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" Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 1st Jun 2021

Isolation Tips
Concerned that returning to work will impact your mental health? Here's how to set boundaries
It’s no surprise that mental health has taken a hit during the Covid pandemic. A December survey from the U.S. Census Bureau found that 42% of U.S. adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, up from 11% in previous years. But there are aspects of pandemic life — working remotely, staying home and opting out of social situations, for instance — that have made life and managing their mental health easier for some. While many are struggling to balance childcare or feeling overwhelmed by isolation, others prefer the flexibility of remote work and telemedicine, and are grateful not to have to participate in social functions.
COVID lockdowns have made young Germans more lonely — report
The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to an increase in loneliness among Germany's young people, according to a study published Sunday in the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. A total of 56% of people aged between 16 and 29 years who took part in a survey reported that they have "frequently" felt lonely since the onset of the pandemic Since March 2020, Germany has implemented far-reaching restrictions on private and public life in a bid to slow the spread of the virus, which have included curfews and forbidding gatherings, although there have been periods where these have been loosened.
Hygiene Helpers
NT introduces 'day 17 test' for COVID to prevent a local repeat of Victoria's coronavirus outbreak
Victoria's coronavirus outbreak — and breaches in hotel quarantine more generally — have spurred a new coronavirus testing measure in the Northern Territory. The new direction will require anyone who returns from overseas, quarantines interstate and then travels soon afterwards to the NT to get a coronavirus test three days after they complete their fortnight of quarantine. Chief Minister Michael Gunner called the direction the "day 17 test" and said it was necessary to protect Territorians against the coronavirus variants that had repeatedly tripped up hotel quarantine regimes interstate.
Free flights, lotteries, cash: Hong Kong’s vaccine incentives
When bar and nightclub owners in Hong Kong met with city officials this month, they expected to hear how the government planned to coax more of the largely resistant population to get vaccinated, with their businesses only allowed to open to inoculated people. Instead, officials turned the tables — asking them what they were going to do to help boost one of the slowest Covid-19 vaccine takeups among global cities. Carrie Lam’s administration is increasingly leaning on local businesses and institutions to help get people vaccinated, as her Beijing-backed government struggles to convince reluctant residents in an atmosphere of mistrust following widespread anti-China protests in 2019. Major companies, restaurants, and even colleges have started offering cash payouts, extra time off, even the chance to win a $1.4 million apartment.
People in Indian variant hotspots 'to get second jabs earlier' as lockdown 'on knife edge'
The NHS is being urged to accelerate the coronavirus vaccine roll out and administer second doses sooner as the rapid spread of the Indian variant threatens the roadmap out of lockdown. Earlier this month, on May 15, the NHS told all staff administering vaccinations the second dose for everyone over 50 should be brought forward, from 12 weeks to eight weeks, but the interval for under 50s would remain at 12 weeks. But some people in their late 40s and early 50s are now being invited for their second jab after just six weeks, the i reports.
U.S. movie theaters remove mask mandate for vaccinated people
Masks are no longer required at the three main movie theater chains in the United States for people who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to updated guidelines on Friday. AMC Entertainment, Cinemark and Regal Cinemas said on their websites that movie goers who are not fully vaccinated will be asked to continue wearing masks, and that other social-distancing measures and cleaning protocols will remain in place.
U.S. agency says employers can mandate COVID-19 vaccination
U.S. companies can mandate that employees in a workplace must be vaccinated against COVID-19, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said on Friday. The EEOC, in a statement posted on its website explaining its updated guidance, said employees can be required to be vaccinated as long as employers comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws.
Covid: Put your masks back on, London borough tells its pupils
Secondary school pupils and teachers in one London borough have been advised to continue to wear face masks after several cases of the Indian Covid variant were detected. Despite a national easing of the rules on face coverings in schools, parents in Bromley have been sent a letter from health chiefs saying that precautions should continue to be taken “until further notice”. A total of 58 cases of the Indian strain have been detected in Bromley, making it the eighth worst affected borough in London, Public Health England said on Thursday. It is not known how many of the 991 cases in London have been detected in schools or among schoolchildren.
