"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 24th Feb 2021
Remote working: What the UK’s last lighthouse keepers can teach us about isolation
If there is anyone that knows what it’s like to spend long periods of time alone, it’s lighthouse keepers. Serena Coady gets advice from former custodians about how to weather the loneliness of the pandemic
NHS app could be used to show coronavirus vaccine or test result
The NHS app could be used to display vaccination status or latest coronavirus test results, as ministers consider the ethical issues surrounding the possible introduction of vaccine passports. Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that he has tasked senior minister Michael Gove with leading a review into the “deep and complex issues” surrounding “Covid status certificates”. But it was understood that the “proper review” will also investigate whether businesses such as pubs and theatres could be prohibited from making access conditional on vaccination alone.
Covid-19: Frustration over London's maskless passengers
Mask wearing on public transport looks likely to be with us for some time. But the most recent figures from Transport for London (TfL) show there is still a significant minority that do not wear them. Commuters have also complained to me about maskless rail staff who also ignore social distance regulations. TfL said about 90% of its passengers wear masks. Around 137,000 maskless people have so far been stopped from using London's public transport and told to wear a face covering since it was made mandatory on 15 June, latest figures show.
UK Covid Lockdown: Ministers Review Vaccine Passport Options to Help Firms Open
U.K. firms may be allowed to demand proof that customers do not have coronavirus under options being considered to help businesses reopen after the pandemic. Ministers are conducting a review of whether so-called vaccine passports and test certificates could enable venues to open without fueling a surge in infections once lockdown rules are lifted. In one potential scenario, someone planning to go to an event could be asked to show staff a medical record on their National Health Service smart-phone app proving they have been vaccinated or tested negative for Covid-19, a person familiar with the matter said.
Covid-19: Vaccine success drives England's lockdown exit
Siren study - The Pfizer and BioNTech covid-19 vaccine is at least 70% effective against symptomatic and asymptomatic infection 21 days after the first dose and at least 85% seven days after the second dose, shows a UK study of healthcare workers. The Siren study previously investigated the effect of prior infection on protection against reinfection but has now been amended to investigate vaccine effectiveness. The first results following this update have looked at the eight weeks after the first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine dose.
Easing lockdown will allow Covid to spread. Here's how to mitigate the risks
The government’s roadmap for ending Covid restrictions in England commits it to steps that may increase the rate at which the virus spreads. Some of that is unavoidable. But even as we reopen, there is more that we could do to mitigate the risk, and get us to the summer – and normality – without a resurgence. One reason that east Asian countries have done better during the pandemic is that prior experience with Sars has given people the understanding of how respiratory diseases spread, and how to avoid them. Japan’s three Cs guidance – avoidance of closed spaces, crowded places, and conversations – helped it avoid a serious epidemic without imposing a national lockdown. But the UK’s messaging still prioritises hand washing, surface cleaning and 2-metre distancing, and there has been no public education campaign about ventilation on the scale of last year’s hand-washing campaign.
Even the World's Most-Vaccinated Economy Faces a Tough Reopening
But even as that brings hope for businesses shuttered for months, and for economies across the globe that have spent trillions of dollars to support people during lockdowns, the Israel experience shows that an emerging new normal that may not look much like the pre-pandemic world for some time to come.
'Closer to normality': New York City arenas open doors to elated fans
On Tuesday, standing outside Madison Square Garden in the chilly February air, Cumello was grateful her long-awaited game had finally arrived. “I’m really excited that we finally got to go because I was really upset when it got canceled,” said Cumello, who plays point guard in her youth league in Fairfield, Connecticut. “I’m excited that we just get to be here and get to watch.” Cumello and her mother were among the 2,000 fans ready to watch the New York Knicks take on the Warriors, as New York City welcomed ticketholders at live sports events for the first time since the pandemic brought sports to a halt nearly a year ago.
