A new policy requiring Broward County Public Schools students to keep their cameras on during virtual learning is getting pushback from thousands of students in the district. “I know personally people that are not in home environments that are as nice so by showing their house to everybody in their class, by showing their parents and their siblings running around in the background, I know that’s really embarrassing,” said Kayla Bello, a sophomore at Fort Lauderdale High School. Bello is one of thousands of Broward County students who signed a petition on Change.org titled “Cameras Should Not Be Required In Broward County Schools.” The petition has more than 8,000 signatures.
Public Policies
Covid-19: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine judged safe for use in UK from next week
The UK has become the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, paving the way for mass vaccination. Britain's medicines regulator, the MHRA, says the jab, which offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19 illness, is safe to be rolled out. The first doses are already on their way to the UK, with 800,000 due in the coming days, Pfizer said. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the NHS will contact people about jabs. Elderly people in care homes and care home staff have been placed top of the priority list, followed by over-80s and health and care staff. But because hospitals already have the facilities to store the vaccine at -70C, as required, the very first vaccinations are likely to take place there - for care home staff, NHS staff and patients - so none of the vaccine is wasted. A further 648 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test were recorded in the UK on Wednesday, with another 16,170 cases reported.
PM Johnson says COVID-19 vaccines should be voluntary
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson might be persuaded to take a COVID-19 vaccination on television to show it is safe but he would not have one before those in greater need, his press secretary said on Wednesday. Johnson, 56, who spent time in intensive care earlier this year after contracting COVID-19, has hailed the UK approval of Pfizer Inc’s vaccine as a global win and ray of hope amid a pandemic that has hurt the economy and upended normal life.
Have countries led by women coped better with Covid-19?
Eight months ago, the tooth fairy flitted into New Zealand politics. During a national address, the country’s premier Jacinda Ardern declared that, although she was placing the population into a tight lockdown to combat Covid-19, “We do consider both the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny to be essential workers.” The video of her speech went viral. Was this just a piece of political theatre? Perhaps. But the humour, care and humanity it showed raise an intriguing question: have female leaders been better at rallying their voters to combat the pandemic than men?
Within Hours of U.K., Putin Orders Start of Mass Covid-19 Shots
President Vladimir Putin said Russia should begin general vaccination of the population against Covid-19 next week, the same day the U.K. became the first western country to approve a vaccine for use. “Let’s take this first step,” Putin told officials Wednesday during a video conference on the opening of Covid-19 hospitals built by the Defense Ministry. More than 2 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine will be ready for use within the next few days and “this gives us the opportunity to start vaccination on a mass scale,” he said.
Canada unveils largest economic relief package since WW2
Canada's federal government will spend C$100bn ($77bn, £58bn) to kick-start the country's post-pandemic economy. It is "the largest economic relief package for our country since the Second World War", Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said. The wide-ranging plan includes targeted relief for hard-hit business sectors, investments in long-term care homes and distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine.
C.D.C. Recommends That Nursing Homes and Health Workers Get Vaccines First
An independent panel advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted Tuesday to recommend that residents and employees of nursing homes and similar facilities be the first people in the United States to receive coronavirus vaccines, along with health care workers who are especially at risk of being exposed to the virus. The panel, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, voted 13 to 1 during an emergency meeting to make the recommendation. The director of the C.D.C., Dr. Robert R. Redfield, is expected to decide by Wednesday whether to accept it as the agency’s formal guidance to states as they prepare to start giving people the shots as soon as two weeks from now.
Germany to keep restaurants, hotels closed until January 10 - sources
Germany will extend restrictive measures designed to stem a tide of new COVID-19 infections until Jan. 10, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday after talks with German state leaders. The measures, which had been due to expire on Dec. 20, include keeping restaurants and hotels shut and limiting private gatherings to five people from two households. “The states will extend their measures from December 20 until January 10,” Merkel told a news conference, adding that another round of consultations would be held on Jan. 4. “In principle things will remain as they are.” While the daily rise in infection numbers has started to fall, Germany reported its highest single-day death toll on Wednesday since the start of the pandemic, and regions that had been spared the worst are seeing case numbers surge.
