"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 25th Feb 2021
Lockhart: Mental health impact of COVID-19 ‘significant’
Local health experts say the mental health impact of COVID-19 on the Cayman Islands community is “significant” – even as scientific data continues to be collected. “Viktor Frankl said that an abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior. So what we’re going to be looking for as the norm over the next 18 to 24 months or so is a lot of dysfunction. How severe that dysfunction is going to be… I don’t want to be an alarmist… we will find out,” Mental Health Commission Chairman Dr. Marc Lockhart said as he addressed the Alex Panton Foundation’s 4th Annual Youth Mental Health Symposium Saturday. However, Lockhart said he’s confident the country will not be defeated by the challenges ahead.
Covid-19 can survive on clothing for up to THREE DAYS - with polyester garments sustaining the virus the longest, scientists warn
Coronaviruses similar to Covid-19 can survive on clothing for up to three days, according to new research. Research carried out by De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester looked at how a coronavirus behaves on three fabrics commonly used in the healthcare industry. Polyester enables the virus to survive at infectious levels for up to 72 hours, whereas it dies within 24 hours on 100 per cent cotton.
Ukraine: Health workers welcome COVID-19 vaccination drive
Ukraine launched a COVID-19 vaccination campaign Wednesday in hopes of halting the spread of the coronavirus that has put a significant strain on the country's teetering health care system. Medical workers and military personnel in different regions of the country were the first to get their shots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, 500,000 doses of which arrived in the Ukrainian capital from India on Tuesday. It is better to prevent infections "than to treat the complications of the disease later,” said Yevgeny Gorenko, an intensive care specialist who was the first person to receive a shot on Wednesday.
Covid-19: First doses of vaccines in Scotland led to a substantial fall in hospital admissions
Rollout of the Pfizer BioNTech and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines has led to a substantial fall in severe covid-19 cases requiring hospital admission in Scotland, suggest the results of the first study to report on the impact of the UK’s vaccination strategy.1 - The results, available as a preprint, showed that four weeks after the first doses of the Pfizer BioNTech and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines were administered the risk of hospitalisation from covid-19 fell by up to 85% (95% confidence interval 76 to 91) and 94% (95% CI 73 to 99), respectively.
Coronavirus: Home tests will give Germany 'more freedom'
Speaking to Germany's Bundestag parliament on Wednesday, Health Minister Jens Spahn pointed to the approval of home coronavirus tests, known as antigen tests, as an important step on the return to normalcy. Though Spahn spoke of freedoms regained, he warned citizens not to let their guard down and called for patience about the availability of tests. Three such self-administered rapid antigen tests have been given special approval for use by Germany's Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices. Although he expressed confidence that more and more tests would be available in the days and weeks following approval, Spahn warned they would be in short supply initially.
New normal? 'Green Pass' opens music concert to vaccinated Israelis
It was an event that could set a precedent in a world longing for a return to normal - a music concert attended by scores of Israelis vaccinated against COVID-19. The open-air concert in Tel Aviv on Wednesday was one of the first in a programme to restart cultural events by restricting attendance to people who have been vaccinated or those with immunity after contracting the disease. Attendees were required to show a “Green Pass”, a government-validated certificate showing they had received both doses of the vaccine more than a week prior to the event or that they had recovered from COVID-19 and were presumed immune. The passes are valid for six months from the time of full vaccination.
NHS Covid app could be used to prove status and access venues in England
People could use a revamped NHS app to prove their Covid status on entering pubs or theatres in England under plans being considered by ministers, as one major care provider said staff have two months to get jabbed or lose their jobs. Ministers are expected to give businesses in England the power to check Covid certification – whether people have been vaccinated or the result of recent tests. That will include small-scale venues like restaurants or bars. However, the equalities watchdog and trade unions have said that any move that relies solely on vaccine certification could be unlawful and that passes must not be used to relax Covid safety measures in workplaces.
