"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 23rd Feb 2021
Don't ignore 'lockdown fatigue', UK watchdog tells finance bosses
Staff at financial firms in Britain are suffering from “lockdown fatigue” and their bosses are not always making sure all employees can speak up freely about their problems, the Financial Conduct Authority said on Monday. Many staff at financial companies have been working from home since Britain went into its first lockdown in March last year to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. One year on, the challenges have evolved from adapting to working remotely to dealing with mental health issues, said David Blunt, the FCA’s head of conduct specialists. Bosses should continually revisit how they lead remote teams, he said.
Air New Zealand to trial digital Covid `vaccination passport`
Air New Zealand will trial a digital travel pass to give airlines and border authorities access to passenger health information, including their Covid-19 vaccination status, the carrier said Monday. The scheme, dubbed a "vaccination passport" by industry observers, is intended to streamline travel once borders reopen by allowing passengers to store their health credentials in one place.
False claims tying coronavirus vaccines to infertility drive doubts among women of childbearing age
As the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine ramps up across the United States, women of childbearing age have emerged as a surprising roadblock to efforts to halt the pandemic by achieving herd immunity. Officials have encountered hesitancy among other groups, including some Black and Hispanic adults and those who believe the pandemic is a hoax. But the reluctance of women in their 20s and 30s — largely around disinformation spread on Facebook, Twitter and other social media — has been more unexpected. With such women making up a large share of the health-care workforce, vaccine uptake at nursing homes and hospitals has been as low as 20 to 50 percent in some places — a far cry from the 70 to 85 percent population target that health officials say may be needed to stop the virus.
Spanish region vaccinates 7,000 adults living with a disability in a week
In Spain, Extremadura last week took on the challenge of vaccinating 7,000 adults with need for daily care who are not in residences, and their professional carers in a week. This group included people who need help to carry out basic tasks, recognized as Grade III dependents under the Law of Dependency, those who have asked to be recognized in this category and those who, without having made any request, are accredited with suffering from a disease which requires them to have significant support measures. Thanks to the support of family and health workers, the vaccination day was “surprisingly easy,” said the coordinator of the drive, Paula Salamanca. Red Cross teams, which facilitated up to 300 trips to the center, were also key. Salamanca said that it all comes down to teamwork: “If one of us fails, we all fail.”
ER doctor documents COVID-19 battle in LA hospital with emotional photographs
Dr Scott Kobner, 29, chief resident at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center’s Department of Emergency Medicine, documented his front-line colleagues The amateur photographer took pictures of doctors and patients at the 600-bed public hospital using Leica M6 and M10 cameras and posted them on Instagram Dr Kobner had permission from the hospital and patients. Kobner, originally from New York, doesn't photograph people he treats but comes in on his days off instead. He tested positive for the virus in the summer but recovered alone at home In LA County, more than 19,880 people have died of COVID-19. There is a long history of photographing medical treatment during disasters that gained popularity in the US during the Civil War
A year after its 1st COVID-19 cases were discovered, Italy is cautiously bouncing back
Italy discovered its first COVID-19 infections one year ago. The outbreak led to the first nationwide lockdown outside of China, and it has claimed more than 95,000 lives across the country. But as CBS News correspondent Chris Livesay reports, it's a very different story there now. Life has slowly been returning to normal, and Italians packed the streets over the weekend – even in the country's north, which was once the epicenter of its coronavirus epidemic. Old traditions are bouncing back across Italy, but with some differences. A year ago, something as simple as drinking a cappuccino out in the open had become unthinkable. Life is hardly back to normal; the law still requires that you to wear a mask at all times in public, even outside, except when you're eating or drinking.
This UK lockdown must be the last. Here's how we can achieve that
As the UK has yo-yoed in and out of multiple lockdowns, restrictions have harmed people’s livelihoods, businesses, mental and physical health, and their quality of life. In the first and second lockdowns, these restrictions proved insufficient to permanently drive down the prevalence of Covid-19. This time, we have been promised that all adults will have received their first vaccine dose by July – but its level of effectiveness, coupled with the potential emergence of new strains of the virus, means the vaccine rollout will not be a complete solution to the pandemic.