Covid-19 could become disease of the poor and persist in some areas of UK, expert warns
Dr Mike Tildesley, reader in mathematical modelling of infectious diseases at the University of Warwick and member of the Government advisory group SPI-M, said that he was "concerned" that the virus might persist particular parts of the country. Asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme whether Covid-19 could remain a "disease of the deprived", he said: "This is a real concern actually for me and I know a number of other scientists have raised this, that we may end up in a situation where we have the 'vaccine rich' and as it were, who are able to access the vaccine who have taken up the vaccine and are at much lower risk.
Fauci: Vaccinated people shouldn't dine indoors or go to the theater quite yet
Dr. Anthony Fauci cautions against indoor dining and theatergoing even for those fully vaccinated. The number of coronavirus cases in the US remains high. He said it'd be safer to gather indoors again as more people get vaccinated and COVID-19 cases drop.
COVID-19: How European nations are trying to plot route out of lockdown
The details of England's route out of lockdown were revealed this week. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is "very optimistic" he will be able to remove all coronavirus restrictions by 21 June under his four-stage plan. But how are European countries faring in the second year of the pandemic?
Holiday bookings surge in UK after lockdown exit plans revealed
Airlines and travel companies have reported a surge in holiday bookings after the Boris Johnson announced his roadmap out of lockdown. EasyJet, Ryanair, Tui and Thomas Cook reported a jump in bookings to destinations including Spain and Greece after the prime minister said international trips could potentially resume from 17 May, subject to review and assuming there was no resurgence in coronavirus and vaccination programmes went well. The increase bolstered shares in airlines and travel companies on Tuesday. EasyJet and Tui were among the top risers on the FTSE 250, up 7% and 3% respectively. On the FTSE 100, British Airways’ owner International Airlines Group, was up 3.5%.
Out of sight, out of mind? Remote working damages young women's careers
Almost half of British employees did some work from home last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been particularly disruptive for young women from ethnic minorities who are under-represented in professional settings. Now that chance encounters with colleagues in the cafeteria have diminished, many young people say they are struggling to find their feet in the workplace. “When you’re in the office you can run into people when they’re making a tea or something and quickly chat about anything career-wise,” British-Chinese Chau told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It was nice to be able to speak to the senior team directly and not feel like there was a barrier there. But obviously, now we’re online, it’s hard to fit into people’s schedules. I don’t want to constantly bombard them with emails.”
Here's what SA's remote working visa – to attract digital nomads – could look like
If the City of Cape Town gets its way, South Africa may introduce a Remote Working Visa to attract digital nomads – especially to the Western Cape. After being voted one of the “Best Places For Remote Working in 2021” and receiving a Safe Travel Stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Cape Town is looking to position itself as an ideal “workation” destination in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.While the coronavirus and associated travel restrictions continue to devastate tourism, the City of Cape Town – which attracts the lion’s share of South Africa’s international visitors – has unveiled a new ten-point plan that includes a big international marketing campaign.
Leaning Into Remote Work: Tips For Perfecting WFH For The Long Haul
More and more companies are considering hybrid models for their future workplace policies. With remote work all but permanently cemented into the fabric of modern corporate culture, employees must establish practices and environments that are conducive to an effective and fulfilling workday, as well as a healthy and balanced home life. Once we are past this crisis, the workforce won't return to what it once was. We need to be prepared to make working from home a healthy and productive long-term solution. Here are some ways to maximize your working hours, while also maintaining your well-being in a combined living and working space.
The hidden financial drawback to remote working: higher housing costs
New research suggests that as people start to choose where to live with remote working in mind, workers and companies alike won’t necessarily be reaping major savings. A new working paper from researchers at Harvard University examined how much households with remote workers spent compared with their peers who commuted to work, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. And while it might be feasible that these remote-working households could move to more distant, potentially cheaper locales, in reality they didn’t necessarily save money.
COVID-19: Is work from home here to stay? What UK businesses are planning post-lockdown
Businesses have started preparing plans to get their employees back to the office, although some suggest office culture may look different post-pandemic. The government's work-from-home (WFH) guidance has been in place now for almost a year, and under Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown it could remain until summer.
