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Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 4th Aug 2021

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N.Y.C. will require workers and customers show proof of at least one dose for indoor dining and other activities

New York City will become the first U.S. city to require proof of at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine for a variety of activities for workers and customers — indoor dining, gyms and performances — to put pressure on people to get vaccinated, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday morning.
3rd Aug 2021 - The New York Times

China’s Wuhan to test ‘all residents’ as COVID-19 returns

Authorities in Wuhan have announced that they will test its entire population for COVID-19 after the central Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged reported its first local cases in more than a year and the country moved to stamp out a slew of outbreaks connected with the Delta variant. The city of 11 million is “swiftly launching comprehensive nucleic acid testing of all residents”, senior Wuhan official Li Tao said told the media on Tuesday.
3rd Aug 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Covid-19: Irish hospitality rules 'incentivising' vaccine uptake

The Republic of Ireland's hospitality rules have helped Covid-19 vaccination rates surpass Northern Ireland's, NI's chief scientific advisor has said. About 76% of Ireland's adult population is fully vaccinated, compared to 72.1% in Northern Ireland. Ireland requires people to prove they have received both jabs to enter indoor venues. Prof Ian Young said the hospitality guidelines had "incentivised" vaccination.
3rd Aug 2021 - BBC News


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 3rd Aug 2021

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Unvaccinated Brits could be sent home antibody tests after government signs £124m contract for testing kits

It suggests the Government could soon start offering antibody tests to young people who are yet to receive both jabs, and for those that refuse to take a coronavirus vaccine.
2nd Aug 2021 - iNews

In Europe and US, calls for vaccine mandates stoke backlash

A privileged minority of nations are able to provide coronavirus vaccinations to the bulk of their populations. These are chiefly in the West, where governments in the United States, Canada and Europe managed to obtain vast supplies of doses even as countries in the developing world struggle to vaccinate their medical workers. The jabs were made free and widely available to the public, though the speed of their rollout varied on both sides of the Atlantic. But amid the surge of the highly transmissible delta variant — and the refusal of significant numbers of people to get vaccinated — governments are finding that more needs to be done.
2nd Aug 2021 - The Washington Post

Text reminders could boost vaccine uptake by 26%, study finds

Text message reminders could increase Covid-19 vaccine uptake by as much as 26%, according to research published in Nature on Monday. Researchers at UCLA and Carnegie Mellon University in the US conducting two randomised controlled trials involving 100,000 patients found simple texts successfully boosted vaccine appointments by as much as 84% and actual vaccinations by as much as 26%. Including “ownership language” in the form of phrases such as “the vaccine has just been made available to you” and “claim your dose today” further increased appointment and vaccination rates at UCLA Health by 1.51 and 1.09 percentage points respectively.
2nd Aug 2021 - The Guardian

McDonald's makes masks mandatory for all customers, staff

McDonald's Corp confirmed that all its customers and staff will need to start wearing masks again inside its U.S. restaurants in areas with high or substantial transmission, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not. The resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the United States due to the Delta variant and the new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that requires fully vaccinated individuals to wear masks have led companies to change their plans on vaccinations and masking
2nd Aug 2021 - Reuters


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 2nd Aug 2021

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French security forces brace for anti-health pass protests

France braced for more protests on Saturday against the upcoming special virus passes that will be needed to enter restaurants, as police took up posts along Paris’ Champs-Elysees to guard against an invasion of the famed avenue by rowdy demonstrators. Some 3,000 security forces deployed around the French capital for a third Saturday of protests.
31st Jul 2021 - Associated Press

Germany could make unvaccinated pay for COVID tests — report

The German government plans to end free coronavirus tests once enough Germans are vaccinated, according to a newspaper report. Although 51% of the population is fully inoculated, the pace is slowing.
31st Jul 2021 - Deutsche Welle on MSN.com

Bring in the kids: Estonian city targets youths for jabs

With her father in tow, 13-year-old Gloria Raudjarv marched through a vaccination center inside a sports hall in Estonia’s second-largest city and up to a nurse for her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
31st Jul 2021 - Associated Press on MSN.com

Ireland overtakes ‘nearest neighbour’ UK with 72.4% of adults vaccinated, says Taoiseach

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said Ireland has overtaken the UK when it comes to vaccine rollout. He said Ireland now had 72.4 per cent of adults fully vaccinated while the UK had 72.1 per cent. “The vaccine rollout is continuing at great pace. Today we edged ahead of our nearest neighbours - a brilliant effort by everyone involved,” he said. Earlier, Mr Martin praised the “positive uptake” of vaccinations at walk-in centres which are open across the country this bank holiday weekend.
31st Jul 2021 - The Irish Times

Lebanon restricts cafes, beaches to the vaccinated or COVID tested

Lebanon is to limit entry to restaurants, cafes, pubs and beaches to people holding COVID-19 vaccine certificates or those who have taken antibodies tests, the tourism ministry said on Friday. Non-vaccinated employees of these establishments would be required to conduct a PCR test every 72 hours, it added. The move comes amidst a surge in infections with around 1,104 positive cases registered on Thursday compared to a few hundred a day in previous months.
29th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Israel's president gets third COVID-19 shot, urges boosters for over-60s

Israeli President Isaac Herzog received a third shot of coronavirus vaccine on Friday, kicking off a campaign to give booster doses to people aged over 60 as part of efforts to slow the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
29th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Thailand renews COVID-19 vaccination drive for monks at risk

Thailand began a renewed drive to vaccinate Buddhist monks and other temple workers in Bangkok against the coronavirus on Friday, as the country battles its most deadly surge in infections since the pandemic began. Officials said they planned to provide AstraZeneca vaccines to 221 temples in the Thai capital, before beginning distribution in other parts of the country.
29th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Europe has caught up to the U.S. on coronavirus vaccinations — and is deploying near-mandates to get further

It wasn't quite a mandate, but the announcement landed with nearly the same power. After Italy said last week that its coronavirus health passport would be required to go to the movies or dine indoors, daily bookings for inoculations soared. A new kind of patient started arriving at vaccination centers: people who had been wavering or reluctant. In one waiting room in Rome, Federica Puccetti, 19, said she still didn’t want the shot. But she had plans to go to the island of Sardinia. Inoculation had become the path to a normal vacation.
29th Jul 2021 - The Washington Post


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 30th Jul 2021

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COVID-19: UK's daily coronavirus data 'looks a bit fishy' - as major symptom study suggests cases on the rise

Professor Tim Spector who co-founded the ZOE Covid Symptom Study app has said he is “very suspicious” over the government’s data of daily cases. On Wednesday the government’s figures said there was 27,734 positive cases in 24 hours, but there study has shown there is around “60,000 cases a day which are reported. Professor Spector said of the roughly 60,000 people who had tested positive according to the ZOE data, 24,000 had received at least one dose of the vaccine, whilst 36,000 had no vaccinations. The co-founder of the ZOE Covid symptom Study app said, “This 60,000 figure is still a lot of people, it’s one in 84 people roughly who have at any point in time still some infection or symptoms of the condition”.
29th Jul 2021 - London Loves Business

Florida mayors defy DeSantis with mask, vaccine mandates

As coronavirus cases continue to soar, two Florida mayors are announcing mask and vaccine mandates and defying the governor who is firmly opposed to any pandemic restrictions. Masks will again be required at indoor county facilities in Florida’s populous Miami-Dade following new federal guidance recommending that even people vaccinated against COVID-19 should wear facial coverings. And in Orange County, home to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort, the mayor went a step further and announced all 4,200 nonunion county employees will be required to get their first coronavirus vaccine shot by the end of August, and the second shot by the end of September.
29th Jul 2021 - The Associated Press

Covid-19: Nearly 700,000 told to isolate as ‘pingdemic’ grows

Nearly 700,000 alerts were sent out by the NHS Covid-19 tracing app last week telling people to self-isolate, as the impact of the “pingdemic” continues to play out across the country. Official figures show a record 689,313 alerts were sent to users of the app in England and Wales in the week to July 21, telling them they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus and should self-isolate for ten days.
29th Jul 2021 - The Times

Covid-19 cases not reached through Test and Trace at nine-month high

The proportion of people who test positive for Covid-19 but who are not being reached by the Test and Trace system has reached a nine-month high, new figures show. Some 14.8% of people transferred to Test and Trace in England in the week to July 21 were not reached, meaning they were not able to provide details of recent close contacts.
29th Jul 2021 - Evening Standard


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 29th Jul 2021

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New US mask guidance prompted by evidence vaccinated can spread Delta

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Protection spoke on Wednesday about evidence that vaccinated people can spread the Covid-19 Delta variant to others, after the nation’s top health agency expanded on its new guidance that fully vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors in certain places. Rochelle Walensky said “new science” observed in recent days demonstrated that new variants of the coronavirus were transmissible by people who have been fully vaccinated in some cases.
28th Jul 2021 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Fully vaccinated travellers from amber list EU and US countries won't have to quarantine on arrival in England from Monday

Fully vaccinated travellers from the EU and the US will not have to quarantine when arriving in England, Scotland and Wales from an amber list country. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the change regarding US and EU arrivals will come into force from 4am on 2 August. Applicable passengers must have received two jabs with vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), or in the US with vaccines authorised by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
28th Jul 2021 - Sky News

Masks and vaccine mandate show CDC and Biden taking emergency action amid Covid-19 surge

The steps President Joe Biden's administration is adopting this week to re-recommend masks and require vaccines for federal workers amount to emergency actions designed to contain a new surge of Covid-19 that has quickly become the top issue confronting the White House. The moves reflect a dramatic shift from earlier messaging about the pandemic waning and signal the fight of Biden's presidency is far from over. Biden on Tuesday explicitly laid blame for the current situation on unvaccinated people -- an escalation of his use of the bully pulpit as he furiously searches with his team for ways to curb the spread of the virus.
28th Jul 2021 - CNN

SNP to snub Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine passport plan for gatherings

John Swinney has signalled that Scotland will reject Boris Johnson’s vaccine passport plan that is likely to see refuseniks barred from theatres, football matches and nightclubs. In a new divergence from England’s Covid-19 strategy, the deputy first minister said remarks by Michael Gove, in which he branded antivaxers “selfish” and warned that they would be prohibited from attending large gatherings, was the wrong approach. Johnson’s government is considering vaccine passports for events such as football matches, having already announced they will be required for entering nightclubs in England from the end of September.
28th Jul 2021 - The Times

Google delays return to office, mandates vaccines

Google is postponing a return to the office for most workers until mid-October and rolling out a policy that will eventually require everyone to be vaccinated once its sprawling campuses are fully reopened. The more highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus is driving a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Google’s Wednesday announcement was shortly followed by Facebook, which also said it will make vaccines mandatory for U.S. employees who work in offices. Exceptions will be made for medical and other reasons.
28th Jul 2021 - Associated Press

Governments, businesses race to reimpose mask mandates

New guidance from the federal government set off a cascade of mask rules across the nation Wednesday as cities, states, schools and businesses raced to restore mandates and others pushed back against the guidelines at a time when Americans are exhausted and confused over constantly shifting pandemic measures. Nevada and Kansas City, Missouri, were among the locations that moved swiftly to re-impose indoor mask requirements following Tuesday’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But governors in Arizona, Pennsylvania and South Carolina said they would resist reversing course.
28th Jul 2021 - The Associated Press

One Year Later, America’s Mask Supply Chain Is Still Vulnerable

Even as the delta variant fuels a new wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the U.S., some domestic manufacturers of N95s and surgical masks are struggling to stay in business. Several companies have stopped production of masks because of declining sales as people got vaccinated, state mask mandates ended, and the flow of cheaper foreign-made masks resumed. The American Mask Manufacturers Association (AMMA), a trade group that represents more than 20 smaller manufacturers, estimates that 5,000 workers have been laid off across its member companies. DemeTech Corp., based in Miami Lakes, Fla., has alone laid off about 1,500 people, according to Luis Arguello Jr., the company’s vice president. The mask makers’ plight is part of a larger problem that the U.S. government faces: ensuring a reliable domestic supply of protective gear for the next crisis
27th Jul 2021 - Bloomberg


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 28th Jul 2021

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White House considering requiring federal employees to get Covid vaccines or submit to regular testing

President Joe Biden has confirmed to reporters that the White House is considering a requirement that all federal workers receive a Covid-19 vaccine or submit to regular mandatory testing. The president made the remarks on Tuesday when asked if a requirement that all federal employees, a number that tops 4.2 million when including the armed forces and Postal Service according to a recent report using data from federal agencies, would be required to get the vaccine. “That’s under consideration right now”, the president said.
27th Jul 2021 - The Independent

White House reporters to wear masks in briefing room again

White House reporters will be wearing masks in the briefing room again, the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) told members on Tuesday. The mask requirement for the White House press pool is reimposed for all indoor spaces at the White House. It follows guidance that White House staff will also be wearing masks again indoors.
27th Jul 2021 - The Hill

VA requires COVID-19 vaccination for health care workers

The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday became the first major federal agency to require health care workers to get COVID-19 vaccines, as the aggressive delta variant spreads across the nation and some communities report troubling increases in hospitalizations among unvaccinated people. The VA’s move came on a day when nearly 60 leading medical and health care organizations issued a call for health care facilities to require their workers to get vaccinated. No federal law stands in the way of employers requiring vaccinations, but like mask mandates, the issue has been politicized in a society that’s divided on matters of public health.
27th Jul 2021 - Associated Press

Bhutan fully vaccinates 90% of eligible adults within a week

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has fully vaccinated 90% of its eligible adult population within just seven days, its health ministry said Tuesday. The tiny country, wedged between India and China and home to nearly 800,000 people, began giving out second doses on July 20 in a mass drive that has been hailed by UNICEF as “arguably the fastest vaccination campaign to be executed during a pandemic.” In April, Bhutan grabbed headlines when its government said it had inoculated around the same percentage of eligible adults with the first dose in under two weeks after India donated 550,000 shots of AstraZeneca vaccine. But the country faced a shortage for months after India, a major supplier of the AstraZeneca shot, halted exports as it scrambled to meet a rising demand at home as infections surged.
27th Jul 2021 - Associated Press

Workers exempted from Covid-19 self-isolation to include binmen, vets and tax collectors

The list of professions that no longer have to follow self-isolation rules has been expanded to include rubbish collectors, vets and tax collectors in an attempt to limit disruption caused by the “pingdemic”. A pilot study has suggested that only one in 145 workers who come into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus go on to contract it themselves.
27th Jul 2021 - The Times

CDC reverses course on indoor masks in some parts of US

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed course Tuesday on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging. Citing new information about the ability of the delta variant to spread among vaccinated people, the CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status. The new guidance follows recent decisions in Los Angeles and St. Louis to revert to indoor mask mandates amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations that have been especially bad in the South. The country is averaging more than 57,000 cases a day and 24,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations.
27th Jul 2021 - The Associated Press

Nearly 60 medical groups including American Medical Association sign joint statement calling on employers to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for healthcare workers

In a joint statement on Monday, 57 medical groups called on employers to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all health care workers. The groups say that requiring health workers to get vaccinated will protect patients as well as vulnerable groups like the immunocompromised. Houston Methodist was the first health system to make vaccines mandatory earlier this year and has since been joined by dozens of others. Daily vaccinations have fallen to less than 500,000 per day while daily cases have increased by 291% in three weeks from 13,305 to 52,116
27th Jul 2021 - Daily Mail


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 27th Jul 2021

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Germans divided over restrictions for the unvaccinated

German politicians were deeply divided Sunday over a warning by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff that restrictions for unvaccinated people may be necessary if COVID-19 infection numbers reach new heights in the coming months. Chief of staff Helge Braun told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag that he doesn’t expect another coronavirus-related lockdown in Germany. But Braun said that unvaccinated people may be barred from entering venues like restaurants, movie theaters or sports stadiums “because the residual risk is too high.”
27th Jul 2021 - Associated Press

NYC Imposes Covid-19 Vaccine—Or Weekly Test—Mandate For 340,000 City Workers

New York City will require all of its municipal workers—including firefighters, police officers and teachers—to get vaccinated against Covid-19 or test weekly for the virus, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday,
26th Jul 2021 - Forbes

