"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 15th Jan 2021

Isolation Tips
Embrace green spaces, shut screens to keep lockdown blues at bay
If you want to beat lockdown and social distancing blues, head to green spaces and switch off TV, computer and smartphone as this will dramatically improve your mental health, say researchers, as several countries impose fresh restrictions amid surge in Covid numbers. Being outdoors, particularly in green spaces, can improve mental health by promoting more positive body image, and lowering levels of depression and anxiety. A new study, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, said that spending time outdoors and switching off our devices is associated with higher levels of happiness during a period of Covid-19 restrictions.
Coronavirus lockdown: 1 in 4 people in the UK drinking more than usual under Covid restrictions
A quarter of people in the UK drank more than usual during the first lockdown, with younger women and those suffering from anxiety especially prone, a UCL study has found. More than 30,000 adults were questioned about their drinking behaviour between 21 March and 4 April for the study, published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Just over a third (34.3 per cent) were not drinking but among people who drank, 48.1 per cent reported drinking about the same, 26.2 per cent reported drinking more and 25.7 per cent reported drinking less than usual.
Covid-19: Mysterious cluster in Brisbane a warning to stop using hotels for managed isolation, experts say
Australian health authorities have evacuated a Queensland hotel and are considering alternative isolation facilities – including mining camps – following an outbreak of the highly contagious UK strain of Covid-19, prompting questions about New Zealand's response. On Wednesday 129 hotel guests were transferred from the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane to an undisclosed facility and required to isolate for another 14 days after six previously identified cases from the hotel were found to be linked. Australian-based New Zealand epidemiologist professor Tony Blakely said the guests were moved from the building because the cause of the outbreak had not been confirmed. The further isolation was needed because they could have been exposed to the virus through the hotel’s ventilation system.
Hygiene Helpers
The future of the Covid vaccine: Inside New York City’s pop-up clinics
On a normal weekday, Hillcrest High School in Queens, New York, would be filled with students congregating in the hallways and attending classes. But the school has instead faced a pandemic transformation, becoming one of the latest vaccination pop-ups to open up across New York City. When eligible residents arrive on the site, which officially opened on Sunday, they are asked to confirm their online appointment with a staff member before they are guided along a stickered path through the hallways of the high school.
Pope Francis, 84, receives his first dose of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine
Vatican began vaccinating its population of 800 against Covid on Wednesday Pope Francis, 84 and with only one lung, was among the first to get a shot Pope Emeritus Benedict, 93, received his jab early on Thursday, Vatican said Francis told Catholics it is their 'moral duty' to be vaccinated against the virus
Mayor: Chicago opening 6 mass COVID-19 vaccination sites
The city of Chicago is opening six mass COVID-19 vaccination sites that’ll be able to deliver roughly 25,000 weekly shots once operational, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday. Lightfoot visited one of two new sites that opened Thursday but said Chicago needs many more first doses to protect all Chicagoans quickly. The last three sites are expected to open in the next week. Most are at City Colleges of Chicago campuses. “We are frustrated by the federal government's response to COVID-19 overall, but particularly the vaccine rollout which is not delivering on its promises of the quantities that we've seen," Lightfoot said after touring a Richard J. Daley College site.
Community Activities
100,000 hours: Uni students, teachers and professors offer free tutoring during lockdown
In the UK, lockdown means that the country’s young are fitting remote learning around a much-changed, yet monotonous daily life. Students have been in and out of the classroom for almost a year now. Taking children out of the classroom and putting them in their homes to learn has highlighted inequality up and down the country. Schools are being relied on to teach from a distance, which in theory sounds feasible, but the practical application has proved much more difficult. CloseTheLockdownGap is a new initiative that aims to provide 100,000 hours of free education to help close the ‘lockdown gap’. Set up by brothers Mustafaen and Arsalan Kamal, CloseTheLockdown Gap has called on university students, graduates, teachers and professors to volunteer anything from 30 minutes of their time to provide a one-to-one online learning environment that can help students make up for some of the time lost in the classroom.