French city of Nice asks tourists to stay away amid COVID surge
The mayor of Nice in southern France called on Sunday for a weekend lockdown in the area to reduce the flow of tourists as it battles a sharp spike in coronavirus infections to triple the national rate. The Nice area has France’s highest COVID-19 infection rate, with 740 new cases per week per 100,000 residents, according to Covidtracker.fr. “We need strong measures that go beyond the nationwide 6 p.m. curfew, either tighter curfew, or a partial and time-specific lockdown. A weekend lockdown would make sense,” Mayor Christian Estrosi said on franceinfo radio. Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Saturday the government would decide this weekend on tightening virus control measures in the Mediterranean city.
How your space shapes the way you view remote work
The size and location of your space – as well as whom you share it with – play a significant role in determining how well you’ve been able to work from home during the pandemic. And this helps explain why perceptions of the remote-work experience as a desirable option now vary widely along age, gender and socioeconomic lines – and could help shape our new hybrid-work future. In the initial scramble to shift to remote work, we looked at the immediate problems – how to work without a proper desk, how to get a laptop at the right height, how to get entire companies on Zoom. These short-term issues may now be fixed, but it’s taken longer to think about wider factors; how, for example, the quality of our working environment determines how well we feel we’re doing and how likely we are to want to continue this way.
More Americans are looking to move as remote work gains acceptance during Covid pandemic
More Americans are planning to move this year due to the flexible work from home lifestyle that the Covid-19 pandemic has ushered in, market researcher The NPD Group said in a recent blog post. Nearly 20% of people in the country are working from home full time as of December and 28% of Americans have considered relocating during the pandemic, NPD said. In addition, 20% more consumers are planning to move this year compared with the prior year.
Working remotely? Some cities, states will pay you to move in.
In the U.S., as the coronavirus pandemic spurs a migration of skilled workers out of pricey metro areas, a growing number of cities and states are recruiting new homeowners and even renters the old-fashioned way — by bribing them. Baltimore, Topeka and Tulsa are among the places paying bounties of up to $15,000 to lure remote workers to town. The states of Maine and Alaska also dangle incentives for new residents. The programs predate COVID-19, but they’ve gained momentum in recent months.
In World of Online Learning, Students of Color Are Getting Left Behind
All over the Delaware Valley, parents have struggled with the coronavirus pandemic and online learning. Education experts fear that virtual learning will widen the education gap even further between students of color and the white students who tend to come from better socioeconomic backgrounds. So far, attendance records for the Red Clay School District and the School District of Philadelphia show a drop in attendance during the virtual learning period for students of color – while in some cases attendance actually improved for white students.
One professor takes his virtual classes on the road
This generation of students is more than familiar with remote learning. But, what about “extreme remote learning?” Troy Hale, a professor of practice at Michigan State University, came up with the idea to keep his students engaged through the screen. “I kind of looked at it in a different way,” Hale said. “How do we take advantage of this?” With the ability to pre-record his classes, Hale fixed up a camper, loaded up his cat, and set off to film his series “Professor on the Road”. Hale hopes he can help his students see this pandemic not as a stop in the journey, just a detour.
Israel’s coronavirus vaccines wielding political power
Forget about oil and arms. Coronavirus vaccines are emerging as the newest currency of choice in the Middle East. Israel’s reopening of its economy, combined with a murky prisoner swap with Syria and the arrival of a batch of vaccines in the Gaza Strip, have all underscored how those with access to the vaccines have political power in the turbulent region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been at the forefront of this trend, pinning his re-election hopes on the success of his campaign to vaccinate Israel’s adult population. At the same time, he has offered rewards to those who vaccinate and punishments to those who do not. Israel has rolled out the world’s fastest vaccination campaign, administering at least one dose to more than half its 9.3 million people and the required two doses to about one-third in less than two months.