'Freshers' jabs' for students as universities pressed to help boost take-up of Covid-19 vaccine

The Government is planning a “freshers’ jab” campaign this autumn as part of efforts to increase Covid-19 vaccine uptake among the youngest groups in time for the winter when NHS pressure will increase. Ministers are keen to target around 2.5 million under-30s who say they are willing to get vaccinated but have not yet got round to signing up for their first dose. They have launched social media advertising campaigns, including a recent video by England manager Gareth Southgate, and encouraging the use of “vaccine passports” to reopen high-risk events. The Government has also worked with dating apps and social media companies to get the message out.
26th Jul 2021 - iNews

Major medical groups call for employers to mandate Covid-19 vaccines for health care workers

As the number of Covid-19 cases surges in the United States, more than 50 health and medical groups -- including the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association -- issued a joint statement calling for all health care and long-term care employers to mandate employees be vaccinated against Covid-19. "Our health care organizations and societies advocate that all health care and long-term care employers require their workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This is the logical fulfillment of the ethical commitment of all health care workers to put patients as well as residents of long-term care facilities first and take all steps necessary to ensure their health and well-being," they wrote in the joint statement issued Monday.
26th Jul 2021 - CNN

California, NYC to require employees to get COVID-19 vaccine

California and New York City announced Monday that they would require all government employees to get the coronavirus vaccine or face weekly COVID-19 testing, and the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first major federal agency to require health care workers to receive the shot. Meanwhile, in a possible sign that increasingly dire health warnings are getting through to more Americans, vaccination rates began to creep up again, offering hope that the nation could yet break free of the coronavirus if people who have been reluctant to receive the shot are finally inoculated.
26th Jul 2021 - Associated Press


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Jul 2021

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Why it may be a 'grave mistake' for FDA to wait much longer for full COVID-19 vaccine approval

Zeynep Tufecki, a sociologist who has written extensively on COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, is a proponent of broadening vaccine mandates in the United States, citing precedent in the health-care sector, the military, and schools. Kentucky, she notes in a piece published Saturday in The New York Times, requires anyone working in a long-term care facility to be vaccinated against the flu and pneumococcal disease unless they have a medical or religious exemption (Brown University's Dr. Ashish Jha, another prominent voice during the pandemic, also pointed to flu vaccine mandates in nursing homes as a reason to implement them for the coronavirus). But Tufecki acknowledged that the fact that the FDA has still not granted full authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines is an obstacle to imposing such requirements.
25th Jul 2021 - Yahoo News

Large events such as Premier League matches could be open only to the fully-vaccinated

Large events such as Premier League games could be open only to fully vaccinated people from October under government plans. Talks are under way with the Premier League to discuss whether supporters who have not received both jabs could be barred from entry, according to the PA news agency. The rule could also be used for lower divisions and other sports, and for seated events with a capacity of more than 20,000 people.
25th Jul 2021 - Sky News

France Mandates Vaccine Passport To Visit Eiffel Tower, Other Tourist Sites—And Restaurants Are Next

No sooner had the Eiffel Tower reopened to the public than a new hoop materialized through which tourists must jump if they want to visit the iconic Paris landmark. In a new initiative to fight what the French government calls a “stratospheric” rise in delta variant infections, individuals must download and use a digital Covid pass to enter French museums, movie theaters, sports venues, festivals, top tourist attractions and more. A government mandate to use le pass sanitaire, or “health pass,” took effect yesterday at cultural and tourist sites across France, as well as all events or places with more than 50 people. Visitors who turned up at the Eiffel Tower without proof of vaccination were offered on-the-spot Covid tests.
24th Jul 2021 - Forbes

Italy imposes ‘green pass’ restrictions on unvaccinated people

The Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi, has urged all Italians to get Covid-19 jabs after his government approved restrictions on unvaccinated citizens as it scrambles to contain a resurgence of infections. Draghi told a press conference that the country needed to act quickly to avoid the kind of infection levels that are being seen in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, as well as to protect the economy. From 6 August, entry to stadiums, museums, theatres, cinemas, exhibition centres, swimming pools and gyms will only be allowed upon presentation of a “green pass”.
23rd Jul 2021 - The Guardian

Hungary to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for healthcare workers -PM

Hungary's government has decided to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for healthcare workers as part of efforts to contain the pandemic, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told public radio on Friday. "Already there are certain vaccines that are mandatory for people working in the healthcare sector ... we have now extended this to the coronavirus," Orban said..
23rd Jul 2021 - Reuters

New Zealand Suspends Travel Bubble With Australia As Sydney COVID-19 Cluster Grows

New Zealand on Friday suspended its quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia for at least eight weeks due to a growing COVID-19 cluster in Sydney. New Zealand recently imposed quarantine restrictions on travelers from New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia states, where lockdowns have been introduced to contain delta variant clusters.
23rd Jul 2021 - NPR

As Americans navigate conflicting COVID-19 mask advice, 'everyone is confused'

A COVID-19 surge ignited in parts of the United States by the highly contagious Delta variant and vaccine hesitancy has led to new mask mandates and deep confusion among some people about which guidance to follow. In Los Angeles County, leaders have reinstated an indoor mask mandate, even for the fully vaccinated. Officials in Houston and New Orleans also raised coronavirus alert levels this week and told people to mask up.
23rd Jul 2021 - Reuters


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 23rd Jul 2021

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Ignoring ventilation is the great unspoken error of our government’s Covid-19 strategy

The initial message of hand-washing and face-touching just kind of stuck – but evidence shows that it’s ventilation, ventilation, ventilation that really matters
22nd Jul 2021 - iNews

How worried should vaccinated people be of Covid-19 breakthrough infections?

Coronavirus infections are on the rise again in the United States. CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen explains how the dominant Delta variant impacts those who have been vaccinated and what precautions they should take.
22nd Jul 2021 - CNN

Greece extends mandatory regular testing for unvaccinated tourism staff

Greece said on Thursday all unvaccinated restaurant and tourism workers nationwide must undergo regular COVID-19 tests, extending an obligation that previously applied only on some popular holiday islands as case numbers have continued to climb. After a disastrous year in 2020 where global travel evaporated, Greece lifted most restrictions and has been hoping for at least a partial revival of its crucial tourist industry over the summer.
23rd Jul 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Minister suggests other 'crowded' venues where vaccine passports could be introduced

Vaccine passports could be introduced for sporting and business events, music venues and festivals in addition to nightclubs, a minister has suggested, but people will not have to prove their COVID status to access schools and universities. Making a statement to MPs in the Commons, Nadhim Zahawi said those former events are the ones that ministers are "most concerned about" when it comes to the spread of COVID-19.
22nd Jul 2021 - Sky News

One in seven Covid-19 cases not reached through Test and Trace in latest week

One in seven people transferred to the Test and Trace system after testing positive for Covid-19 were not reached in the latest week, new figures show. It is the largest proportion not reached since October last year and comes as the number of people testing positive rose to its highest total for nearly six months. Some 14.2% of people transferred to Test and Trace in England in the week ending July 14 were not reached, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
22nd Jul 2021 - Evening Standard

More than 600,000 people told to isolate by NHS Covid-19 app

More than 600,000 people using the NHS Covid-19 app in England and Wales were sent self-isolation alerts in the week between 8 and 15 July. Data shows 618,903 alerts were sent - a 17% rise from the previous week. There are complaints from businesses that the alerts are causing serious staff shortages and affecting services. However some fully-vaccinated key workers will be exempt from self-isolating if they are pinged by the app as a close contact of a positive case. Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told the BBC a “very narrow” list of jobs would be released today.
22nd Jul 2021 - BBC News

UK to launch daily COVID tests in food sector to tackle 'pingdemic'

Daily tests to replace self-isolation for 'pinged' workers. Testing sites to be set up at distribution centres this week. Supermarkets have warned of shortages on limited lines. Named workers from other key services will not have to isolate
22nd Jul 2021 - Reuters UK

Proven ways to boost Covid-19 vaccination: mandates plus nudges

The United States is approaching a plateau in vaccination rates at a perilous moment as the highly transmissible Delta variant has become the dominant strain. It’s time to get serious about vaccination. If we have a checkerboard of communities across America without adequate uptake of Covid-19 vaccines, we will never stem the pandemic. Evidence-based tools can make us all safer and more secure by making vaccination the default choice in Americans’ everyday lives — in schools, businesses, and hospitals. Behavioral science research shows the power of nudges to make the healthier and safer choice easier and the risky choice harder. Nudges also operate by showing vaccine-hesitant individuals that their peers are getting the jab.
22nd Jul 2021 - STAT News


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 22nd Jul 2021

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COVID-19 Vaccine Success Could Be Measured With One Number

The term correlate of protection doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but it’s one of the sexiest concepts in the field of vaccinology. Correlates are biological benchmarks—measurements of a single immune molecule or cell—that can show that a vaccine is achieving its desired effect. With a correlate in hand, researchers can confirm how well a shot is working and identify the rare individuals in whom it doesn’t take; they can suss out the need for boosters and fast-track the development of new vaccines. At their most powerful, correlates of protection boil down the complexities of an immune response to a single value—one that can confidently affirm that a person won’t get infected or seriously sick. “It’s kind of a magic number,” Ali Ellebedy, an immunologist at Washington University in St. Louis, told me. “It’s the big holy grail,” Emory University’s Sri Edupuganti says. “It’s what we dream about,” Cornell’s Sallie Permar told me last month.
21st Jul 2021 - The Atlantic

Americas are facing pandemic of the unvaccinated, PAHO says

The Americas are facing a pandemic of the unvaccinated, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday, as it warned that countries with low inoculation rates are seeing increases in COVID-19 and repeated a call for vaccine donations. "We face a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and the only way to stop it is to expand vaccination," PAHO director Carissa Etienne said at a weekly briefing. "Vaccines are critical, even if no vaccine is 100% effective."
21st Jul 2021 - Reuters

France forced to soften rules after coronavirus green pass backlash

The French government, which last week introduced some of Europe’s toughest measures against COVID-19, has been forced to row back on some restrictions following a pushback from industries and street protests. Among the new rules, French President Emmanuel Macron sought to turbo-drive vaccinations by making proof of vaccination or immunity mandatory to enter cafés, restaurants and a range of other venues this summer. The scheme, which goes further than other big EU countries, was introduced to help break a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections in France, driven by the more contagious Delta variant. On Monday, the government spokesperson Gabriel Attal warned that the increase in cases was “stratospheric” after France’s incidence rate increased by 125 percent in a week.
21st Jul 2021 - POLITICO Europe

More than 91 million live in US counties with high Covid-19 infections. It's time to reset and put masks back on, expert says

With the highly contagious Delta variant spreading, particularly among unvaccinated Americans, it may be time for much of the country to put masks back on, experts said. "We are at a very different point in the pandemic than we were a month ago," Dr. Leana Wen told CNN on Tuesday. "And, therefore, we should follow the example of LA County and say that if there are places where vaccinated and unvaccinated people are mixing, then indoor mask mandates should still apply." Los Angeles County reinstated a mask mandate over the weekend, requiring masking indoors regardless of vaccination status.
21st Jul 2021 - CNN

New York requiring vaccine or testing for workers in city hospitals, clinics

New York City will be requiring public health employees to get the coronavirus vaccine or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is expected to announce the new policy on Wednesday. It will affect the more than 42,000 people who work for the public hospital system in the city, the mayor’s spokesperson said on Tuesday, The New York Times reported. The policy will apply to the 10 percent of city government workers who work in the 11 hospitals in the public hospital system.
21st Jul 2021 - The Hill


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Jul 2021

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Anger over coronavirus vaccine passports plans in nightclubs

Plans to make Covid-19 vaccine passports mandatory at nightclubs in England have been criticised by those working in the industry in the North West. Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday 19 July that jab certificates will be required from the end of September to attend nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather. Only those who can prove they have been double-jabbed will be allowed into venues, even proof of a negative test would not be acceptable.
20th Jul 2021 - ITV News

Covid-19: Crucial for pinged people to self-isolate - No 10

Downing Street has insisted it is "crucial" to self-isolate when sent an alert by the Covid app - and businesses should help employees to do so. It comes after business minister Paul Scully said he would encourage people who are "pinged" to self-isolate but they can make an "informed decision". The app has always been voluntary to download and any alerts are advisory. Labour accused the government of "making it up as they go along" and creating confusion. In recent days, there has been widespread criticism that the app has been sending out so many alerts that hundreds of thousands of people are self-isolating and missing work, causing widespread disruption.
20th Jul 2021 - BBC News

Health expert warns Olympic bubble has burst as Covid-19 cases linked to the Games rise to 71

A public health expert warned the Olympic Covid-19 bubble had been broken as nine new cases were announced, including a volunteer for the first time. It took the total number of Covid cases linked to the Games in the build-up to 71. And Kenji Shibuya, the former director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College London, told Reuters: “It’s obvious that the bubble system is kind of broken. “My biggest concern is, of course, there will be a cluster of infections in the village or some of the accommodation and interaction with local people.”
20th Jul 2021 - Evening Standard

Pharmacies call for more Pfizer doses as young people 'clamouring' for vaccine

In Ireland, pharmacies are calling for the Government to provide them with more Pfizer vaccines to keep up with demand. It comes as pharmacists today administer their 100,000th vaccine, with 86% of these going to the 18-34s. Darragh O'Loughlin from the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) says the majority of jabs administered there have been single-shot doses. Over 800 pharmacies around the country are administering Janssen vaccines while the HSE provided Pfizer vaccine to just 350 pharmacies.
20th Jul 2021 - Irish Examiner


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U.S. CDC raises COVID warning for travelers to United Kingdom

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday issued a more severe warning against travel to the United Kingdom, elevating the nation to "Level Four: COVID-19 Very High," the CDC's highest level.
20th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Saudi citizens must have two COVID-19 vaccine doses for travel abroad - SPA

Saudi citizens will need two COVID-19 vaccine doses before they can travel outside the kingdom from Aug. 9, state news agency SPA reported on Monday, citing the ministry of interior. The decision was made based on new waves of infection globally, new mutations, and the "low efficacy of one vaccination dose against these mutations," the statement said.
19th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Thousands disable Covid-19 contact tracing app as Scotland ducks 'pingdemic'

Almost 14,000 people have disabled their contact tracing app as Scotland avoids a “pingdemic” despite having the highest Covid-19 rate in the UK. The number of people no longer allowing themselves to be automatically notified if they have been in close contact with someone who has caught the virus is likely to be much higher because the Scottish government’s figures only include those who deregister the app, not those who simply delete it. Those who deregistered included NHS staff.
19th Jul 2021 - The Times

Face Mask Requirements Returning As Covid-19 Coronavirus Cases Rise

Well, this is what happens when the genie has left the bottle, and it’s not wearing a face mask. In the words of Christina Aguilera, oh, woah, woah. Covid-19 cases have been on the rise throughout the U.S. This is just two months after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed their face mask guidelines in May so that fully vaccinated people would no longer have to wear face masks indoors, as I described then for Forbes. Since it’s difficult to tell whether people are fully vaccinated because they may do a thing called lying, many state and local authorities soon abandoned face mask requirements all together.
19th Jul 2021 - Forbes

France broadens use of COVID-19 health pass, slashes fines

The French government adjusted its new plan to fight COVID-19 on Monday, slashing planned fines and postponing them to an unspecified date, spokesman Gabriel Attal said. The measures, which include requiring a health pass in a wide array of venues from the start of August and making vaccination mandatory for health workers, will still account for some of the toughest in Europe.
19th Jul 2021 - Reuters

'Pingdemic': English businesses buckle under COVID-19 isolation demands

COVID-19 cases surging in Britain. Official tracing app telling workers to self-isolate Crisis has overshadowed PM Johnson's 'freedom day'
19th Jul 2021 - Reuters UK


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‘Wembley variant’: England fans report soaring Covid cases after gathering for Euro 2020 final

Swathes of England football fans have reported testing positive for coronavirus following the Euros final on Sunday night, as Public Health England (PHE) issued renewed calls for regular testing ahead of the lifting of restrictions on Monday. Some fans said that “pretty much everyone” they knew who headed to the stadium had contracted the virus or was self-isolating. The large numbers of fans reporting positive Covid tests following the match has led people to dub the illness “the Wembley variant”. The final at Wembley, which was part of a Government trial to test the safety of large events, saw 60,000 fans attend with no social distancing or masks after producing a negative test result. However, thousands more congregated outside and dozens of ticketless fans stormed the stadium.
18th Jul 2021 - iNews

Covid-19: No EU vaccine certificate for Irish passport holders in NI

Most Irish passport holders who live in Northern Ireland will not be able to use the EU Digital Covid Certificate. That is in spite of Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Mícheál Martin and other senior Irish government ministers indicating that they would. The vaccine "passport" to facilitate international travel comes into effect in the Republic of Ireland on Monday. It will make journeys within the EU easier for people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Last week, more than two million people in the Republic of Ireland got their certificates, which contain QR codes, by email and post.
18th Jul 2021 - BBC News

Australia, under lockdown, reports slight dip in COVID-19 cases

Australia's two largest states on Sunday reported slight declines in new COVID-19 infections, prompting authorities to say it could be days before tough lockdown measures showed progress in containing the spread of the Delta variant. The country's most populous city, Sydney, and all of Victoria state - totaling nearly half the 25 million national population - are under stay-home orders after a flare-up of the highly infectious virus strain began last month. A day earlier, Berejiklian tightened restrictions on the city of five million people, including a shutdown of all building and property maintenance works and bans on some 600,000 people in the worst-affected suburbs from leaving their immediate neighbourhood for work.
18th Jul 2021 - Reuters

The CDC Owes Parents Better Messaging on the Vaccine for Kids

On June 23, an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met to discuss, among other topics, vaccine-related cases of myocarditis, which have hospitalized hundreds of adolescents. Evidence of a correlation between the condition, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and the vaccines had been mounting for months. Numerous countries had altered or withheld recommendations for pediatric vaccination, with some citing an ambiguous risk-benefit
18th Jul 2021 - Wired

Olympic village tests first COVID case days before Tokyo Games

The Tokyo Olympics has registered its first COVID-19 case in the Olympic Village six days before the Games open, the organisers have said. Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto confirmed on Saturday that a visitor from abroad who is involved in organising the Games had tested positive. He would not reveal the person’s nationality, citing privacy concerns.
17th Jul 2021 - Al Jazeera English

COVID-19: Cautionary tale from the Netherlands' coronavirus unlocking - what lessons can the UK learn?

