"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 27th Aug 2021

Isolation Tips
New Zealand's Ardern says lockdown working to limit Delta spread
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the strict nationwide lockdown enforced to stamp out COVID-19 was helping limit the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant, even as the number of new cases rose on Thursday. New Zealand reported 68 new cases on Thursday taking the total number of people infected in the latest outbreak to 277. Of the total cases, 263 are in Auckland and 14 are in the capital Wellington.
Hygiene Helpers
Jha outlines ways to make schools safe from coronavirus
School districts across the country need to follow four rules to ensure that students and their teachers remain protected from the coronavirus this fall, pandemic expert Dr. Ashish Jha said. They are: Vaccinations for all who are eligible; proper ventilation and related mitigation measures in buildings; regular testing; and masks, he said Thursday in the latest edition of the “COVID: What Comes Next” podcast hosted by The Providence Journal. “For me this is personal,” said Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, because he has children in public schools, said.
Rite Aid to offer free COVID-19 testing to students in New York
Drugstore chain Rite Aid Corp said on Thursday it would be offering free COVID-19 tests to students in public schools in New York state before or at the start of the upcoming school year. The announcement comes as students in the United States prepare to head back to classes, while the country grapples with stemming the recent surge in cases caused by the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
COVID-19: Campaign launched to encourage students to get tested regularly when schools return
The aim of the campaign is to persuade parents, secondary school and college students to take part in voluntary asymptomatic COVID-19 testing, with ministers saying regular testing will help to minimise disruption to pupils' learning in the weeks and months to come.
100,000 more COVID deaths seen unless US changes its ways
The U.S. is projected to see nearly 100,000 more COVID-19 deaths between now and Dec. 1, according to the nation’s most closely watched forecasting model. But health experts say that toll could be cut in half if nearly everyone wore a mask in public spaces. In other words, what the coronavirus has in store this fall depends on human behavior. “Behavior is really going to determine if, when and how sustainably the current wave subsides,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. “We cannot stop delta in its tracks, but we can change our behavior overnight.”
Community Activities
YouTube has removed 1 million videos for dangerous COVID-19 misinformation
YouTube has removed 1 million videos for dangerous COVID-19 misinformation since February 2020, according to YouTube’s Chief Product Officer Neal Mahon. Mahon shared the statistic in a blog post outlining how the company approaches misinformation on its platform. “Misinformation has moved from the marginal to the mainstream,” he wrote. “No longer contained to the sealed-off worlds of Holocaust deniers or 9-11 truthers, it now stretches into every facet of society, sometimes tearing through communities with blistering speed.”
Working Remotely
Regular communication with employees working from home key to success
With millions of New Zealanders currently working from home during lockdown, many employers have again had to pivot their business online to keep the wheels turning. Switching to remote working can often lead to a disconnect between boss and worker, where the lines of productivity might be blurred. However, for employers who effectively and correctly manage their employees who work from home during lockdown, it can generally lead to a more positive outcome for the business. There are a number of steps employers should take to ensure their business can run smoothly during lockdown
Pandemic pushes search for remote jobs up 460%
Interest in working remotely has surged during the Covid-19 pandemic and is lingering even as the economy reopens, a new study suggests. The share of online job searches for remote positions jumped 460% in the two years between June 2019 and June 2021, according to an analysis published by job site Glassdoor. That bump isn’t siloed in a handful of occupations, but is widespread across a host of different jobs.
Why remote working throws up a risk of discrimination
The pandemic brought about the largest-ever experiment in remote working, reversing the long-held view that work meant being in an office. Now, from the largest corporates to the most agile small- and medium-sized enterprises, discussions about hybrid working are under way, with offices no longer the default venue. This has prompted questions: what if remote working leads to a two-tier system? And could it end up becoming a form, or a tool, of discrimination?
Will Remote Work Become the Norm? Hybrid Offices Are Transforming Economies
Today’s white-collar staff are living through a radical transformation of professional life, one economists say is already beginning to jump-start economic productivity and accelerate innovation. The pandemic has weakened the gravitational pull of city centers, with new forces now reshaping knowledge-based economies. Public transport journeys into cities are down, as are coffee shop sales, while demand for real estate in leafy suburbs is up. Americans spent more time on leisure and household activities in 2020, replacing commuter life with real life. While a more permanent transformation of working life will have painful consequences for many inner-city businesses, economists see a recalibration underway that can revitalize smaller towns and suburbs. New digital tools mean that retail and hospitality — as well as knowledge-intensive industries — are already undergoing far-reaching change.