Bridging the digital divide in new lockdown
With schools closed to the majority of pupils across the UK once more, the challenges disadvantaged pupils are facing accessing online learning have reappeared. Despite ongoing government support and pledges for more laptops for schools, families are struggling to get the devices their children need. If you have a laptop or tablet that you want to donate then please go to bbc.co.uk/makeadifference where you can find details of charities who will help get them safely wiped and sent to the children that need them the most.
What should I know about COVID-19 vaccines if I'm pregnant?
What should I know about COVID-19 vaccines if I’m pregnant? Vaccination is likely the best way to prevent COVID-19 in pregnancy, when risks for severe illness and death from the virus are higher than usual. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says COVID-19 vaccinations should not be withheld from pregnant women and that women should discuss individual risks and benefits with their health care providers. The U.S. government’s emergency authorization for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines being rolled out for priority groups doesn’t list pregnancy as a reason to withhold the shots.
Embracing new challenges! From yoga in the garage to getting creative from home, how the UK is adapting to life under lockdown
In the UK, we have all experienced huge changes to our daily routines as we play our part in helping beat the virus. Many of these changes have been challenging, but people are finding creative ways to adapt positively to our new circumstances. Whether it is studying for a qualification, rediscovering the joy of reading or trying out new recipes, there are plenty of approaches to take advantage of the extra time we are now having to spend at home. Others have enjoyed catching up with friends on Zoom or phoning to check on the wellbeing of people living alone as part of the NHS Volunteer Responders programme. Here we look at how people are embracing living responsibly under the restrictions.
Working Remotely
Countries Experiment With Special Remote-Work Visas for ‘Digital Nomads’
Attaining the expat lifestyle once meant finding a job in a distant land or bouncing around on short-term tourist visas. Now, a growing number of countries are allowing you to take your current job to a distant land, with a little bit of paperwork. A decade from now, the immigration barriers and tax deterrents to globe-trotting could be looser. In the past year, countries hungry for more tourists and talent—from Estonia to Bermuda to Georgia—have rolled out special temporary visas (some valid for a year or more) to lure well-heeled, mobile professionals looking for an exotic escape from the routine. Consultants who work with companies and expats say these so-called digital-nomad visa programs are an experiment in propping up commerce and tourism by tapping into the economic power of wanderlust. The pandemic’s toll on economies and international travel has spurred more nations such as Costa Rica and Croatia to consider the visas for economic growth.
Does working from home actually make us feel happier?
The reintroduction of national lockdown in England brought with it tighter restrictions on travel, with the government stating that "You may only leave your home for work if you cannot reasonably work from home". It prompted workers across the country to either change their daily routine – or continue their enforced WFH status, with an end seemingly further, not nearer, in sight. Either way, the mental toll of the situation is significant. Where for some, working from home in the pandemic has been a blessing, saving money and time, for others it’s created feelings of isolation, from seeing nobody for days on end, and stress, perhaps from being crowded by young children. As part of our Mental Health Emergency campaign, we’ve asked workers how the changes in work rules have impacted their well-being – and found out what you can do to protect yourself.
9 Trends That Will Shape Work in 2021 and Beyond
It’s fair to say that 2020 rocked many organizations and business models, upending priorities and plans as business leaders scrambled to navigate a rapidly changing environment. For many organizations this included responding to the social justice movements, shifting to a full-time remote staff, determining how best to support employees’ wellbeing, managing a hybrid workforce, and now addressing legal concerns around the Covid-19 vaccine. It would be nice to believe that 2021 will be about stability and getting back to normal; however, this year is likely to be another full of major transitions. While there has been a lot of focus on the increase in the number of employees working remotely at least part of the time going forward, there are nine additional forces that I think will shape business in 2021
Why remote working could actually help fix some diversity problems
In England, since 2014, all employees have had the legal right to request flexible working, but few of these requests were actually honoured. Just 30 per cent were accepted in 2019, while flexi-time was still made unavailable to 58 per cent of UK employees, according to the TUC. For disabled and neurodivergent employees, the need for flexible working is especially pressing. Office cultures designed for more neurotypical employees can throw up a number of obstacles. Sensory overload caused by lighting and sound, communication issues in team meetings and long commutes are all significant, but solvable, issues. But disability charities such as Leonard Cheshire have shown that there is a risk of neurodiverse individuals being frozen out of work altogether. However, Covid-19 has seen many companies implement remote working on a mass scale, and employers are realising just how easy adapting to different ways of operating can be.