UK PM sets out road map to ease England’s COVID lockdown
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out a four-step plan to ease coronavirus restrictions in England, expressing a hope that life could get back to normal by the end of June. Johnson outlined a “gradual and cautious” approach to lifting curbs in England, starting with the return of pupils to schools from March 8. Non-essential retail and hairdressers will reopen April 12. So will pubs and restaurants, though only outdoors. Indoor venues such as theatres and cinemas, and indoor seating in bars and restaurants, are scheduled to open May 17, when limited crowds will be able to return to sports stadiums. It is also the earliest date Britons may be allowed foreign holidays. The government is aiming for the lifting of all limits on social contact from June 21. The government says the dates could all be postponed if infections rise.
Italy Extends Ban on Movement Between Regions Until Late March
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has extended a ban on movement between the country’s 20 regions for another month -- until late March -- as his new government tries to step up a vaccination campaign to counter the pandemic. A cabinet meeting chaired by Draghi prolonged travel curbs between regions until March 27 and maintained a 10 p.m. curfew, according to a statement. The government also introduced a ban on visits between households in the highest-risk areas.
India sees new lockdowns as coronavirus cases rise again
Cases of COVID-19 are increasing in some parts of India after months of a steady nationwide decline prompting authorities to impose lockdowns and other virus restrictions. Infections have been plummeting in India since September, and life has already returned to normal in large parts of the country. In many cities, markets are bustling, roads are crowded and restaurants are nearly full. But experts have been warning that the reasons behind India's success aren't really understood, and that the country of nearly 1.4 billion people can't afford to let its guard down. Public health officials are now investigating potential mutations in the virus that could make it more contagious and render some treatments and vaccines less effective.
Maharashtra reimposes curbs as Covid cases surge
A Covid-19 test positivity rate inching towards 10% in Pune district and a surge in cases in Amravati division made authorities in Maharashtra act swiftly on Sunday to reimpose measures like school and college closure, limitation on movement at night and restrictions on events like weddings for the remainder of the month.
AstraZeneca's Indian COVID-19 vaccine partner told to prioritize local supplies: CEO
Low- and middle-income countries banking on doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine from Serum Institute of India may have to wait a bit longer, the Indian shot maker’s CEO said over the weekend. The same goes for Europe, where officials have reportedly considered importing supplies from the world's largest vaccine maker by doses. Serum Institute has been told to prioritize supplies for India first as the country hustles to vaccinate 300 million people, or a fifth of its population, by August. The move could signal delays for other countries waiting on orders of AstraZeneca’s adenovirus shot, which Serum Institute is cranking out on license under the name Covishield.
French Riviera placed under weekend lockdown
The French government has placed the French Riviera in southern France under lockdown on weekends, local authorities announced, amid a rapid surge of coronavirus cases in recent weeks. While France has been reluctant to enforce a third nationwide lockdown, local ones are seen as increasingly likely in areas where the situation has deteriorated, including the Paris region. This measure will be enforced from Friday 6 p.m., until Monday 6 a.m. for the next two weekends, "following the same rules as during October lockdown," state Representative Bernard Gonzalez said.
New pledges boost COVAX, but critics say more is needed to ensure global vaccine access
After months of uncertainty and frustration, a World Health Organization program designed to ensure access to Covid-19 vaccines in dozens of low-income countries late last week received a spate of good news. First, Novavax pledged 1.1 billion doses of its shot to the WHO effort, which is known as COVAX. Meanwhile, the U.S. agreed to contribute $4 billion in aid over the next two years, with Germany adding $1.2 billion and the European Commission providing $600 million. Collectively, the G7 countries have now committed a total $7.5 billion. And the U.K. promised to provide surplus vaccines to low-income countries. The sudden rush of announcements was in stark contrast to increasing concerns that COVAX was faltering. For much of the past year, wealthy nations and drug makers reached deals that critics argued would leave low-income nations with little access to vaccines. As a result, the vast majority of vaccinations have so far occurred in high-income countries.
COVID-19: Gaza starts inoculation drive amid vaccine shortage
The inoculation campaign against COVID-19 in the besieged Gaza Strip has kicked off after the arrival of vaccines donated by Russia and the United Arab Emirates. On Monday, officials and health workers received the first shots of 22,000 Russian Sputnik V jabs in front of dozens of cameras.
