"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 2nd Sep 2021

Isolation Tips
In Indonesia, drone deliveries provide lifeline for isolating COVID patients
A group of drone enthusiasts in Indonesia are using their aerial skills to help during the pandemic by providing a contactless medicine and food delivery service to COVID-19 patients isolating at home. Armed with five drones, the seven-member team have been working around the clock in Makassar, the capital of the South Sulawesi province, since early July to provide deliveries.
Hygiene Helpers
CDC asks the unvaccinated not to travel this weekend and says even vaccinated need to weigh the risk
Due to the surge of Covid-19 cases, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking unvaccinated Americans not to travel during the Labor Day holiday weekend. The US is surpassing an average of 160,000 new cases a day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. With the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant and many students returning to the classroom for a new academic year, the rise is concerning officials and health experts. "First and foremost, if you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House Covid-19 Response Team Briefing on Tuesday.
France starts COVID-19 booster shot campaign for the elderly
France on Wednesday started administering booster shots of COVID-19 vaccine to people over 65 and those with underlying health conditions as the delta variant spreads in the country. France is the first big EU country to introduce widespread booster shots, and several other European countries are expected to follow suit.
COVID-19: Scotland to require vaccine passports for nightclubs and large events, Nicola Sturgeon says
Nicola Sturgeon says that while events covered by the scheme "matter to our economy, and to our cultural and social life", they are "not essential services".
Vaccinations in rural India increase amid supply concerns
India has dramatically increased COVID-19 vaccination rates in its vast rural hinterland, where around 65% of the country’s nearly 1.4 billion people live. But supply constraints remain for the world’s largest maker of vaccines and experts say it’s unlikely India will reach its target of vaccinating all adults by the end of the year. India opened shots for all adults in May. But the campaign faltered in villages due to vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. That started changing in mid-July and of the nearly 120 million shots administered in the past three weeks, around 70% were in India’s villages — up from around half in the initial weeks of May.
Community Activities
Doctors dismayed by patients who fear coronavirus vaccines, but clamor for unproven ivermectin
Oklahoma doctor Matthew Payne regularly encounters covid-19 patients in his hospital who say they had feared coronavirus vaccines and thought they had found a safer approach — taking ivermectin, a medicine long used to kill parasites in animals and humans. “There is surprise and shock when they initially get sick and have to come to the hospital,” said Payne, a hospitalist at Stillwater Medical Center. “They’ll say, ‘I’m not sure why I feel so bad. I was taking the ivermectin,’ and I will say, ‘It doesn’t do any good.’ ”
New Zealanders line up for takeaway as COVID-19 restrictions ease, Auckland remains under stage four lockdown
New Zealanders are visiting beaches and queuing for takeaway food as tough lockdown measures have been eased in most of the country. About 1.7 million people in Auckland remain under a strict level 4 lockdown for another two weeks, but restrictions for the remainder of the country have been loosened. Surfers and kayakers were seen heading to the beaches in droves, while other outdoor recreation facilities like golf courses were busy again.
Four conservative radio talk-show hosts bashed coronavirus vaccines. Then they got sick.
Marc Bernier was adamant: He was not going to get a coronavirus vaccination. “I’m Mr. Anti-Vax,” he told listeners of his talk-radio program in Daytona Beach, Fla., after the federal government provisionally approved the first vaccines in December. He later declared that the government was “acting like Nazis” in urging people to get vaccinated. But in early August, WNDB, Bernier’s radio home for more than 30 years, announced that the 65-year-old host was being treated in a hospital for covid-19. On Saturday, the station said that Bernier had died.
Majority of U.S. companies may mandate COVID-19 vaccine in coming months - survey
More than half of U.S. companies are planning to impose COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the workplace by year end, with almost a quarter considering vaccination as a condition for employment, according to a national survey of nearly 1,000 employers. In the face of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, spurred by the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant, that has strained the U.S. health care system, many companies have come out with mask mandates and changed their vaccination policies.
