|

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 12th Aug 2021

Isolation Tips
Covid: Self isolation for double-jabbed close contacts to end on 16 August in England
Self-isolation for fully vaccinated people who come into contact with a person who tests positive for Covid will end on August 16, the Government has announced. Double-jabbed people contacted by NHS Test and Trace currently have to self-isolate for 10 days if they come into contact with someone who has the virus. But the government have been keen to alter the rules after vast amounts of people have been “pinged” by the app in recent weeks, causing businesses to complain that staff were unable to return to work. Health secretary Sajid Javid has now said if fully vaccinated people are contacted by NHS Test and Trace do not have to self-isolate are instead advised to get a PCR test from August 16 onwards.
What Covid rules mean for shared accommodation — and how to survive self-isolation
More than a year into the pandemic, almost every student in the UK has either experienced self-isolation or knows somebody who has. With a large portion of young people still unvaccinated by the end of the 2020/2021 academic year, students were especially vulnerable to infection. In recent weeks, horror stories about students charged for living in rented households past their lease because they were required to isolate there have made headlines as cases sharply rose throughout campuses with the lifting of restrictions.
Hygiene Helpers
COVID cases could have been prevented by better ventilation, says leading aerosol scientist
Schools, shopping centres and restaurants have become the epicentres of Victoria’s dangerous Delta clusters, but a respected aerosol scientist says some of this spread could have been prevented with improved ventilation of classrooms and public venues. As Melbourne’s sixth lockdown looks set to be extended beyond Thursday, Distinguished Professor Lidia Morawska said carbon dioxide monitors should join QR codes and masks as standard measures used by business to help stop or reduce the severity of COVID-19 outbreaks.
Health experts demand global vaccination campaign to end pandemic
More than 175 public health experts, scientists and activists on Tuesday demanded that President Biden take urgent steps to confront the global spread of the coronavirus, warning that without immediate action to inoculate the rest of the world, newer variants are likely to emerge — including ones that may evade vaccines’ protection. “We urge you to act now,” the experts wrote in a joint letter to senior White House officials Tuesday and shared with The Washington Post. “Announcing within the next 30 days an ambitious global vaccine manufacturing program is the only way to control this pandemic, protect the precious gains made to date, and build vaccine infrastructure for the future.”
Get vaccinated or face weekly Covid tests, California teachers and staff told
California will become the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly Covid testing, as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns about the highly contagious delta variant, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday. Newsom announced the new policy at a San Francisco Bay Area school that reopened earlier this week to in-person classes. Many California schools are back in session, with others starting in the coming weeks.
Delta COVID-19 strain still troubling 'world's most vaccinated country'
The surge in COVID-19 cases in Iceland - where nearly all the tiny country's population is vaccinated - holds lessons for countries like Australia, an infectious disease expert says. Iceland has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, with 96 per cent of women and 90 per cent of men aged 16 or older having had at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine. A total of of 86 per cent of the country's 357,000 population has been inoculated.
Survey: About half of parents holding off on covid vaccines for their children
As schools prepare to open for a third straight pandemic-strained year, about half of parents are holding off on coronavirus vaccinations for their children, taking a wait-and-see attitude or, for many, outright opposing the shots, a new survey finds. The Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds significant barriers to increasing vaccination among children ages 12 to 17, who have the lowest rates of any age group at 41 percent. Large shares of parents of unvaccinated children say they fear the long-term effects of the vaccine as well as serious side effects. Many parents who are vaccinated are still holding off on inoculating their children, the survey found.
Melbourne extends COVID lockdown; 'no jab, no job' in Sydney
Melbourne to remain in lockdown until Aug 19. New South Wales records 344 cases Outbreak threatens second recession in 2 years. Sydney construction workers can get back to jobs - if vaccinated
Airlines split on COVID-19 vaccine mandates for employees
In a bid to encourage companies to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for employees, President Joe Biden will meet with United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby and other business owners who have announced mandates today at the White House. Joining Kirby will be the CEO of Kaiser Permanente, the president of Howard University, and a small business owner from South Carolina. The four people represent a major company, a healthcare system, a university, and a small business, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Community Activities
Volunteers in Vietnam come to the rescue as coronavirus lockdown hits the vulnerable
Vietnam’s strict lockdown to curb its fourth wave of Covid-19 infections has left many unable to work, go out to get food, or even get oxygen. Individuals and up to 90 community groups and organisations have stepped in where authorities fell short, but their efforts are not always coordinated.