French labour minister urges companies to boost remote working to avoid lockdown
French Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Tuesday it was paramount that companies boost remote working to avoid having to resort to a new lockdown to fight the spread of COVID-19. “In recent days (COVID) data are not good. We all want to avoid a new lockdown and working from home is a good answer,” Borne told Europe 1 radio. Borne said she would meet on Friday with representatives from sectors such as banking, insurance or engineering that have seen their use of remote working decline in recent months.
When will offices reopen? What the roadmap out of lockdown means for the future of working from home
Boris Johnson has outlined his four-stage roadmap out of lockdown, but the future of working from home is a grey area. Although some miss having work colleagues and are sick of endless zoom meetings, for many, the option of remote working has been one of the positives to come out of lockdown, allowing people to save both time and money on commuting, and having more flexibility for childcare. But what does the future hold for working from home? For now, the Prime Minister has said people should keep doing their jobs remotely unless it is impossible to do so. Meanwhile, the Government is conducting a review into whether social distancing rules can be relaxed, the main barrier for many workplaces to resume.
Who am I now? How the academic identity changed through Covid
When dramatic change takes place, it is inevitable to ask questions about identity. Covid-19 has certainly provoked us to ponder “Who are we now?” after we’ve been forced to adapt to online learning and teaching approaches almost overnight, pushing most of us to our limits. Previously, live lectures allowed chats before and after lectures – interactions that we and our students thrive on. Now, our lectures are often pre-recorded, scripted, bite-size and accessible for students on demand. Scripting and recording lectures in such a format requires different skills and technical videography know-how for editing.
The best apps and tools to help students with distance learning
When I was sent home from school in March at the onset of the pandemic, I didn't realize I'd be learning remotely for almost a year. As a low-income student living in a two-bedroom apartment, I encountered unexpected challenges in virtual learning and feared I wouldn't keep up academically. Knowing I had to adapt to a new learning model, I quickly scoured the web for the best resources to succeed in remote learning. I already used many of the apps, but found unexpected new ways to use them. I learned I don't need to compromise my sleep or mental health to succeed in an online curriculum. By taking my education into my own hands and making a few adjustments to how I learn, I put my mother's words into action: to salir adelante, or get ahead. As I finish my last semester of high school, these eight apps have made distance learning easier during a time of dramatic upheaval.
U.S. House plans vote on COVID-19 aid bill on Friday
The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on Friday on legislation to provide $1.9 trillion in new coronavirus relief, Representative Steny Hoyer, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, said. “The American people strongly support this bill, and we are moving swiftly to see it enacted into law,” Hoyer said on Twitter on Tuesday.
World Bank threatens to halt funding for Lebanon’s COVID jabs
The World Bank has threatened to suspend financing for coronavirus vaccines in Lebanon over what it said were violations by legislators who were vaccinated inside Parliament. The comments by the international lender on Tuesday came as frustration grew among some residents and doctors that the national plan that requires people to get vaccinated at predetermined centres could be riddled with violations and favouritism.
Ukraine gets first vaccine shipment as hospitals struggle
Ukraine on Tuesday received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccine raising hopes that authorities can start beating back the virus spread in a country where cases have strained the fragile health care system. A consignment of 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine was flown to the capital Kyiv from India. Officials said the first tranche of vaccine will be administered to medical workers and military personnel in eastern Ukraine, where conflict with Russian-backed separatists has been ongoing since 2014, and to regions of western Ukraine where the rate of infections has been the most severe
Egypt receives second shipment of Chinese coronavirus vaccine
Egypt received 300,000 doses of a coronavirus vaccine developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) in the early hours of Tuesday, the health ministry said in a statement. The new batch from China was the second shipment of the Sinopharm vaccine to Egypt. The country received its first 50,000-dose shipment in December. The North African country also got 50,000 doses of a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca earlier in February as part of its programme to vaccinate health workers
COVAX vaccine begins shipping from India facility
The World Health Organization's (WHO's) South East Asia office said on Twitter today that the first batches rolled out from India's Serum Institute in Pune. The move comes a week after the WHO listed versions of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine made in India and South Korea for emergency use, which paves the way for the vaccine to be distributed by the COVAX program. The vaccines required two separate reviews and approvals, because they are made in two different facilities.
