"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 17th Mar 2021
Can Nextdoor Cure Loneliness?
Loneliness and other pandemic-related factors have catalyzed a mental health crisis across the U.S., contributing to depression and substance abuse. As we do everything the CDC advises to keep our bodies safe, we must remember to protect our mental health as well. This includes combatting loneliness, an underlying issue that could have devastating consequences. Nextdoor is trying to do just that, and its growing popularity is a testament its urgent relevance. The hyper-local social networking app connects people in the same community (common conversation themes include lost cats and restaurant recommendations) and saw massive growth as everyone sequestered in their homes and maybe for the first time realized that... yes, they have neighbors. The platform became a hub for community news and local entertainment during the pandemic, a virtual way to feel intimate connection with those down the block.
Skin rashes are the ONLY symptoms for one in five Covid-19 patients
21% of people who have Covid develop a rash as their only symptom of infection 17% get a rash first and then get other symptoms later on as disease progresses Rashes show as hives, bumps or swelling and occur across the whole body
Student volunteers team up with council to fight loneliness in York
York students are helping to combat loneliness in the city in a pioneering new initiative. YUSU Nightsafe has teamed up with City of York Council for a project called Door Natters, to help combat isolation during the Covid-19 Pandemic. From the University of York Students’ Union, Nightsafe normally sees volunteers help their fellow students during on nights out. Door Natters sees Nightsafe volunteers pop postcards through people’s doors across York, explaining the scheme. The volunteers then return to look out for postcards placed in windows, telling them if the person living there is vulnerable or lonely and would like a casual chat with a volunteer.
Aston Villa's Neil Taylor encourages BAME community to get coronavirus vaccine
Neil Taylor is urging BAME communities to ignore misinformation about the Covid vaccination program. Speaking in support of a campaign run by the British Red Cross to combat mistrust, the Aston Villa full back, who is of mixed Welsh and Indian descent, said he understood concerns but that the skepticism does not make sense. “We are the ones most at risk, ethnic minorities are more likely to die from this virus than anyone else so for us to be skeptical does not add up. We were all thinking; how on earth have they come up with a vaccine so quickly but it has become clear now it is working. It’s the right thing to do.”
COVID-19: Facebook to label all posts about vaccines with WHO information
Facebook will add labels to all posts about COVID-19 vaccines to show additional information from the World Health Organisation. The move comes amid concerns that misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines may be driving hesitancy in people receiving the jab, potentially putting themselves at risk and prolonging the coronavirus pandemic. In an announcement on Monday, the social media giant said it was working closely with the NHS and global health authorities "to deliver important public health messages quickly, helping people access credible information and get vaccinated."
Raising the curtain again: London theatres prepare to re-open a year on
In an empty London theatre, producer Nica Burns sits among the once buzzing stalls hoping audiences will soon be back for good to watch live performances. A year ago, Burns shut the doors to her six theatres, where shows like “Harry Potter And The Cursed Child” and “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” played to crowds in London’s West End, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. Twelve months on, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown for England, she is cautiously preparing to re-open them from mid-May.
Work from home: Here's what remote workers should consider before relocating
Where we work usually plays a major role in where we live. That could mean choosing a house near public transportation or packing up to another state because it’s a hotbed for hiring in your field. But COVID-19 lockdowns have transformed the way we think about work and living. A third of Americans are now working remotely full time, according to a Gallup poll. Compare that to five years ago when just 5% of Americans worked remotely full-time. Maybe you’re considering making a move out of state now that you aren't tethered from a physical office space. Perhaps that’s because you want to save money, live closer to family, or move into a bigger space. Whatever the reason, here are some of the factors you should consider before relocating to another state
5 ways remote work is changing the economy for the better
More than two-thirds of professionals were working remotely during the peak of the pandemic, according to a new report by work marketplace Upwork, and over the next five years, 20% to 25% of professionals will likely be working remotely. Remote working has caused employees to rethink and better accommodate their priorities in life and employers to rethink operations regarding how they can best work with professionals and create teams, the report stated. But it also hasn't been without some downsides, such as blurring the lines between work-life balance and causing increased stress.