All adults in Wales will get a coronavirus vaccine by July 31, says nation's health minister
Every adults in Wales eligible for coronavirus vaccine will receive a jab by July 31, health minister Vaughan Gething has announced. He said that Wales would be able to offer a vaccine to all eligible adults by July 31, provided that the supply promised by the UK government was fulfilled. Mr Gething said: "Our incredible vaccine programme is the other beacon of hope that will help guide us out of lockdown. I can today confirm that we will offer the vaccine to all eligible adults in Wales by 31 July, as long as the supply matches our ambition."
Italian mafia tightens grip on small businesses during lockdown
The provision of Mafia “welfare” to Italy’s struggling small businesses sharply increased during the first months of the Covid-19 lockdown according to the first comprehensive report by the country’s interior ministry on organised crime since the pandemic began. The report by the anti-mafia investigation directorate (DIA) said there was a significant threat that organised criminals would take advantage of the country’s economic crisis to take over small businesses after initially providing them with assistance.
Holidaymakers rush to book summer getaways to Greece, Spain and Turkey after PM announced aim to restart international travel from May 17 - but SAGE scientist warns don't book a trip abroad before 2023
Britons are rushing to book their summer getaways ahead of the return of international travel from May 17 - despite a SAGE professor warning holidaymakers not to go on foreign trips before 2023. Some of Britain's biggest airlines and travel firms revealed a surge in holiday bookings to destinations including Greece, Spain and Turkey in the hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the roadmap out of lockdown yesterday.
China's bid to stop Wuhan COVID-19 spread cut deaths from other causes: study
The number of deaths in China - excluding the coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan - fell slightly during the first three months of 2020, suggesting efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 reduced fatalities from other causes, a new study showed. Researchers from the University of Oxford and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analysed official death registry data from Jan. 1 to March 31 last year for changes in overall and cause-specific deaths. The death rate in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was first identified, stood at 1,147 per 100,000 over the period, 56% higher than expected, they found in the study published on Wednesday by BMJ, the journal of the British Medical Association.
EU mulls vaccination passports to resurrect tourism after COVID-19
European Union leaders will agree on Thursday to work on certificates of vaccination for EU citizens who have had an anti-COVID shot, with southern EU countries that depend heavily on tourism desperate to rescue this summer’s holiday season. Lockdowns to slow the pandemic caused the deepest ever economic recession in the 27-nation bloc last year, hitting the south of the EU, where economies are often much more dependent on visitors, disproportionately hard. With the rollout of vaccines against COVID-19 now gathering pace, some governments, like those of Greece and Spain, are pushing for a quick adoption of an EU-wide certificate for those already inoculated so that people can travel again. However, other countries, such as France and Germany, appear more reluctant, as officials there say it could create de facto vaccination obligation and would be discriminatory to those who cannot or will not take a jab.
Doctors and nurses face endless covid misinformation battle
Nakhasi is one of countless health-care workers who have found themselves combating the coronavirus on two fronts during a global pandemic that is now stretching into its 12th month. Beyond spending their working hours in hospitals and clinics, many doctors and nurses have also voluntarily entrenched themselves in “the information war,” as Nakhasi calls it. It’s a fight Nakhasi and other medical professionals say feels overwhelming. Baseless claims often spread faster than facts, and purveyors of misinformation are quick to retaliate with vitriol and threats. And yet, health-care workers, many of whom are already experiencing burnout and the emotional toll of witnessing covid ravage their patients, haven’t backed down. “It’s never-ending,” Nakhasi said. “There’s not a moment where I don’t feel some level of duty or responsibility” to take action.
Mission Possible: Pfizer and BioNTech star in their own vaccine discovery movie
The movie-length product placement is a behind-the-scenes look at Comirnaty, the now-authorized coronavirus shot Pfizer developed and produced in concert with its partner BioNTech. Pfizer provided the National Geographic's scientific storytellers “unprecedented access” to the vaccine's development, said Sally Susman, Pfizer executive VP and chief of corporate affairs, said. “This film is riveting and suspenseful,” Susman said in a media backgrounder from Disney Advertising Sales, the Disney group that oversees National Geographic’s CreativeWorks branded content studio, which created the film. “It is a testament to all of our employees and partners across the biopharmaceutical industry who have put in the long hours of tireless dedication and sacrifice, often working away from their families."