COVID-19: Firm that claimed Pfizer vaccine turns people into chimpanzees banned from Facebook
Facebook has removed hundreds of accounts linked to a COVID-19 vaccine disinformation network operating out of Russia. The mysterious advertising agency called Fazze sought to pay social media influencers to repost misleading content about vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca. But their plot was uncovered after influencers in France and Germany exposed offers they had been sent.
COVID-19: Man's anguish as his unvaccinated mother, father and brother all die with coronavirus
A Cardiff man who had to bury his unvaccinated mother, father and brother after they died with COVID-19 says it is "absolutely vital" people get their jab against the virus. Francis Goncalves returned to Wales last Friday after flying out to Portugal where his family relocated to a few years ago. His 40-year-old brother Shaul, 65-year-old mother Charmagne and 73-year-old father Basil all died in July.
French vaccination centres vandalised as health pass is introduced
Vandals have attacked more than 20 vaccination centres and other health facilities, daubing some with Nazi-themed slogans, as the French government steps up its COVID-19 vaccination drive. Anger has been fueled by the introduction of a health pass showing proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test which is now mandatory for entering restaurants, trains and other public places.
Lockdowns make people lonely. Here are 3 steps we can take now to help each other
With lockdowns and social restrictions likely to be a part of life in Australia until a significant majority of us are fully vaccinated, it’s timely to think about what we can do to look out for people who may be vulnerable. Loneliness is a personal and distressing experience that can be complex to resolve. But for people who are lonely, feeling meaningfully connected to others can help. Here are three steps we can all take to help people who may be experiencing loneliness.
Working Remotely
Remote Work to Remain—But Only for Some
More than half of Canadian companies will allow existing employees to work remotely, even after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, but most employers will only offer it to employees meeting certain criteria, according to a new survey from The Harris Poll, commissioned by Express Employment Professionals. The survey found 54% of companies will allow existing employees to continue to work remotely. Of those companies, 2 in 5 (42%) will allow all existing employees to work remotely even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. But the majority (58%) will use criteria to determine which employees can work remotely and which cannot.
Working from home job adverts rise
There has been a rise in jobs that advertise working from home compared with before the Covid pandemic, recruitment firm Reed has told the BBC. Prior to the pandemic, 1% of recruitment firm Reed's job vacancies advertised remote working, but this rose to 5% in 2021. Many office workers shifted to flexible working during coronavirus lockdowns. Reed said applications for jobs with remote working shot up, and outpaced the number of vacancies. But the number of flexible working adverts peaked at the beginning of the year, Reed said.
Google may cut pay of staff who work from home
Google employees in the US who opt to work from home permanently may get a pay cut. The technology giant has developed a pay calculator that lets employees see the effects of working remotely or moving offices. Some remote employees, especially those with a long commute, could have their pay cut without changing address. Google has no plans at this time to implement the policy in the UK.
Virtual Classrooms
CPS parents say they want remote learning option, aren’t ready to send kids back for in-person school with delta variant surging
A group of Chicago Public Schools parents on Wednesday called on the district to provide a “serious” remote learning option as the highly transmissible delta variant drives a surge in COVID-19 cases in Chicago. CPS plans to welcome students back to classrooms for full-day in-person learning starting Aug. 30, except for a small group of “medically fragile” children accepted into the Virtual Academy. The parents who spoke out on Wednesday dismissed that new remote learning option as unsuitable because it’s only available to children with certain health conditions, and questions remain about how the program will work.
Some kids thrived in remote learning. Their parents look for options as in-person class resumes.
A new school model, born out of necessity due to COVID-19, proved to be the academic break one 9-year-old Burlington student needed to be successful. Remote learning engaged Nicole Twohig's son in ways that public- and private schools and home schooling hadn't. "It was amazing and perfect for him," Twohig said of the Edmunds Elementary School remote program which helped her son, who has a sensory processing disorder, thrive during the last school year. Because the Agency of Education is promoting a return to full in person instruction this fall, Chittenden County schools aren't offering the remote option again. But, parents are still asking for it
6 high-school students on virtual learning in the pandemic
There's no denying education has been upended amid the coronavirus pandemic. For most of 2020, once-bustling hallways were silent; classes, proms, and graduation ceremonies were canceled or held online, with millions of students denied rights of passage that generations past cherished. Yahoo Finance spoke with six students from White Plains High School in Westchester County, NY, and got their thoughts on virtual learning, what it has been like going to school wearing masks, and their hopes for the 2021 school year and beyond.