Pfizer, Moderna and J&J tout supercharged COVID-19 vaccine output, eyeing nearly 140 million new doses by March
Pfizer, which has been shipping 4 million to 5 million doses per week, plans to increase that to 13 million a week by mid-March, according to executive testimony planned for Tuesday morning's hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight arm. J&J, which reportedly had just 2 million doses in stock last week, should be able to ship 20 million by March 31—provided it wins FDA authorization as expected, Richard Nettles, M.D., vice president of U.S. medical affairs at Janssen’s infectious diseases and vaccines unit, said in his testimony. The shot is up for an FDA panel review later this week. And Moderna, which already doubled its monthly deliveries to the feds this year and has so far supplied 45 million doses of its mRNA vaccine, aims to double monthly deliveries again by April, president Stephen Hoge's testimony states.
Kuwait to close land, sea border in latest COVID restrictions
Kuwait says it will close its land and sea border crossings from Wednesday until further notice as it imposes curbs to control coronavirus infections in the Gulf nation. Citizens and domestic workers accompanying them are, however, allowed to return through land and sea ports, as are citizens’ first-degree relatives, the cabinet said in its meeting on Monday.
Sanofi to provide manufacturing support to Johnson & Johnson for their COVID-19 vaccine to help address global supply demands
Sanofi has entered into an agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutical NV and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., two of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, under which Sanofi will support manufacturing of Janssen´s COVID-19 vaccine in order to address the COVID-19 pandemic and supply needs. Janssen has submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting Emergency Use Authorization for its single-dose Janssen COVID-19 vaccine candidate and an application for conditional marketing authorisation to the European Medicines Agency.
Portugal's COVID-19 nightmare eases but end of lockdown still out of sight
Health experts warned that lifting the lockdown too soon could lead to a rise in cases caused by the variant initially discovered in Britain, currently responsible for almost half of the country’s cases. Another surge would be catastrophic for a fragile health system. Germany sent on Tuesday a replacement team of military doctors and nurses to take over from the first deployment sent three weeks ago to prop up Lisbon’s underresourced hospitals.
More German state workers to get AstraZeneca jab as doses go begging
The German government is reworking its strategy to vaccinate the nation against COVID-19 as its campaign, which has faltered due to a lack of supply, also faces public resistance to the shot from AstraZeneca Plc. As schools and kindergartens start to reopen from a lockdown imposed in November, federal and state health ministers on Monday reworked vaccination rules so that teachers will now get priority access to the AstraZeneca vaccine. “Children, the young, and their parents are especially affected by lockdown,” they said in a document seen by Reuters. “Since it can be hard to ensure social distancing with young children, teachers must be protected in another way.”
Executives with Pfizer, Moderna say they're ramping up vaccine supplies
Executives with Pfizer and Moderna said the companies are ramping up their supply of coronavirus vaccines, with shipments expected to double and possibly triple in the coming weeks, in congressional testimony Tuesday. In a prepared statement before a House subcommittee Tuesday, John Young, Pfizer's chief business officer, is expected to say the company plans to increase its delivery capacity of 4 million to 5 million doses a week to more than 13 million by mid-March. Richard Nettles, the vice president of medical affairs at Johnson & Johnson, said the company plans to have enough of their single-dose Covid-19 vaccine for 20 million Americans by the end of March.
States rush to catch up on delayed vaccines, expand access
A giant vaccination center is opening in Houston to administer 126,000 coronavirus doses in the next three weeks. Nevada health officials are working overtime to distribute delayed shots. And Rhode Island is rescheduling appointments after a vaccine shipment failed to arrive as scheduled earlier in the week. From coast to coast, states were scrambling Tuesday to catch up on vaccinations a week after winter storms battered a large swath of the U.S. and led to clinic closures, canceled appointments and shipment backlogs nationwide. But limited supply of the two approved COVID-19 vaccines hampered the pace of vaccinations even before extreme weather delayed the delivery of about 6 million doses.