Pregnant teachers advised to continue to work remotely Coronavirus
Teachers who are pregnant have been advised to continue to work remotely when schools reopen on Monday. In guidance issued this morning, schools have been told that pregnant teachers should consider themselves in the high-risk health category and should temporarily continue to work remotely. The guidance, which was sought by trade unions, is likely to cause staffing difficulties for some schools, because the teacher workforce is predominantly female and young.
Taking working remotely to a whole new level: Managing work-life balance during pandemic
Managing a good work-life balance can be tough. For some who are working at home, it’s become even harder to find a healthy medium. “It’s really easy to blur those lines of working and home life,” said Cody McLees, a Lee County visitor who’s taking working remotely to a whole new level. Wherever McLees goes, he’s pulling his office behind him. Like many employees, his office closed to slow the spread of COVID-19. “When the pandemic started, I just worked from home and got a little stir crazy,” McLees said. He left Chicago where his cybersecurity job is based, went to his hometown in Iowa, and bought an RV. His new lifestyle has its challenge.
Welsh Government explores long-term remote working options
With more people working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, Welsh Government is exploring options for a network of remote working hubs in towns and communities across Wales. It wants to work with organisations to support a long-term shift to more people working remotely, with benefits for local economies, businesses, individuals and the environment. As part of this, Welsh Government is looking into options for a network of remote working hubs and would like to see a workplace model where staff can choose to work in the office, at home or at a hub location
“It’s Changed My Teaching” - The Remote Education Environment
Education has continued throughout the UK’s COVID-19 lockdowns and in light of the government’s plans to bring all pupils back to the classroom on March 8th in England, I’ve spoken to a Science teacher about the challenges posed and opportunities provided by online learning. Dr Naorin Sharmin is a Science teacher, Year 12 tutor and Learning Leader. She has been one of the many teachers who have been working tirelessly to move education online. With all lessons now being run through Google Meet, Dr Sharmin spoke about the ways in which she has changed her style of teaching in order to adapt to this new medium of education: she engages students by asking “lots of questions”, which makes for a more interactive online experience.
SMU president believes virtual learning could be a long lasting legacy of COVID-19
Around a year ago, the world started changing in ways many of us couldn't have imagined possible at the time. As the pandemic ramped up, governments, businesses and schools turned to the internet to implement increased online shopping, working and learning. And according to the president of Saint Mary's University, the digital component of education will be long lasting legacy of COVID-19. "We've been in a virtual operation for almost a year," Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray told NEWS 95.7 fill-in host Jordi Morgan. "The result of that learning has been more investment into the digital environment and a better understanding of what virtual learning looks like."
Compounding failure: Virtual learning setting students on dangerous course
Data shows many students in Kern County are struggling with virtual learning. Failing grades nearly doubled this Fall -- compared to last Fall. There are a lot of factors. Some kids don't have a quiet place to learn. Others have a bad internet connection. Some don't have anyone else home to keep them focused or to help when they're confused. "With distance learning you can't just ask the teacher to help you," one young student said. Many students are struggling to learn in the virtual classroom. In Kern County it's leading to a significant increase in failure.
Singapore's first Chinese COVID-19 vaccines arrive ahead of approval
Singapore received its first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine made by China’s Sinovac Biotech on Tuesday, its health ministry said, although the shot is still awaiting approval for use in the city-state. Sinovac has started submitting initial data but the Health Sciences Authority is currently awaiting all the necessary information to carry out a thorough assessment, the ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday.
Thailand receives its first coronavirus vaccines
Thailand received on Wednesday its first 200,000 doses of Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac, the country’s first batch of coronavirus vaccines, with inoculations set to begin in a few days. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is expected to be among the first to receive the vaccine this weekend. Most doses have been reserved for frontline medical workers.