Public Policies
WHO calls for world leaders and pharmaceutical chiefs to end 'disgraceful' global vaccine inequality
WHO's Bruce Aylward said the world should be "disgusted" with the imbalance in available tools to fight the pandemic and appealed to the wealthiest nations to focus on helping all countries vaccinate at least 10% of their populations by September. Only 1.1% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose, due to a lack of supplies. "I can't help but think: if we had tried to withhold vaccines from parts of the world, could we have made it any worse than it is today?" Aylward, senior adviser to the WHO director-general and head of the ACT Accelerator initiative, which is aimed at providing pandemic resources to developing countries.
Merkel to Germans: Get your COVID-19 vaccine, or pay up
Germany will expand COVID-19 testing requirements for non-vaccinated people and end free tests to prod more residents to roll up their sleeves. Starting later this month, negative results will be required for people who haven’t been inoculated or can show they’ve recovered from the disease to eat in restaurants, go to the hairdresser and attend sporting events. The government will no longer pay for antigen tests as of Oct. 11. “Immunization rates have slowed considerably,” and getting vaccinated is a contribution that everyone can make, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday after talks with premiers of the country’s 16 states. “We want to avoid hard measures as much as possible.”
Ukraine extends COVID restrictions until Oct. 1 as cases rise
Ukraine has extended a state of emergency that allows regional authorities to impose COVID-19 restrictions for a further month until Oct. 1 to tackle a surge in infections from the rapidly spreading Delta variant, the prime minister said on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, experts are beginning to register the first negative trends in terms of hospitalisation of those seriously ill, therefore the government is adopting a decree to extend the state of emergency and adaptive lockdown until Oct. 1," premier Denys Shmygal said during a televised weekly cabinet meeting.
UK orders extra Covid vaccines for autumn 2022 booster campaign
Ministers have started ordering vaccines for a booster campaign in autumn 2022, with Pfizer reportedly being asked to supply the UK with a further 35m doses. The government has still not give the final go-ahead for the vaccine booster programme expected this autumn, but it is understood to have placed the order with Pfizer despite the company raising its prices. According to a report in the Times, the government is paying £22 a dose – compared with an earlier price of £18 a dose – because global demand is pushing up prices. The EU has signed a contract with Pfizer to buy 900m doses, with an option to buy the same amount again.
FDA expected to authorize Covid-19 vaccine booster shots for some immunocompromised people within the next 48 hours
The US Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce within the next 48 hours that it is authorizing Covid-19 vaccine booster shots for some people who are immunocompromised, according to a source familiar with the discussions. This would be a third shot of the current two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. That announcement could slide, the source cautioned, but this is the current timing. "The FDA is closely monitoring data as it becomes available from studies administering an additional dose of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines to immunocompromised individuals," an FDA spokesperson told CNN. "The agency, along with the CDC, is evaluating potential options on this issue, and will share information in the near future."
Maintaining Services
COVID-19: 'Vaccine lottery' in Ohio offering millions in cash prizes ensured 82,000 people got coronavirus jab, says economist
A "vaccine lottery" that offered millions of dollars in cash prizes and free university scholarships ensured 82,000 vaccine-hesitant Ohio residents came forward for their first jab, an economist has claimed. The "Vax-A-Million" scheme awarded five prizes of one million dollars, and five young people a full scholarship to any public college or university in Ohio. PhD student Andrew Barber and assistant professor of economics Jeremy West, both from the University of California, published a working paper that claimed to show "in short, the lottery worked".
Senegal's ambulance teams struggle amid a wave of COVID-19
The paramedics get the urgent call at 10:30 p.m.: A 25-year-old woman, eight months pregnant and likely suffering from COVID-19, is now having serious trouble breathing. Yahya Niane grabs two small oxygen cylinders and heads to the ambulance with his team. Upon arrival, they find the young woman's worried father waving an envelope in front of her mouth, a desperate effort to send more air her way. Her situation is dire: Niane says Binta Ba needs to undergo a cesarean section right away if they are to save her and the baby. But first they must find a hospital that can take her.
Older teenagers seriously ill with Covid-19 ‘led to vaccine rollout extension’
The number of 16 and 17-year-olds becoming “seriously ill” with coronavirus informed the extension of the vaccination rollout to that age group, a member of the committee advising on jabs said. Professor Adam Finn, who sits on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and is a professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol, said there had been “a couple” of 17-year-olds in that area who needed intensive care in hospital in recent weeks. He said while most young people will only have the virus in a mild form, the vaccines will be effective at preventing serious cases.