As the UK's nations prepare to ease coronavirus restrictions, another European nation is reimposing curbs on its citizens. The Dutch celebrated their "Freedom Day" two weeks ago only to find COVID-19 cases soaring to unprecedented levels. The spike in case rates led the Dutch prime minister to concede that coronavirus restrictions had been lifted too soon. While the epidemiological situation varies between the two countries and direct comparisons are difficult, is there anything the UK could learn from the Dutch experience?
16th Jul 2021 - Sky News

Freedom or folly? UK's end to mandatory masks sows confusion

For many, it’s common courtesy or a sensible precaution. For others, it’s an imposition, a daily irritation. The face mask — a highly charged source of debate, confusion and anger around the world during the coronavirus pandemic — is now dividing people as the crisis eases. Britain is bracing for acrimony on Monday, when the government lifts a legal requirement to wear face coverings in most indoor settings, including shops, trains, buses and subways. Donning a mask in many places will stop being an order and become a request. Already, people are split over how to respond.
16th Jul 2021 - Associated Press


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Vaccine passports: Pubs and restaurants urged to roll out NHS Covid Pass with lockdown easing on 19 July

Vaccine passports could soon be required for entry to pubs, bars and restaurants, as the Government amps up caution ahead of Monday’s date for scrapping lockdown restrictions amid a huge surge in Covid cases. Ministers yesterday published their much-anticipated advice for businesses on how to reopen as England moves to step four of the roadmap out of lockdown on 19 July. It said hospitality firms will be encouraged to consider making customers show proof of vaccination to enter their premises.
15th Jul 2021 - iNews.co.uk

China threatens to ban unvaccinated adults from schools, hospitals

Millions of Chinese people face bans from public spaces including schools, hospitals and shopping malls unless they get a Covid-19 vaccine, under new edicts covering nearly two dozen cities and counties. The coronavirus first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, but since then the country has largely brought it under control – and Beijing is determined to keep it that way. The tough new rules, which follow the emergence of the highly contagious Delta variant across Asia, will be imposed on numerous second-tier cities in a possible marker of what is to come for the whole country
15th Jul 2021 - New Straits Times

‘Karaoke cluster’: Singapore reports surge of new COVID cases

Singapore, which has managed to keep COVID-19 in check in much of the community for months, has reported the biggest jump in domestically transmitted cases in 10 months after an outbreak traced to a karaoke lounge (KTV), which was supposed to have been operating as a food and beverage outlet. The nation reported 56 cases on Wednesday with 42 linked to the karaoke cluster, the health ministry said.
15th Jul 2021 - AlJazeera


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French police quell protest against COVID health passport rules

Dozens of French police used tear gas to disperse a protest against President Emmanuel Macron's plan to require a COVID-19 vaccine certificate or negative PCR test to gain entry to bars, restaurants and cinemas from next month.
14th Jul 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Mandatory face masks to remain in string of English cities as mayors stage mass revolt

Face masks will remain mandatory in certain transport settings in a string of English cities after mayors staged a revolt. The mayors of Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, North of Tyne and West of England all blasted Boris Johnson's decision to axe compulsory face coverings from Monday.In a damning joint press conference, they announced face masks will remain compulsory in the parts of the transport network that they have control over, despite the Prime Minister's 'Freedom Day' on July 19. That means the coverings will be a "condition of carriage" on the London Underground and buses; all Metrolink trams in Greater Manchester; and the Tyne and Wear Metro. They will also be mandatory in bus stations and terminals in South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire
14th Jul 2021 - Mirror.co.uk

COVID-19: Parliament staff 'incredulous and angry' at MPs not having to wear masks from Monday

Trade unions representing workers in parliament have expressed "incredulity, anger and concern" at a decision not to make MPs continue to wear face masks from next week. Following confirmation that England will move to step four of the government's roadmap for lifting COVID restrictions from 19 July, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle, this week set out how rules will be relaxed in parliament.
14th Jul 2021 - Sky News

Victoria reintroduces masks in outdoor and indoor settings amid new COVID-19 outbreak

Masks will be mandatory indoors for Victorians aged 12 and above from Thursday as the state deals with another COVID outbreak, which includes 11 new confirmed cases. The new rules, announced by the Victorian Department of Health, state that masks must be worn in all workplaces and secondary schools. They must also be worn outdoors when you cannot remain socially distanced from those who are not from your household.
14th Jul 2021 - ABC News

COVID-19: Wales to ease coronavirus restrictions from Saturday - but face masks still needed indoors and on public transport

Coronavirus restrictions in Wales will be further relaxed from Saturday but face masks will still have to be worn on public transport and in most indoor public places, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said. The nation will move fully from alert level two to alert level one on 17 July - bringing it more broadly in line with England and Scotland.
14th Jul 2021 - Sky News

Australia extends Sydney lockdown as COVID-19 outbreak nears 900 infections

Australian authorities extended a lockdown in Sydney on Wednesday by at least 14 days after three weeks of initial restrictions failed to stamp out the biggest outbreak of COVID-19 this year in the country's largest city. New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said restrictions would remain in place until at least July 30 after reporting 97 new locally transmitted cases, a slight increase from a day earlier. "It always hurts to say this, but we need to extend the lockdown at least a further two weeks," Berejiklian said in Sydney on Wednesday.
14th Jul 2021 - Investing.com

German retailers support face masks, fear new lockdown

German retailers still support the wearing of face masks in stores as they worry about another wave of the coronavirus pandemic possibly leading to new restrictions, an industry association said on Wednesday.
14th Jul 2021 - Reuters


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‘Mixed advice’ driving Covid vaccine hesitancy in pregnant UK women

Pregnant women are being given dangerously mixed messaging from health professionals, with figures suggesting a “very high” vaccine hesitancy among the vulnerable group, according to campaigners. Three-quarters of pregnant women in the UK feel anxious about the easing of coronavirus restrictions with many saying the move is like “another lockdown” for expectant mothers, according to a survey of about 9,000 pregnant women by campaigning group Pregnant Then Screwed.
13th Jul 2021 - The Guardian

Greece and France join Italy in making Covid-19 shots mandatory for health workers, telling the unvaccinated they won't get paid

As Europe struggles with a rising number of coronavirus cases caused by the Delta variant, several countries are making vaccinations compulsory for health care workers, and some leaders are even considering making shots mandatory for all. France and Greece both announced new vaccine requirements on Monday, following in the footsteps of Italy, which made vaccinations compulsory for health employees in April. The UK government, which is pushing ahead with its unlocking plan despite strong warnings from experts, has previously said it will mandate shots for care home staff from October.
13th Jul 2021 - CNN

COVID-19: Train and bus operators will no longer enforce mask wearing in England from 19 July

Train and bus operators will not require passengers to wear face masks on services in England from 19 July, industry bodies have confirmed. The government has left it up to transport companies to decide whether they wish to enforce the wearing of face coverings, giving them the power to turn customers away for not wearing a mask. But only airlines, such as Ryanair, British Airways, and easyJet, and the Eurostar service will continue to require face masks from Monday. Train, bus and coach operators have said that, in the absence of government legislation enforcing masks, they will not require travellers to continue wearing face coverings.
13th Jul 2021 - Sky News

Germany won't make COVID-19 vaccination compulsory - Merkel

Germany will not make vaccination against COVID-19 compulsory, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday, adding that ensuring more Germans get vaccinated, sticking to distancing rules and testing should help prevent a fourth wave. "We have no intention of going down this road," Merkel said during a news conference. "There will be no compulsory vaccination."
13th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Masks to remain mandatory on London transport after national rule easing

Masks will remain mandatory on London's public transport network after July 19, the city's mayor said on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government plans to lift most COVID-19 restrictions from that date in England despite rising cases. The public will be expected, rather than compelled by law, to wear masks in indoor enclosed spaces across the country from next week, as rules decided upon by the Conservative administration are eased
13th Jul 2021 - Reuters

The decline in Covid-19 preceded vaccines. But we need jabs to finish the job

Following patterns from previous pandemics, the precipitous decline in new cases of Covid-19 started well before a meaningful number of people had been vaccinated. To be sure, coronavirus vaccines are a remarkable accomplishment. But even a vaccine that’s 95% effective can’t take full credit if it is introduced on the back of a naturally receding epidemic. Timing is everything. There are two ways to develop immunity: natural infection and vaccination. The best explanation for declining rates of Covid-19 appears to be previous infections, which vary considerably from state to state. Individuals with confirmed Covid-19 diagnoses are only the tip of the iceberg. Although estimates vary, the most recent study from the National Institutes of Health suggests that about five people were infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, for each person with a confirmed case
13th Jul 2021 - STAT News


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France will not allow health workers to work if not vaccinated from COVID-19

France will not allow health workers to go to work and will not pay them if they are not vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 15, the health minister said on Monday. Speaking on LCI television, Health Minister Olivier Veran said it was vital to impose obligatory measures given how contagious the Delta variant of the virus is.
13th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Greek PM Makes Vaccine Mandatory for Healthcare Workers

The coronavirus vaccine will now be mandatory for all Greek healthcare workers, according to an announcement on Monday by Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The statement was part of a series of new measures regarding Covid-19 and the country’s continuing plan for vaccinations on Monday. Although he admitted that Greece would likely be hit hard by the fast-spreading Delta variant, Mitsotakis affirmed that he would not place the country under strict lockdown measures again.
12th Jul 2021 - Greek Reporter

COVID-19: Making changes to NHS app's settings reinforces its importance

In Britain, the government is in a difficult position. There are suggestions that its NHS COVID app is broken, that it is pinging too many people and telling them to self-isolate. But it's not - the app is doing exactly what it was designed to do. As one senior scientist who advises the government told me: "The problem is not that it's pinging too many people. The problem is that there are too many people becoming infected." But throughout the week we have been told by various government ministers the app needs changing "to make it less sensitive".
12th Jul 2021 - Sky News

Dirty air makes COVID worse, beta variant deadlier than original

Air pollution makes severe COVID worse. Dirty air contributes to COVID-19 severity, according to a study from one of America's most polluted cities. Researchers who studied 2,038 adults hospitalized with COVID-19 in the Detroit area found those who needed intensive care and machines to help them breathe were more likely to live in neighborhoods with higher levels of air pollution and lead paint
12th Jul 2021 - Reuters

WHO says countries should not order COVID-19 boosters while others still need vaccines

Rich countries should not be ordering booster shots for their vaccinated populations while other countries have yet to receive COVID-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization said on Monday. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said deaths were again rising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delta variant was becoming dominant, and many countries had yet to receive enough vaccine doses to protect their health workers. "The Delta variant is ripping around the world at a scorching pace, driving a new spike in COVID-19 cases and death," Tedros told a briefing, noting that the highly contagious variant, first detected in India, had now been found in more than 104 countries.
12th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Macron announces vaccination passes and warns the country's fourth wave has ALREADY begun

President Macron introduced new coronavirus measures on Monday night. Covid-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for those working with the vulnerable Care workers have until September 15 to get vaccinated after then 'checks will be made and sanctions applied' Macron said in a televised address on Monday Vaccine passports will also be required from August 1 for anyone wanting to go out to eat or drink at a bar, café or restaurant, or travel on planes. Passengers on long-distance bus or train rides will also require a pass. Just three days ago, France reopened its nightclubs as restrictions began to ease. It comes as the delta variant has started driving infection rates up across Europe. Macron is set to announce a new law requiring health workers to get vaccinated
12th Jul 2021 - Daily Mail


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Pfizer, U.S. health officials to discuss COVID boosters on Monday -company

COVID-19 vaccine maker Pfizer Inc will meet with federal health officials as soon as Monday to discuss the need for a booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine as it prepares to seek authorization, the company said on Sunday. The meeting comes days after the drugmaker and its partner BioNTech SE announced plans to seek U.S. and European regulatory approval for a third dose of their COVID-19 shot amid the spread of variants and data they said showed heightened risk of infection six months after initial inoculation.
12th Jul 2021 - Reuters

South Africa extends tight COVID-19 restrictions for another 14 days

South Africa extended tight COVID-19 rules on Sunday for another 14 days, maintaining restrictions that include a ban on gatherings, a curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. and a prohibition on the sale of alcohol. The country, the worst-hit on the African continent in terms of recorded cases and deaths, is in the grip of a third wave of infections driven by the more infectious Delta coronavirus variant.
11th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Covid passports 'WILL be compulsory in pubs, clubs and restaurants' to prevent fourth wave

The government hopes Covid passports will encourage vaccine-shy young people to get jabbed. By September, all adults over 18 should have been offered both vaccine doses, allowing for the passports. Patrons will need to show proof of either two vaccine doses or a recent negative test under the proposals
10th Jul 2021 - Daily Mail

Students don't need masks at school if they are fully vaccinated, CDC says

Fully vaccinated students do not need to wear masks in classrooms this fall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. The guidance, which goes beyond mask-wearing, is aimed at kindergartners through high school seniors, and is meant "to help keep kids in classrooms, as well as participating in any sports or extracurricular activities," said Erin Sauber-Schatz, who heads the CDC's Community Interventions and Critical Populations Task Force.
9th Jul 2021 - NBC News

Native Americans continue to boast highest vaccination rates in the US

Native Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, dying at higher rates than other populations. Now, Native Americans have the highest COVID-19 vaccination rate in the United States. After successfully vaccinating much of their own population, the Indian Health Service has even begun offering doses to visitors.
9th Jul 2021 - The Hill

Oxford told to reduce travel with mass testing for under 30s to slow Covid surge

People living in Oxford are being urged to reduce their travel and surge testing is being brought into the city to tackle soaring Covid cases. Mass testing for people under 30s is also being rolled out. As part of the new measures, which will come into place on Monday, people living in Oxford will also be urged to get the Covid jab. Similar measures have already been introduced across the North West, and Bedford and Birmingham.
9th Jul 2021 - The Mirror