Ghana becomes first nation in world to receive Covax coronavirus vaccines
Ghana has received the world’s first delivery of coronavirus vaccines from the United Nations-backed Covax initiative. It marked the long-awaited start for a programme that has so far fallen short of hopes that it would ensure shots were given quickly to the world’s most vulnerable people. The arrival of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the West African country marks the beginning of the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Unicef.
Israel to use excess Covid vaccines for international diplomacy
Israel will wield some of its excess supply of coronavirus vaccines as international humanitarian aid, using its glut of jabs to pursue diplomatic goals while Palestinians wait for aid shipments for their own supplies. The first three countries to receive thousands of doses will be Honduras, the Czech Republic and Guatemala, all of whom recently agreed to strengthen their diplomatic presence in Jerusalem, bolstering Israel’s claim to the contested city.
COVID-19 'vaccine diplomacy': China, Russia and India cherry-picking the countries they help
China, Russia and India have been accused of engaging in "vaccine diplomacy" as they cherry-pick nations to give their COVID-19 vaccines to in order to bolster their influence. Sky News analysis has found 47 countries, plus the African Union which represents 55 nations, have made or been offered vaccine deals with India, China and Russia. In 21 countries, their sole vaccine supplies up until 19 February were from Russia, China and India.
Italy's health minister rules out loosening of COVID-19 curbs
Italy's government will extend coronavirus restrictions already in place until after Easter, the health minister said on Wednesday, as Rome plans to speed up vaccination efforts to try to beat the pandemic. Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19, has seen its daily cases fall from a high of around 40,000 in November to under 15,000 at present, but officials fear loosening restrictions may lead to a surge in infections driven by new, highly contagious variants. "The epidemiological conditions do not allow us to relax the curbs," Health Minister Roberto Speranza told parliament, adding that strains first discovered in Britain, South Africa and Brazil are increasingly being detected in Italy.
Dunkirk area in northern France to impose weekend lockdown -minister
The region around the northern French port of Dunkirk will start enforcing a weekend lockdown from this weekend to halt a spike in COVID-19 infections, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Wednesday. Veran said the situation in the Dunkirk area was “alarming” and that France would also increase vaccine supplies for the area.
Hungary starts using China’s Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine in EU first
Hungary cannot yet ease its partial coronavirus lockdown as a third wave of infections has boosted new cases and only a small section of the population has received a vaccine so far, the prime minister said. Hungary became the first European Union country on Wednesday to start inoculating people with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, following a similar move with Russia’s Sputnik V shot, which have not been granted regulatory approval in the EU.
NSW, Victoria and Queensland restrict COVID-19 travel from New Zealand in face of Auckland outbreak
Australia's eastern states have imposed fresh restrictions on New Zealand travellers in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak in Auckland. Tasmania, NSW, Victoria and Queensland have limited quarantine-free travel now that at least eight cases have been linked to an Auckland high school. New Zealand authorities say they are confident the outbreak, which prompted a lockdown in New Zealand's biggest city, is under control. NSW Health said it was contacting travellers who arrived from New Zealand since Saturday, and, as a precaution, those people should get tested and isolate until they get a negative result.
Denmark to take 'calculated risk' by easing COVID curbs in March
Denmark plans to allow shops and some schools to reopen in March in a much awaited move that could however send hospital coronavirus admissions soaring in coming months. In what the prime minister has called a “calculated risk”, the government will allow stores under 5,000 square metres to reopen, while outdoor leisure activities can resume with an upper limit of 25 people. Schools in parts of the country will also be allowed to reopen, but will require students to test themselves twice a week.