Families of students with disabilities face new challenges in the era of distance learning
This past year has brought massive change for Oregon and Washington students. For students with both intellectual and developmental disabilities, learning at home brings added difficulties for families, as they’re forced to recreate school environments at home, with unfamiliar tools and without receiving services they’re accustomed to. And as schools are ramping up in-person instruction for students, families are concerned that some children have fallen behind and may not get the support to catch back up. OPB stayed in touch with a few families through the difficulties of the last year to learn more about their recent school experience and the decisions they’ll make going forward.
The teens who clean homes during Zoom classes: juggling work and school in the pandemic
In the U.S., for many teens, a year of the coronavirus has meant not only the loss of in-person learning and time with friends, but added shifts at convenience stores and retail shops to help keep their families afloat during the recession. As kids adapt, many of their teachers and schools are improvising as well, extending deadlines and creating new ways to stay in touch. The huge workload is leaving many students stressed out, and some teachers worry they’re in danger of becoming a statistic: the estimated one out of 20 teens who drop out of high school each year, according to federal data. Jay Novelo, a dean at Tyee high school, near Seattle, was hired to handle student discipline. But with schools closed, his main job is keeping tabs on students and encouraging them to not give up on school.
Psychologist Says Virtual Learning Has Left Many Kids Anixous, Overwhelmed
A year into the coronavirus pandemic, doctors say they are seeing an increase in students who are struggling with mental health. Dr. Erica Lee is a psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Kids aren’t really sure how to adapt to remote learning. They can’t pay attention,” she said. “We are seeing a lot of frustration, anxiety, and overwhelmed kids.” Since the pandemic began, the need for mental, behavioral health services has skyrocketed, Lee said, and parents should look for warning signs and some cases seek help.
China approves another COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use
China has approved a new COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, one that was developed by the head of its Center for Disease Control, adding a fifth shot to its arsenal. Gao Fu, the head of China's CDC, led the development of a protein subunit vaccine that was approved by regulators last week for emergency use, the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Microbiology said. It is the fifth coronavirus vaccine approved in China and the fourth to be given emergency use approval. The latest vaccine was developed jointly by Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Belgium will continue using AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, task force says
AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, of which other countries have temporarily halted the use due to health risks, will still be administered in Belgium, the Vaccination Task Force confirmed. Earlier in the afternoon, the Superior Health Council had made this decision, based on scientific advice from European and Belgian experts, with which the interministerial conference on public health later agreed. “It would be irresponsible to suspend vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine right now,” said Minister of Public Health, Frank Vandenbroucke.
Canada changes tack, recommends use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in people over 65
Canada’s vaccine advisory panel on Tuesday backed the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 65 and older after initially recommending against it, saying that three recent real-world studies showed the shot to be safe and effective for older adults. Canada has not followed several European countries that suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after reports of serious blood clots following vaccination. A Health Canada official said clots look to be less common, not more common, among people who have been vaccinated.
Boris Johnson faces explosive claims of Covid-19 complacency which led to 'more deaths'
The Prime Minister reportedly suggested the best way to deal with Coronavirus would be to "ignore it" - and there was allegedly talk of encouraging "chicken pox parties" in order to let the virus burn through healthy Brits, creating "herd immunity"
Venezuela won’t authorise AstraZeneca vaccine due to safety fears
Venezuela has announced that it will not authorise AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after several European countries suspended their rollouts of the jab due to possible side effects. “Venezuela will not authorise the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the process of immunising our population due to complications” in vaccinated patients, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said on public television on Monday. Venezuela – which began its coronavirus vaccination campaign in February with Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinopharm jabs – had reserved between 1.4 and 2.4 million AstraZeneca doses through the COVAX plan
Thai PM gets AstraZeneca jab, 1 Asian country suspends
Thailand’s prime minister received a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca on Tuesday, as much of Asia shrugged off concerns about reports of blood clots in some recipients in Europe, saying that so far there is no evidence to link the two. Many countries using the vaccine also said the benefits from inoculation far outweighed possible risks, even as parts of Europe suspended it pending investigation of potential side effects. AstraZeneca has developed a manufacturing base in Asia, and the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, has been contracted by the company to produce a billion doses of the vaccine for developing nations. Hundreds of millions more are to be manufactured this year in Australia, Japan, Thailand and South Korea.