Is Remote Work Making Us Paranoid?
The number of people working remotely has skyrocketed since January 2020, with approximately half the U.S. labor force working from home in the early days of the pandemic, according to a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. But millions more Americans communicating completely virtually with their co-workers does not mean our emotional office dynamics have caught up yet to our new videoconference world. Many are feeling a spectrum of new anxieties about their interactions with colleagues. Past research on the topic of organizational and social paranoia shows that working from home may exacerbate uncertainty about status, which can lead to over-processing information and rumination, said Roderick M. Kramer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business
Virtual Classrooms
School offering online lessons to support Herefordshire children with home learning
In the UK, a Herefordshire school is launching lessons and free academic assessments to children whose SATS have been cancelled by the coronavirus pandemic. The Elms School in Colwall is offering the assessments, conducted by an experienced team to help identify areas where extra learning support may be needed, to all children, regardless of their connection to the school. The school is also is providing a separate support package for children up to Key Stage Two. Headmaster Chris Hattam said the school is keen to offer this service to families in the county who may be concerned about the virtual learning experience their children are currently receiving.
Covid-19: Expat teaching to an empty classroom in UK lockdown
The rapid spread of the new Covid-19 variant has forced the United Kingdom to enter into its third lockdown. Brittney Deguara speaks to Kiwi expats stuck at home, enduring the pandemic and the new wave of restrictions. Throughout the pandemic, expat teacher Paul Tannahill and his colleagues have streamlined their lessons. At first, teachers were recording voice-overs to accompany slide shows, now everything is done through video calls. The new wave of restrictions didn’t impact Tannahill’s life and work too much, but it’s been devastating watching the impact the pandemic has had on his students.
Vision problems arise in young school kids in COVID-19 quarantine
The prevalence of near-sightedness, or myopia, increased 1.4 to 3 times in Chinese children aged 6 to 8 years during COVID-19 quarantine, according to a study today in JAMA Ophthalmology. Schools in China were closed from January to May 2020, during which time online learning was offered for 1 hour a day for students in grades 1 and 2 and for 2.5 hours for those in grades 3 to 6. A substantial shift toward myopia (about -0.3 diopters) was identified in the 194,904 test results (389,808 eyes) from 2020 included in the analysis, compared with those from 2015 to 2019 from children ages 6 (-0.32), 7 (-0.28), and 8 (-0.29).
Public Policies
COVID-19: Ban on all arrivals from 15 South American countries and Portugal over Brazil variant
Travel to the UK from every country in South America, as well as Portugal, has been banned due to fears over the coronavirus variant first identified in Brazil. The government's COVID-19 operations committee met at lunchtime to discuss the issue - and the ban will come into effect from 4am on Friday.
Germany's economy contracted by 5% in 2020 as coronavirus lockdowns hit growth
Coronavirus cases have prompted several lockdowns on public life and economic activity in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced last week that the latest lockdown would be extended until the end of the month.
Italy’s government falls into chaos, further complicating the covid response
Italy now has a political crisis on top of a resurgent pandemic. A rickety truce in the country’s ruling coalition broke apart Wednesday when former prime minister Matteo Renzi withdrew his small party’s support for the government, plunging the country into political chaos. Italy has long been used to fragile governments. Faced with a coronavirus emergency, the parties in this center-left coalition were willing to overlook their differences. But it is now clear the pandemic has outlasted the political goodwill. Italy is preparing to spend an unprecedented flow of European Union recovery money, and the argument over how to use it helped deepen personal enmity between Renzi and Conte, centrists who are competing for the same voters.
Spain extends travel ban for Scots amid fears over mutant coronavirus strain
Scots have been banned from entering Spain for a further period of time amid concerns over the mutant strain of coronavirus. No one will be allowed to enter the country from Scotland via air or sea until 6pm on February 2 under the new restrictions.