Pfizer set to double weekly production of coronavirus vaccine
Pfizer expects to roughly double the number of coronavirus vaccine doses it makes per week for use in the U.S, CEO Albert Bourla said Friday at an event with President Joe Biden held at the company's plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The boost in production should take effect in the next "couple weeks," Bourla said, noting the drugmaker currently manufactures about 5 million doses each week. Pfizer has supplied approximately 40 million doses to the U.S. government through February 17, some 29 million of which have been administered since the vaccine's emergency authorization last December. Pfizer's stepped-up manufacturing is a result of improvements the company's made in reducing by half the time it takes to make and do quality checks on each vaccine lot. The pharma is also expanding its production network, tapping a site in Kansas to aid in the fill and finish of vaccine vials.
Coronavirus vaccine rollout begins in Western Australia with two hotel quarantine nurses
Two hotel quarantine nurses have become the first people in Western Australia to be given the COVID-19 vaccine. Four thousand five hundred doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine arrived at Perth Airport yesterday and were stored overnight in a Perth Children's Hospital (PCH) pharmacy freezer at minus 80 degrees Celsius. It is the first COVID vaccine approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
U.S. administers 64.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines - CDC
The United States has administered 64,177,474 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Monday morning and delivered 75,205,940 doses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The tally of vaccine doses are for both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, vaccines as of 6:00 a.m. ET on Monday, the agency said. According to the tally posted on Feb. 21, the agency had administered 63,090,634 doses of the vaccines, and distributed 75,204,965 doses.
More than 100,000 Covid-19 vaccines to be administered this week
In Ireland, more than 100,000 doses of Covid-19 are set to be administered this week, as supplies of the vaccine are to be ramped up over the coming weeks. Health Service Executive (HSE) boss Paul Reid said the light is “beginning to emerge” as the State scales up its vaccine programme. The CEO of the HSE said that it delivered some 40,000 to 45,000 doses every week, but that increased to 80,000 vaccines last week. He said that 13,500 of those vaccines went to people aged over 85, while 25,000 were delivered to healthcare workers and 40,000 to residents and staff in long-term residential facilities.
Superdrug launches £120 COVID-19 PCR saliva testing service
In the UK, Superdrug has become the first high street pharmacy chain to offer a saliva-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19, at the price of £120. The saliva-based PCR test is designed to be less intrusive than the standard method of using a swab to retrieve a sample from the back of the patient's nose or throat. It is available in all 200 Superdrug branches across the country and via the multiple’s website, it announced last week
UK shopper numbers rise for fifth straight week despite lockdown
The number of people heading out to shops across Britain increased by 6.8% last week versus the previous week, a fifth straight week of uplift despite the national lockdown, market researcher Springboard said on Monday. It said shopper numbers, or footfall, in the week to Feb. 20 was up 10.5% in high streets, 4.5% in shopping centres and 1.2% in retail parks. “You could be fooled into thinking that last week was a normal (school) half term week rather than the eighth week of a national lockdown, as footfall continued to rise for the fifth consecutive week,” said Springboard director Diane Wehrle.
After Pfizer deal, Sanofi offers a hand to Johnson & Johnson for COVID-19 vaccine production
Sanofi hasn't abandoned its COVID-19 vaccine hopes despite a setback in the high-stakes race, but as it moves two different shots forward, it's also pitching in to make doses for its usual rivals. The drugmaker on Monday inked a manufacturing tie-up with Johnson & Johnson to help produce that company’s vaccine in Europe. The deal follows a separate agreement for Sanofi to turn out 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for Europe this year. When J&J's one-dose-and-done vaccine scores an authorization, Sanofi will give the company access to its plant in Marcy l’Etoile, France. Workers there will formulate the J&J vaccine and fill vials, and the site will turn out around 12 million doses per month, Sanofi said. The deal “demonstrates Sanofi’s ongoing commitment to the collective effort to ending this crisis as quickly as possible,” CEO Paul Hudson said in a statement.