Opposition to vaccine crumbles: Just 14% of US adults now say they won't take the shot as work mandates kick in
Work mandates biggest driver, 43 percent saying this would make them get jab A further 57% of workers said they support vaccine requirements from employer Those who are in hard opposition to the vaccine make up a new low of 14 percent
FDA approval of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine spurs American confidence: Harris Poll
Last week's FDA approval of Pfizer’s Comirnaty vaccine boosted consumer confidence among both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. A Harris Poll survey over the weekend found that 80% of Americans who were aware of the approval now have more confidence in it. Even more encouraging? Almost half (49%) of unvaccinated people who heard about the approval said they will “probably” or “definitely” get vaccinated. Overall awareness of the Pfizer approval was high—79% of those surveyed by The Harris Poll were aware of the FDA thumbs-up.
Working Remotely
Zoom-Call Gaffes Led to Someone Getting Axed, 1 in 4 Bosses Say
Zoom-call blunders can be hazardous to your career. Nearly 1 in 4 executives have fired a staffer for slipping up during a video or audio conference, and most have levied some sort of disciplinary action for gaffes made in virtual meetings, a survey of 200 managers at large companies found. The survey also found that executives don’t fully trust a third of their staff to perform effectively when working remotely.
How remote work is bringing life back to Spain’s rural villages
In Spain, small communities are trying to attract residents with initiatives focused on improving internet connection and cheap renewable energy. José María Carrascosa was born in Sarnago but left when he was three years old. Now, at age 57, he is back and wants to promote the village, which boasts an ethnographic museum and an old school that has been converted into a workplace with a good internet connection where people can work remotely for free. Amigos de Sarnago, which was founded 30 years ago, is also planning on reforming a space so that it can be used for affordable public housing.
Virtual Classrooms
College students say they're 'cautiously optimistic' about heading back into the classroom after feeling isolated for over a year
Colleges students across the US are heading back to campus for the new school year. Many students are slated to attend in-person classes after 18 months of virtual or hybrid learning. Students who spoke to Insider said they were optimistic about in-person classes, but anxious around continued uncertainties.
Virtual learning frustration: Parents wonder if college students are getting money's worth
Many college students in the Bay Area are back to school in person. However, some parents are questioning if their kids are getting the quality education they're paying for. One San Jose mom whose son attends a UC school doesn’t understand why many of his classes are virtual given vaccine and masking requirements. It’s not completely back to normal. Many universities including the UC and CSU systems require students and staff to wear masks indoors and be vaccinated or get tested. Classes are also online, hybrid and in person.
Public Policies
Covid-19: Irish Cabinet agrees to end most restrictions by 22 October
The Irish Cabinet has agreed on a plan that would effectively end most Covid-19 restrictions by 22 October. The cabinet said the easing of rules is dependent on 90% of adults being vaccinated and Covid-19 cases remaining manageable. From 6 September, large crowds will be allowed to gather for religious ceremonies. Places of worship and outdoor sporting venues will also be allowed to hold 50% capacity from that date.
WHO Chief, Germany's Merkel Open Global Pandemic Hub in Berlin
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Wednesday officially opened the international Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin — a center designed to pool the world’s resources to fight future global health emergencies. The hub, originally announced in May, will be a collection agency for health data from around the world. Equipped with a supercomputer, it will collect, analyze and disseminate information from international governments, and academic and private sector institutions.
North Korea turns down Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine doses
North Korea has rejected roughly three million COVID-19 vaccine doses developed by China's Sinovac Biotech , saying the shots should be sent to harder-hit countries, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday,
US Sending Millions of COVID-19 Vaccine Doses to Pakistan
As Pakistan deals with a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant, the United States will begin moving 4 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to the country on Thursday, a White House spokesperson told VOA. The 4,149,990 doses, sent through COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing initiative co-led by Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), the WHO (World Health Organization) and CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness), are in addition to the more than 9.2 million doses of Moderna and Pfizer vaccine already donated to Pakistan since June.