Semi-lockdown to stave off third Covid wave, says Swiss health minister
In Switzerland, Health Minister Alain Berset has defended further Covid-19 restrictions as a preemptive attempt to prevent a third wave of the pandemic. Shops will be closed and gatherings further restricted from Monday. In addition, existing restrictions will be extended until the end of February. Speaking to Swiss public broadcaster SRF, Berset defended the move to enhance a semi-lockdown despite falling cases of infection in Switzerland. He said that the decision was informed by watching a devastating variant strain take hold in Britain and other countries.
Lebanon enters full lockdown to stem virus uptick
A full lockdown started in Lebanon today, with residents barred even from grocery shopping and dependent on food deliveries, in a bid to slow a surge in novel coronavirus cases. The new restrictions were only loosely respected in some areas of the country, however, after mass protests in recent years against a political elite held responsible for a deepening economic crisis. The lockdown, ordered after some hospitals started to run out of intensive care beds, includes a 24-hour curfew until 25 January.
Japan widens virus emergency to 7 more areas as cases surge
Japan expanded a coronavirus state of emergency to seven more prefectures Wednesday, affecting more than half the population amid a surge in infections across the country. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also said Japan will suspend fast-track entry exceptions for business visitors or others with residency permits, fully banning foreign visitors while the state of emergency is in place. Suga's announcement comes less than a week after he declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and three nearby prefectures. The new declaration, which adds seven other prefectures in western and central Japan, takes effect Thursday and lasts until Feb. 7.
WHO team arrives in China to investigate Covid origins as country sees new case spike
A team of World Health Organization (WHO) researchers have arrived in China to probe the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic - following months of political wrangling with President Xi Jinping’s government. A 10-member team has now landed in Wuhan to conduct a politically sensitive investigation into the origins of the pandemic, amid uncertainty about whether Beijing might try to prevent embarrassing discoveries. Scientists suspect the virus - that has killed 1.9 million people since late 2019 - jumped to humans from bats or other animals, most likely in China’s southwest.
China reports first death in months; 22 million people placed under lockdown
China reported its first death from covid-19 after it recorded its biggest daily jump of Covid-19 cases in more than 8 months. The Chinese National Health Commission reported a total of 115 new confirmed cases on the mainland. China denied entry to two members of a WHO team investigating the origins of the novel coronavirus after both tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, the Wall Street Journal reported. More than 22 million people are under lockdown in the north of the country and one province has declared an emergency as daily Covid-19 numbers climb after months of reporting only a handful of daily cases. This is double the number affected in January 2020 when China's central government locked down Wuhan, where the virus was first reported.
Malaysia, once praised by the WHO as 'united' against COVID, has gone back into lockdown
The Malaysian Government announced a renewed lockdown across much of the country, banning interstate travel, as daily coronavirus case numbers hit a new record. A day later, the country's King Al-Sultan Abdullah declared a months-long state of emergency as requested by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin — the first in half a century. "The Government can been said to [be prioritising] the nation's health security at the expense of democracy," Tengku Nur Qistina, a senior researcher at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies, told the ABC.
Denmark extends lockdown to combat more contagious coronavirus variant
Denmark on Wednesday extended hard lockdown measures by at least three weeks to limit the spread of the coronavirus, in particular a more transmissible variant of the virus that is spreading in the Nordic country. Denmark has so far registered 208 cases of the new variant dubbed cluster B 1.1.7., which was first registered in Britain and has spread across Europe. “It is the growth that is extremely worrying,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke told a news conference late on Wednesday. “This means that we will see a situation with sharply increasing infection rates later in the winter, if the situation continues as it is now,” he said
COVID: Turkey launches Chinese vaccine drive despite concerns
Turkish doctors and nurses rolled up their sleeves on Thursday as the nation of 83 million people launched a mass coronavirus vaccination drive with China’s Sinovac jab. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca received the first shot of CoronaVac live on television after formally approving the vaccine on Wednesday despite contradictory data about its efficacy rate. He was followed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who received the vaccine at a hospital in Ankara, according to state-owned Anadolu news agency. Preliminary studies involving more than 7,000 volunteers in Turkey showed CoronaVac to be 91.25 percent effective. The shot, however, came under scrutiny from regulators after the latest data from Brazil showed it to be just more than 50 percent effective – slightly above the benchmark that the World Health Organization fixed for a vaccine to be effective for general use.