Italy's health minister hopes first COVID-19 vaccines can start in January
Italians will not be able to attend midnight mass or move between regions over the Christmas period, a top health ministry official said on Wednesday, as the country battles high coronavirus infection rates and deaths. Italy has been reporting more daily COVID-19 fatalities than any other European nation in recent weeks and, while the increase in new cases and hospital admissions is slowing, the government is worried about gatherings over Christmas. The existing restrictions, which have put much of the industrial north under partial lockdown and limited business activity, are due to expire on Thursday.
Italy tightens antivirus restrictions for Christmas
Italy will have to adopt strict restrictions over Christmas holidays to avoid a third wave of the pandemic next year, Health Minister Roberto Speranza told parliament on Wednesday. The new rules -- which will be effective from Dec. 4 -- will include an almost total ban on international movements and between Italian regions, aimed at avoiding the spread of the virus across the country and limiting huge get-togethers. The restriction will be even tougher on Dec. 25-26 and Jan. 1, when citizens would not be allowed to travel even between cities. A nationwide curfew at 10 p.m. will be maintained also on Christmas night and New Year’s Eve, likely obliging Italian churches to anticipate the traditional midnight mass. The government is still discussing a few exceptions to these limitations, possibly for students who plan to visit their families in a different region, or elderly parents and grandparents who live alone and would spend the holidays by themselves.
Coronavirus: France to impose border checks to stop skiing abroad
Random border checks will be imposed to stop French holidaymakers going to ski in neighbouring Switzerland, Prime Minister Jean Castex has said. France, in common with Germany and Italy, is shutting its ski lifts over Christmas to stop the spread of Covid-19, but Swiss slopes are already open. The ski season at Christmas and the New Year is a vital part of the economy for many European countries Mr Castex said it was his duty to protect fellow citizens. "The conclusion you need to make is that 'I'm not going to Switzerland'," he told BFMTV on Wednesday, adding that anyone who did go would face quarantine on their return.
Coronavirus tier system comes into force as England’s national lockdown is lifted
A new tougher tier system of Covid-19 restrictions for England has come into force, as the national four-week lockdown is lifted. The measures, which came into force at midnight, were approved by MPs in the Commons on Tuesday with the support of 291 votes to 78. More than 55 million people in the country are being placed in the top two strictest tiers, with London in Tier 2. The rules are tougher than in the previous tier system England was face with before its second lockdown began in November.
Australia's economy powers out of Covid-19 recession
Australia has exited its first recession in almost three decades, with the economy growing by a better than expected 3.3 per cent in the September quarter, reflecting authorities’ adept handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. A boom in household spending drove the recovery as the easing of social distancing restrictions prompted a 7.9 per cent jump in spending on goods and services in the third quarter. However, the damage wrought by stringent lockdowns was expressed in the annual growth figure, which showed economic activity fell 3.8 per cent in the year to end September.
Ukraine scraps weekend lockdowns against COVID pandemic: PM
Ukraine has lifted weekend lockdown restrictions in place to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic but is still considering whether to introduce a tighter lockdown at a later stage, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Wednesday. The government last month introduced a lockdown at weekends, closing or restricting most businesses except essential services such as grocery shops, pharmacies, hospitals and transport.
Pfizer jab will be distributed at hospitals first, then GP surgeries and stadiums
Initial batches of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab are already heading to Britain after it was approved by UK regulators. Vaccine will be distributed at hospitals first, and then GPs and city hubs in stadiums and conference centres. The UK has ordered 40million doses in total, with 10m due by the end of 2020 and the rest coming next year
EU criticises 'hasty' UK approval of COVID-19 vaccine
The European Union criticised Britain’s rapid approval of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, saying its own procedure was more thorough, after Britain became the first western country to endorse a COVID-19 shot. The move to grant emergency authorisation to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been seen by many as a political coup for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has led his country out of the EU and faced criticism for his handling of the pandemic. The decision was made under an ultra-fast, emergency approval process, which allowed the British drugs regulator to temporarily authorise the vaccine only 10 days after it began examining data from large-scale trials.
Zimbabwe tightens gathering limits as COVID-19 cases rise
Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said the increase “points to [a] notable failure in government’s COVID-19 response and also the mishandling of the opening up of the socioeconomic sector”. Mukundu cited the reopening of schools last month “without adequate precautionary measures” as one of the reasons behind what he described as a “ticking time bomb”. “The government’s response has largely been politicised,” Mukundu said, urging authorities “to go back to the drawing board”.