Singapore Vaccine Plan: Students, Then Open Season: Balakrishnan
Singapore plans to roll out vaccines to students, followed by everyone else eligible, in what will be a “great acceleration” of vaccinations in the country, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in an interview on CNN. “Our next step is that we’re going to offer vaccination to our school students, the teenagers,” Balakrishnan said, “following which it’ll be open season for everyone in Singapore.” The city-state earlier flagged that almost all of its eligible population could be given at least the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of August.
Same-day SARS-CoV-2 antigen test screening in an indoor mass-gathering live music event: a randomised controlled trial
The banning of mass-gathering indoor events to prevent SARS-CoV-2 spread has had an important effect on local economies. Despite growing evidence on the suitability of antigen-detecting rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDT) for mass screening at the event entry, this strategy has not been assessed under controlled conditions. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of a prevention strategy during a live indoor concert.
A Shot and a Beer: Do Vaccine Incentives Work? – Mother Jones
Free crawfish in New Orleans. Beers on the house in New Jersey. Million-dollar lottery jackpots in Ohio. A week of complimentary subway rides in New York City—no turnstile-jumping required. As COVID vaccination rates slow, cities and states are coming up with creative incentives to get hesitant residents vaccinated. But do these incentives actually work? The answer depends on which populations the programs are targeting. Take New Jersey, whose governor’s office teamed up with the state Department of Health and various local breweries to offer a free beer to each resident who gets an initial vaccine dose during the month of May. Dan Bryan, a communications advisor for Gov. Phil Murphy, said this program, part of a reopening plan called Operation Jersey Summer, was aimed at young people who weren’t opposed to the vaccine but simply hadn’t gotten around to getting it yet.
Community Activities
Antivaccine activists use a government database on side effects to scare the public
On 5 May, Fox News host Tucker Carlson delivered a 10-minute monologue casting doubt on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines on his show, Tucker Carlson Tonight. He announced that almost 4000 people had died after getting COVID-19 vaccines, and added that those data “comes from VAERS,”—the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a U.S. government program that collects reports of side effects possibly caused by vaccines. It was a misleading statement. The reporting of a death to VAERS indicates nothing about what caused it, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) subsequent investigations have found no indication that deaths were caused by COVID-19 vaccines, save in a small subset with an extremely rare clotting disorder linked to one vaccine. But the TV segment pulled VAERS, a 31-year-old early warning system widely relied on by scientists, even deeper into the culture wars over vaccination. After the broadcast, a new phalanx of antivaccine activists began plumbing VAERS for data to scare the public about vaccination, says Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, a left-leaning nonprofit that is monitoring anti–COVID-19 vaccine activity on social media. “We have been tracking these attacks since February and this one resonated in a different way after Tucker hit it,” Carusone says.
Florida rock concert tickets are $18 if you're vaccinated – $1,000 if you're not
Fans looking to see punk bands Teenage Bottlerocket, MakeWar and Rutterkin in St. Petersburg, Fla., on June 26 will have to spend just $18 to get in if they’re vaccinated — while unvaccinated attendees will be charged $999.99 per ticket. “To be eligible for the DISCOUNT, you will need to bring a government issued photo ID and your PHYSICAL COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card,” the website where tickets can be purchased states. “We’re just trying to do a show safely. And they should go out and get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families and their community,” promoter Paul Williams told WFTS.
Hong Kong tycoons offer $1 million flat to boost Covid jabs
Hong Kongers reluctant to get the coronavirus jab have been given a million-dollar reason to roll up their sleeves after property tycoons donated a brand new flat to a vaccine lottery. Worth HK$10.8 million (US$1.4 million), the one-bedroom apartment will be the lucky draw's grand prize, the property developers announced Friday. They will also offer 20 other prizes worth HK$100,000 each. Hong Kong is one of the few places in the world to have secured more than enough doses to inoculate all 7.5 million people. But rampant distrust of the government combined with a lack of urgency in a comparatively virus-free city -- has led to hesitancy and a dismally lagging inoculation drive.