Chile Relaxes Restrictions for the Vaccinated as Covid Cases Drop

Chile will loosen restrictions against the coronavirus for residents who are fully vaccinated as new cases plunge and the government expands one of the world’s fastest inoculation programs. Starting July 15, capacity rules for establishments like gyms and restaurants in districts that aren’t under quarantine will be relaxed for people with two doses, according to a government statement on Thursday. The nightly curfew will be shortened depending on virus and vaccination metrics, and schools will be able to open for on-site classes even in neighborhoods under strict lockdown.
8th Jul 2021 - Bloomberg


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Mass infection is not an option: we must do more to protect our young

As the third wave of the pandemic takes hold across England, the UK Government plans to further re-open the nation. Implicit in this decision is the acceptance that infections will surge, but that this does not matter because vaccines have “broken the link between infection and mortality”.1 On July 19, 2021—branded as Freedom Day—almost all restrictions are set to end. We believe this decision is dangerous and premature.
7th Jul 2021 - The Lancet

Covid-19: Amber list quarantine for fully vaccinated to end on 19 July

Fully vaccinated UK residents arriving in England from amber travel list destinations will no longer have to quarantine from 19 July. They will, however, still need to pay for Covid tests before and after their return, the transport secretary said. Grant Shapps told MPs that under-18s returning from amber list places would also be exempt from quarantine. Travel industry leaders said the change was a "positive step" but called for the amber list to be expanded.
8th Jul 2021 - BBC News


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‘No quarantine’ for vaccinated amber list arrivals in England

Ministers are likely to announce that vaccinated people travelling to England from amber list countries will no longer have to quarantine from later this month, in a significant boost for the travel industry, it is understood. A date of 19 July to change the rules is among options that will be considered by the Covid operations committee, chaired by the Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, which is due to meet on Thursday morning. Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, is then expected to make a formal announcement of the decision on Thursday afternoon. It would apply to England, but Covid travel rules have tended to be unified across the UK.
7th Jul 2021 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Do face masks work? Here is what scientific studies say

Wearing a face mask is soon set to become a personal choice rather than something required of people inside buildings and on public transport. Although the government has repeatedly stressed that it would be guided by the science, a rift in approach is showing between groups such as the British Medical Association and health minister Helen Whately. So - what do peer-reviewed scientific studies say when it comes to how effective face masks are?
7th Jul 2021 - Sky News

Covid-19 passports dropped over fears certificates would place strain on testing system

Ministers have dropped plans to introduce Covid-19 passports – in spite of the certificates offering a possible public health benefit – amid concerns they would place a burden on the testing system. The official review into the use of Covid Status Certificates also raised fears that the introduction of the scheme would encourage people to take more risks, believing they were “Covid free”.
7th Jul 2021 - iNews

Turkmenistan makes COVID-19 vaccination mandatory

Turkmenistan's healthcare ministry said on Wednesday it was making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all residents aged 18 and over as the former Soviet region of Central Asia reported a fresh spike in new cases. Turkmenistan has reported no COVID-19 cases but introduced a number of restrictions such as setting out requirements for wearing facemasks. Neighbouring Kazakhstan made vaccinations mandatory for a wide range of public and private sector employees last month, following the example of Russia.
7th Jul 2021 - Reuters


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Mass-testing reduced Liverpool COVID-19 cases by a fifth, study finds

A mass rapid-testing scheme reduced COVID-19 cases in the English city of Liverpool by more than a fifth, researchers said on Wednesday, arguing it was an effective public health intervention despite concerns over accuracy of the devices. The community testing pilot scheme launched in November, and offered everyone in the city tests whether or not they had symptoms, in an attempt to find a new way to use testing to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
7th Jul 2021 - Reuters UK

Covid-19: 4,500 applications made for emergency vaccine passports

More than 4,500 holidaymakers have applied for short-term vaccine passports, MLAs have been told. The so-called COVIDCert was announced by the Department of Health on Friday. The emergency scheme was introduced by Northern Ireland's Department of Health to accommodate those planning to visit countries which require proof of two Covid-19 vaccinations. Health Minister Robin Swann told MLAs the public response had been "incredible".
6th Jul 2021 - BBC News

COVID-19: PM suffers backlash over plans to ditch rules on wearing face masks

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has also warned that lifting all restrictions in one go would be "reckless" - and is calling for face coverings to remain mandatory on public transport. He said: "To throw off all protections at the same time when the infection rate is still going up is reckless. "We need a balanced approach, we need to keep key protections in place, including masks, including ventilation and crucially... proper payments to those who need to self-isolate." Dr Chaand Nagpaul of the British Medical Association said it was "increasingly concerning" for Mr Johnson to "decide to go full steam" on easing measures - despite warnings over rising hospital cases and deaths
6th Jul 2021 - Sky News


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Opinion | How Do Risks of Covid Vaccination Compare to Covid-19 for Kids?

The world got lucky: The toll of Covid-19 on young people and children has been much lower than it has been for adults. But in part because of that lower toll, some parents are on the fence about getting their school-age children and teens vaccinated. As reports of side effects from vaccination emerge, the risks from vaccines can seem greater than those posed by the coronavirus. However, it still makes sense — indeed, it is crucial — to vaccinate young people against Covid-19. This remains true even when we consider the worst possible outcomes from vaccination.
4th Jul 2021 - The New York Times

Johnson makes masks voluntary in landmark shift from ‘government diktat to personal responsibility’

All social distancing and mask-wearing rules will be abolished in England as Prime Minister Boris Johnson gambles that his world-leading vaccine rollout will blunt the impact of an impending surge of new infections. Announcing a landmark shift from “government diktat to relying on people’s personal responsibility”, Johnson said vaccines offered Britain the chance to fundamentally alter how it treats the pandemic.
6th Jul 2021 - Sydney Morning Herald

Ivory Coast sends mobile clinics to speed up COVID vaccinations

Ivory Coast began sending mobile clinics on Monday to markets and other busy areas in its main city Abidjan in an effort to turbocharge the vaccination campaign against COVID-19. After administering fewer than 800,000 doses since vaccinations began in March - enough for a single dose for just 3% of the population - Ivorian health authorities are now aiming to inoculate a million people in Abidjan over the next 10 days.
5th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Test and trace check-in no longer required under new proposals for businesses

Bars and pubs will no longer need customers to sign into venues using the Test and Trace app and restrictions on how many people can meet will end, the Government has announced. New guidance published by the Government, due to come into effect from July 19 will also see all settings allowed to reopen, including nightclubs and karaoke bars. Limits on social contact of six people or two households indoors, along with 30 people outdoors will also be scrapped and Covid-secure restrictions including table service can end.
5th Jul 2021 - The Independent


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To jab or not to jab: should we be vaccinating our children against coronavirus?

Measles, diphtheria, polio, whooping cough, mumps, flu, meningitis — the list of illnesses against which children are vaccinated goes on and on. By the time they start school aged four, a British child has been injected, nasal-sprayed or orally inoculated 16 times. But when it comes to immunising children against Covid we are surprisingly circumspect. Asked by the Office for National Statistics whether they would want their children vaccinated against Covid, nearly half of parents said they were unsure.
3rd Jul 2021 - The Times

Unvaccinated people are 'variant factories,' infectious diseases expert says

Unvaccinated people do more than merely risk their own health. They're also a risk to everyone if they become infected with coronavirus, infectious disease specialists say. That's because the only source of new coronavirus variants is the body of an infected person. "Unvaccinated people are potential variant factories," Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CNN Friday. "The more unvaccinated people there are, the more opportunities for the virus to multiply," Schaffner said.
3rd Jul 2021 - CNN

The EU’s 'vaccine passport' and what it means for travel

It's free - and all EU citizens, as well as non-EU nationals legally staying or living in the member states (with the right to travel to other member states) can download it or obtain a paper copy. Some countries have already been using the certificate on a voluntary basis - but it was officially introduced on 1 July with a six-week phase-in period.
2nd Jul 2021 - BBC News

'We want to see the tide turn': NSW enters crucial days of COVID lockdown

NSW Health authorities are begging people to stay socially distanced this weekend as the current COVID-19 outbreak gripping Sydney continues to grow. One week into full lockdown, 35 new cases of community transmission were recorded on Saturday, nine of which were infectious during their time in the community. "While, as predicted, the number of cases is going up, we are seeing a greater proportion of those cases in isolation, which is exactly what we want to see," NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
2nd Jul 2021 - 9News


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Delta variant exploits low vaccine rates, easing of rules

The latest alarming coronavirus variant is exploiting low global vaccination rates and a rush to ease pandemic restrictions, adding new urgency to the drive to get more shots in arms and slow its supercharged spread. The vaccines most used in Western countries still appear to offer strong protection against the highly contagious delta variant, first identified in India and now spreading in more than 90 other countries. But the World Health Organization warned this week that the trifecta of easier-to-spread strains, insufficiently immunized populations and a drop in mask use and other public health measures before the virus is better contained will “delay the end of the pandemic.”
1st Jul 2021 - The Associated Press

Ministers plan to end social distancing in England on 19 July

Ministers are planning to remove all mandatory mask and social distancing restrictions in England on 19 July, but national guidance may still encourage caution in high-risk areas such as public transport. A number of key scientific advisers including England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and the government’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, are said to be behind ministers’ plans to lift restrictions, though they have cautioned that the NHS may come under pressure in the winter. However, hospital bosses fear the reopening date will lead to a new spike in admissions due to Covid. NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts in England, warned it could lead to the cancellation of surgery and other care.
1st Jul 2021 - The Guardian

Tokyo mom creates COVID-19 vaccination database amid information vacuum

Balancing a new software programming job and caring for a toddler in Tokyo, LaShawn Toyoda saw increasing confusion in her social media feeds among non-Japanese speakers about how they could get a COVID-19 vaccine. "There was no news available in any language other than Japanese about when they would be able to get vaccinated, how they could get vaccinated or where," said Toyoda, who moved from Maryland in the United States to Tokyo a decade ago. Toyoda launched her database Find a Doc, a health database that helps non-Japanese speaking people find clinics with COVID-19 vaccine doses to spare after cancellations from prioritised elderly patients.
1st Jul 2021 - Reuters

Surgeon General issues warning on Delta variant: 'If you are not vaccinated, you are in trouble'

Dr Vivek Murthy said Indian Delta variant poses greatest risk to unvaccinated people. He told CNN: 'This is a serious threat and we're seeing it spread among unvaccinated people.' Murthy urged people to get vaccinated, or mask-up if they haven't had their shot. Surgeon General said shots offer good protection from Delta variant - but also warned a future strain of COVID could end up defeating them. Delta variant now estimated to comprise 20 per cent of new infections in the United States. Early data from the United Kingdom suggests it is more transmissible, but that vaccines have made it far less dangerous. This comes as a DailyMail.com analysis found thousands of unvaccinated Americans could die if half of all those who haven't gotten shots caught the variant
1st Jul 2021 - Daily Mail


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Delta Variant’s Spread Prompts Reconsideration of Mask Guidance

Throughout the pandemic, masks have ranked among the most contentious public health measures in the United States, symbolizing a bitter partisan divide over the role of government and individual liberties. Now, with a new variant of the coronavirus rapidly spreading across the globe, masks are again the focus of conflicting views, and fears, about the course of pandemic and the restrictions required to manage it.
30th Jun 2021 - The New York Times

UK offers Covid vaccine to Glasgow climate summit delegates

The UK will offer the coronavirus vaccine to thousands of delegates from nearly 200 countries ahead of the UN climate summit in Glasgow in November. The UK and UN has launched registration for the COP26 climate summit earlier than previous years, to allow time for vaccines to reach delegates who would not otherwise have access to the jabs. Under normal circumstances the UN climate summit would draw more than 20,000 attendees from governments, charities and media. Prominent climate action campaigners including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg have said they are concerned the uneven rollout of coronavirus vaccines around the world could undermine negotiations on climate change at the UN summit. Thunberg told the BBC she did not plan to attend the COP26 meeting unless delegates from all countries could take part on the same terms, and also donated €100,000 from her personal foundation to support the World Health Organization’s Covax initiative.
30th Jun 2021 - Financial Times

Covid-19 passports to go live in Northern Ireland 'from next week'

Covid-19 vaccination passports could be available in Northern Ireland from as early as next week. Northern Ireland’s Department of Health announced the passes could be live by Monday, July 5 – ahead of the previously expected July 19 date. The Covid passport allows people to prove they’ve had both jabs when travelling abroad. The passports are planned to go live by next week “providing cyber security checks are cleared successfully”, according to a statement from the NI government.
30th Jun 2021 - Digital Health

Vaccine Mandates Are Coming. Good

Today, vaccination rates are stalling in many areas of the United States, and now nearly all Covid-19 deaths are among the unvaccinated. In Indiana, where I live, only half of people 18 or older are fully vaccinated. Some states, including neighboring Ohio, have engaged in lotteries or prize giveaways in an attempt to entice people to get vaccinated. Those are carrots, or positive behavioral nudges. When it comes to incentives, most people like carrots. Sometimes, though, people need sticks.
28th Jun 2021 - The New York Times


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Covid-19: The countries that have mandatory vaccination for health workers

What would you do to keep your job? It’s a question that healthcare workers in Texas were confronted with in April, when local hospital network Houston Methodist required its staff to be vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2. Nearly 25 000 employees dutifully lined up to be protected against covid-19, and to protect their patients. More than 150 didn’t, and have since either been sacked or resigned. A court case brought by one of the employees, a former nurse, was dismissed by a district court judge, but the case raised questions about requiring vaccination using products that have not been fully approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.2 The employee, meanwhile, has appealed the ruling. What was once a hypothetical question is now a real one, and not just in the US. Businesses around the world are considering making coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for workers (Morgan Stanley and the publisher Bloomsbury are two major companies to have already made the move). And those on the frontlines of the pandemic are no different.
29th Jun 2021 - The BMJ

Delta variant: LA recommends indoor masks regardless of vaccination status

Monday’s recommendation by the LA county health department comes as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that Delta variants are now responsible for about one in every five new infections across the US. LA county health officials noted that “fully vaccinated people appear to be well protected from infections with Delta variants”. But the department suggests that people wear masks when inside grocery or retail stores, as well as theaters and family entertainment centers and workplaces when people’s vaccination statuses are not known.
29th Jun 2021 - The Guardian

Opinion | Vaccine Mandates Are Needed in the U.S.