Greece to continue Athens lockdown as COVID cases rise
Greece will not be able to lift lockdown restrictions in the wider Athens area on March 1 as previously planned, following a sharp increase in coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday. Athens metropolitan area, where half of Greece’s population lives, has been under strict lockdown restrictions that were set to expire on Feb. 28. On Tuesday, authorities reported 2,147 new cases, around half of them in the Attica region around Athens, and 22 deaths
Johnson & Johnson COVID jab safe and effective, US FDA staff find
Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine appeared safe and effective in trials, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in documents published on Wednesday, paving the way for the vaccine’s approval for emergency use later this week. The regulator’s panel of independent experts meets on Friday to decide whether to approve the shot. While it is not bound to follow the advice of its experts, the FDA usually does and has authorised vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
Condemnation as coughing Tanzanian minister gives news conference
Days after President John Mafuguli finally admitted Tanzania has a coronavirus problem, after months of apparent denial and increasing warnings of a resurgence in infections, the sight of the country’s finance minister coughing and gasping during a news conference to defend the state of his health has left many in shock. Finance Minister Philip Mpango, who did not reveal what he was suffering from, spoke to about 10 reporters on Tuesday at a hospital in the capital, Dodoma, after rumours that he had died of COVID-19. A recent spate of deaths attributed to “pneumonia” and “respiratory challenges” has struck both government officials and members of the public.
Moderna sends COVID-19 booster shot for NIH testing as it hikes production targets past 2B doses
Moderna on Wednesday said it's now on track to produce 700 million vaccine doses this year, and it's still aiming for 1 billion at the high end. Last year, the company had said 500 million would be its minimum output this year, and it ratcheted up that minimum to 600 million in January. And for 2022, the biotech is planning for 1.4 billion doses—or perhaps even 2 billion, depending on the dose required for booster shots targeting new variants. The company has shipped a booster candidate to the National Institutes of Health for testing, according to Wednesday's statement; it's targeted specifically at the South Africa variant now worrying public health experts.
Merkel says Germany in third wave of pandemic: sources
Germany is in a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel told lawmakers in her conservative party, two sources at the meeting told Reuters on Tuesday. “We are now in the third wave,” they quoted her as saying and said she warned that any easing of lockdown measures introduced late last year and extended until March 7 would have to be done carefully and gradually. The closure of all non-essential businesses and border controls with Austria and the Czech Republic, where there have been outbreaks linked to a more infectious variant of the virus, have helped Germany bring down new daily COVID-19 infections. But a slow vaccination roll-out and the risk of major outbreaks of fast-spreading variants already identified in Germany could make any easing of restrictions more difficult.
Madrid’s vaccination plan for teachers and over-80s mired in confusion
Healthcare centers in Madrid are facing a frenetic countdown to begin vaccinating 130,000 people aged over 80. This next phase of the ongoing Covid-19 inoculation program is due to start on Thursday, but professionals from the sector who will have to administer the injections did not get any details of the operation until yesterday. The situation was mired in confusion on Monday thanks to contradictory statements made by the regional government, which first stated that the campaign would begin next week before rectifying and setting the start date for tomorrow. Workers from the sector voiced their complaints on Tuesday about the lack of planning.
More than half a million have received coronavirus vaccine in NI
More than half a million people have received a Covid-19 vaccine in Northern Ireland. Those aged over 65 and the clinically vulnerable are among those being booked in for jabs. Health minister Robin Swann said it was a landmark moment. Mr Swann announced on Tuesday the first confirmed cases of the South African variant of Covid-19 in the region. He said three cases of the variant had been confirmed.
Covid-19: Africa vaccine rollout off to a slow start
Africa has now recorded over 100,000 Covid-19 deaths and there is growing concern over delays in rolling out vaccination programmes. Some countries such as South Africa and Zimbabwe have begun vaccination programmes, but many others will have to wait until later in the year for stocks to arrive. The first vaccines distributed under the Covax programme have now arrived in Ghana.
150,000 more people with learning disabilities prioritised for COVID-19 vaccine
Everyone on GP practice learning disability registers - around 300,000 people in England - will now be added to JCVI cohort 6 - the group GP-led vaccination sites are currently focusing on. Cohort 6 covers patients aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions - including patients with 'a severe and profound learning disability' or severe mental illness. Around half of patients on GP learning disability registers fall outside the original definition of cohort 6 - but these patients will now also be offered vaccination as part of this group.