Exclusive: AstraZeneca to miss second-quarter EU vaccine supply target by half - EU official
AstraZeneca Plc has told the European Union it expects to deliver less than half the COVID-19 vaccines it was contracted to supply in the second quarter, an EU official told Reuters on Tuesday. Contacted by Reuters, AstraZeneca did not deny what the official said, but a statement late in the day said the company was striving to increase productivity to deliver the promised 180 million doses. The expected shortfall, which has not previously been reported, follows a big reduction in supplies in the first quarter and could hit the EU’s ability to meet its target of vaccinating 70% of adults by summer.
Pharmacists say 'pooling' Covid vaccines could save thousands of doses
As millions of people across the U.S. line up for their coronavirus vaccination shots, health officials are struggling to meet the surging demand, the result of short supplies. Some pharmacists say a simple solution could get thousands more people vaccinated each week, but the FDA is standing in the way. It's called "pooling" — and it's not a new concept. Pharmacists have been doing it for years with everything from flu vaccines to some chemotherapy medications to antibiotics. It involves taking what's left over in a drug vial and combining it with what's left in another vial to create a full dose.
Drug supply chain issues aren't going away, report says
The first chapter of the ninth edition of ASHP's pharmacy forecast, which was released earlier this month, is called, "The Certainty of Uncertainty for a Global Supply Chain." Written by Erin Fox, PharmD, and Aaron Kesselheim, MD, JD, MPH, the section reflects on responses to an ASHP survey from 272 experts in health-system pharmacy. Allocation guides, a push for domestic supply chains, manufacturing quality scrutiny, and more were all topics the panelists thought would be highly relevant for the next 5 years, and the authors agree. "With a global pandemic and continuing uncertainty regarding the stability and quality of the medication supply chain, health-system pharmacists must be prepared for significant disruptions to 'normal' healthcare delivery, including disruption of medication procurement," they write.
Sanofi and GSK begin new study of their COVID-19 vaccine
The new Phase II study will involve 720 volunteers aged 18 years and over, and will include equal numbers of adults aged 18 to 59 years and those 60 years and above. The study will test three different antigen doses with a fixed dose of adjuvant in the total study population, at sites in the US, Honduras and Panama. Sanofi/GSK said in a statement that results of the Phase II trial will inform the Phase III protocol, adding that if data from the new trial is positive, a global late-stage trial could begin in the second quarter of 2021. Depending on the outcome of the potential Phase III trial, regulatory submissions for the vaccine could be expected in the second half of 2021, with the vaccine likely to then be available in Q4 2021 if approved.
Adults with Down syndrome 3 times more likely to die of COVID, study finds
Adults older than 40 with Down syndrome are about three times more likely to die of COVID-19 than the rest of the population, pointing to the need to prioritize coronavirus vaccination to this group, a study published yesterday in the Lancet's EClinicalMedicine has found. A team led by Emory University researchers conducted the international online survey of the clinicians or caregivers of 1,046 patients with Down syndrome diagnosed as having COVID-19 from April to November 2020.
UK, US to achieve herd immunity in 2021, but not EU: Report
The United States and the United Kingdom are on course to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 by the end of 2021 given the speed of their mass vaccination programmes, but key European Union nations are not, according to a new report. The German database firm Statista studied the number of COVID-19 vaccines that were given on a daily basis, using recent data from local health authorities of each country.
UK data: COVID-19 vaccines sharply cut hospitalizations
Two U.K. studies released Monday showed that COVID-19 vaccination programs are contributing to a sharp drop in hospitalizations, boosting hopes that the shots will work as well in the real world as they have in carefully controlled studies. Preliminary results from a study in Scotland found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reduced hospital admissions by up to 85% four weeks after the first dose, while the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot cut admissions by up to 94%. In England, preliminary data from a study of health care workers showed that the Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of catching COVID-19 by 70% after one dose, a figure that rose to 85% after the second.