Maintaining Services
Quebec says some regions running out of COVID-19 vaccine, but new shipments coming
Quebec will wait up to 90 days before giving a COVID-19 vaccine booster to people who have received a first shot, Health Minister Christian Dube said Thursday. That delay goes far beyond the recommendation of vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna, which propose intervals of 21 and 28 days, respectively, and is more than double the 42-day maximum delay proposed by Canada’s national vaccine advisory committee. Dube told a news conference that the decision was made in order to vaccinate as many vulnerable people as possible and to reduce the pressure on the health system. “In our context, this is the best strategy, because we have to contend with (having) very few vaccines, and we’re in a race against the clock,” Dube told a news conference.
Number of London transport staff dying with Covid-19 increases to 60
The number of London transport staff dying with Covid has increased to 60, including 46 bus workers, it was revealed today. The figure, up three from earlier this week, came as Sadiq Khan and his Tory mayoral rival Shaun Bailey said London key workers most at risk of contracting Covid should be the next to be prioritised for vaccination. In separate interventions, the Mayor and Mr Bailey said the second phase of the rollout should focus on higher-risk essential workers such as police, teachers and transport staff once vulnerable elderly Londoners and health and care staff were inoculated. The total figure, up three from 57 revealed earlier this week, includes staff working for the private bus firms contracted by Transport for London to run the capital's buses, plus Tube and rail staff and TfL head office workers. The death toll includes 37 bus drivers and nine other bus workers, such as bus station staff.
The Remaining COVID-19 Journey
I’m sure I wasn’t alone when I breathed a sigh of relief at the much ballyhooed arrival of COVID-19 vaccines at the end of 2020. We’re in the midst of a dark and grief-stricken pandemic winter, and the sooner the vaccine gets us to herd immunity—and, pray, a semblance of normalcy—the better. But the well-worn trope that life is a journey, and not a destination, has an epidemiological application as well. As of this writing, the U.S. just suffered a record-breaking day of thousands of fatalities caused by the novel coronavirus. So in the interim months while most Americans wait their chance to be vaccinated, our goal certainly must be to minimize deaths from COVID-19. In this issue’s cover story, Charles Schmidt takes a comprehensive look at the latest developments in clinical treatments for COVID-19 infection, many of which still need research to bolster their effectiveness
Covid: Infections levelling off in some areas - scientist
The coronavirus growth rate is slowing in the UK and the number of infections is starting to level off in some areas, a top scientist has said. Prof Neil Ferguson told the BBC that in some NHS regions there is a "sign of plateauing" in cases and hospital admissions. But he warned the overall death toll would exceed 100,000. On Wednesday, the UK saw its biggest daily death figure since the start of the pandemic, with 1,564 deaths. It has taken the total number of deaths by that measure to 84,767. There were also 47,525 new cases. It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the national lockdown measures were "starting to show signs of some effect", but it was early days and urged people to abide by the rules.
Covid-19: High Street chemists start vaccinations in England
Some High Street pharmacies in England will start vaccinating people from priority groups on Thursday, with 200 providing jabs in the next two weeks. Six chemists in Halifax, Macclesfield, Widnes, Guildford, Edgware and Telford are the first to offer appointments to those invited by letter. But pharmacists say many more sites should be allowed to give the jab, not just the largest ones. More than 2.6 million people in the UK have now received their first dose. Across the UK, the target is to vaccinate 15 million people in the top four priority groups - care home residents and workers, NHS frontline staff, the over-70s and the extremely clinically vulnerable - by mid-February.
Covid-19: Surge leaves key hospital services 'in crisis'
The surge in Covid hospital cases has left key hospital services in England in crisis, doctors are warning. NHS data showed A&Es were facing rising delays admitting extremely sick patients on to wards. Meanwhile, the total number of people facing year-long waits for routine treatments is now more than 100 times higher than it was before the pandemic. Cancer experts are also warning the disruption to their services was "terrifying" and would cost lives. Reports have emerged of hospitals cancelling urgent operations - London's King's College Hospital has stopped priority two treatments, which are those that need to be done within 28 days. And Birmingham's major hospital trust has temporarily suspended most liver transplants.