Brazilians stage nationwide protests against President Bolsonaro's COVID response
Brazilians staged protests against President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in at least 16 cities across the country on Saturday, carrying signs such as "Out with Bolsonaro" and "Impeachment now." Bolsonaro's popularity has plummeted during the coronavirus crisis, which has killed more than 460,000 Brazilians as the far-right leader played down its severity, dismissed mask wearing and cast doubt on the importance of vaccines.
The COVID evictions ban is ending – and renters face an uncertain future
In less than a week, the COVID evictions ban in England will end, opening the doors to bailiff enforcement and setting the stage for a likely surge in court action by landlords seeking to oust their tenants. Many of these evictions will be under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 – so-called ‘no fault’ evictions – despite the fact the government first committed to abolishing Section 21 evictions more than two years ago. Then-housing secretary James Brokenshire announced the plans would stop private landlords from simply evicting tenants at the end of a fixed-term tenancy contract ‘without good reason’, effectively creating open-ended tenancies, in the words of the government.
No COVID-19 cases found after well-controlled indoor concert
No attendees at an indoor concert that employed rapid COVID-19 lateral-flow screening, N95 respirators, and a well-ventilated venue tested positive for COVID-19 in the next 8 days, showing no increased virus transmission risk associated with the event, according to preliminary findings from a randomized, controlled trial published yesterday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Working Remotely
Work is where your laptop is: meet the globetrotting digital nomads
The global shift to flexible working triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic means more people are considering ditching their long-term homes to flit around the world, working from their laptops, tablets or smartphones. Last week, a report from Airbnb entitled Travel & Living showed that 11% of the company’s long-term stay bookers in 2021 have reported living a nomadic lifestyle, and 5% plan to give up their main homes. Delia Colantuono, a 31-year-old freelance translator from Rome, became a digital nomad five years ago when it was not a “big thing”. She has now lived on all five continents and says the nomadic lifestyle is “not just for rich people – it’s for anyone who can work remotely and wants to do it”.
Working remotely helped FDA's CDER shape a new and improved workforce, director says. What now?
One surprising consequence of the coronavirus pandemic and its work-from-home zeitgeist? Biopharma companies have been compelled to rethink and perhaps even improve how they operate their businesses. And the same appears to be true at the FDA. The FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research had a net gain of more than 100 employees in 2020 and is tracking to reach that number again this year. The two banner years of recruiting and retention follow a 2019 when CDER had a net gain of just 20 employees. The difference, according to CDER director Patrizia Cavazzoni? The pandemic. “We think that the greater flexibility with working remotely, not having people all have to move to Silver Spring [Maryland], has made a difference not only in our ability to hire talent, but also to retain talent,” Cavazzoni said
Remote Work Evolves Into Hybrid Work And Productivity Rises, The Data Shows
The data now confirms it: the work-from-anywhere/work-from-home model works, and has passed its most crucial test ever, bringing organizations through the Covid crisis and now a key productivity strategy for the workplace of the 2020s. In a recent report out of Accenture, 83% of 9,326 workers surveyed say they prefer a hybrid model — in which they can work remotely at least 25% of the time. Tellingly, organizations that enable a resilient workforce to be more productive and healthier anywhere are also reaping financial benefits, the study shows. A majority of high-revenue-growth companies, 63%, have already enabled productivity anywhere workforce models, where employees have the option of working remotely or on-site. While the vast majority (69%) of negative or no-growth companies are still focused on where people are going to physically work, favoring all on-site or remote rather than enabling hybrid.
Virtual Classrooms
Calls for virtual tutors to become part of national strategy to combat learning loss during lockdown
Virtual tutors should be funded to help children catch up with learning lost during the pandemic, a leading provider has said. Most children across the UK will have missed more than half a year of normal, in-person schooling, thanks to the pandemic, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Government funding to stem the gap should be used for virtual tutors which are cost-effective and can provide help on the mass scale needed, said Whizz Education, provider of virtual tutor Maths-Whizz.
We had a year to experiment with online learning. What did we learn?