The mRNA vaccines, made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, will likely get full approval for use from the Food and Drug Administration soon, which may be necessary for broader vaccine mandates. Although the vaccines are already known to be safe and effective, after being given to hundreds of millions of people, with full approval, more groups will begin mandating that their employees get vaccinated. It’s unlikely the United States can overcome the pandemic without such actions.
29th Jun 2021 - The New York Times

S.Korean companies offer employees COVID-19 vaccines at work

South Korea's large manufacturing employers have received permission from the country's health authorities to administer COVID-19 vaccines at in-house clinics, hoping to speed up inoculation of their employees. The inoculation plans come amid the South Korean government's push to ramp up vaccinations after a slow start. South Korea has inoculated 15.3 million people, or about 30% of its population, with at least one dose since it began administering vaccines in February. Affiliates of the country's biggest conglomerate Samsung Group, including Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS), Samsung Display and Samsung SDI Co Ltd (005930.KS), plan to offer vaccine doses to employees at work next month
29th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Cambridge hospital’s mask upgrade appears to eliminate Covid risk to staff

An NHS hospital that upgraded the type of face masks used by staff on Covid-19 wards recorded a dramatic fall of up to 100% in hospital-acquired coronavirus infections among those workers, research shows. Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge upgraded the masks from fluid-resistant surgical masks (FRSMs) to filtering face piece 3 (FFP3) respirators, with the change made in late December in response to its own staff testing data. Public Health England (PHE) had, until recently, recommended that healthcare workers caring for Covid-19 patients should use FRSMs as respiratory protective equipment.
29th Jun 2021 - The Guardian

Poland considers obligatory COVID-19 jabs for health workers

Poland could make vaccinations obligatory for some people at high risk from COVID-19 to help fend off a potential new surge of infections from August, the health minister said on Tuesday. The country of around 38 million has fully vaccinated 12.8 million people, but authorities have warned of problems with convincing those not yet vaccinated to get a jab. "Unfortunately we have the impression that we have reached a certain ceiling - it is hard to convince those who are unconvinced because all the arguments and other types of actions have already been taken," Adam Niedzielski told Catholic radio station Radio Plus.
29th Jun 2021 - Reuters


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Nigeria adds South Africa to its COVID-19 'red list' for arriving travellers

Nigeria is adding South Africa to its "red list" of countries for which there are stringent restrictions for arriving passengers, officials said during a briefing on Monday.
28th Jun 2021 - Reuters

New Zealand considers mandatory masks, scanning amid COVID Delta variant concerns

New Zealand is considering making masks compulsory at high alert levels as well as compulsory scanning of QR codes to boost contact tracing in efforts to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday. New Zealand halted quarantine-free travel with neighbouring Australia last week as an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant triggered a lockdown in Sydney and renewed restrictions elsewhere. It also extended the COVID-19 alert level 2 in the capital Wellington until Tuesday, as authorities said there was still a risk that an Australian tourist who tested positive for the coronavirus after visiting the city last weekend had infected others
28th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Covid Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon adviser urges parents to get kids vaccinated

A top covid advisor to Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government has urged parents in Scotland and the rest of the UK to vaccinate their children as soon as possible. Professor Devi Sridhar of Edinburgh University was asked about the concerns parents may feel about vaccinating their child as the country works to give all of their adult population a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Looking to other countries such as the United States and Israel, she noted that giving the vaccine to those who are at school will be a vital next step in terms of controlling transmission.
28th Jun 2021 - Glasgow Live

As variant rises, vaccine plan targets ‘movable middle’

Thrown off-stride to reach its COVID-19 vaccination goal, the Biden administration is sending A-list officials across the country, devising ads for niche markets and enlisting community organizers to persuade unvaccinated people to get a shot. The strategy has the trappings of a political campaign, complete with data crunching to identify groups that can be won over. But the message is about public health, not ideology. The focus is a group health officials term the “movable middle” — some 55 million unvaccinated adults seen as persuadable, many of them under 30. “We’re not just going to do the mass vaccination sites,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “It’s door to door. It’s mobile clinics. We’re doing vaccinations at church, the PTA meeting, the barber shop, the grocery store.”
27th Jun 2021 - Associated Press

Greece offers cash reward to boost vaccination rates in young people

Greece will offer young people a cash reward for receiving their first shot against COVID-19 as part of a government drive to boost vaccination rates ahead of the summer holiday season. Greece weathered the first wave of the pandemic fairly well but was forced to impose a second lockdown in November to deal with a resurgence in cases which overwhelmed its public health system. With coronavirus cases easing, the country ended the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors last week. Effective on Monday, fully vaccinated Greeks can also go to work or to gyms without the need of self-tests.
28th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Tourism-dependent Portugal to quarantine unvaccinated Britons

British visitors to Portugal must quarantine for 14 days from Monday if they are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Portuguese government said. The new rule, in place until at least July 11, follows a surge in cases in Portugal to levels last seen in February, when it was under a strict lockdown. Positive cases have also risen in Britain but its vaccination roll-out has been faster. Britons arriving by air, land or sea must show proof they are fully vaccinated or self-isolate for 14 days at home or at a place indicated by health authorities, the government said in a statement late on Sunday.
28th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Australia steps up vaccine push to stem COVID-19 outbreak

Australia decided on Monday to make vaccinations mandatory for high-risk aged-care workers and employees in quarantine hotels after a surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide. Prime Minister Scott Morrison met state and territory leaders to discuss the situation, with more than 20 million Australians -- about 80% of the population -- under some form of lockdown or coronavirus-related restrictions. Five of Australia's eight states and territories have been hit by outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta variant, and leaks from hotel quarantine have been widely blamed for the increase in infections.
28th Jun 2021 - Reuters


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Finnish Football Fans Bring Virus Back From Russia

Nearly 100 supporters of Finland's national football team who traveled to Russia for a Euro 2020 defeat against Belgium have caught the coronavirus, authorities said Thursday. The prime minister joined the THL health authority overseeing the epidemic in calling for Finns who returned home after Monday's 2-0 loss in St. Petersburg to take a test
26th Jun 2021 - The Moscow Times

Japan to ask athletes from India, others for more COVID-19 tests

Japan plans to ask Olympic athletes from India and five other countries hit hard by the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus to have daily virus tests for seven days before leaving for the Games, a Japanese newspaper said on Sunday.
27th Jun 2021 - Reuters

WHO wants fully vaccinated people to wear masks to protect against dangerous 'Indian' delta variant

The World Health Organization said on Friday that fully vaccinated people should continue to wear masks to protect against the delta variant. 'Vaccines alone won't stop community transmission,' a WHO official said. That clashes with what CDC official said early last week: fully vaccinated people have a 'high degree of protection.' The CDC hasn't changed any of its mask-wearing guidelines The delta variant, originally found in India, has spread to at least 85 countries, according to WHO. WHO says it's 'the most transmissible of the variants identified so far'
27th Jun 2021 - Daily Mail

Iceland Ends Covid Restrictions With 87% of People Getting Shots

Iceland is abolishing all domestic Covid-19 restrictions, with officials saying 87% of those 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose. The island nation, with a population of about 369,000, has seen 6,637 cases, with 30 deaths. About 48% of those 16 and over are fully vaccinated, which puts them in line with the rate in the U.K. and just above the U.S. rate, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. Iceland could be one of the first European countries to end restrictions, Iceland Health Minister Svandis Svavarsdottir said in announcing the move in a news briefing Friday. The limits will officially end on Saturday.
25th Jun 2021 - Bloomberg

Here Are The Companies Upping Pressure On Workers To Get Vaccinated Against Covid

Morgan Stanley will soon bar unvaccinated employees from its New York offices and more than 150 hospital workers in Houston just resigned or were fired for refusing to roll up their sleeves, issues that could become more common as employers deliberate ways to safely reopen workplaces amid flagging vaccination rates
25th Jun 2021 - Forbes

Test And Trace Has Lost Track Of Nearly 600 Million Covid Tests

Boris Johnson’s £37bn Test and Trace service is facing fresh criticism after a damning new report found that it had lost track of nearly 600 million Covid tests. The National Audit Office spending watchdog concluded that the system was still failing to “deliver value for taxpayers”, with a lack of any targets for self-isolation by the public and a continued reliance on private consultants. Test and Trace, which was run by Tory peer Dido Harding, has already come under fire for its use of private firms Serco and Deloitte and its repeated failures in 2020 to track down contacts of people who had Covid.
25th Jun 2021 - HuffPost UK


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NHS pushes to give 3.5m second doses of Covid-19 vaccine to over-40s in time for end of lockdown roadmap

The NHS is pushing to give another 3.5 million second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to over-40s in order to get enough people protected for the end of England’s lockdown roadmap on 19 July. Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi announced that London – which is lagging behind the rest of the country in vaccine coverage – will be the central focus of a new uptake drive with a summit on Friday 25 June to discuss how to drive up enthusiasm for the jab in the capital. It comes as the Government’s scientific advisers weigh up whether or not to recommend vaccinating children, in order to get the UK closer to the herd immunity threshold which will push down infections in the long term.
24th Jun 2021 - iNews

Pfizer with a side of fries: California Health Department teams up with McDonald's to offer free COVID-19 vaccinations at 70 locations

The California Department of of Health teamed up with McDonald's this week to provide free COVID-19 vaccinations. McDonald's on Monday opened pop-up clinics at more than 70 of its locations in the Golden State. Customers who get vaccinated receive a coupon for one free menu item. The initiative appeared to be a success in its first three days as customers were seen lining up for their turn in the vaccination tent. Since spring, vaccine doses administered in the US have slowed by as much as 90 percent - particularly among young adults. In California, only 48.3 residents have fully been vaccinated with 60.1 receiving their first dose
24th Jun 2021 - Daily Mail

Singapore to accelerate COVID-19 vaccination programme, increasing daily doses by 70%

Singapore will accelerate its national COVID-19 vaccination programme as it has been able to bring forward the delivery of vaccine supplies, Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung announced on Thursday (Jun 24). From Jun 26, health authorities will be able to administer up to 80,000 doses daily - a 70 per cent increase from the 47,000 daily doses currently. As it ramps up the vaccination programme, another 500,000 new first-dose appointment slots will be added over the next few days from Jun 26, said Mr Ong. “As we confirm our supply schedule, we are now confident that we can vaccinate more, and faster,” he added at a press conference by the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force.
24th Jun 2021 - CNA

Greece ends mandatory face mask-wearing outdoors as pandemic recedes

Greece will end the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors and ease other remaining restrictions imposed to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities said on Wednesday, with infections now clearly on the wane. Wearing face masks will remain mandatory in indoor spaces but not outdoors from Thursday except in congested places. "The country's improved epidemiological picture is clear and pleasant," said Vana Papaevangelou, a member of the committee of infectious disease experts advising the government. "The outlook is favourable."
24th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Australia official tests positive for COVID as new cases emerge

The government in New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state, warned people on Thursday to brace for more COVID-19 cases, as a state minister tested positive, the health minister went into self-isolation and new curbs came into force designed to slow the spread of the Delta variant. The state recorded at least 11 new cases overnight, bringing the total number in the current outbreak to 49.
24th Jun 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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Half of Spaniards vaccinated with one dose, mask rules eased

Spain has vaccinated half of its 47 million population with at least one dose and nearly 32%, or over 15 million people, have been fully inoculated, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday. With a record 680,540 people receiving a vaccine over the past 24 hours, Spain has already administered nearly 37.6 million doses, putting it on track to reaching the government goal of fully vaccinating 70% of the population by late August.
23rd Jun 2021 - Reuters

Pukkelpop urges young people to get Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine

Belgian festival Pukkelpop has called on young people to register to get the single-dose Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, which all adults, including those under the age of 41, can volunteer for in Brussels and Flanders. On its Instagram account, the festival put out a message to those younger than 41 who “would like to get vaccinated quickly” to sign up for one shot with Johnson & Johnson. “There are many syringes available this week and we believe it is to everyone’s advantage to come to Pukkelpop fully vaccinated,” Pukkelpop spokesperson spokesman Frederik Luyten told De Standaard.
23rd Jun 2021 - The Brussels Times

Colleges split on coronavirus vaccine mandates

Indiana University, a flagship institution in a staunchly Republican state, will require its more than 100,000 students and employees to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus as it turns the page on a strange pandemic school year. “This is saving lives, it’s as simple as that,” said university President Michael A. McRobbie. “And it will enable us to have a normal fall semester.” Purdue University, also prominent in Indiana, is strongly encouraging vaccination for students and employees but avoiding mandates. A campaign for personal choice and responsibility, Purdue President Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. said, will get better public health results than requirements that “might come across as ham-handed and dictatorial.” Two public universities, two divergent approaches, one race to a common goal: Maximize vaccination before college students return for the fall.
23rd Jun 2021 - The Washington Post

Swiss accelerate reopening, allow large events with 'COVID certificates'

Switzerland will allow large events topping 10,000 people starting on Saturday, provided attendees have so-called COVID certificates showing they are vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19 or have tested negative. The plan, announced on Wednesday, puts Switzerland at Europe's vanguard of back-to-normal efforts and aligns with the country's "lockdown light" strategy, balancing economic protections with pandemic-related health measures. Mask-wearing outdoors will no longer be required, restaurant seating will be unlimited and discos can re-open their doors, with no masks required for people with COVID certificates.
23rd Jun 2021 - Reuters

AstraZeneca vaccine effective against COVID-19 variants identified in India

COVID-19 vaccines made by AstraZeneca and the Pfizer-BioNTech, alliance remain broadly effective against Delta and Kappa variants of the COVID-19 causing virus, which were first identified in India, according to a scientific study, underpinning a continued push to deliver the shots. The study by Oxford University researchers, published in the journal Cell, investigated the ability of antibodies in the blood from people, who were vaccinated with the two-shot regimens, to neutralize the highly contagious Delta and Kappa variants, a statement said.
23rd Jun 2021 - Reuters

CDC: Nearly every adult COVID-19 death is now "entirely preventable"

Adult deaths from COVID-19 are "at this point entirely preventable" thanks to vaccines, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said during a White House coronavirus briefing on Tuesday. Why it matters: Deaths from the virus have dramatically decreased since their peak in early 2021, but the U.S. is still currently reporting an average of more than 200 deaths every day, though the numbers could increase as the B.1.617.2 (or Delta) variant of the virus becomes the dominant strain in the country.
22nd Jun 2021 - Axios


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In Pakistan, Saying ‘No’ to Covid-19 Vaccine Carries Consequences

Many countries offer incentives to entice people to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Pakistan is taking a more punitive approach. Authorities in this country of 220 million threaten those refusing to accept the shot with punishments from cutting off their cellphone connections to withholding their salaries. The penalties contrast with the prizes being dangled elsewhere in the world. A town in the Philippines is offering people who agree to be vaccinated the chance to win a cow. Some U.S. states are holding lotteries with cash prizes, while Hong Kong is giving away a multimillion-dollar apartment.
22nd Jun 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Mandatory mask rules extended in Sydney as COVID-19 cluster grows

Australia’s most populous state on Tuesday reported its biggest daily increase in COVID-19 cases in nearly a week and extended the wearing of masks inside buildings, while New Zealand paused quarantine-free travel with the state.
22nd Jun 2021 - Reuters

Indian court calls for probe of Renault-Nissan plant's social distancing

An Indian court on Tuesday asked the Tamil Nadu state government to inspect a Renault-Nissan plant on July 3 to check whether social distancing norms are being followed. The Renault-Nissan workers union petitioned the Madras High court last month seeking to halt operations, saying that social distancing norms were being flouted and company-provided health benefits were outweighed by the risk to their lives.
22nd Jun 2021 - Reuters India

Philippines president Duterte: ‘You choose, Covid vaccine or I will have you jailed’

President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to jail people who refuse to be vaccinated against the coronavirus as the Philippines battles one of Asia’s worst outbreaks, with a cumulative total of more than 1.3 million cases and 23,000 deaths. “You choose, vaccine or I will have you jailed,” Duterte said in a televised address on Monday following reports of low turnouts at several vaccination sites in the capital Manila. Duterte’s remarks contradict those of his health officials, who have said that while people are being urged to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, it was voluntary.
22nd Jun 2021 - The Guardian

Italy to lift mandatory masks outdoors as pandemic slows

People in Italy will no longer have to wear masks outdoors from June 28, the government has said, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations decline in one of Europe’s worst-hit countries by the pandemic. Mandatory masks were imposed in October last year, when the country was entering a second wave of infections and authorities were struggling to curb a surging national caseload. Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government has been steadily lifting restrictions since April, allowing restaurants, bars, cinemas and gyms to reopen and permitting freedom of movement around the country. The wearing of masks was one of the last rules to remain in place.
22nd Jun 2021 - AlJazeera

Israel Recommends Vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds Amid Indian COVID Strain Fears

Israel's Health Ministry recommended on Sunday that the country vaccinate 12 to 15-year-olds, following the outbreaks of the Delta variant of coronavirus in the country. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett convened a meeting with key ministries on Sunday in light of a resurgent rate of infection in Israel, and decided to bar people from travelling to high-risk countries and to enforce quarantine on arrival.
21st Jun 2021 - Haaretz


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WHO to set up mRNA COVID vaccine hub in South Africa

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it is setting up a hub in South Africa to give companies from poor and middle-income countries the know-how and licences to produce COVID-19 vaccines, in what President Cyril Ramaphosa called an historic step to spread lifesaving technology. The “tech transfer hub” could make it possible for African companies to begin manufacturing mRNA vaccines – the advanced technology now used in shots from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – in as little as nine to 12 months, the WHO said.
21st Jun 2021 - Al Jazeera English

COVID-19: Bolsonaro doesn't believe in social distancing, masks or vaccines. That wasn't lost on those protesting

The thud of drums and chanting filled streets across Brazil. A day of protest on the day official figures recorded over 500,000 deaths from COVID-19. The infection rates are officially between 80,000 and 100,000 people every day. But that is the recorded cases, experts say the real figure could be two, three or even four times higher. At current rates, Brazil will surpass the US for the greatest death totals; epidemiologists are warning Brazil could lose 800,000 people.
21st Jun 2021 - Sky News