Malaysia rolls out Covid-19 vaccinations under state of emergency
Malaysia is set to roll out its Covid-19 vaccination programme on Wednesday as its prime minister faces accusations of exploiting the pandemic to seek a state of emergency and cling on to power. Malaysia’s king last month declared the nationwide state of emergency, the country’s first since deadly race riots in 1969, at the behest of the government of Muhyiddin Yassin, the prime minister. The monarch said the order, which will run until August, was necessary to fight the pandemic, but it followed the loss of Muhyiddin’s thin parliamentary majority after two members of his coalition defected.
India turns to private sector to boost sluggish Covid-19 vaccine drive
I first arrived in India in the mid-1990s at the tail-end of its socialist-style “Licence Raj”. New Delhi was relaxing control over the country’s economic life, but basic amenities — long the monopoly of the state providers — were still in short supply.
New coronavirus variant identified in New York: researchers
A new coronavirus variant that shares some similarities with a more transmissible and intractable variant discovered in South Africa is on the rise in New York City, researchers said on Wednesday. The new variant, known as B.1.526, was first identified in samples collected in New York in November, and by mid-February represented about 12% of cases, researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, said on Wednesday. The variant was also described in research published online this week by the California Institute of Technology. Neither study has been reviewed by outside experts.
FDA says Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot protects against COVID-19
Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine offers strong protection against severe COVID-19, according to an analysis by U.S. regulators Wednesday that sets the stage for a final decision on a new and easier-to-use shot to help tame the pandemic. The Food and Drug Administration’s scientists confirmed that overall the vaccine is about 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, and about 85% effective against the most serious illness. The agency also said J&J’s shot — one that could help speed vaccinations by requiring just one dose instead of two — is safe to use.
Sanofi and GSK start new study of COVID-19 vaccine
Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have announced the initiation of a new Phase II study with 720 volunteers aged 18 and over to select the most appropriate antigen dosage for Phase III evaluation of their adjuvanted recombinant protein COVID-19 vaccine candidate. If results of the study are positive, the Phase III study will start this year in Q2, with the vaccine expected to be available later in the year in Q4. In parallel to the new Phase II study and recognising the global emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants and their potential impact on vaccine efficacy, Sanofi has commenced development work against new variants which will be used to inform the next stages of the Sanofi/GSK development programme.
In boost for COVID-19 battle, Pfizer vaccine found 94% effective in real world
The first big real-world study of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be independently reviewed shows the shot is highly effective at preventing COVID-19, in a potentially landmark moment for countries desperate to end lockdowns and reopen economies. Up until now, most data on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines has come under controlled conditions in clinical trials, leaving an element of uncertainty over how results would translate into the real world with its unpredictable variables. The research in Israel - two months into one of the world’s fastest rollouts, providing a rich source of data - showed two doses of the Pfizer shot cut symptomatic COVID-19 cases by 94% across all age groups, and severe illnesses by nearly as much. The study of about 1.2 million people also showed a single shot was 57% effective in protecting against symptomatic infections after two weeks, according to the data published and peer-reviewed in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday. The results of the study for the Clalit Research Institute were close to those in clinical trials last year which found two doses were found to be 95% effective.
Moderna developing booster shot for new coronavirus variants, increases vaccine production target
Moderna Inc said on Wednesday it is working with U.S. government scientists to study an experimental booster shot that targets a concerning new variant of the coronavirus, and has raised its global COVID-19 vaccine production goal for this year by 100 million doses. The U.S. biotech company has produced raw material for a booster shot aimed at addressing the virus variant first found in South Africa that may be more resistant to existing vaccines, it said. It has shipped the vaccine to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which helped develop Moderna’s current vaccine, for additional study. Moderna is experimenting with several potential ways to combat new variants of the virus.
Brits could get their Covid vaccine in a PILL in future, Oxford University says
Professor Sarah Gilbert said team were exploring new ways to deliver vaccine Also looking at whether it could be given via a nasal spray, like flu sometimes is It could help alleviate supply issues that have hindered rollouts internationally