Virtual Classrooms
Unicef points out effects of missing in-person classes on Filipino kids
The Philippines is among only five countries in the world that have not resumed in-person classes since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared last year, and the prolonged closure has infringed on the right to learn of more than 27 million Filipino students, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said. Citing the Unicef report and that of the United Nations Development Program, the National Economic and Development Authority said “remote education may worsen inequality as some households have limited access to reliable internet and necessary devices.”
Teachers Assess What Students Lost During Virtual Learning and How to Lessen Those Gaps
As students across D.C. return to the classroom this month, News4 asked teachers to assess what their students missed out on most during virtual school and how they will begin to make up those losses. Most said they plan to spend the first few weeks of the school year by assessing the academic level of each student. They said that's something they do every year, but they know those assessments will be even more critical now, and some worry the gaps they find between students may be larger. "Our biggest fear is that there's going to be a student going to the next level who's not ready for it," said Ilana Hand, a high school teacher in Fairfax County, Virginia. She said virtual tutoring could certainly be helpful for students who need extra help going forward, but for daily learning, it allows too many unknowns.
Public Policies
Inovio to start COVID-19 vaccine trial after Brazil regulator's nod
Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Thursday it would start a large study for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in the next few weeks, after the drugmaker received authorization from Brazil's regulatory agency. The company is currently working on importing the vaccine to Brazil and expects dosing of trial participants to begin in September, Chief Executive Officer Joseph Kim told Reuters. Inovio started developing its COVID-19 DNA vaccine, INO-4800, last year but fell behind rivals after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put the Phase 3 portion of its mid-to-late stage trial on hold for more information on the vaccine delivery device.
Brazil's Eurofarma to make Pfizer COVID-19 shots for Latin America
Pfizer (PFE.N) and BioNTech signed on Brazil's Eurofarma Laboratorios as a manufacturer of their COVID-19 vaccine doses for Latin America, in a bid to boost the two drug companies as suppliers of low- and middle-income countries. Eurofarma will start manufacturing finished doses beginning in 2022, the first expansion step in Latin America for the two vaccine partners' supply network. The agreement does not cover the complicated process of mRNA substance production that will be done at Pfizer's U.S. facilities.
Thailand in talks to buy COVID-19 vaccines from European nations
Thailand is in talks with European countries to purchase millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines, a health official said on Thursday, as the Southeast Asian nation tries to speed up its inoculation rollout to contain a wave of infections. Authorities in Thailand have been scrambling to shore up vaccine supplies, despite the country being the production hub for AstraZeneca shots in the region. Last week, the government said it would borrow 150,000 AstraZeneca doses from the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan
Biden Falls Short on U.S. Vaccine 'Arsenal' Pledge, Experts Say
Congress appropriated $16 billion to ramp up Covid-19 countermeasures, but a new report found that the Biden administration had spent very little of it on expanding vaccine manufacturing capacity.
Maintaining Services
Pandemic windfall for US schools has few strings attached
As the federal government releases historic sums of pandemic aid to the nation’s schools, it’s urging them to dream big, to invest in seismic changes that will benefit students for generations to come. But many districts say they have more urgent problems to tackle first. In Detroit, that means fixing buildings with crumbling ceilings and mold infestations. Like other school systems, Detroit is caught between the Biden administration’s lofty aspirations and bleak realities. The district is using some of the government money to hire tutors, expand mental health services and cut class sizes. But at least half of its $1.3 billion windfall is being set aside to make long-neglected repairs.
NHS planning Covid vaccines for children from age 12, reports say
NHS England has been told to prepare to administer Covid vaccinations to all children aged 12 and above, as vaccine advisers continue to consider whether to extend the programme, according to reports. The planned extension to the vaccination programme would coincide with the start of the new school year. NHS trusts have been told to have plans prepared by 4pm on Friday, the Daily Telegraph reported. Children aged 12-15 in the UK are currently offered coronavirus vaccines only if they have certain health conditions or live with vulnerable people, but distribution of the vaccines has already been extended to that age group by countries such as the US, Germany and Israel.