Before schools nationwide moved millions of students from classroom seats to screens, educators at Highline Public Schools in South King County wanted to expand online learning. Back then, Highline saw an opportunity: Online education might be good for students who want more flexibility and independence than a traditional classroom setting. Now, more than a year after districts nationwide Frankensteined their way through remote instruction, Highline sees even more reason to make good on its initial plan. The district’s first full-time virtual school, Highline Virtual Academy, is scheduled to open this fall as an all-remote option for middle and high schoolers who want to spend traditional school hours working or helping support family at home, or who might need more frequent midday breaks from classes. District leaders promise the school has been better researched and planned than the pandemic-era model they threw together.
Is remote learning here to stay? Many, but not all, Colorado schools will offer online classes this fall.
Thanks to online programs and open enrollment policies, remote learning won’t entirely disappear from Colorado schools next year or even once cohorting and social distancing have become practices of the past. District leaders, educators and state officials anticipate that many schools will continue to offer a remote learning option to students, some of whom have thrived in an online school environment. Educators point to a variety of reasons to keep remote options alive long past the pandemic. Some students are simply more successful learning through digital platforms. Others, shouldering family responsibilities to care for siblings or working a job, benefit from the flexibility that online schooling offers. And some have family members with health conditions that put them at a greater risk for diseases like COVID-19, so they feel safer at home.
Public Policies
Covid-19 variants to be given Greek alphabet names to avoid stigma
Coronavirus variants are to be named after letters of the Greek alphabet instead of their place of first discovery, the World Health Organization has announced, in a move to avoid stigma. The WHO has named four variants of concern, known to the public as the UK/Kent (B.1.1.7), South Africa (B.1.351), Brazil (P.1) and India (B.1.617.2) variants. They will now be given the letters Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta respectively, to reflect their order of detection, with any new variants following the pattern down the Greek alphabet. The decision to go for this naming system came after months of deliberations with experts considering a range of other possibilities such as Greek Gods, according to bacteriologist Mark Pallen who was involved in the talks.
In rich countries, vaccines are making Covid-19 a manageable health issue
So when will the pandemic be over? Covid-19 won’t end with a bang or a parade. Throughout history, pandemics have ended when the disease ceases to dominate daily life and retreats into the background like other health challenges. Barring a horrific new variant, rich countries such as Britain and the US may be within months, if not weeks, of what their citizens will see as the end of the pandemic. This isn’t the case in poorer countries in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia. For countries that can’t afford vaccines, technology or treatments for Covid-19, populations will remain trapped by outbreaks that cause chaos in hospitals and kill health workers and vulnerable and elderly people. It’s now incumbent on richer countries that are emerging from the pandemic to turn their attention to poorer nations and ensure they have the resources they urgently require
WHO's Tedros says "time has come" for pandemic treaty
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) called on Monday for speedily launching global negotiations to agree on an international treaty on pandemic preparedness and response. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, also told a closing session of its annual week-long ministerial assembly that the U.N. agency required sustainable and flexible funding. “The one recommendation I believe will do the most to strengthen WHO and global health security is the recommendation of a treaty on pandemic preparedness and response which could also strengthen relations between member states and foster cooperation. This is an idea whose time has come,” Tedros said.
Vietnam Suspends Some International Flights After Discovering ‘Very Dangerous’ Coronavirus Variant Combining India And U.K. Strains
Vietnam will suspend international flights into its capital city Hanoi this week and tighten restrictions in the city amid a new surge of Covid-19 cases, the government announced Monday, as the country—which has had among the lowest Covid-19 case numbers in the world—faces a new coronavirus variant mixing those first detected in India and the United Kingdom.
Chinese city locks down an area amid virus surge
The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou shut down a neighborhood and ordered its residents to stay home on Saturday for door-to-door coronavirus testing following an upsurge in infections that has rattled authorities. Guangzhou, a business and industrial centre of 15 million people north of Hong Hong, has reported 20 new infections over the past week. The number is small compared with India’s thousands of daily cases but alarmed Chinese authorities who believed they had the disease under control.
Ministers knew about the Indian variant on April 1. The public was told on April 15
The discovery of the Indian variant in Britain was not announced to the public by ministers for a fortnight while thousands of potentially infected people were allowed to enter the country. Ministers were given the news of the variant’s arrival on April 1 but no official statement was made until April 15. India was not placed on the red list banning travellers from the country for another eight days. By contrast, last December a travel ban was imposed on South Africa within two days after it was discovered that the strain from that country had entered Britain.