Florida becomes the third state to reach one million COVID-19 cases after Texas and California - and Governor DeSantis STILL refuses to order a lockdown
Florida Department of Health released new COVID-19 figures on Tuesday. Total statewide tally of COVID-19 cases has reached 1,008,166, DOH data shows. Of those, 18,679 Floridians have died of the disease caused by the coronavirus. Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has refused calls for strict lockdown. DeSantis slammed those who urged school closures, calling them 'flat-earthers.' Last week, he barred towns from fining people for violating mitigation measures
Maintaining Services
Arizona hospitals scramble to boost staffing as state's COVID-19 crisis deepens
A shortage of medical providers could exacerbate Arizona's growing COVID-19 crisis, as hospitals compete for contract labor in the midst of a pandemic that is gripping the entire United States. Arizona hospital officials are most worried about finding enough staff — not PPE or beds — to treat a surge of new COVID-19 patients. "The number one limiting factor is staffing right now," said Ann-Marie Alameddin, president and CEO of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association. "It's a much tighter supply because the whole country is in need of the same skill set." What's happening with COVID-19 in Arizona in this latest second wave of infection is a different situation than the summer.
Covid-19: Traders hope shoppers return for Christmas after lockdown
Many businesses are getting ready to welcome back customers after four weeks of closure. When England's new tier system comes into force on Wednesday, shops, gyms and personal care services, like hairdressers, can reopen, if they are Covid-secure. But pubs and bars in tier three will be unable to open and only if they serve a "substantial meal" under tier two.
Queues form as England's high streets reopen after lockdown
England’s high streets were back in business on Wednesday – but shoppers returned slowly, with queues outside only a few stores such as Primark and Debenhams, which had announced it was going into liquidation the day before. Non-essential stores in England reopened after the month-long lockdown brought in by the government in its latest effort to control the spread of Covid-19. The number of shoppers out and about on English high streets, retail parks and in shopping centres on Wednesday was up 85% on the same day a week before, but the expected rush to make up for lost time did not materialise: numbers were still down by 22% on last year.
To slow down a killer virus, Spain breaks with decades-old Christmas traditions
For 41 years, families in the Spanish capital have kicked off the Christmas season by gathering behind the department store El Corte Inglés to watch a performance by giant singing puppets. The store’s “Cortylandia” show has treated crowds in the past to festive depictions of “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Aladdin,” among numerous others, including the Noah’s ark story. But this year, as all the world battles a killer virus, the tradition has been replaced with a light display that simply reads, in lowercase letters, felices fiestas. Happy holidays. The loss of a beloved 15-minute puppet show is among the Christmastime traditions of this traditionally Catholic country being altered or even eliminated, as the government tries to keep its physically demonstrative populace a step ahead of a virus that has killed 45,069 to date in the country.
Austrian schools, shops to reopen, as lockdown eases, ski opening looms
Austria on Wednesday chose a middle way in its standoff with neighbouring countries on whether skiing over Christmas is safe, by letting resorts reopen on Christmas Eve but making ski holidays virtually impossible. In an apparent concession to Rome, Berlin and Paris, which had expressed concern about cross-border trips, Austria also said it was introducing a new quarantine requirement for anyone arriving from their countries and many more. As of Monday, shops, museums and libraries in Austria will be allowed to reopen and primary schools will return to in-person learning. Christmas markets, however, will remain banned.
NHS volunteers to be trained up to give Covid vaccine and 'deal with adverse effects'
In England, hundreds of thousands of volunteers will be called upon to deliver a mass roll out of the coronavirus vaccine, according to reports. The NHS recruited more than 750,000 people in April, with duties to include delivering goods to the elderly and taking patients for hospital appointments. But with the vaccine - which could be approved by next week - seen as the best shot at stamping out Covid-19 for good, they are now reportedly set to be trained up to administer the actual jabs.
Coronavirus: How Germany is preparing for a vaccination drive
Germany's federal and state governments came up with their "national vaccination strategy" early in November. It aims to build up infrastructure as quickly as possible to enable mass-vaccination programs. The work is a little complex and ad hoc, not least because, as the 15-page document concedes, it's not yet clear which vaccines will be available when, and in what quantities. But the plan's main aim is to avoid the opposite scenario: that a working vaccine cannot be distributed to the people because the logistics are lacking.