‘Extremely promising’: 1st dose of COVID vaccine cuts illness
Data from two separate studies published in the UK, one in England and another in Scotland, have shown vaccines against COVID-19 are effective in cutting disease transmission and hospitalisations starting from the first dose. Analysis from Public Health England (PHE) published on Monday shows that the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech reduces the risk of catching infection by more than 70 percent after the first dose. That risk is reduced by 85 percent after a second dose.
Novavax vaccine could be approved by JUNE - bringing another 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the US after drug company announced its final stage clinical trial in ...
Novavax has now enrolled 30,000 people in the US and Mexico to its shot trial Its CEO told Reuters last month it could deliver doses to the US by June if all goes well in its trials. The vaccine was shown to be 89.3% effective and works nearly as well against the UK variant in tests in Britain. But the shot is about 50% less effective against the South African variant. US has a contract for 100 million doses of Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine. It would likely be the fourth shot authorized in the US, assuming Johnson & Johnson's vaccine gets greenlit by the FDA this week
Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine cuts chance of hospitalisation for elderly by 75% after one jab, research finds
One dose of the Pfizer vaccine slashes the chances of being admitted to hospital with Covid by at least 75 per cent among over-80s, real-world data from Public Health England (PHE) has found.Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said this was at the “lower end of the estimate” and the drop in hospital admissions and deaths was thought to be even more profound. Another study found that the Pfizer/BioNTech jab also offered a high degree of protection for younger age groups.
COVID-19: Vaccine rollout linked to 85% and 94% drop in coronavirus hospital admissions in Scotland, study shows
The COVID-19 vaccines being used in the UK could reduce a person's risk of being admitted to hospital by as much as 94% four weeks after the first dose, new data suggests. Experts examined coronavirus hospital admissions in Scotland among people who have had their first jab and compared them to those who had not yet received a vaccine.
Sanofi and GSK start test of upgraded coronavirus vaccine after first version disappoints
Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline on Monday announced the start of a Phase 2 study testing a new version of the experimental coronavirus vaccine the two partners have been developing. The 720-volunteer mid-stage study begins roughly two months after the partners disclosed weaker than expected results for their first vaccine candidate. Sanofi and GSK are evaluating a "refined antigen formulation" in the new trial, and could start Phase 3 testing in the second quarter if results are positive, they said in a statement. If all goes well, Sanofi and GSK hope to bring a vaccine to market by the fourth quarter of 2021. But that outcome would still represent a six-to-nine month delay from previous estimates, a significant setback for a program that was promised up to $2.1 billion in funding from the U.S. government. Multiple coronavirus vaccines are already available, and others could arrive later this year.
COVID-19 survivors may only need one vaccine dose, study finds
Researchers looked at blood samples of 10 people previously infected with coronavirus who received one shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine COVID-19 survivors had boosted levels of immune system cells and a 1,000-fold increase in levels of neutralizing antibodies. The levels were enough to neutralize both the original strain of the virus and the South African variant that is more highly contagious. Dr Anthony Fauci said the data is 'impressive' and that - if it holds up - health officials may consider letting survivors get one dose
Blood thinners may protect against COVID-19 complications
A new study has found that administering heparin-based blood thinners to patients with COVID-19 in the first 24 hours of hospital admission reduced the risk of death. The researchers observed a 27% reduced risk of 30-day mortality among patients who received blood thinners. Severe bleeding that required a blood transfusion occurred in 4.6% of patients and was not significantly linked with early intervention to prevent coagulation.
Delaying 2nd AstraZeneca COVID shot may boost efficacy
A single dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine offered 76% protection against COVID-19 for 3 months, at which time administering the second dose resulted in up to 47% greater protection than giving it at 6 weeks, according to a study published late last week in the Lancet. The pooled post-hoc exploratory analysis of four randomized, controlled trials led by researchers from Oxford University involved 17,178 adults in the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa from Apr 23 to Dec 6, 2020. The study also examined the effect of one versus two doses of the vaccine in reducing community spread of COVID-19 and the protection conferred by a low dose followed by a standard dose versus two standard doses.