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"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 5th Sep 2022

News Highlights

Dear Colleagues and friends,

ALERT

After 623 newsletters and 30,000 articles shared over the last 30 months, Connecting Communities for COVID19 will shift to a once-a-week newsletter delivered to your mailbox on Monday mornings.  

We invite you to send comments on your experience with this newsletter over these last years and for information on using our database of COVID-19 coverage for research purposes please contact us at franklin@cccovid19.org.

Pass this on to your friends, families and networks. Send us stories in any of the eight areas listed below.

Stay safe, healthy and kind.

Franklin and Sabrina for Connecting Communities team

Our website: ccovid19.org

Isolation Tips
China's Shenzhen to adopt tiered COVID measures; Chengdu extends lockdown
China's southern tech hub of Shenzhen said it will adopt tiered anti-virus restriction measures starting on Monday, while the southwestern metropolis of Chengdu announced an extension of lockdown curbs, as the country grapples with fresh outbreaks. Shenzhen, which went into a weekend lockdown on Saturday, announced a new round of COVID-19 testing, and vowed to "marshal all available resources, mobilise all forces, and take all possible measures" to stamp out the pandemic.
Hygiene Helpers
Covid: Millions invited for booster jabs from Monday
Millions of people will be invited for their autumn Covid booster jab in England and Scotland next week, with care home residents the first to receive them. Although infections are falling, health bosses are predicting a resurgence of Covid and flu this autumn and winter. They are urging those eligible to protect themselves from serious illness by getting vaccines against both. A recently approved vaccine against the Omicron variant will be used first.
South Africa Wastewater May Indicate 'Impending' Covid-19 Wave
An increase in Covid-19 virus fragments in wastewater samples “may indicate an impending wave” of infections, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said. Increases in the frequency of samples in the week ended Aug. 23 were found at water treatment plants near the capital, Pretoria, as well as in Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni, an industrial and residential area that lies between the two cities, the NICD said in a report on Friday. Increased numbers of fragments were also found in the cities of Durban and Bloemfontein, it said.
EU states urged to roll out COVID booster shots to fend off winter infections
EU countries should start offering COVID boosters to their populations now to contain a fresh wave of infections expected this autumn and winter, the bloc's executive said in a document seen by Reuters on Friday ahead of its official release. The Brussels-based European Commission said more than 2,300 people still die of COVID in the bloc every week, while other negative health consequences of the disease include long-COVID symptoms and mental problems.
Deadline looming, White House sees spike in demand for at-home virus tests
The White House on Thursday said Americans have increased requests for at-home COVID-19 tests as the federal government prepares to stop providing free tests on Friday. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that "we're going to do everything we can to get people their tests."
CDC Panel Backs Moderna, Pfizer Covid Omicron Boosters
Covid booster shots that target the most common new variants of the virus should become available in the US within days, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on the rollout of updated vaccines Thursday. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky endorsed the use of the new shots after, in two 13-1 votes, outside vaccine and health experts gave their backing to the booster shots from Moderna Inc. and from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE.
Community Activities
Ex-minister Liam Fox gets donation from Covid test firm he recommended
Tory MP Liam Fox received a £20,000 donation in June from a Covid testing firm on whose behalf he had contacted the then health secretary Matt Hancock. Mr Fox recommended SureScreen Diagnostics to Mr Hancock in 2020, an email seen by campaign group Good Law Project and the BBC shows. The company went on to win a £500m contract to provide tests without facing competition. A spokesperson for Mr Fox said the story was a "baseless smear". It was "concocted by the political activist Jolyon Maugham and the Good Law Project", the spokesman said, and Mr Fox would be making a complaint. "It is appalling that this should be propagated by the BBC," the statement issued after publication, added.
Covid boosters: surge of dangerous vaccine misinformation emerges online ahead of new jab programme
Anti-vaxxers are ramping up up their campaigns of misinformation as medics prepare to launch the autumn booster jabs against covid. Pregnant women and the overall safety of two of the most common jabs have already been targeted in recent days and experts expect further misinformation to be posted on social media through the autumn. The authors of a paper published this week in the journal Vaccine claim that the risk of serious adverse events following a Pfizer or Moderna jab, compared to those in a placebo group, “points to the need for formal harm-benefit analyses”.
Working Remotely
The Future of Remote Work: 7 Technologies to Watch
Remote work is here to stay. But the challenges it presents -- namely related to employee mental health and productivity -- require innovative solutions. Luckily, in the tech world, innovation is abundant. Here are seven technologies paving the way for the future of remote work.
How excessive remote work by millennials entrepreneurs is hampering work ethic
Hardly a day goes by without one whizzy technology company or another announcing it is trying out new ways of working, or experimenting with staff benefits. Last week Atom Bank, a techbased challenger to the traditional highstreet lenders, said it was pressing ahead with a four-day week, and that it was getting overwhelmed with applications. Other companies are experimenting with unlimited holiday time, or wellness classes. Or with a work-from-anywhere policy, allowing staff not just to work from home, but to travel around the world, logging into their laptops from a beach.