Among children, older teens are seeing the highest Covid-19 case rates
Coronavirus infections continue to surge among children across the United States, and older teens, ages 16 and 17, are facing the highest rate of weekly cases, according to a new CNN analysis of the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Saturday, these teens appear to have the highest rate of infections among not only children, but all age groups, based on the CDC's count of weekly Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people.
With more than 100,000 people in the hospital with Covid-19 in the US, this August is worse than last, expert says
More than 100,000 people are hospitalized with Covid-19 in the US -- the first time that level has been reached since January -- as medical workers say they're once again struggling to treat waves of patients. The latest figure, amid a summer surge in Covid-19 cases driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant, is also more than double what it was on the same day last year, when vaccines were not available as they are now. Hospitals and researchers have been saying the vast majority of this year's hospitalized patients are unvaccinated.
Where the Delta Wave Has Driven Up Covid-19 Vaccinations
After weeks of stagnation, the United States vaccination campaign has had a relatively successful month, with vaccine uptake rising from early-summer lows in every state in the country. The upswing in vaccinations has come alongside an extended, and much more pronounced, increase in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the United States over the past two months. Public health officials say that in their communities, residents have been driven to get the vaccine by worries that the more-transmissible Delta variant might make them, or their loved ones, sick.
WHO: COVID-19 vaccination triples in Africa but still low
COVID-19 vaccinations in Africa tripled over the past week, though protecting even 10% of the continent by the end of September remains “a very daunting task,” the Africa director of the World Health Organization said Thursday. Meanwhile, the continent saw 248,000 new confirmed cases over the past week, with at least 24 countries seeing a surge in infections driven by the delta variant. “This is a preventable tragedy if African countries can get fair access to the vaccines,” Matshidiso Moeti told reporters.
Healthcare Innovations
Blood clot risk greater after Covid infection than after vaccination
The chances of developing dangerous blood clots after being infected with the virus that causes Covid-19 far outweighs the risks of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines, according to the largest study of its kind. The sweeping analysis used data from more than 29 million people in England to compare both vaccines with infection from Sars-Cov-2. It weighed up rates of hospital admission or death from blood clots, as well as other blood disorders, within 28 days of either a positive test or receiving the first jab.
Reliance Life Sciences seeks nod to start human trials of COVID-19 vaccine - ET
India's Reliance Life Sciences has applied for regulatory approval to begin early stage human trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, The Economic Times reported on Thursday. The unlisted firm's parent Reliance Industries did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
mRNA vaccines trigger backup immune response; some cancer drugs may help
A new study may help explain why mRNA vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are more effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths than they are at preventing infection. Test-tube experiments on blood samples from 61 fully vaccinated adults showed that by six months, vaccine-induced antibodies that can immediately neutralize the virus had declined. But so-called memory B cells, which produce new antibodies if they encounter the virus later on, had increased and become better at recognizing viral variants, according to a report posted on Monday on bioRxiv ahead of peer review.
Heart inflammation risk boosted slightly by vaccine, more by COVID-19 -study
The use of Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE's (22UAy.DE) widely used COVID-19 vaccine marginally increases the risk of heart inflammation, but the risk is higher among those infected with the coronavirus,
COVID-19: Protection from coronavirus vaccines wanes within six months, study suggests
COVID-19 protection from two doses of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines begins to wane within six months, new research suggests. In a reasonable "worst-case scenario", protection could fall to below 50% for the elderly and healthcare workers by winter, analysis from the Zoe COVID study found. The Pfizer-BioNTech jab was 88% effective at preventing coronavirus infection a month after the second dose. But the protection decreased to 74% after five to six months - suggesting protection fell 14 percentage points in four months.
China Livzon Pharma affiliate's COVID-19 vaccine candidate enters phase III trial
A potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by a biotech firm affiliated with China's Livzon Pharmaceutical Group Inc (Livzon) has entered a late-stage trial, Livzon said late on Thursday. A Phase III trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the candidate, named V-01, in people aged 18 and over has started recruiting participants in the Philippines, Livzon said in a filing.
Covid-19: Pandemic had severe impact on young people, says report
The coronavirus pandemic and restrictions have had "a severe impact" on children and young people. That is according to a report from the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY). More than half (52%) of 16-year-olds who took part in the research felt their mental and emotional health had worsened during the pandemic. "Insufficient consideration" was given to how children and young people's lives would be affected, it said.