NHS staff who refuse Covid vaccine could be redeployed away from ‘exposure-prone’ settings
NHS hospitals in England could redeploy staff who refuse to get a coronavirus vaccine away from “exposure prone” settings, a new document suggests. The document published by NHS England on Friday, first reported by the Health Service Journal (HSJ), sets out how employers can ensure staff who have declined vaccination are safe at work. It explains that where staff have refused vaccination, effort should be taken to ensure they have the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and that they have had a mask fitting.
Further Covid-19 positives in GB team highlight concerns over Olympic travel
The Great Britain athletics team has been hit by nine positive Covid-19 tests, a week after being forced to isolate on their return from the European Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland because a staff member contracted the virus. With more athletes and staff due to be tested today, the situation is causing deep concern among the country’s athletics stars about the potential risks involved in travelling as a team to Tokyo this summer for the Olympic Games. With athletes due to be regularly tested upon arrival at the Olympic Village, another such outbreak could deny athletes the opportunity to compete.
Over-50s set to get call-up for Covid-19 vaccine as supply surge means half of adults will soon be jabbed
All remaining over-50s are set to be offered a Covid-19 vaccine in the coming days with a surge in supply meaning half of all adults will have had a jab by the end of the week. The number of doses being administered across the UK has begun to accelerate rapidly with as many as five million jabs likely to be given out this week – more than twice the rate seen in March so far. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We are expecting that, taking first and second doses together, there will be around 400,000 vaccinations done over the course of this week.” If the other nations of the UK accelerate their own programmes in line with Scotland’s, nearly five million jabs will be given out this week – taking the country past the symbolic milestone of giving a dose to half all those aged 18 or older.
Schools weighing whether to seat students closer together
New evidence that it may be safe for schools to seat students 3 feet apart — half of the previous recommended distance — could offer a way to return more of the nation’s children to classrooms with limited space. Even as more teachers receive vaccinations against COVID-19, social distancing guidelines have remained a major hurdle for districts across the U.S. Debate around the issue flared last week when a study suggested that masked students can be seated as close as 3 feet apart with no increased risk to them or teachers. Published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the research looked at schools in Massachusetts, which has backed the 3-foot guideline for months. Illinois and Indiana are also allowing 3 feet of distance, and other states such as Oregon are considering doing the same. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now exploring the idea too.
Canada lags in vaccinations but expects to catch up quickly
Canada once was hailed as a success story in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, faring much better than the United States in deaths and infections because of how it approached lockdowns. But the trade-dependent nation has lagged on vaccinating its population because it lacks the ability to manufacture the vaccine and has had to rely on the global supply chain for the lifesaving shots, like many other countries. With no domestic supply, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government bet on seven different vaccines manufactured elsewhere and secured advance purchase agreements. Regulators have approved the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. While acquiring them has proven difficult, that gamble appears to be about to pay off.
Emergent, amid gung-ho COVID-19 production push, eyes upgrade to Canadian vaccine plant: report
Emergent BioSolutions quickly positioned itself as one of the manufacturers to beat in the U.S. fight against COVID-19. Now, the company's laying out plans to upgrade a vaccine facility in Winnipeg—with the help of the Canadian government. Emergent is in talks with Ottawa to fund an expansion of that plant, The Globe and Mail reports. The facility, which employs around 350, is equipped to handle the final manufacturing stages for mRNA, mammalian and microbial drugs—including mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines like those sold by Pfizer and Moderna. The CDMO's Winnipeg plant performs product formulation and fill-finish services, though it doesn't produce drug substance, the news outlet said. Emergent has already pledged current formulation and fill-finish capacity at the plant to local drugmaker Providence Therapeutics, plugging away on an mRNA-based vaccine.
AstraZeneca vaccine doesn't prevent B1351 COVID in early trial
Two doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine were ineffective against mild-to-moderate infections with the B1351 variant first identified in South Africa, according to a phase 1b-2 clinical trial published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. The double-blind multicenter study, led by scientists at the South African Medical Research Council Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit, studied the safety and the efficacy of the AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine in HIV-negative adults aged 18 to 64 who received either two standard doses of the vaccine or a placebo in a 1:1 ratio 21 to 35 days apart from Jun 24 to Nov 9, 2020. Median follow-up after the second dose was 121 days.