Healthcare Innovations
U.K. Authorizes Pfizer, BioNTech’s Covid-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use
The U.K. became the first Western nation to grant emergency-use authorization for a Covid-19 vaccine, clearing a shot developed by Pfizer Inc. of the U.S. and BioNTech SE of Germany to be distributed in limited numbers within days. The two-shot vaccine is also being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., where a similar authorization could come later this month and a rollout before the end of the year. The U.K. green light on Wednesday punctuates a monthslong sprint by the two drugmakers, which teamed up earlier this year and then pulled ahead of two other Western pharmaceutical companies, each with its own promising shot. Vaccines typically take years to bring to market.
Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine authorised for use in the UK
People in care homes may be first in UK to get authorised Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine The UK government has become the first in the world to give the Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccine temporary authorisation for emergency use. The UK has pre-ordered 40 million doses – enough for 20 million people at most, as it is a two-shot vaccine – and will start to vaccinate people possibly as early as next week. To distribute the vaccine, Pfizer has designed special cardboard boxes that can be packed with dry ice, enabling the vaccine doses to be kept at -70°C during transport. They can then be stored in a normal fridge for up to five days. This afternoon the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) released its advice on who will receive priority for the vaccine. It recommended that priority be given first to care home residents and their carers, then to frontline health and social care workers and people aged 80 and over. People 75 and over will be next, followed by those aged 70 and above and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable. The vaccine will not be given to pregnant women or to most children under 16, because there is no safety data for these groups.
Researchers determine how the SARS-CoV-2 virus hijacks and rapidly causes damage to human lung cells
In a multi-group collaborative involving the National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratories (NEIDL), the Center for Regenerative Medicine (CReM), and the Center for Network Systems Biology (CNSB), scientists have reported the first map of the molecular responses of human lung cells to infection by SARS-CoV-2. By combining bioengineered human alveolar cells with sophisticated, highly precise mass spectrometry technology, Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) researchers have identified host proteins and pathways in lung cells whose levels change upon infection by the SARS-CoV-2, providing insights into disease pathology and new therapeutic targets to block COVID-19.
AstraZeneca U.S. COVID-19 vaccine trial results likely in late-Jan, says health official
AstraZeneca Plc will likely get results of its U.S. COVID-19 vaccine trial in late-January and could potentially file for an emergency authorization, the chief adviser for the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed program said on Wednesday. The British drugmaker and Oxford University have already published interim efficacy results from their UK trial in November, but the results have raised questions among scientists. The company said the vaccine could be 90% effective when given as a half dose followed by a full dose, based on a relatively small number of volunteers, while overall effectiveness was around 70%. Speaking at a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services meeting, OWS chief adviser Moncef Slaoui said the large set of contrasting data coming out from the UK and Brazil trials may not be enough to ensure the vaccine receives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization.
Largest Clinical Trial in Africa to Treat COVID-19 Cases is Launched in 13 Countries
African countries and an international network of research institutions, including the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), have joined forces to launch the largest COVID-19 clinical trial in mild-to-moderate outpatients in Africa. The ANTICOV clinical trial aims to respond to the urgent need to identify treatments that can be used to treat mild and moderate cases of COVID-19 early and prevent spikes in hospitalisation that could overwhelm fragile and already overburdened health systems in Africa.
Medical journal editorial refutes WHO finding on Gilead's remdesivir for COVID-19
An editorial in the influential New England Journal of Medicine cites problems with a World Health Organization (WHO) study that found Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral remdesivir failed to improve COVID-19 survival, and said it does not refute trials that demonstrated benefits of the drug in treating the illness. The editorial, by David Harrington at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, infectious disease specialist Dr. Lindsey Baden and Brown University biostatistician Joseph Hogan, was published on Wednesday along with the WHO study. They noted that the trial called Solidarity, which looked at four drugs, was conducted in 30 countries ranging from Switzerland and Germany to Iran and Kenya, leading to inconsistencies in the data collected.
COVID-19 Vaccines Make Some Health Care Workers Wary
Health care workers are expected to be first in line to be offered a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available. It makes sense: Getting a safe, effective vaccine would help keep them and their patients healthy. Seeing doctors, nurses and medical aides getting COVID-19 vaccines would also set an example for the community. But the speed of COVID-19 vaccine development, along with concerns about political interference with the process, has left some health care workers on the fence about COVID-19 vaccines. So many health care workers are expressing concerns and anxiety about getting COVID-19 vaccines that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says addressing hesitancy in this group is a top priority. A CDC survey, shared at a public meeting of its vaccine advisory committee on Nov. 23, found that 63% of health care workers polled in recent months said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine.