"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 26th Jan 2021
Young people on growing up in lockdown: ‘All we want is to be heard, not ignored’
Throughout the pandemic, decisions made by adults have had a significant impact on all aspects of young people’s lives, yet some teenagers feel their voice and experiences during the pandemic have not been heard. The political has become personal for many, leading some young people to become increasingly engaged with politics and involved in community action. Research undertaken by my colleagues and I at the University of Huddersfield and consultancy Ecorys, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, has been exploring young people’s experiences during lockdown, including their engagement and involvement with politics. The research project, Growing up under COVID, involves 70 young people aged 14-18 in the UK, Italy, Lebanon and Singapore.
How to deal with nightmares about working from home
While the loss of the super-early morning wake up and commute could be seen as a positive thing, for some the bad is definitely starting to outweigh the good. Unfortunately, working in our pyjamas is no longer quite such a novelty. According to the NHS, losing that clear divide between work and home coupled with the lack of co-worker camaraderie, teamwork and support is causing a lot of people to feel stressed, bored and anxious. According to a recent survey of 1,000 people, carried out by online printing specialists instantprint, workplace dreams have been on the rise during the pandemic. Needless to say, they really haven’t been all that sweet. In fact, it was found that a massive 75% of those surveyed said work-based dreams have been nightmares recently. And, with more than half (52%) of people dreaming about work more than ever, its causing distress.
Why it's ok to miss your workmates - and how to keep friendships going remotely
The shift to home-working has been the silver lining of the pandemic for a lot of people, but there are downsides. Loneliness is becoming a big problem for people spending all their time at home, instead of heading into the office. For many people, co-workers are their main course of social interaction during the day. And for some, work friendships go beyond having someone to join you on the coffee run — and extend beyond the 9-5. In a 2018 survey conducted by researchers at Olivet Nazarene University, 82% of respondents reported having at least one work friend. Nearly 30% said that they had a work best friend. According to a recent survey of 2,000 people by the behavioural science consultancy Mind Gym, more than half of said they miss office “small talk” and building relationships with colleagues (59.7%).
Bulgaria will have all travellers entering the country take Covid-19 test
On Monday, the health minister of Bulgaria announced that they will make all the travellers coming in the country, take a Covid-19 test in order to curb the spread of the new strain of coronavirus. Bulgaria will make everyone coming into the country take Covid-19 tests to stop the spread of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, health minister Kostandin Angelov said on Monday. Bulgarian health authorities say they have so far recorded eight cases of the new variant that was first identified in Britain. "Today we will undertake actions to make PCR tests compulsory for all travellers that want to enter the country, including from the European Union," Angelov told a government meeting. The country has seen a significant drop in new infections in recent weeks and is planning to ease some restrictions and reopen secondary schools, shopping malls and gyms from February 4.
Medical-grade masks now mandatory in Austria
Medical-grade FFP2 face masks are now mandatory in Austria for people aged over 14 on public transport, shops and businesses, pharmacies, as well as hospitals or medical practices. Austria is among the first European countries to make FFP2 masks mandatory. The measure has largely been accepted without complaint, despite controversy over other measures, such as the closing of schools while ski lifts remain open. Though often sold for more than €5 each just a few weeks ago, the masks, which block 94% of aerosols, can now be found at all grocery stores for 59 cent each.
Australia halts New Zealand travel bubble amid fears of South African coronavirus strain
The Federal Government has suspended quarantine-free travel for New Zealanders arriving in Australia for 72 hours amid fears of a South African strain of COVID-19 across the Tasman. A New Zealand woman infected with the highly infectious variant of COVID-19 first detected in South Africa visited around 30 sites before her case was detected. Travellers coming from New Zealand to Australia in the next 72 hours will have to go into mandatory hotel quarantine. "This will be done out of an abundance of caution whilst more is learnt about the event and the case," Mr Hunt said.
COVID-19 cases, deaths in US increase with higher income inequality
U.S. counties with higher income inequality faced higher rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths in the first 200 days of the pandemic, according to a new study. Counties with higher proportions of Black or Hispanic residents also had higher rates, the study found, reinforcing earlier research showing the disparate effects of the virus on those communities. The findings, published last week by JAMA Network Open, were based on county-level data for all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
'I can't save money for potential emergencies': COVID lockdowns drove older Australians into energy poverty
Many of us who endured lockdowns in Australia are familiar with the surge in energy bills at home. But for older Australians who depend on the Age Pension for income, lockdowns drove many deeper into “energy poverty”. Some faced up to 50% higher bills than in 2019, as a result of COVID. Energy poverty involves low-income households restricting their energy consumption by avoiding certain activities like showering, spending high proportions of their income on energy and, sometimes, being unable to pay bills.
The daily grind never felt sweeter: New Zealanders should enjoy their Covid-free liberties
Most working New Zealanders are back to the grind after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Schools start next week. Parliament resumes on 7 February. Business as usual, but there’s something light-hearted about it in 2021. The tedium and drab necessity of returning to work is tempered by the knowledge that it’s not that bad, that it could be a lot worse. The mere fact we can move around the towns and cities, squeeze into elevators, and mooch around with each other in offices and cafes and doctor’s waiting rooms and any confined space you care to name, is a joy. Freedom isn’t just the open road; freedom is also a day measured in paperclips and paper jams. It’s a freedom denied other countries in lockdown.
Covid-19: Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Israelis protest over lockdown rules
Hundreds of members of Israel's ultra-Orthodox community have taken to the streets of the country to protest the imposition of lockdown rules to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. Protesters scuffled with police in the city of Bnei Brak, while a 41-year-old bus driver was hurt after he was attacked with pepper spray by demonstrators, who proceeded to set his bus on fire, according to Reuters and eyewitnesses who posted video footage on Twitter. One police officer reportedly fired in the air to repel crowds throwing stones after feeling his life was in danger. Police said that smaller confrontations with ultra-Orthodox protesters also broke out in several other towns, including the port city of Ashdod.
'Lockdown fatigue' cited as UK shopper numbers rose 9% last week
The number of shoppers heading out to retail destinations across Britain rose by 9% last week from the previous week, indicating “lockdown fatigue” for people cooped up at home, market researcher Springboard said on Monday. Footfall across all retail destinations was 65% lower than in the same week last year, Springboard said. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England into a new national lockdown on Jan. 4 to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases that threatens to overwhelm parts of the health system.
Dutch police detain 240 nationwide as anti-lockdown protests turn violent
Images on Dutch television showed bands of youths looting shops, throwing bicycles and setting fires in the southern city of Eindhoven. At least 55 people were arrested in Eindhoven, the city said in a statement. The demonstration in the city’s Museum Square, which violated a ban on public gatherings, came the day after the government introduced a nightly curfew for the first time since World War Two. Police cleared the square after people ignored instructions to leave and detained those who attacked them with stones and fireworks in nearby streets, the mayor’s office said. Parliament voted narrowly last week to approve the curfew, swayed by assertions that a variant of COVID-19 first identified in Britain was about to cause a new surge in cases. New infections in the country have generally been declining for a month, and fell again on Sunday, to 4,924 new cases.
As this second Covid wave rips through minorities, inequalities are becoming even more apparent
Within months of Britain’s first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, it grew clear that the virus attacked fiercely along pre-existing pathways of inequality. By May last year, studies showed that the virus discriminates in the same way as society: along racial, class and regional lines, causing twice as many tragic deaths among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and in the most deprived areas. Many wondered if the UK’s inequality epidemic, at last so viscerally exposed, might finally be addressed.
6 strategies for parents struggling with work-from-home interruptions
Working from home has its benefits. Before the coronavirus pandemic, it was one of the most popular perks organizations could offer. Of course, this was before the pandemic sent millions of school-age children home and disrupted other child-care arrangements. By now many parents have had Zoom calls interrupted by tech-support questions, have fielded snack requests on deadline or have tutored math learners while sitting in on a meeting. As we stare down another semester of virtual and hybrid schooling, now is the time to get serious about managing interruptions. There is no reason to feel guilty about this. Kids need attention, but unless they plan to pay the mortgage, you also need time for deeper work — and they’ll benefit if you feel less harried. These strategies can help parents get more done now and when life gets back to normal.
38% Indian women working in tech industry prefer working from home: Survey
Almost 38 per cent Indian women working in a tech or IT industry prefer working at home to working in the office, says a new survey. About 36 per cent women said they had more autonomy when not working in an office, according to the "Women in Tech" report. When female respondents were asked about the day-to-day functions that are detracting from productivity or work progression, 54 per cent said they had done the majority of cleaning in the home compared to 33 per cent of men. Similarly, about 54 per cent women had been in charge of home schooling compared to 40 per cent of men, and 50 per cent of women have had to adapt their working hours more than their male partner in order to look after the family.
Has the Pandemic Transformed the Office Forever?
In the past three decades, a series of quiet revolutions in design have changed the way offices are used, erasing former hierarchies of walls and cubicles and incorporating workplace methodologies from the technology industry into team-based, open-plan layouts. At the same time, digital tools such as e-mail, Excel, Google Docs, video conferencing, virtual whiteboarding, and chat channels like Slack have made a worker’s presence in those offices less essential. The pandemic has collapsed these divergent trends into an existential question: What’s an office for? Is it a place for newbies to learn from experienced colleagues? A way for bosses to oversee shirkers? A platform for collaboration? A source of friends and social life? A respite from the family? A reason to leave the house? It turns out that work, which is what the office was supposed to be for, is possible to do from somewhere else.
How to Keep Internet Trolls Out of Remote Workplaces
Office conversation at some companies is starting to look as unruly as conversation on the internet. That’s because office conversation now is internet conversation. Many companies have been working online for nearly a year, with plans to continue well into 2021. And just as people are bolder behind keyboards on Twitter, they are bolder behind keyboards on workplace messaging platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack — with all the good and all the bad, but with a lot more legal liability. Work culture experts say there are steps companies can take before the lawyers get involved. These are among them: closely monitoring large chat groups, listening to complaints, reminding employees they are on the job and not bantering with friends, and being aware that a move to a virtual work force can expose new issues like age discrimination.
Students with autism grapple with challenges of virtual learning
Virtual schooling has impacted every family and educator; however, those with children who have autism or other intellectual disabilities have had to face down unique challenges. Parents and guardians have had to take on additional responsibilities, technology has presented its own hurdles, and there is concern about how the absence of in-person communication will affect interpersonal skills. That’s not to say there haven’t been successes. Students with special needs have adapted to the technology, and some have even thrived.
Chicago Said Teachers Needed To Return In Person. The Teachers Voted No
Teachers at Chicago Public Schools were slated to return to the classroom on Monday, in preparation for the return of students to the district's K-8 schools next week. But on Sunday, a majority of the Chicago Teachers Union's membership voted in favor of a resolution to continue to work remotely. The union said 71% of its voting members had voted to conduct remote work only, with 86% voter participation.
Coronavirus in Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon reveals almost half of over 80s have been vaccinated against Covid-19
Speaking at her daily press briefing, Nicola Sturgeon said 46 per cent of all over 80s had been given a jab since the start of the vaccine rollout. At the same time, she revealed that the Scottish Government would publish more detailed data on its immunization effort, including breakdowns of the number of people who have been vaccinated in each age and risk category.
Australia approves Pfizer vaccine amid concerns over global supply of Oxford jab
Australia became one of the first countries in the world to complete a comprehensive process to approve the rollout of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine after AstraZeneca announced a delay in its initial global supply. The inoculation drive is expected to start in late February with a target of 80,000 doses per week initially, health minister Greg Hunt told reporters. The vaccine has been approved for people aged 16 years and above and would be given in two doses to each recipient. The country approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine after AstraZeneca suggested to the Australian government that it is experiencing a significant “supply shock”.
German health minister calls for coronavirus vaccine exports to be authorized by EU
The export of coronavirus vaccines should be authorized at the EU level before leaving the bloc, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Monday. “As the EU, we must be able to know whether and which vaccines are being exported from the EU,” said Spahn in a statement. “This is the only way we can understand whether our EU contracts with manufacturers are being served fairly.” The EU will be taking up the call for registration of exports, according to Reuters, quoting an official who stated that a transparency register would be created and come into force in the coming days.
California to reportedly lift Covid stay-at-home orders on Monday
California lifted its stay-at-home order statewide Monday after four-week projections showed intensive care unit capacity to be above 15% in beleaguered regions for the first time in weeks. “Today we can lay claim to starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel as it relates to case numbers,” said the California governor Gavin Newsom during a press briefing on Monday. Monday’s change moves counties back to a tiered system of reopening, with most regions across the state expected to move into the most restrictive tier. It lifts an evening curfew and, in many areas, will allow restaurants and churches to resume outdoor operations and hair and nail salons to reopen. Local officials still could choose to impose stricter rules.
France to decide on possible 3rd lockdown amid rise in new Covid-19 variants cases
The French government is considering whether or not to impose a third national lockdown. France is now under a 6pm curfew but coronavirus cases have still continued to rise. A final decision on that move is said to be announced on Wednesday and depending on the effects of this tightened curfew. But just how could this new lockdown look like: a very strict one like in March 2020, or rather a loosened up version like in November 2020?
The Truth About North Korea's Ultra-Lockdown Against Covid-19
Kim Jong-un acted quickly. On January 22, 2020, North Korea closed its borders with China and Russia to stop a new, mysterious virus from spreading into the country. At the time, what we now know as Covid-19 had killed just nine people and infected 400 others. More than a year later, the hermit kingdom’s border remains sealed tight shut. North Korea’s response to the pandemic has been one of the most extreme and paranoid in the world, experts say. The lockdowns and quarantines it imposed have been strict, while border restrictions have put a halt to fishing and the smuggling of goods into the country. At the same time, the nation’s state media and propaganda apparatus has pumped out messages warning citizens of the dangers of Covid-19 and praising the country’s “flawless” approach to the pandemic.
Lebanon's Coronavirus lockdown: 'We can't leave our homes day or night'
People in Lebanon are living under one of the world's strictest lockdowns. Under the round-the-clock curfew, citizens who are not "essential workers" have been barred from leaving their homes since 14 January. Here residents in the capital, Beirut, describe what it's like.
Norway widens capital region's lockdown to combat pandemic
The Norwegian government will widen the capital region’s coronavirus lockdown from Monday onwards, increasing the number of affected municipalities to 25 from the 10 that were initially included, health minister Bent Hoeie said on Sunday. Oslo and nine neighbouring municipalities imposed some of their toughest lockdown measures yet on Saturday after an outbreak of a more contagious coronavirus variant, first identified in Britain, closing all non-essential stores.
Israel bans international flights to curb coronavirus spread
Israel will ban passenger flights in and out of the country from Monday evening for a week, the government announced on Sunday, as protesters in some ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities clashed with police over coronavirus lockdown measures. Clashes broke out between ultra-Orthodox protesters in the city of Bnei Brak and police forces who came to enforce the lockdown. One police officer, feeling his life was in danger, fired in the air to repel the crowds, police said. Smaller confrontations with ultra-Orthodox protesters broke out in several other towns, police said. The ban on flights will come into force from Monday at 2200 GMT and last until the end of January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
Hong Kong lifts lockdown in Kowloon district after testing 7,000 people
The Hong Kong government lifted a lockdown in an area of Kowloon district in the early hours of Monday after testing about 7,000 people for coronavirus to curb an outbreak in the densely populated area. The government set up 51 temporary testing stations on Saturday and found 13 confirmed cases in the restricted area that is home to many ageing, subdivided flats in which the disease could spread more quickly. “Businesses in the area have been hit hard and brought to a standstill,” the government said in a statement. “The government hopes this temporary inconvenience will completely cut the local transmission chains in the district and ease residents’ worries and fear, so that they will regain confidence in resuming social and business activities in the area, and return to a normal life.”
Ukraine completes tough COVID lockdown with optimistic expectations
Ukraine reopens schools, restaurants and gyms on Monday, ending a tough lockdown introduced on Jan. 8 to prevent a new wave of coronavirus infections, Ukrainian authorities said. The number of new cases of coronavirus infection in Ukraine has significantly decreased from 6,000 to 9,000 cases a day at the beginning of January to 2,516 new cases on January 25, the fewest since early September. “Such statistics, which indicate the stabilisation of the situation, the improvement of the situation could be obtained only thanks to you, Ukrainians,” health minister Maksym Stepanov told a televised briefing.
UK extends councils' lockdown powers until July 17, Telegraph says
The British government has quietly extended coronavirus lockdown laws to give local councils in England the power to close pubs, restaurants, shops and public spaces until July 17, the Telegraph reported on Saturday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday the government could not consider easing lockdown restrictions with infection rates at their current high levels, and until it is confident the vaccination programme is working. The changes to the regulation governing coronavirus restrictions were made as part of a review of the third lockdown earlier this month by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the Telegraph said.
Risk of 'vaccine-busting' coronavirus variants prompt tougher UK quarantine - Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he was looking at toughening border quarantine rules because of the risk of “vaccine-busting” new coronavirus variants. New variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are opening up the prospect of a much longer battle against the pathogen than previously thought. Scientists fear the new variants may be more deadly, and that vaccines may be less effective against them. “We have to realise there is at least the theoretical risk of a new variant that is a vaccine-busting variant coming in - we’ve got to be able to keep that under control,” Johnson told reporters at a vaccination centre. “We want to make sure that we protect our population, protect this country against reinfection from abroad,” Johnson said. “We need a solution.”
EU urges AstraZeneca to explain vaccine delay
The European Commission has issued a strongly worded statement demanding that the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca spells out what Covid-19 vaccine doses it has produced and to whom they have been delivered, as the controversy over the disruption to vaccine supplies deepens. A statement by the EU Health Commissioner appears to suggest that the Commission believes that vaccine doses produced by AstraZeneca that were destined for EU member states may have gone elsewhere. Stella Kyriakides said: "The EU wants to know exactly which doses have been produced whereby AstraZeneca so far, and if, or to whom, they have been delivered."
Covid: Ministers urged to intervene as mass outbreak at DVLA offices in Swansea branded a ‘scandal’
Ministers have been urged to intervene after a mass outbreak at the DVLA’s offices in Wales, by a union declaring the government agency’s response a “scandal”. More than 350 employees at the UK vehicle licensing agency’s contact centre in Swansea tested positive in the four months to December, bringing the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to above 500. Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething is among several senior politicians to say he is “concerned about anecdotal reports” emerging from the offices – with the BBC and The Observer reporting that some symptomatic employees had been encouraged to return to work, amid an alleged “culture of fear”.
Covid and Economy: UK Restaurants, Bars, Small Business Teetering in Lockdown
The U.K.’s third major lockdown to control the coronavirus could be the final straw for thousands of businesses struggling to pay rent and taxes with little or no money coming in the door. “It is costing us thousands of pounds a week, even being shut, and we have zero income,” said Andrew Wong, owner of the upmarket Chinese restaurant A. Wong in London’s fashionable Pimlico neighborhood. “I think all the time about shutting down and walking away, though I’m not going to do it.” While the economy appears to be adapting better to virus curbs -- gross domestic product shrank 2.6% in November versus 19% in April -- the same can’t be said about company finances. One lobby group estimates 250,000 small firms are at risk of going bust. Almost 10,000 pubs and restaurants licensed to serve alcohol closed permanently last year, according to consultants CGA and AlixPartners.
Germany fears AstraZeneca vaccine won't get EU approval for those over 65 -Bild
AstraZeneca denied on Monday its COVID-19 vaccine is not very effective for people over 65, after German media reports said officials fear the vaccine may not be approved in the European Union for use in the elderly. German daily papers Handelsblatt and Bild said in separate reports the vaccine - co-developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University - had an efficacy of 8% or less than 10%, respectively, in those over 65. German officials were concerned that the vaccine may not receive approval from the EU’s medicines authority EMA for use in those over 65, Bild said in its online edition. The reports mark another potential issue for AstraZeneca, which told the EU on Friday it could not meet agreed supply targets up to the end of March after running into vaccine production problems.
Merck ends its COVID-19 vaccine programme after disappointing early trial results
Merck & Co (MSD) has ended its COVID-19 vaccine programme after reviewing some disappointing phase 1 results for its candidates V590 and V591. Although both V590 and V591 were generally well-tolerated in the phase 1 trials, immune responses for the candidates were inferior to those observed in recovered COVID-19 patients as well as those reported for other vaccines. Merck did not disclose the exact response levels but the company is planning to submit the results for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
Heavy smokers face nearly double risk of dying of COVID-19 compared to people who have never smoked
Cigarette smokers face a much higher risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 compared to those who have never smoked, a new study suggests. Researchers found that all smokers had higher odds of poor outcomes due to the virus, but those at the highest risk were heavy smokers, defined as those smoking at least one pack per day for more than 30 years. These patients had nearly double the risk of death due to COVID-19 and were more than twice as likely to be hospitalized because of the disease.
Covid: Vaccinated people may spread virus, says Van-Tam
People who have received a Covid-19 vaccine could still pass the virus on to others and should continue following lockdown rules, England's deputy chief medical officer has warned. Prof Jonathan Van-Tam stressed that scientists "do not yet know the impact of the vaccine on transmission". He said vaccines offer "hope" but infection rates must come down quickly. Matt Hancock said 75% of over-80s in the UK have now had a first virus jab. Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines require two doses, and figures so far reflect those given the first dose.
Fauci: U.K. coronavirus variant leads to worse infections
Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Monday that the Covid-19 variant ravaging the United Kingdom — which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has predicted will become dominant in the United States within roughly two months — is likely more deadly than the current common strain of the coronavirus. The remarks from Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, represent a new assessment from senior U.S. health officials — who had acknowledged in recent weeks that the U.K. strain was more contagious but said there was no evidence suggesting it was more dangerous
New UK and South Africa Covid variants may spread more easily, so what does this mean for the fight against coronavirus?
New research suggests that new coronavirus variants may spread more easily than the regular, or wild type coronavirus. Fifty-five countries have now reported the presence of the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7, originally identified in the UK, and 23 countries have identified the 501Y.V2 variant, originally identified in South Africa. Most of the research characterising the new variants has been published as “preprints”, which means that the studies have not yet gone through the usual peer review and journal publication process. In areas where more infectious variants are established in the community current controls are likely to be less effective and need to be strengthened to prevent the risk of an increase in cases, deaths and long-term illness.
COVID-19: Moderna to test out jab against South African variant
Vaccine manufacturer Moderna is to test out a jab against the South African variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. The company made the decision after laboratory tests showed a six-fold reduction in the ability of antibodies, produced in response to the vaccine, to kill the new version of the virus. The UK has 17 million doses of Moderna's vaccine on order, with deliveries due to start in the spring.
New coronavirus variants accelerate race to make sure vaccines keep up
The scientific and pharmaceutical race to keep coronavirus vaccines ahead of new virus variants escalated Monday, even as a highly transmissible variant first detected in people who had recently traveled to Brazil was discovered in Minnesota. Moderna, the maker of one of the two authorized coronavirus vaccines in the United States, announced it would develop and test a new vaccine tailored to block a similar mutation-riddled virus variant in case an updated shot becomes necessary. The effort is a precautionary step. Evidence released Monday suggested that the Moderna vaccine will still work against two variants of concern that emerged in the United Kingdom and South Africa.
UK official Covid death toll has always undercounted fatalities, analysis shows
The UK government death toll is missing coronavirus fatalities and it always has, Guardian analysis has shown. According to the paper by the University of Leicester 30% of Covid-19 patients discharged from English hospitals were readmitted within five months and almost one in eight of them die, raising further concerns over the accuracy of the widely quoted official figure. If the paper proves correct, it would mean in the future thousands of coronavirus patients will be readmitted to hospital and some will die with complications from the virus without being included in the government tally.
Moderna’s vaccine is less potent against one coronavirus variant but still protective, company says
Moderna is studying adding booster doses to its vaccine regimen after finding its Covid-19 vaccine was less potent against a coronavirus variant that was first identified in South Africa, the company said Monday. In lab research that involved testing whether blood from people who had received the vaccine could still fend off different coronavirus variants, scientists found that there was a sixfold reduction in the vaccine’s neutralizing power against the variant, called B.1.351, than against earlier forms of the coronavirus, Moderna reported. There was no loss in neutralization levels against a different variant, called B.1.1.7, that was first identified in the United Kingdom. Both variants are thought to be more transmissible than other forms of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.