Moderna to recall COVID-19 doses in Japan after stainless steel contaminants found
Moderna Inc and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd on Wednesday said they are working with Japanese authorities to recall three batches of COVID-19 vaccine after an investigation found stainless steel contaminants in some vials. Japanese authorities had suspended use of these batches of Moderna shots containing 1.63 million doses last week after being notified of the contamination issue.
Portugal lifts COVID-19 travel ban on tourists from Brazil
Portugal said on Wednesday it would allow entry for tourists from Brazil, nearly 18 months after it imposed a ban on non-essential travel from the Portuguese-speaking South American nation to stem the spread of coronavirus. Although Brazilians, who make up Portugal's biggest expatriate community, were allowed access for reasons such as work, family or health, the lifting of the tourism ban has been long-awaited.
U.K. Plans to Give Third Vaccine Dose to Vulnerable People
The U.K. is set to offer a third dose of Covid vaccines to people 12 and older with severely weakened immune systems following a recommendation from a committee that advises the government. The extra doses should be given to people with leukemia, advanced HIV, recent organ transplants and others who were significantly immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second shot, according to a statement Wednesday from Public Health England. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is still deliberating on the potential benefits of boosters for the wider population and awaiting further evidence to make a decision, health authorities said.
EU health body says no urgent need for vaccine boosters
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said on Wednesday there was no urgent need for booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the fully vaccinated, citing data on the effectiveness of shots. The comments follow a similar statement from the European Medicines Agency last month that more data was needed on the duration of protection after full inoculation to recommend using booster shots.
German firms seek details of employees’ vaccine status
The German government is looking into whether it could temporarily ease data privacy rules to allow companies to find out whether their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19, ministers said on Wednesday. Many countries are making vaccination mandatory for healthcare staff and public sector workers and some companies – particularly in the United States – have started demanding that employees are inoculated
Wealthy nations far short of COVID vaccine donation target
Two people who led an independent review of the world's response to COVID-19 raised deep concerns today about the slow pace of vaccine donations by high-income countries to lower-income countries. In other developments, the World Health Organization (WHO) today released a list of 24 new tools—such solar-powered oxygen concentrators—that can help battle current and future pandemic threats.
Maintaining Services
Philippines health workers protest neglect as COVID-19 strains hospitals
Scores of healthcare workers protested in the Philippine capital on Wednesday to demand an end to what they called government neglect and unpaid benefits, as pressure builds at hospitals fighting one of Asia's longest-running coronavirus epidemics. Protesters wearing protective medical gear gathered at the Department of Health (DOH) and held placards demanding their risk allowances and hazard pay, and the resignation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque.
Hair cuts and dining in as Thai malls reopen after virus cases ease
Thailand allowed shopping malls in the capital Bangkok to reopen on Wednesday and restaurants to operate at half capacity, after nearly three months of tough restrictions aimed at containing the country's worst coronavirus outbreak. The move comes after infections numbers started falling in the middle of last month and with the government under pressure to ease lockdown measures due to the impact on the economy.
India schools cautiously reopen even as COVID warnings grow
More students in India will be able to step inside a classroom for the first time in nearly 18 months Wednesday, as authorities gave the green light to partially reopen more schools despite apprehension from some parents and signs that infections are picking up again. Schools and colleges in at least six more states are reopening in a gradual manner with health measures in place throughout September. In New Delhi, all staff must be vaccinated and class sizes will be capped at 50% with staggered seating and sanitized desks.
Healthcare Innovations
WHO: New Coronavirus Variant "Mu" May Be Resistant to Vaccines
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday it is monitoring a new coronavirus variant known as “Mu,” which was first identified in Colombia in January of 2021. Mu, known scientifically as B.1.621, has been classified as a “variant of interest,” the global health body stated in its weekly pandemic bulletin.