Unvaccinated Americans are at risk of an aggressive and more dangerous Covid-19 variant. These are the most vulnerable states

Some states are making great strides in vaccinating their residents against Covid-19, but the ones that are not may soon be contending with a more transmissible variant, experts say. About 45.1% of the US population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, CDC data showed, and in 16 states and Washington, DC, that proportion is up to half. But some states -- such as Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wyoming -- have fully vaccinated less than 35% of residents. More than 500 days and 600,000 deaths since the first person in the United States was reported to have died from Covid-19, experts have upheld vaccines as the key to reopening the country safely and containing the variants, many of which are more transmissible.
21st Jun 2021 - CNN

Tokyo Olympics to allow local fans — but with strict limits

A sharply limited number of fans will be allowed to attend the Tokyo Olympics, organizers announced Monday as they tried to save some of the spirit of the Games where even cheering has been banned. Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans, all of whom must be Japanese residents — for each Olympic venue, regardless of whether it is indoors or outdoors. Officials said that if coronavirus cases rise again the rules could be changed and fans could still be barred all together. Spectators from abroad were banned several months ago, and now some local fans who have tickets will be forced to give them up. The decision comes as opposition among Japanese to holding the Games in July remains high, though may be softening, and as new infections in Tokyo have begun to subside.
21st Jun 2021 - The Associated Press

Canada: Fully vaccinated citizens face no quarantine after July 5

Canada will start cautiously lifting border restrictions for fully vaccinated citizens and other eligible people on July 5 but US and other foreign travelers will still be excluded, the government said on Monday. From 11:59pm EST on July 5 (03:59 GMT on July 6), those who have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will no longer have to spend time in quarantine. The relaxation of the measures applies to Canadians and permanent residents.
21st Jun 2021 - AlJazeera

Free COVID jabs for all Indian adults as Modi hails yoga ‘shield’

India has opened up free vaccinations to all adults in an attempt to bolster its inoculation drive, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicks off a muted International Yoga Day, hailing the practice’s “protective” properties against the virus. The country’s vaccination drive has significantly slowed in recent months due to a shortage of jabs and hesitancy, even as it battled a vicious surge in cases in April and May that overwhelmed the healthcare system in many places.
21st Jun 2021 - AlJazeera

Companies give vaccines to workers, boosting Japan’s rollout

Thousands of Japanese companies began distributing COVID-19 vaccines to workers and their families Monday in an employer-led drive reaching more than 13 million people that aims to rev up the nation’s slow vaccine rollout. Yuka Daimaru, among the Suntory workers getting the shot on a sprawling office floor, was visibly relieved after spending more than a year worrying about the coronavirus. “I was nervous, but it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would,” she said. “Now I don’t have to worry as much on commuter trains or at meetings.” The Tokyo-based beverage maker plans to inoculate 51,500 people, including part-time workers and employees’ families, with the Moderna vaccine.
21st Jun 2021 - The Associated Press


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California gives residents digital access to their COVID-19 vaccine record

The state of California has launched a tool designed to give residents easy access to a digital copy of their COVID-19 vaccine information. Unlike New York's Excelsior Pass, it's not an app people have to install on their phones. It's a simple website where residents will have to enter their name, date of birth and the phone number or email they used when they got their vaccine. They also have to create a 4-digital PIN, which they'll have to remember to be able to open the digital copy of their vaccine record.
19th Jun 2021 - Yahoo

Why one in eight under-30s is concerned about getting the Covid vaccine, according to experts

All over-18s in England can book their coronavirus vaccine today as the roll-out opens to all remaining young adults. Last week, thousands of over-25s queued online to bag an appointment when they became eligible, with a million doses booked in one day. But not all young people feel positively towards the vaccine, with rates of hesitancy in those under 30 higher than any other age group. i asked the experts why young people are more likely to refuse the jab than their parents or grandparents.
19th Jun 2021 - iNews

‘It’s such a relief’: how Europe’s Covid vaccine rollout is catching up with UK

On Friday morning, Leyla Çelik woke up with butterflies in her stomach. For weeks, the 22-year-old student at Berlin’s Freie Universität had tried in vain to get an appointment for her first Covid-19 vaccine shot so she could volunteer as a polling station administrator at federal elections in September. “I’d basically given up hope.” But last week her university had suddenly got in touch via email, offering her a chance to get a first dose of Moderna vaccine on campus, and within a few days. By 9am on Friday, the anxiety has turned into euphoria: “It’s such a relief,” said the native Berliner, nursing her achey shoulder at Freie’s biology institute, converted into a vaccine delivery point as of this week. “At last I can catch a train or a bus without feeling anxious.”
19th Jun 2021 - The Guardian

Amid hesitancy, VP Harris urges Black Americans to get COVID jabs

Vice President Kamala Harris travelled to Atlanta on Friday to urge Americans who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 to go ahead and get jabs as the United States government strives to overcome disparities in vaccine delivery among the country’s Black and Hispanic populations. “There are a few people that are saying, ‘I will not under any circumstances get vaccinated,'” Harris said in remarks at Clark Atlanta University, a historically Black college. “But there are some people, a lot of people might say, ‘I haven’t been vaccinated yet because I’m just not sure,'” Harris said, standing in front of a sign that read “vaccines.gov” with the slogan “We can do this”. It is OK to have questions, Harris said, and she urged Atlantans to tell their friends and neighbours: “We can say with confidence the vaccines are safe, they are free and they are effective.”
18th Jun 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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Indonesian officials give away live chickens to residents willing to get vaccinated

Live chickens are being given away by local authorities in rural Indonesia as an incentive for older residents to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The program, in Cianjur regency, West Java, is part of the district's effort to increase the number of vaccines administered to citizens age 45 and over. Galih Apria, assistant police commissioner in the sub-district of Pecat, said older residents had been very hesitant about getting the shots during the early rollout of the government's vaccination program.
17th Jun 2021 - CNN

Britain, pressed by airlines, may ease rules for vaccinated travellers

Ryanair launches legal action over restrictions. UK may make changes for vaccinated travellers. Airlines want unfettered travel for those vaccinated. British Airways, other airlines shares rise. Government policy reviews due later in June
17th Jun 2021 - Reuters UK

Youth, Delta variant behind UK COVID surge

Two new studies look at the Delta variant (B1617) behind the UK COVID-19 surge, with the first noting that young people are helping drive the exponential growth of COVID-19 cases in England. The second study describes reduced COVID-19 vaccine and antibody efficacy against the more transmissible variant. The first study, published today on the Imperial College London preprint server, involved testing a random sample of people from across England for COVID-19 as part of the ongoing Real-Time Assessment of Community Transmission (React 1) study. The researchers showed that COVID-19 infections in England surged from May 20 to Jun 7, with a doubling time of 11 days and an estimated R (reproductive) number of 1.44. Doubling time is the number of days before coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, or deaths doubled, and R indicates how many people, on average, catch the virus from an infected person.
17th Jun 2021 - CIDRAP

COVID-19 vaccinations for pharmacists in care homes to be mandatory

Pharmacists who work in care homes, even on a part-time basis, will be required to have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccination under plans announced today (June 16). From October, anyone working in a CQC-registered care home in England will be required by law to be immunised against COVID-19, unless they are medically exempt, following a 16-week grace period for health workers to receive both doses, the Department for Health and Social Care (DH) said. This includes anyone who works in a care home full-time – such as care home pharmacists – as well as those who visit for occasional work, under new legislation that will be brought before parliament “at the earliest opportunity”
16th Jun 2021 - Chemist+Druggist


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Treating fear of needles could reduce Covid vaccine hesitancy, study suggests

Treating the fear of needles may reduce coronavirus vaccine hesitancy, research has found. A new study suggests one in four UK adults screens positive for a potential injection phobia. Researchers from the University of Oxford say these people were twice as likely to report being hesitant to getting a Covid-19 vaccine, being put off getting vaccinated or, ultimately, never getting the jab. But if all injection anxiety in the population were removed then more than 10 per cent of instances of vaccine hesitancy might disappear too, the data indicates. People can be helped to overcome their fear of needles, including through the use of cognitive behavioural therapy, experts say.
16th Jun 2021 - Wales Online

New York reaches vaccine milestone and joins California in reopening

Tuesday brought reopenings in two of the largest states, with New York reaching an important vaccine milestone and joining California in dropping most of its Covid-19 restrictions. "This is a momentous day, and we deserve it because it has been a long, long road," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "We can now return to life as we know it." At least 70% of New Yorkers have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine dose, prompting the lifting of pandemic mitigation measures. On the other side of the country, California, the first state to shut down last year, ended limits on capacity at most venues and stopped requiring physical distancing and masks for people who have been vaccinated.
16th Jun 2021 - CNN

All over-18s to be offered Covid-19 vaccine by the end of this week

The NHS will begin offering coronavirus vaccines to all over-18s by the end of the week, the head of the service said this morning. Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, told a conference of health service leaders that the next four weeks should be used to as far as possible “finish the job” of vaccinating people against Covid-19. He also said that he expected new treatments that could keep people out of hospital to be available within months, advising the NHS to “gear up” for these.
15th Jun 2021 - The Times

Athletes Could Be Booted From Tokyo Olympics For Not Following Covid-19 Norms

Visiting athletes participating in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics could face expulsion from Japan if they fail to follow pandemic-related rules which have been put in place by the organizers, according to the games’ rule book published on Tuesday, which comes amid reports that Tokyo may be placed under a state of emergency for the entire duration of the games.
15th Jun 2021 - Forbes

The first state to shut down due to Covid-19 reopens today

California lifted most of its Covid-19 restrictions Tuesday as part of a grand reopening in which the state ended capacity limits, physical distancing and -- at least for those vaccinated -- mask requirements. The new health order went into effect Tuesday and allows vaccinated people to go without a face covering in most situations, putting the state in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Masks are still required on public transportation, in hospitals and jails, as well as at schools and child care centers, pending updated guidance from the CDC.
15th Jun 2021 - CNN

Israel scraps indoor mask order as COVID-19 infections wane

Israel told its citizens they could stop wearing masks indoors on Tuesday, ending one of its last main restrictions as new COVID-19 infections continued to wane even as vaccinations tapered off after a record rollout. Children headed to school and adults to work without masks for the first time in more than a year. Israelis have not had to wear masks outdoors since April. About 55% of Israel's 9.3 million population are fully vaccinated - a turnout largely unchanged by this month's expansion of eligibility to include 12- to 15-year-olds.
15th Jun 2021 - Reuters

White House to host July 4 ‘independence from virus’ bash

Cue the fireworks. President Joe Biden wants to imbue Independence Day with new meaning this year by encouraging nationwide celebrations to mark the country’s effective return to normalcy after 16 months of coronavirus pandemic disruption. Even as the U.S. is set to cross the grim milestone of 600,000 deaths from the virus on Tuesday, the White House is expressing growing certainty that July Fourth will serve as a breakthrough moment in the nation’s recovery. That’s even though the U.S. is not expected to quite reach its goal of having 70% of adults vaccinated by the holiday. As COVID-19 case rates and deaths drop to levels not seen since the first days of the outbreak, travel picks up and schools and businesses reopen, Biden is proclaiming “a summer of freedom” to celebrate Americans resuming their pre-pandemic lives.
15th Jun 2021 - Associated Press


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Win a cow, avoid COVID: Philippines tempts vaccine hesitant

Last week, after ignoring her brother’s advice for months, Fannie Taladro Pestaño hurried to a school campus near her home in Las Piñas City, a suburb of the Philippines’ capital Manila, to line up for her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Her brother, Johnny Rey Taladro, had been urging her to sign up for the immunisation drive.
14th Jun 2021 - AlJazeera

Germans told to be patient as chemists start Covid vaccine pass scheme

Fully vaccinated Germans have been urged not to storm the country’s pharmacies in the rush to obtain a Covid digital vaccination pass made available in thousands of stores on Monday. The “Digitale Impfpass” or digital vaccination pass, is the official document to be used as part of the the European Union vaccine certificate scheme to facilitate travel across the bloc, which the European parliament agreed last month. The Association of Pharmacists issued an appeal to people to be patient, admitting the system was new and untried.
14th Jun 2021 - The Guardian


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Scientists in Yorkshire say mask wearing could be here to stay long past coronavirus pandemic

Scientists at Yorkshire universities have told The Yorkshire Post that the act of wearing a face covering in busy public places may even be something the public adopts as a new way of life looking past the pandemic, likening it to a protective measure similar to wearing a car seat belt. Dr Stephen Griffin, an associate professor of virology at the University of Leeds, also said better ventilation of public indoor spaces was a measure that public health authorities should look to adopt long term.
14th Jun 2021 - Yorkshire Post

Goldman Sachs staff in US must disclose Covid vaccination status

Goldman Sachs has told its staff in the US that they must disclose their Covid-19 vaccination status before a planned return to office working next week. The investment bank, whose 6,000 UK workers have separately been told they have the option of filling out their status anonymously to give the business an idea of vaccination levels, had previously told US staff that disclosing their inoculation status would be optional. “Registering your vaccination status allows us to plan for a safer return to the office for all of our people as we continue to abide by local public health measures,” states the internal staff memo. “As a result, it is mandatory that you submit your vaccination status. While we strongly encourage you to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, we understand that the choice to get vaccinated is a personal one.”
11th Jun 2021 - The Guardian


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COVID-19: Vaccine passports or proof of negative test to be used at Wembley for Euro 2020 matches

Vaccine passports will be used at Wembley as one of the ways to allow supporters to attend matches at Euro 2020, UEFA has said. Fans will be required to show proof of full vaccination against coronavirus or a negative lateral flow COVID-19 test within the previous 48 hours before being admitted into the stadium, which is due to host all three of England's group games this month - including their clash with Scotland on 18 June. Their opening match against Croatia on Sunday will be the first time proof of being jabbed is used at a sports event, and people heading to any of the upcoming games will be able to use the NHS app - or the Scottish or Welsh vaccination record services - to show that it's been at least two weeks since they had their second dose.
10th Jun 2021 - Sky News

Wear masks in Euro 2020 crowds, warns EU health body

Euro 2020 fans should avoid attending games if they have any COVID-19 symptoms and wear masks in stadiums allowing around 50% capacity, a European Union agency urged on Thursday, amid concern the tournament could spread infections. The European Championship, postponed last year because of the pandemic, starts on Friday for one month with 11 countries hosting games and stadiums allowing fans back. Budapest aims for full capacity while Saint Petersburg and Baku will have 50%. Amsterdam, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Rome and Seville will use between 25% and 45% of capacity, while Munich will use a minimum 22% capacity and London's Wembley - which hosts the final - a minimum 25% for the initial games.
10th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Paytm, Infosys offer India help in COVID vaccine bookings: Report

Paytm, Infosys and MakeMyTrip are among companies seeking approval in India to provide online COVID-19 vaccine bookings, the head of the government’s tech platform has said, as the country tries to make it easier for its huge population to book shots. The government relaxed rules last month to potentially allow third-party apps to offer vaccine bookings and has taken back control of procurement from states following delays and shortages. It also faced initial problems with its own vaccine booking platform. About 15 state agencies and private companies, which also include Indian healthcare giants Apollo and Max, and online pharmacy 1mg, have asked to be allowed to offer vaccine bookings, RS Sharma, head of the government’s panel managing the CoWIN vaccination registration platform, told Reuters news agency.
10th Jun 2021 - Al Jazeera

Plexiglass Is Everywhere, With No Proof It Keeps Covid at Bay

Sales of plexiglass tripled to roughly $750 million in the U.S. after the pandemic hit, as offices, schools, restaurants and retail stores sought protection from the droplets that health authorities suspected were spreading the coronavirus. There was just one hitch. Not a single study has shown that the clear plastic barriers actually control the virus, said Joseph Allen of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “We spent a lot of time and money focused on hygiene theater,” said Allen, an indoor-air researcher. “The danger is that we didn’t deploy the resources to address the real threat, which was airborne transmission -- both real dollars, but also time and attention.” “The tide has turned,” he said. “The problem is, it took a year.”
10th Jun 2021 - Bloomberg

More transmissible, wilier variant makes Covid-19 vaccinations even more crucial, experts say

It’s getting even riskier to remain unvaccinated. The United States, as a whole, is still in good shape for the summer of reunions and revived activities. But for those who haven’t been immunized against Covid-19, there is a new concern: the emergence of yet another coronavirus variant, one with a nasty combination of features that makes it even more dangerous than the other strains that have caused global alarms. The variant, known as Delta, was first spotted in India and helped power that country’s recent explosive outbreaks. Also called B.1.617.2, it seems to be the most transmissible version of the coronavirus seen thus far, but also carries some ability to get around the body’s immune protection generated after vaccination or an initial infection. (There’s also some evidence that it is more likely to cause severe disease, though researchers are still trying to confirm that.)
10th Jun 2021 - STAT News


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Covid: Greater Manchester and Lancashire in testing and vaccine push

Coronavirus vaccines and tests are being stepped up in areas of north-west England to try to deal with the rise in cases of the Delta variant. Similar tactics to those successfully used in Bolton will be implemented across the whole of Greater Manchester and Lancashire. But local leaders have asked for extra jabs to vaccinate everyone even faster. It comes as debate continues about whether England's next lockdown easing will go ahead as planned on 21 June.
9th Jun 2021 - BBC News

Elementary students wearing face masks seen in trial face-to-face learning activity amid COVID-19 outbreak

Elementary students wearing face masks are seen in a classroom during a trial face-to-face learning activity amid the COVID-19 outbreak at a school in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 9, 2021
9th Jun 2021 - Xinhua

Michigan bet big on mass vaccine events for COVID-19. It didn’t work out as hoped.