Healthcare Innovations
CDC recommends that pregnant women get COVID-19 vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday that pregnant women should receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Previously, the agency said that pregnant women were “eligible” for the vaccine. The CDC based its update on new research finding that there is no increased risk of miscarriages for pregnant women who receive an mRNA vaccine early in a pregnancy. For women receiving it late in pregnancy, the CDC found no safety concern for women or their unborn children.
Study showing antibody levels protecting against COVID-19 could speed creation of new vaccines, boosters
Eagerly anticipated new research pinpoints antibodies scientists can test for to see if a COVID-19 vaccine is effective. These "correlates of protection" could speed the development of new vaccines or boosters without requiring the enormous clinical trials used to create the first COVID-19 vaccines. Instead, researchers could vaccinate people with a new vaccine or booster, measure their antibodies over the course of several months, and know if it worked. This is "the Holy Grail" in terms of vaccines, and one that hasn't yet been set for the virus that causes COVID-19, said Peter Gilbert, co-author of the study posted Tuesday to medRxiv, a preprint site where scientific articles can be published prior to being accepted by peer-reviewed journals.
In A Small Study, A Booster Vaccine Protects Against COVID-19 Variants
The results of a new study from the United Kingdom’s University of Nottingham suggest that single booster shots of Pfizer’s two-dose Covid-19 vaccine can help ward off infection by at least some of the dangerous variants of SARS-CoV-2, which is the Covid-19 virus. In the study, the booster proved especially effective in people who, prior to being vaccinated, had contracted Covid-19 and survived the infection. This may be because natural infection coupled with three doses of vaccine provided a total of four exposures to the virus’ spike protein.
The Lancaster University Covid vaccine which could be given up your nose
Scientists in Lancashire have taken a big step towards creating a new coronavirus vaccine. Lancaster University professors say they are making headway with a new intranasal Covid vaccine, an alternative option to the jabs currently administered by the NHS. Whatsmore, the preclinical animal trials of the new vaccine have shown a reduction in both the impact of the disease itself and transmission of the virus; meaning that the new drug could reduce the spread of Covid.
Human trials for nasal spray coronavirus vaccine to begin in Thailand
Two nasal spray coronavirus vaccines developed in Thailand are set to begin human trials by the end of 2021. The vaccines based on the adenovirus and influenza are being developed by the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. Roughly 6 percent of the country is fully vaccinated.
EU regulator looking at new possible side-effects of mRNA COVID-19 shots
Three new conditions reported by a small number of people after vaccination with COVID-19 shots from Pfizer and Moderna are being studied to assess if they may be possible side-effects, Europe's drugs regulator said on Wednesday. Erythema multiforme, a form of allergic skin reaction; glomerulonephritis or kidney inflammation; and nephrotic syndrome, a renal disorder characterised by heavy urinary protein losses, are being studied by the safety committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), according to the regulator.
Certara's Covid-19 vaccine simulator could help optimise distribution
The Pitch study, conducted at Oxford University, recently found that an interval of eight to ten weeks between doses of the mRNA Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer appears to boost the effectiveness of immunisation compared to a shorter spacing. The UK government drew a lot of criticism following its decision to administer vaccine doses 12 weeks apart at the beginning of its rollout, but stretching out the interval from the three or four week wait faced by study participants appears to have paid off. Nevertheless, incoming data and the threat of the Delta variant prompted a recent decision to cut the time between jabs to eight weeks.
Leading expert says Covid-19 herd immunity is 'not a possibility'
It will not be possible to reach herd immunity from Covid and booster jabs may not be necessary according to one of the UK's leading experts. This analysis came from Sir Andrew Pollard who is a professor of paediatric infection and immunity and the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group. He also chairs the the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). He told the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on coronavirus on Tuesday that we would probably never get true herd immunity in the UK with the current vaccines. He said: "The problem with this virus is [it is] not measles. If 95% of people were vaccinated against measles, the virus cannot transmit in the population
Studies detail COVID childbirth, breastmilk vaccine antibodies
In line with previous research, two studies published today in JAMA Network Open suggested that pregnant women infected with COVID-19 are more likely to have negative outcomes including death, and that vaccine-produced SARS-CoV-2 antibodies are present in breastmilk. Both implications help support the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's announcement today that all pregnant people, or those thinking of becoming pregnant, should get vaccinated. "The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible Delta variant [B1617.2] and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, in a CDC press release.