We faced an unprecedented crisis, but tens of thousands of second wave Covid deaths were avoidable – and unforgivable
Behind the allegations and the noise this week are some simple truths. We have the worst coronavirus death toll in Europe. And over two thirds of deaths were in the second wave. That’s not hearsay. It’s not opinion. It’s fact. Behind all the political drama is one more fact. The most important of all. That 128,000 families are grieving, now wondering whether their loved ones died needlessly. The human cost of this pandemic has been appalling. We all know someone who has been touched by it. Yet despite this, the British people have shown the most extraordinary courage and national spirit.
Macron says it is in Europe's interest to provide Africa with COVID-19 vaccines
Shipping COVID-19 vaccines to Africa is not just a moral duty but it is also in Europe and the world's interest in order to prevent the resurgence of new virus variants, French President Emmanuel Macron said in Rwanda. Macron said France was on track to deliver 30 million COVID-19 vaccination doses to Africa by year-end, that Germany would also deliver 30 million doses and that collectively the European Union would deliver more than 100 million doses to Africa this year.
One-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine approved for use in UK - with 20million on order
A single-shot coronavirus vaccine from pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has been approved for use in the UK, with the first delivers expected later this year. Britain has ordered 20 million doses of the Janssen vaccine, which health officials previously said could be used for hard-to-reach groups of people. The Janssen jab has been shown to be 67 per cent effective overall at preventing moderate to severe Covid-19. with studies suggesting the vaccine also offers complete protection from admission to hospital and death. The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the safety of the jab, giving Britain four vaccines that have been approved for use under the biggest vaccination programme in UK history.
Australian City Enters Its Fourth Lockdown as Virus Returns
Melbourne, the Australian city that’s already endured one of the world’s longest and most stringent lockdowns, is ordering residents to stay home for the fourth time since the pandemic began as the return of infections tests the country’s zero-tolerance approach to the virus. The city of 5 million people, along with all other areas of Victoria state, will go into lockdown from midnight for seven days, acting Premier James Merlino told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday. The number of cases within the community had doubled in the past day to 26, he said.
Health Canada extends shelf life of some AstraZeneca COVID-19 shots
Canada’s health regulator said Saturday it has extended the expiry dates of two lots of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine by 30 days to ensure that provinces and territories are able to use up their existing inventory. The approval to extend the shelf life of the vaccines to July 1 from May 31 was supported by scientific evidence, Health Canada said in a statement.
Pfizer-BioNTech Covid Shot Cleared for Children in Europe
European regulators cleared Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, preparing the way for mass inoculations of younger teenagers across the continent. The green light from the European Medicines Agency gives Europe, whose immunization campaign was initially fraught with difficulties, the first vaccine in its arsenal for younger adolescents. The shot was already cleared for people as young as 16. “It’s an important step in the fight against the pandemic,” Marco Caveleri, the regulator’s head of biological health threats and vaccines strategy, said on Friday.
Japan extends emergency Covid rules less than two months before Olympics
Japan has extended emergency coronavirus measures in Tokyo and several other regions as the country struggles to rein in the latest wave of infections less than two months before the Olympics. The state of emergency – the third in the capital since the start of the pandemic – was called in late April and due to end on 11 May but was extended until the end of this month, as restrictions on businesses failed to make a dent in infections. The latest extension is scheduled to end on 20 June, little over a month before the Olympics are due to begin. The number of infections have fallen in Tokyo in recent days, but the daily caseload is still too high to justify an end to the measures, according to medical experts, while hospitals are contending with a record number of critically ill patients.
Maintaining Services
CDC approves first cruise ship to sail with paying passengers in June
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday gave the green light to a Celebrity Cruises ship to be the first to sail with paying passengers next month. Starting on June 26, the Celebrity Edge will embark on the first revenue cruise since the COVID-19 pandemic first crippled the cruise industry in March 2020. The seven-night trip will launch from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and be led by Cpt. Kate McCue, who was the first American female captain, the company announced. The Celebrity Edge will have a fully vaccinated crew and require U.S. guests aged 16 and older to be fully vaccinated. In August, the ship will extend that requirement to U.S. guests aged 12 and older.