Michigan and Minnesota both had ample opportunities to push out vaccines through professional health care settings and into the arms of patients. They have essentially the same numbers of hospitals, rural clinics and doctors per capita. But in the race to put shots in arms, Michigan lost. Its vaccination rate lagged Minnesota’s, exacerbating a late-pandemic spike in cases that killed 2,500 people. The vaccination gap between Minnesota and Michigan was particularly high for older people. An analysis of data from both states – the only two to provide detailed and comparable vaccine records in response to records requests from USA TODAY – reveals key reasons Minnesota moved faster.
9th Jun 2021 - USA Today

Just over 50% of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. But pace needs to pick up before a dangerous variant can take hold, Fauci says

The US is making significant strides in curbing the coronavirus pandemic just in time for the summer, with average daily cases near a 14-month low and just over half of eligible Americans having been fully vaccinated. About 50.1% of people ages 12 and older in the US -- the cohort eligible to receive a Covid-19 vaccine in the country -- were fully vaccinated as of early Tuesday, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. But experts have warned that a Covid-19 variant first identified in India and now rising to prominence in the United Kingdom -- the Delta variant, or B.1.617.2 -- could pose considerable danger to those who are unvaccinated, including those who were previously infected by older strains.
9th Jun 2021 - CNN

EU lawmakers OK virus pass, boosting summer travel hopes

European Union lawmakers on Wednesday endorsed a new travel certificate that will allow people to move between European countries without having to quarantine or undergo extra coronavirus tests, paving the way for the pass to start in time for summer. The widely awaited certificate is aimed at saving Europe’s travel industry and prime tourist sites from another disastrous vacation season. Key travel destinations like Greece have led the drive to have the certificate, which will have both paper and digital forms, rapidly introduced. Several EU countries have already begun using the system, including Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece and Poland.
9th Jun 2021 - The Associated Press

S.Korea considers vaccinating workers at major companies

South Korea is considering plans to vaccinate workers at key businesses including chip and electronics firms to prevent disruptions to production, an official at the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said. The labour ministry has sent letters to companies including Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, SK Hynix Inc and LG Electronics Inc seeking information on their COVID-19 vaccination needs, the Maeil Business Newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing government and industry sources.
9th Jun 2021 - Reuters


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Covid vaccine: Over-25s trying to book jab on NHS website told they’re not eligible

In England, young people have been clamouring to book their Covid-19 vaccines with 1,600 appointments made each minute since the Government expanded the eligibility criteria. Contradicting concerns about vaccine scepticism among young adults, nearly half a million appointment slots were reserved in the five hours after 25 to 29-year-olds officially became eligible for their jabs, according to NHS England. Inundated with what was described by NHS bosses as a “Glastonbury-style rush”, in five hours the National Booking Service had 2.5 times the number of total appointments made on Monday. But some young people faced lengthy waits or technical difficulties because of the demand.
8th Jun 2021 - iNews

Over one million EU citizens have Covid-19 certificate

More than one million Europeans have received the new EU Covid-19 health certificate being rolled out to unlock travel within the bloc, the European Commission has said. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders announced the figure to the European Parliament ahead of a vote to enshrine the document in law in time for the continent's all-important summer tourism season. It is expected to be passed by a big majority after agreement between MEPs and the European Union's 27 member states on details, with the vote result known early tomorrow.
8th Jun 2021 - RTE.ie

Washington State Allows Free Joints for Covid Jabs

As part of its strategy to vaccinate more of its population, Washington State will allow adults to claim a free marijuana joint when they receive a Covid-19 vaccination shot. The state’s liquor and cannabis board announced on Monday that the promotion, called “Joints for Jabs,” was effective immediately and would run through July 12. The board said it would allow participating marijuana retailers to provide customers who are 21 or older with a prerolled joint at their stores when they received their first or second dose at an active vaccine clinic. The promotion applies only to joints, not to other products like edibles. So far in Washington, 58 percent of people have received at least one dose, and 49 percent are fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times database.
8th Jun 2021 - The New York Times

Covid vaccines: Unicef asks G7 countries to donate now or risk wasting jabs

Millions of Covid vaccines could be wasted if rich countries send large amounts of leftover doses to poorer nations in one go, Unicef has warned. The charity said there needed to be a steady supply throughout the year because poor countries do not have resources to use them all at once. The UK and others have promised to donate their surplus doses - but they have been asked to give more earlier. Stars including Billie Eilish and David Beckham are backing Unicef's plea. The celebrities have signed a letter to the G7 group of rich countries - including the UK - asking them to donate 20% of their vaccines by August.
8th Jun 2021 - BBC News

Japan Will Begin Rolling Out Its Vaccine Passport This Summer

Japan plans to issue Covid-19 vaccination certificates to citizens traveling abroad this summer, Nikkei Asia reported today. The initiative will begin with a paper version of the certificate and roll out later this year with a smartphone solution based on the European Union’s Digital Covid Certificate, which just launched. “Other countries are doing it, so Japan will have to consider it, too,” Taro Kono, the country’s vaccine czar, told the Japanese parliament in late April when announcing the government’s plans for a vaccine verification system. The digital Covid app would make it easier for those vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel internationally by scanning QR codes at airports before boarding flights or when entering the country. Along with vaccine verification, the app will also include results from PCR and antigen tests.
7th Jun 2021 - Forbes


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Cupid’s needle? UK under-30s wooed with dating app vaccine bonus

First came the idea of making Covid vaccinations mandatory to go to the pub, while Israel offered free pizza and beer with a shot. Now UK officials have hit on what they hope is an even more persuasive reason for young people to get their jab: more chance of getting a date. In an eye-catching policy coinciding with the rollout of vaccinations for the under-30s beginning this week, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has teamed up with popular dating apps to encourage take-up of the programme. Users of Tinder, Match, Hinge, Bumble, Badoo, Plenty of Fish, OurTime and Muzmatch will enjoy a series of benefits if they add their vaccination status to their profile, including virtual badges and stickers.
7th Jun 2021 - The Guardian

India to give adults free COVID shots after surge in infections

India will provide free COVID-19 vaccines to all adults, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, in an effort to rein in a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and led to the world’s second-highest tally of infections. Modi’s announcement came on Monday after weeks of criticism of a bungled vaccine rollout that has covered fewer than 5 percent of India’s estimated adult population of 950 million.
8th Jun 2021 - Al Jazeera English

WHO: High vaccination rates can help reduce risk of variants

A top World Health Organization official estimated Monday that COVID-19 vaccination coverage of at least 80% is needed to significantly lower the risk that “imported” coronavirus cases like those linked to new variants could spawn a cluster or a wider outbreak. Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergencies chief, told a news conference that ultimately, “high levels of vaccination coverage are the way out of this pandemic.” Many rich countries have been moving to vaccinate teenagers and children — who have lower risk of more dangerous cases of COVID-19 than the elderly or people with comorbidities — even as those same countries face pressure to share vaccines with poorer ones that lack them. Britain, which has vastly reduced case counts thanks to an aggressive vaccination campaign, has seen a recent uptick in cases attributed largely to the so-called delta variant that originally appeared in India — a former British colony.
7th Jun 2021 - Associated Press

Putin Wants 'Vaccine Tourism' Plan by End-June

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday asked the government to put together a plan by the end of June to bring “vaccine tourism” to Russia. “There is widespread practice where business people and heads of companies come specifically to Russia to get a jab against the coronavirus,” Putin told the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). “In that regard, I would like to ask the government to analyze all aspects of this issue by the end of the month … to be able to organize the conditions for foreign citizens to come to Russia and get vaccinated on a commercial basis,” Putin said.
7th Jun 2021 - The Moscow Times

Where nursing home staff vaccinations lag, COVID-19 outbreaks may follow, experts warn

When 28 residents in two Rochester, New York, nursing homes tested positive for COVID-19 last month, officials there saw the unexpected outbreak as a stark reminder of the potency of the coronavirus vaccine. While much of the country was lining up for shots, by early May, fewer than 45% of the staff across Rochester Regional Health's skilled nursing facilities was fully vaccinated.
7th Jun 2021 - ABC News


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Bolton GPs offer second Covid jabs four weeks after first to use surplus

GPs in one of the UK’s Covid hotspots are offering all adults their second dose of Covid vaccination four weeks after their first, in a rush to administer vaccines within their shelf life. Some GPs in Bolton have been sent so many doses of the Pfizer vaccine that they are offering second jabs a month earlier than government rules allow, concerned that otherwise they may be wasted. It is just the latest sign that local areas are increasingly flexing – if not ignoring – national guidance in order to vaccinate everyone they can without throwing any doses away.
5th Jun 2021 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Germany fights trade in fake Covid vaccine certificates

A German police force has set up a special team to combat a growing black market in forged vaccine certificates. Police in Cologne told the broadcaster ARD that fraudsters were communicating via an encrypted messenger service which makes investigations difficult.
4th Jun 2021 - BBC News

Switzerland to launch Covid certificates from June 7

The cantons will start making available the first Covid certificates - on paper or in digital form - from next week. They should be available throughout Switzerland by the end of June, the Federal Council said in a statementExternal link on Friday. Canton Bern has been chosen as a first test canton. To receive the free certificate Swiss residents must go to a pharmacy, doctor’s surgery, hospital or vaccination centre where staff can generate a digital QR code on a computer that confirms their status – either vaccinated, recovered from the virus or having proof of a recent negative PCR test. The forgery-proof QR code containing this information and other relevant personal details is then either printed out or transferred to the Covid Certificate smartphone app, which can be downloaded at Google and Apple app stores. It will feature an electronic signature of the Confederation.
4th Jun 2021 - swissinfo.ch

A safe return to U.S. schools seems closer with vaccines and testing improvements.

After a school year rife with debate over the safety of returning to classrooms, experts say that the United States is edging closer to a safe return to in-person learning in the fall. First, there is continuing good news on the vaccine front. Children ages 12 to 15 recently became eligible to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the U.S. and in the European Union, and the vaccine was endorsed by Britain’s drug regulator on Friday to be used for the same age group. Moderna plans this month to ask the Food and Drug Administration to clear its vaccine for use in 12- to 17-year-olds. For more than a year, parents across the United States have scrambled to adapt to online learning and keep their children focused. (And parents who balanced remote learning with work were the lucky ones. Many others lost their jobs, lacked adequate internet access or stopped work to tend to their families.)
4th Jun 2021 - The New York Times

Masks have stopped disease spread for centuries. Here’s why they may catch on in the U.S.

More than a year into a pandemic that has sickened tens of millions of people in the United States and killed more than 500,000, most people are eager to reclaim some semblance of their former lives. About half of the country has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccines authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration. Infection rates are dropping. And federal health authorities have relaxed mask recommendations for people who are fully vaccinated against the virus. But it’s unclear what our new normal will look like and whether, at least in some form, it will include face coverings — which have been shown to not only help protect against the coronavirus, but also, with additional measures such as social-distancing, slow the spread of influenza and other respiratory diseases.
4th Jun 2021 - The Washington Post

Gavi welcomes U.S. allocation plan for vaccine dose-sharing – 19 million doses donated to COVAX in first tranche

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, welcomes the announcement by the United States Government of its strategy for global vaccine sharing, which sets out how it will provide at least 80 million doses of vaccines to the rest of the world – with the announcement of a first tranche of 25 million doses today. 75% of doses will be shared with COVAX, the global equitable access mechanism. This means that almost 19 million doses allocated in this first tranche will be provided to countries and territories around the world hit hard by global supply constraints. “This announcement allows us to quickly get more doses to countries in a strained global supply climate – meaning frontline workers and at-risk populations will receive potentially life-saving vaccinations and bringing us a step closer to ending the acute phase of the pandemic,” Gavi CEO Dr Seth Berkley commented. “We welcome this strong commitment by the Biden-Harris Administration, and look forward to working with the United States Government to operationalise these donations quickly.”
3rd Jun 2021 - Gavi - The Vaccine Alliance


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International covid vaccination passports 'still some way off'

An internationally agreed approach to Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine certification remains “some way off”, Matt Hancock has said. Speaking ahead of a G7 health ministers’ meeting, the Health Secretary told reporters: “Ultimately there are a number of countries around the world that have said they’re definitely going to have a requirement to be vaccinated in order to travel. “We’re making sure that here any Brit can see their vaccine status. “But we’re some way off having an internationally agreed approach for that. “It’s something we talk about and are discussing but there’s still a lot of work to do.” It comes amid s growing speculation that popular holiday islands could be added to the Government’s travel green list later today.
3rd Jun 2021 - Wales Online

Coronavirus: Germany fights trade in fake Covid vaccine certificates

A German police force has set up a special team to combat a growing black market in forged vaccine certificates. Police in Cologne told the broadcaster ARD that fraudsters were communicating via an encrypted messenger service which makes investigations difficult. They are still trying to determine the scale of the problem nationally. Some people are duped into paying about €100 (£86; $122), then get nothing. Covid "passports" to ease travel are being rolled out now across the EU. Of the Covid vaccinations approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) all but one - the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) one - require two jabs, several weeks or months apart.
3rd Jun 2021 - BBC News

Covid-19: Positive tests for infections rise by 22 per cent in England

The number of patients who have tested positive for coronavirus in England has risen by 22 per cent to the highest level in six weeks, NHS Test and Trace data suggests. A total of 17,162 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the country at least once in the week to May 26. The weekly increase in positive test results brings the number of new infections to its highest since 14 April.
3rd Jun 2021 - The Independent

Slow to start, China steps up the pace on vaccination

In the span of just five days last month, China gave 100 million shots of its COVID-19 vaccines. After a slow start, it is now doing what virtually no other country in the world can: harnessing the power and all-encompassing reach of its one-party system and a maturing domestic vaccine industry to administer shots at a staggering pace. The rollout is far from perfect, including uneven distribution, but Chinese public health leaders now say they’re hoping to inoculate 80 percent of the population of 1.4 billion by the end of the year. As of Tuesday, China had given more than 680 million doses – with nearly half of those in May alone. China’s total is roughly a third of the 1.9 billion shots distributed globally, according to Our World in Data, an online research site.
3rd Jun 2021 - Al Jazeera English

COVID-19: Testing system could be 'overwhelmed' if more countries are added to the green travel list

The UK's testing system could be overwhelmed if holiday hotspots are added to the green travel list, according to an industry expert. Rory Boland, travel editor of Which?, has told Sky News "too many people are not getting their test back on time". The warning comes ahead of an expected review of the government's travel traffic light system later today. Holidaymakers returning to the UK from green locations are not required to self-isolate but they must take one post-arrival coronavirus test. Mr Boland said the testing system is struggling to meet demand as it is.
3rd Jun 2021 - Sky News