Most highly allergic people can be safely immunized against COVID-19
Most highly allergic individuals can be safely immunized against COVID-19, according to a study published online Aug. 31 in JAMA Network Open. Ronen Shavit, M.D., from Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Israel, and colleagues describe immunization of highly allergic individuals with the Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT162b2) COVID-19 vaccine in a prospective cohort study conducted from Dec. 27, 2020, to Feb. 22, 2021. A total of 8,102 patients with allergies underwent risk assessment using an algorithm that included a detailed questionnaire; 429 patients were considered highly allergic and immunized under medical supervision.
Pfizer, Merck launch large new trials of oral COVID-19 drugs
Pfizer and Merck & Co. each launched pivotal clinical studies of new experimental oral COVID-19 drugs, building on previous work to provide outpatient alternatives for patients. Merck is studying whether its medicine, molnupiravir, can prevent COVID-19 in adults who live with a symptomatic patient with a confirmed coronavirus infection. The trial will include about 1,300 patients who will take molnupiravir or a placebo every 12 hours for five days. Pfizer said the first of about 1,140 patients has received a dose of its therapy in a trial to treat symptomatic patients who have not been hospitalized and aren’t at high risk of severe illness. The dosing of the Pfizer treatment – a combination of an older medicine and an experimental drug called PF-07321332 – is also every 12 hours for five days and measured against a placebo.
Massive randomized study is proof that surgical masks limit coronavirus spread, authors say
The authors of a study based on an enormous randomized research project in Bangladesh say their results offer the best evidence yet that widespread wearing of surgical masks can limit the spread of the coronavirus in communities. The preprint paper, which tracked more than 340,000 adults across 600 villages in rural Bangladesh, is by far the largest randomized study on the effectiveness of masks at limiting the spread of coronavirus infections.
What the data reveals about children and Covid-19 in the US
As students and staff return to school, the highly transmissible Delta variant of Covid-19 has caused cases, hospitalizations and death rates to soar across the country. Children under 12 are particularly vulnerable to infection as they are not yet eligible for vaccination, including the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine. Contrary to research early in the pandemic, children are just as likely to become infected as adults. According to the CDC, Covid-19 infection rates for adolescents aged 5 to 17 were as high as in adults 18 to 49, and higher than rates in adults over 50.
Why some COVID-19 infections may be free of symptoms but not free of harm
Eric Topol was worried when he first saw images of the lungs of people who had been infected with COVID-19 aboard the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan in the earliest weeks of the pandemic. A study of 104 passengers found that 76 of them had COVID but were asymptomatic. Of that group, CT scans showed that 54 percent had lung abnormalities—patchy grey spots known as ground glass opacities that signal fluid build-up in the lungs. These CT scans were “disturbing,” wrote Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, with co-author Daniel Oran in a narrative review of asymptomatic disease published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. “If confirmed, this finding suggests that the absence of symptoms might not necessarily mean the absence of harm.”
Painless, Silent Organ Damage Seen in Covid ‘Long Hauler’ Study
Kidney damage is painless and silent, and it’s the latest ailment to be identified afflicting a large swath of Covid-19 survivors. Injury to the blood-filtering organ can occur among people who recover from the coronavirus at home, and escalates with the severity of Covid, a study found. Even non-hospitalized patients with no renal problems have almost a twofold higher risk of developing end-stage kidney disease, compared with someone who never had Covid. The findings, reported Wednesday in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, highlight yet another pernicious burden of the pandemic that’s sickened more than 200 million people globally.
Pfizer Booster Shot Lowered Coronavirus Infection Risk in Study
A third shot of the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE Covid vaccine provides added protection against the coronavirus during a delta outbreak, according to early data from Israel, where boosters began rolling out incrementally in mid-July. People who received the supplemental dose had a 48% to 68% lower risk of infection a week to 13 days later, compared to those who got the standard two-dose regimen, a preliminary analysis of data from Maccabi Healthcare Services found. The protection increased with time, with a 70% to 84% reduced risk of testing positive two weeks to 20 days after getting a third shot.