Virtual Classrooms
Education without walls: Some Ottawa families have chosen virtual schools — here's why
Unlike the online classes run during the pandemic, virtual schools are full-time standalone schools with their own staff who deploy teaching strategies directed specifically at virtual learning. For some families, it’s a preferred way of learning. For others, a student has experienced challenges in a traditional school setting and the safety and familiarity of their home work best for them.
So Long, Remote Learning: Why Some Districts Are Ending Virtual Options
Remote learning became the primary mode of instruction for most K-12 schools during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, when many students and staff weren’t able to meet in person. But more than two years later, about one-third of a sample of 100 large and urban districts in the country report they are ending their remote learning programs for the 2022-23 school year, according to an analysis by the Center on Reinventing Public Education.
Public Policies
CanSino's inhaled COVID-19 vaccine gets emergency use approval in China
China's CanSino Biologics Inc said on Sunday that its recently developed COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the country's drug regulator for emergency use as a booster, potentially benefiting its business.
Livzon Pharma's COVID-19 vaccine gets emergency use approval in China
China granted emergency use authorisation to Livzon Pharmaceutical Group Inc's COVID-19 vaccine as a booster, the company said on Friday, one of just two new products against the disease the country has cleared in more than a year. Livzon's vaccine, based on the original coronavirus, if rolled out to the general public would widen booster options for China's 1.4 billion population, of which 90% have been vaccinated and nearly 60% have received a booster dose.
EMA panel backs COVID-19 vaccines targeting Omicron BA.1
The EMA’s human medicines committee (CHMP) has recommended authorisation of two COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech that include sequences coding for Omicron spike protein as booster shots. The European Commission said it will move ahead with an accelerated authorisation of the bivalent shots, which include mRNA for the wild-type SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, as well as the original BA.1 subvariant of Omicron, in a divergence from the approach taken by the authorities in the US. The FDA has just authorised vaccines from the two companies that will specifically target the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron, which have now displaced the earlier forms and, for now, are expected to remain dominant through the coming autumn and winter.
CDC vaccine advisers vote to recommend updated Covid-19 boosters
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, signed off Thursday on the recommendation of the agency's independent vaccine advisers in favor of updated Covid-19 vaccine boosters from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 13 to 1 earlier in the day to recommend updated mRNA boosters for Americans this fall.
Taiwan approves Omicron-targeted Moderna COVID vaccine
Taiwan on Friday approved the use of Moderna Inc's Omicron-targeted COVID-19 vaccine as a booster shot for people aged 18 and over. The Taiwan Food and Drug Administration said it gave approval after an overall assessment of the vaccine's effectiveness and safety as well as the "urgent domestic public health needs". The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorised updated Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna booster shots that target the dominant BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants of the virus.
North Korea COVID rules put pressure on women providing food - U.N. expert
North Korean women and girls face increased pressure in providing food for their families and the state under coronavirus measures even as closed border hamper market activity and push up prices, a U.N. expert said on Friday. Elizabeth Salmon, the new U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, expressed concern about the "disproportionate impact" of the isolated country's COVID-19 rules on women and girls as she wrapped up her first visit to South Korea since taking office last month.
Denmark expects winter without COVID restrictions - health minister
Denmark is preparing to go through the coming winter without any coronavirus restrictions even with an expected rise in infections, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said on Friday. The Nordic country expects to be able to avoid lockdown measures due to new improved booster vaccines, greater immunity in the population and being able to better track the spread of the virus through measures such as waste-water testing.
Maintaining Services
Walgreens Now Offering Appointments for Updated COVID-19 Pfizer and Moderna Boosters
Walgreens now offers updated COVID-19 Pfizer and Moderna boosters to eligible individuals aged 12 years and older following authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Scheduling an appointment is preferred and is available via the Walgreens app, 1-800-WALGREENS, or online at Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine starting today for vaccinations. Additional appointments will be added daily as select Walgreens stores begin to receive the updated COVID-19 boosters.
Healthcare Innovations
Omicron-Targeting Covid Booster Shots Offer Only Slight Advantage
How much better will an omicron-specific Covid-19 booster be? Research that models the protective effect of variant-modified shots found they’ll probably offer a slight advantage over existing immunizations. Antibodies that neutralize the virus jump about 11-fold after a booster targeting the original “Wuhan” strain of the coronavirus, and are increased a further 1.5-fold when a variant-modified shot is used, researchers at the University of New South Wales’ Kirby Institute found. “A variant-modified booster does provide at least a marginal improvement,” said Deborah Cromer, head of the institute’s infection epidemiology and policy analytics group in Sydney, who led the study.