GlaxoSmithKline starts phase III coronavirus vaccine trial with Medicago
GlaxoSmithKline PLC (LON:GSK) has started Phase 3 clinical testing of a plant-derived COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by Canadian partner Medicago. Takashi Nagao, Medicago’s chief executive, said: "This brings us one step closer to delivering an important new COVID-19 vaccine and contributing to the global fight against the pandemic along with our partner GSK.” Canada-based Medicago said its candidate uses Coronavirus-Like-Particle (CoVLP) technology co-administered with GSK's pandemic adjuvant. Two doses of 3.75μg of CoVLP are administered 21 days apart.
AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine’s Benefits Outweigh Risks, Says EU
The European Union’s top drug regulator said it is still firmly convinced that the benefits of AstraZeneca PLC’s Covid-19 vaccine outweigh the risks, after a string of nations in the bloc temporarily halted use of the shot over blood-clot concerns. The European Medicines Agency so far sees no indication that the vaccine caused a small number of blood-clotting incidents reported across the region, Executive Director Emer Cooke said in a briefing Tuesday. The regulator is currently reviewing those incidents to determine whether they represent a broader risk. Ms. Cooke said the results of the review would be presented Thursday.
mRNA vaccines spur lymph nodes for longer-term protection; COVID-19 test accuracy may vary by time of day
Along with inducing antibodies for immediate defense, mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 also stimulate the lymph nodes to generate immune cells that provide protection over the long term, a new study confirms. The early wave of antibodies are generated by B cells called plasmablasts. In healthy volunteers, blood tests showed that two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine induced "a strong plasmablast response," said coauthor Ali Ellebedy of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The immune cells that will produce antibodies upon exposure to the virus in years to come - called memory B cells - are generated by germinal center B cells found only in lymph nodes near vaccine injection sites, his team explained in a paper currently undergoing peer review for possible publication in a Nature journal.
North-east researchers develop 'highly accurate' Covid-19 antibody test
Scientists at the university collaborated with NHS Grampian and the firm Vertebrate Antibodies Ltd to develop the prototype. They describe the new test as “highly accurate, affordable, suitable for mass rollout” – while it also does not require specialised laboratories. Covid-19 antibody – sometimes called serology – tests confirm whether a person has previously had coronavirus. They can be used to manage the pandemic by monitoring how many people have had the virus and how it is spreading. The tests can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of vaccines, population immunity and the impact of new strains of the disease.
Moderna Starts Covid-19 Vaccine Trial In Kids Younger Than 12 Years Old
Biotech company Moderna announced today that it has given the first doses of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine to young children as part of a new study to test how effective the vaccine is in kids.
FDA orders COVID antibody makers Regeneron, Eli Lilly to track virus variants
Emerging coronavirus variants could pose threats to existing monoclonal antibodies and vaccines, and the FDA’s taken note, revising its emergency use authorizations to Eli Lilly’s and Regeneron’s drugs. In edited letters of authorization re-issued in late February and early March, the FDA’s asking the two companies to monitor new variants of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus behind COVID-19 and potentially conduct additional tests of their authorized antibody drugs against variants. The update came as evidence points to increased resistance of emerging coronavirus variants, especially the B.1.351 version first identified in South Africa, to antibody therapies. The letters, first reported by Endpoints, were for existing EUAs for Lilly’s bamlanivimab (PDF) and its combo (PDF) with etesevimab, and Regeneron’s cocktail (PDF) of casirivimab and imdevimab, in mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients with high risk of disease progression in the outpatient setting.
Long Covid more common in women and children and lasts for months, warns latest review
Lasting effects of infection from coronavirus are more common in women and children than expected, with at least 10 per cent of people infected suffering persistent symptoms for months, a new review has found. Experts at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) examined more than 300 separate scientific studies for the analysis. It found many patients reported struggling to access testing and help from the NHS to treat their symptoms, which varied between patients, suggesting long Covid is a group of four possible syndromes affecting patients differently. The report said: “Long Covid appears to be more frequent in women and in young people (including children) than might have been expected,” adding other sufferers could be experiencing an active disease, impacting on their organs and causing debilitating symptoms that would need ongoing treatment. In some patients, the effects included neurological changes in their brains while others showed signs of blood clotting and inflammation. Other patients reported anxiety, fatigue and damage to their lungs and heart.