Marketing Moderna hitches a ride with Uber to boost vaccine confidence—and, of course, drive access
COVID-19 vaccine maker Moderna is looking for a lift from Uber—a collaboration lift, that is. The two companies say they're planning to work together to promote vaccine confidence and ease access to coronavirus shots. Early ideas include promoting vaccine safety on the Uber network and through in-app messages as well as incorporating Uber rides into the vaccination scheduling process. While those details are still in the works, the appeal of Uber as a partner for Moderna is not only its nationwide network and connections but also the diversity of its 1.2 million drivers. “Uber has broad access across the United States—its ride-sharing platform is used by Americans everywhere, and its drivers represent a wide variety of the population," Michael Mullette, Moderna's vice president of commercial operations in North America, said. "There’s a great opportunity for us to think about educating the population about how do you get immunized … but also how do you access credible information about vaccines."
GPs in England say inconsistent supply of Covid vaccine causing roll-out issues
Inconsistent vaccine supply is making it difficult for GPs in England to book patient appointments more than a few days in advance, experts have warned, as the prime minister admitted there were significant disparities in local immunisation rates. Doctors, NHS specialists and MPs told the Guardian that batches of the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine frequently arrived with only a couple of days’ notice, requiring last-minute planning and creating uncertainty for patients. Insiders said the distribution system was operating on a “push model” meaning that doctors could not order the vaccine but simply had to be ready to be receive batches whenever the NHS was able to deliver them.
Boots and Superdrug start dishing out Covid vaccines as six high street pharmacies are recruited and No10 says it's on track to do 3m jabs a week — but independent chemists fear UK will fail to hit target unless it uses 'many more, much sooner'
MailOnline revealed this week Boots in Halifax and Superdrug branch in Guildford would join vaccine effort. Chains are among six high street pharmacies across England to be converted into Covid hubs this morning. Calls for ministers to go further and use England's 11,500 pharmacies to deliver round-the-clock vaccinations
Healthcare Innovations
Pfizer coronavirus jab has stopped 50% of infections - NOT just symptoms - Israeli study finds
Israel has given first dose of the Pfizer jab to almost 20 percent of its population Preliminary studies show that the vaccine cuts transmission, not just symptoms Expert warned initial studies not enough to conclude transmissions are stopped Data from hundreds of thousands of people offers extensive view of efficacy But experts have warned that people must stay vigilant despite having first dose Two other studies were also done, with varying results. One found the vaccine cuts infection risk by 60 percent, while another found it was cut by 33 percent Full 95 percent immunity is only achieved when a person is given second dose
Future coronavirus vaccines may harness nanoparticles
A nanoparticle-based COVID-19 vaccine may be cheap, safe, and effective. Preclinical study suggests that a single dose of a nanoparticle-based vaccine could provide robust immunity. It may be easier to store and transport than currently available vaccines.
Recovering from Covid gives similar level of protection to vaccine
People who recover from coronavirus have a similar level of protection against future infection as those who receive a Covid vaccine – at least for the first five months, research suggests. A Public Health England (PHE) study of more than 20,000 healthcare workers found that immunity acquired from an earlier Covid infection provided 83% protection against reinfection for at least 20 weeks. The findings show that while people are unlikely to become reinfected soon after their first infection, it is possible to catch the virus again and potentially spread it to others. “Overall I think this is good news,” said Prof Susan Hopkins, a senior medical adviser to PHE. “It allows people to feel that prior infection will protect them from future infections, but at the same time it is not complete protection, and therefore they still need to be careful when they are out and about.”
Fourth coronavirus vaccine to be trialled in Birmingham as UK orders 60 million
A fourth Covid vaccine is undergoing a trial in the UK as the government orders 60 million doses. The Valneva coronavirus vaccine is being developed in West Lothian and will initially be tested on 150 volunteers at four National Institute for Health Research sites across the UK. Trials are set to begin within months at sites in Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle and Southampton. Alok Sharma said: “Today we have more welcome news that life-saving clinical trials will begin across the country to test the safety and effectiveness of Valneva’s coronavirus vaccine, which is being clinically developed right here in the UK.
Blood plasma transfusions with high levels of COVID-19 antibodies reduced the number of patient deaths by 25%, Mayo Clinic study finds
Convalescent plasma infusions can help reduce the number of coronavirus deaths, a new study suggests. Researchers looked at people ill with COVID-19 who received blood plasma from recovered coronavirus patients. When given early enough, patients who received antibody-rich plasma had a one-quarter lower risk of death than those given plasma with low concentrations of COVID-19 antibodies. The team, from the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, says the treatment could be a stopgap until enough people receive coronavirus vaccines for herd immunity to be achieved.
COVID-19: How long are you protected for if you've already had coronavirus - and are you still a risk to others?
People who've had COVID are likely to be protected from reinfection for at least five months and have a similar defence to someone who's been vaccinated, according to a UK study. But does it mean those who have recovered are no longer a risk to others? And could the protection last any longer? Here's what you need to know.
Lancaster scientists developing Covid-19 vaccine nasal spray
The researchers administered two doses of the vaccine via a nasal spray in animal trials which are the first stage in vaccine development. This elicited robust antibodies and T cell responses which were enough to be able to neutralize SARS-CoV-2. There was also a significant reduction in lung pathology, inflammation and clinical disease in the rodents who received the vaccine. The vaccine is based on a common poultry virus called the Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV), which can replicate in humans but is harmless. The scientists engineered NDV to produce the spike proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19, tricking the body into mounting an immune response against SARS-CoV-2.
Interim Results of a Phase 1–2a Trial of Ad26.COV2.S Covid-19 Vaccine
After the administration of the first vaccine dose in 805 participants in cohorts 1 and 3 and after the second dose in cohort 1, the most frequent solicited adverse events were fatigue, headache, myalgia, and injection-site pain. The most frequent systemic adverse event was fever. Systemic adverse events were less common in cohort 3 than in cohort 1 and in those who received the low vaccine dose than in those who received the high dose. Reactogenicity was lower after the second dose. Neutralizing-antibody titers against wild-type virus were detected in 90% or more of all participants on day 29 after the first vaccine dose (geometric mean titer [GMT], 224 to 354) and reached 100% by day 57 with a further increase in titers (GMT, 288 to 488), regardless of vaccine dose or age group. Titers remained stable until at least day 71. A second dose provided an increase in the titer by a factor of 2.6 to 2.9 (GMT, 827 to 1266). Spike-binding antibody responses were similar to neutralizing-antibody responses. On day 14, CD4+ T-cell responses were detected in 76 to 83% of the participants in cohort 1 and in 60 to 67% of those in cohort 3, with a clear skewing toward type 1 helper T cells. CD8+ T-cell responses were robust overall but lower in cohort 3.
Convalescent Plasma Antibody Levels and the Risk of Death from Covid-19
Of the 3082 patients included in this analysis, death within 30 days after plasma transfusion occurred in 115 of 515 patients (22.3%) in the high-titer group, 549 of 2006 patients (27.4%) in the medium-titer group, and 166 of 561 patients (29.6%) in the low-titer group. The association of anti–SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels with the risk of death from Covid-19 was moderated by mechanical ventilation status. A lower risk of death within 30 days in the high-titer group than in the low-titer group was observed among patients who had not received mechanical ventilation before transfusion (relative risk, 0.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.48 to 0.91), and no effect on the risk of death was observed among patients who had received mechanical ventilation (relative risk, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.78 to 1.32).
Past Covid-19 infection may provide 'months of immunity'
Most people who have had Covid-19 are protected from catching it again for at least five months, a study led by Public Health England shows. Past infection was linked to around a 83% lower risk of getting the virus, compared with those who had never had Covid-19, scientists found. But experts warn some people do catch Covid-19 again - and can infect others. And officials stress people should follow the stay-at-home rules - whether or not they have had the virus.
J&J’s one-shot Covid vaccine is safe and generates promising immune response in early trial
J&J scientists randomly assigned healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 55 and those 65 and older to receive a high or low dose of its vaccine — called Ad26.COV2.S — or a placebo. Most of the volunteers produced detectable neutralizing antibodies, which researchers believe play an important role in defending cells against the virus, after 28 days, according to the trial data. By day 57, all volunteers had detectable antibodies, regardless of vaccine dose or age group, and remained stable for at least 71 days in the 18-to-55 age group.