COVID-19: Hundreds head to London's Chinatown as vaccine bus offers appointment-free jabs
Hundreds of people headed to London's Chinatown on Thursday after an advert promised a COVID-19 vaccination without an appointment and with no ID checks. Footage showed crowds of people gathered after an official advert posted on the Chinese Information and Advice Centre website said jabs would be offered on a "vaccine bus". Similar strategies are being used around the UK in areas where take-up has been low.
Healthcare Innovations
India COVID-19 variant exhibits resistance; antibody drug shows promise
Antibody drugs and COVID-19 vaccines are less effective against a coronavirus variant that was first detected in India, according to researchers. The variant, known as B.1.617.2, has mutations that make it more transmissible. It is now predominant in some parts of India and has spread to many other countries. A multicenter team of scientists in France studied a B.1.617.2 variant isolated from a traveler returning from India. Compared to the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in Britain, the India variant was more resistant to antibody drugs, although three currently approved drugs still remained effective against it, they found. Antibodies in blood from unvaccinated COVID-19 survivors and from people who received both doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine were 3-fold to 6-fold less potent against the India variant than against the UK variant and a variant first identified in South Africa, according to a report posted on Thursday on the website bioRxiv ahead of peer review
UK now a risk to rest of Europe due to spread of Indian variant, scientists warn
The growing prevalence of the Indian coronavirus variant means the UK is now a risk to the rest of Europe and beyond, scientists have warned. France has already tightened its restrictions on British tourists due to the spread of the variant, announcing that anyone arriving from the UK must quarantine for seven days. A similar policy has been adopted in Germany, where, since 23 May, travellers from Britain have been banned from entering the country after the UK was designated a “virus variant area of concern” by the German public health institute.
Delhi declares Covid-linked black fungus an epidemic as 150 cases added in a day
Delhi has joined the growing list of states in India to declare an epidemic of the deadly and permanently disfiguring Covid-linked “black fungus”, as the speed with which cases are growing in the capital threatening a “dangerous outbreak” of the disease. With 153 cases of the rare fungal infection mucormycosis reported in a single day, the Delhi government said it was invoking the Epidemic Diseases Act making it mandatory for the next year for healthcare facilities to report each case of infection.
German scientists claim they have figured out why some Covid vaccines cause blood clots
Germans scientists say they have figured out why the Covid vaccines from. AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are linked to rare blood clots. In a new pre-print, the team says the problem is with the adenovirus vector, a common cold virus used to get the body to induce an immune response. They claim the vaccine is sent into the cell nucleus instead of surrounding fluid, where parts of it break off and create mutated versions of themselves. The mutated versions then enter the body and trigger the rare blood clots. Scientists say they can genetically adapt the vaccine to prevent the virus's spike proteins, which it uses to enter cells, from splitting apart
Sanofi, GSK launch Phase III trial for their COVID-19 shot
France's Sanofi (SASY.PA) and Britain's GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) on Thursday launched a late-stage human trial for their recombinant COVID-19 vaccine candidate that they hope to get approved by the end of this year.
Vir, GSK win US nod for another COVID-19 antibody drug as rival falters
The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday cleared a COVID-19 antibody treatment from Vir Biotechnology and partner GlaxoSmithKline for emergency use, making the drug, known as sotrovimab, the third of its kind available in the U.S. As with similar treatments from Eli Lilly and Regeneron, the agency authorized Vir and GSK's drug for people who have mild-to-moderate symptoms of COVID-19, but are at high risk of worse outcomes due to age or underlying medical conditions. The drug reduced the risk of hospitalization or death in such patients by 85% in a Phase 3 trial that produced results in March. Vir's approval comes as coronavirus infections have receded in the U.S. amid a mass vaccination campaign, which could curtail demand for the drug. But the antibody might still prove useful, as lab tests have indicated sotrovimab retains its potency against virus variants that appear to erode the strength of some vaccines and antibodies.