Slow to start, China now vaccinating at a staggering pace

In the span of just five days last month, China gave out 100 million shots of its COVID-19 vaccines. After a slow start, China is now doing what virtually no other country in the world can: leveraging the power and all-encompassing reach of its one-party system and a maturing domestic vaccine industry to administer shots at a staggering pace. The rollout is far from perfect, including uneven distribution, but Chinese public health leaders now say they’re hoping to inoculate 80% of the population of 1.4 billion by the end of the year. As of Wednesday, China had given out more than 704 million doses — with nearly half of those in May alone. China’s total is roughly a third of the 1.9 billion shots distributed globally, according to Our World in Data
3rd Jun 2021 - Associated Press

Greece rolls out ‘long-awaited’ mass vaccine campaign to refugees

Greece is launching a mass vaccination campaign for refugees, months after the first shots were rolled out to the wider population in early January. Starting Thursday, vaccinations will be offered to people living in refugee camps on the islands of Lesbos, Chios and Samos. Those on the remaining island camps and the mainland will be offered the shots next week. Athens plans to inoculate more than 11,000 people living in refugee camps on the Greek islands against the coronavirus. According to the UNHCR, there are 91,945 recognised refugees in the country.
3rd Jun 2021 - AlJazeera

Washington vaccination lottery: cash prize, tuition, flights

Washington is the latest state to offer prizes to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, with Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday announcing a series of giveaways that includes lottery drawings totaling $2 million, college tuition assistance, airline tickets and game systems. The incentive program, called “Shot of a Lifetime,” applies to those who start the vaccination process this month as well as residents who are already vaccinated. Washington joins several other states — including California, New Mexico, Ohio and Oregon — that have already created lotteries in hopes of increasing the pace of vaccination, which has slowed in recent weeks. “This is a very, very common-sense investment to save lives,” Inslee said at a news conference announcing the incentives.
3rd Jun 2021 - The Associated Press

Vaccinated or not, California workers may keep masks on

Major California businesses expressed frustration Thursday with proposed rules by state workplace regulators that would only allow workers to go maskless if everyone in a room is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. The workplace rules could remain in place into early next year even though coronavirus cases have fallen dramatically in the state after a severe winter spike and as more people get vaccinated. That contrasts with the state’s plan to fully reopen in less than two weeks and do away with virtually all mask and social distancing requirements for vaccinated people.
3rd Jun 2021 - The Associated Press


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A COVID-19 Vaccine Could Get West Virginians Cash, Guns Or Trips

West Virginia is giving its vaccine incentive program a boost to get more residents immunized from the coronavirus, Gov. Jim Justice announced on Tuesday. All residents who get a COVID-19 vaccine will be enrolled in the chance to win a college scholarship, a tricked-out truck, or hunting rifles, in addition to a $1.588 million grand prize. The program, which will run from June 20 through Aug. 4, will be paid for through federal pandemic relief funds. "The faster we get people across the finish line the more lives we save. That's all there is to it," Justice said. "If the tab just keeps running the cost is enormous. The hospitalizations are enormous. We have to get all of our folks across the finish line."
2nd Jun 2021 - NPR

Amazon starts testing UK staff for coronavirus variants

Amazon is testing its front-line staff in Britain for coronavirus variants and feeding the data to public health officials, including in hotspots where a strain first found in India is spreading fast. The retail giant opened COVID-19 testing labs in the UK and the United States last year to provide voluntary testing for staff and can now also test for variants in Britain, where scientists have pioneered sequencing coronavirus genomes. Aided by a rapid vaccine rollout, Britain is on the verge of reopening its economy after months of lockdowns but the Delta variant first found in India has spread, including in areas where Amazon has its lab and some fulfilment centres.
2nd Jun 2021 - Reuters UK

‘A fantastic success’: Vaccines have broken link between Covid infections and hospitalisations, says NHS chief

Britain’s world-leading vaccine roll-out has “broken the link” between Covid-19 infections and deaths, an NHS chief has said. Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, stressed that many coronavirus patients needing hospital treatment were now younger so did not need critical care. He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “It’s all down to vaccines and it’s a fantastic success story. “The NHS has been delighted to play a part, linking up with the scientists who developed the vaccines, and then ensuring that we get millions of those vaccinations into everybody’s arms."
2nd Jun 2021 - Evening Standard

Sinovac vaccine restores a Brazilian city to near normal

Just one COVID-19 patient is in critical condition at the Dr. Geraldo Cesar Reis clinic in Serrana, a city of almost 46,000 in Sao Paulo state’s countryside. The 63-year-old woman rejected the vaccine that was offered to every adult resident of Serrana as part of a trial. Doctors say the woman was awaiting one of Pfizer’s shots, which remain scarce in Brazil. But she is an outlier here. Most adults rolled up their sleeves when offered the vaccine made by the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac, and the experiment has transformed the community into an oasis of near normalcy in a country where many communities continue to suffer. Doctors who treated COVID-19 in Serrana have seen their patient loads evaporate. They now help colleagues with other diseases and recently started eating lunch at home. Life has returned to the streets: Neighbors chat and families have weekend barbecues. Outsiders who previously had no reason to set foot in Serrana are arriving for haircuts and restaurant outings.
2nd Jun 2021 - The Associated Press


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Covid-19 Australia: Qantas offers unlimited travel as incentive to get coronavirus vaccine

Qantas offering added incentive for Australians to roll up sleeves for Covid jab 10 lucky families will win unlimited travel for year, plus free accommodation Called on other companies to follow airline's lead to bolster vaccination efforts
1st Jun 2021 - Daily Mail

Testing for Covid-19: How S'pore is raising its game with DIY test kits, wastewater sampling and more

A variety of Covid-19 tests - with the latest being over-the-counter test kits - are now under Singapore’s belt, allowing fast, extensive, easy and accurate tests to be conducted as the nation raises its game to fight the virus. Here's a look at the different tests. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test (RT-PCR) Swab test from the nose or back of throat, or from sputum. Looks for genetic sequences of Covid-19.
1st Jun 2021 - The Straits Times

Covid-19 vaccines burnt as shelf-life complicates global rollout

Inefficiencies in the global distribution of vaccines and the relatively short shelf-life of the leading jabs have meant that doses have arrived in some countries too late for the shots to be used. The southern African nation of Malawi publicly burnt almost 20,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine last month, despite having one of the lowest vaccination rates in the world. The shots had been marked with an expiry date of April 13 and, although the manufacturer said it would be safe to use the jabs for another three months, the government feared damaging fragile vaccine confidence by administering expired jabs.
1st Jun 2021 - Financial Times

Alaska offers vaccinations for airport arrivals

Alaska has begun offering coronavirus vaccinations at airports in a move that had been expected for the start of the summer travel season. The state health department said that as of Tuesday, vaccine eligibility has been expanded to include anyone in Alaska who is at least 12 years old, including visitors from other states or countries. Prior eligibility was for those who live or work in Alaska. Vaccines will be offered outside the areas secured by the federal Transportation Security Administration at airports in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. The health department says plans call for the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport to have available all three vaccines authorized for emergency use in the U.S., including the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
1st Jun 2021 - The Associated Press


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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.
31st May 2021 - ABC.Net.au

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.
31st May 2021 - AlJazeera

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.
29th May 2021 - The Mirror

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.
29th May 2021 - Reuters

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.
29th May 2021 - Reuters

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.
28th May 2021 - Evening Standard

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.
28th May 2021 - Bloomberg

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.
28th May 2021 - The Lancet

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.
27th May 2021 - Mother Jones


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Bad luck or bad management: why has Victoria had so many Covid outbreaks?

James McCaw, a professor of mathematical biology at the University of Melbourne, says chance is a dominant factor, because there is a huge amount of variability in how many people an individual infected with Covid-19 spreads the virus to. In the early stages of an outbreak, the virus has a distinct pattern of spread known as clustered transmission, which is highly unpredictable. An estimated 70% of infected individuals do not pass the virus on to anybody else, and research has shown that around 20% of people – so-called “super-spreaders” – are responsible for the vast majority of viral transmission. The pattern of spread was similar for Sars, and differs from other viruses such as those that cause the flu, which are transmitted more consistently
28th May 2021 - The Guardian

Get vaccinated, win cash as California offers $116.5 million in prizes

California will offer $116.5 million in cash and gift cards to residents who get COVID-19 vaccinations before June 15, the latest - and most lucrative - incentive by U.S. states desperate to persuade laggards and vaccine-skeptics to get the injection. The move by Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom is part of an effort to boost vaccinations as the state prepares to fully reopen its economy on June 15. Ten Californians who become inoculated before that date stand to win lottery-style prizes of $1.5 million apiece, while another 30 people will each win $50,000.
28th May 2021 - Reuters

Can employers make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory?

Can employers make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory? Yes, with some exceptions. Experts say U.S. employers can require employees to take safety measures, including vaccination. That doesn’t necessarily mean you would get fired if you refuse, but you might need to sign a waiver or agree to work under specific conditions to limit any risk you might pose to yourself or others. “Employers generally have wide scope” to make rules for the workplace, said Dorit Reiss, a law professor who specializes in vaccine policies at the University of California Hastings College of the Law. “It’s their business.”
27th May 2021 - The Associated Press


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UAE mandates COVID-19 vaccines for live events

The United Arab Emirates said vaccinations against COVID-19 will be mandatory for people attending all "live events" from June 6, as the country pushes a vaccination campaign which has consistently been one of the fastest in the world. The policy applies to all sports, cultural, social, arts exhibition, activities and events, a spokeswoman for the ministry of health said late on Tuesday. Attendees must also present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken at least 48 hours before the event.
26th May 2021 - Reuters

On the road to Recovery—the world's biggest covid-19 treatment trial

When it comes to covid-19 therapeutics, the UK is the world leader, spearheaded by the largest, most successful trial in the world. Chris Stokel-Walker looks at Recovery, and why it has proved hard to replicate elsewhere It’s hard to overestimate the impact of the Recovery trial. In just one year, it’s thought to have saved up to a million lives worldwide. Its finding that the low cost steroid dexamethasone reduces death from covid-19 by up to one third is arguably the major drug discovery in covid treatments so far. Hatched on a London bus ride on 9 March 2020,2 Recovery quickly became—and remains—the largest covid-19 treatment trial in the world, with nearly 40 000 patients enrolled at 181 sites globally, helping to shape the treatment of patients worldwide during a live and ever-changing pandemic.
26th May 2021 - The BMJ

Aussie rules: Melbourne fans to get tested amid COVID scare

Thousands of Australian Rules football fans have been told to self-isolate and get tested for coronavirus after a spectator later confirmed to have COVID-19 was found to have attended a match in Melbourne and the city raced to avoid another lockdown. Australia’s second-biggest city is scrambling to contain the latest outbreak, with 15 cases identified so far. The state of Victoria has already tightened curbs on gatherings and ordered people to wear masks indoors and on public transport until June 4. New Zealand has also suspended its quarantine-free travel arrangement with the state.
26th May 2021 - AlJazeera


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Masks, social restrictions return to Australia's Melbourne after fresh outbreak

Australia’s second largest city Melbourne reinstated COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday as authorities scrambled to find the missing link in a fresh outbreak, prompting New Zealand to pause a “travel bubble” with the state of Victoria. Amid worries the cluster, which has grown to nine cases in two days, could spark a major outbreak, Victoria imposed social restrictions and made face masks mandatory in hotels, restaurants, and other indoor venues from 6 p.m. (0800 GMT) on Tuesday until June 4.
25th May 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: Are high rates of B.1.617.2 linked to vaccine hesitancy?

Last week England’s health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, linked high rates of infection and hospital admissions of people with the B.1.617.2 variant of covid-19 first identified in India to vaccine hesitancy. Giving an update to the House of Commons on 17 May Hancock said that most of the 19 people admitted to hospital with the variant in the hotspot area of Bolton, Greater Manchester, were eligible for a covid-19 vaccine but had not had it. Hancock said, “In Bolton, 19 people are now in hospital with coronavirus, the majority of whom are eligible for a vaccine but have not yet had one. That shows that the new variant is not tending to penetrate into older vaccinated groups and underlines again the importance of getting the jab—especially, but not only, among the vulnerable age groups.” He added, “The majority of people in [the Royal Bolton hospital with coronavirus were eligible for the jab but had chosen not yet to have it and have ended up in hospital—some of them in intensive care. Vaccines save lives. They protect you, they protect your loved ones, and they will help us all get out of this pandemic.” Was Hancock right to frame the situation in this way?
25th May 2021 - The BMJ


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Israel to end COVID-19 restrictions after vaccine success

Israel will end local COVID-19 restrictions following a successful vaccine rollout that has nearly stamped out new infections, the country's Health Ministry said on Sunday. With the majority of the population having received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and about 92% of those 50 and older inoculated or recovered, Israel has been gradually reopening its economy after three lockdowns. The country reported just 12 new virus cases on Saturday, down from a daily peak of more than 10,000 in January.
24th May 2021 - Reuters

Trained on smelly socks, bio-detection dogs sniff out COVID-19

Sniffer dogs trained using smelly socks worn by people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus could soon be used at airports or mass gathering venues to pick up the “corona odour” of COVID-19-infected people, British scientists said on Monday. Working in teams of two, the COVID-trained dogs could screen a line of several hundred people coming off a plane within half an hour, for example, and detect with up to 94.3% sensitivity those infected, the scientists said.
24th May 2021 - Reuters

COVID testing’s value shrinks as vaccines beat back virus

Federal health officials’ new, more relaxed recommendations on masks have all but eclipsed another major change in guidance from the government: Fully vaccinated Americans can largely skip getting tested for the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that most people who have received the full course of shots and have no COVID-19 symptoms don’t need to be screened for the virus, even if exposed to someone infected. The change represents a new phase in the epidemic after nearly a year in which testing was the primary weapon against the virus. Vaccines are now central to the response and have driven down hospitalizations and deaths dramatically. Experts say the CDC guidance reflects a new reality in which nearly half of Americans have received at least one shot and close to 40% are fully vaccinated.
23rd May 2021 - Associated Press


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Get a Covid-19 vaccine in this town and you could win a live cow

A district of northern Thailand has launched a raffle campaign for its vaccinated residents to win a live cow per week for the rest of the year, in a bid to boost the local Covid-19 vaccination drive. From next month, one lucky vaccinated villager in the Mae Chaem district of Chiang Mai province will be randomly chosen every week to win a young cow worth about 10,000 baht ($318.78). The campaign, set to run for 24 weeks, has been met with enthusiasm in the town of 43,000 since it was announced earlier this week. "Our vaccine registration numbers have gone from hundreds to thousands in a couple of days," district chief Boonlue Thamtharanurak told Reuters. "The villagers love cows. Cows can be sold for cash."
22nd May 2021 - CNN

Germany to ban travel from Britain over COVID-19 variant

Germany will ban travel from Britain starting Saturday due to concerns over a COVID-19 variant. Germany classified Britain as an "area of variant of concern," and banned travel into the country to prevent virus spread, a post on the German Embassy's website shows. "There are local outbreaks occurring again, including cases of more infectious variants such as the Indian variant at present," the post read. The Embassy noted exceptions to the ban for German citizens and persons remaining in the airport transit area while transferring from one flight to another.
22nd May 2021 - UPI.com

Covid-19: Should all children get a vaccine?

Vaccinating children is routine and widely accepted - measles, mumps, polio, diphtheria, rotavirus, multiple strains of meningitis, whooping cough… the list goes on. All this starts from just a few weeks old. So, what about Covid-19? Some countries are cracking on - the US has already immunised around 600,000 children, aged between 12 and 15. It expects to have enough safety data to go even younger next year. The UK is rattling through the adults - who should all have been offered their first dose by the end of July - but has yet to come to a decision on children. There is a scientific question - will vaccinating children save lives? - which is complex as the answer may vary from country to country. There is also a moral and ethical dimension if doses destined for children would save more lives if they were given to health workers and vulnerable adults in other countries.
22nd May 2021 - BBC News


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Britain to work with WHO on 'pandemic radar' to track diseases

Britain will work with the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop a "pandemic radar" system to identify new coronavirus variants quickly and track emerging diseases globally to ensure the world is never "caught unawares again". Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the plan for a new "Global Pandemic Radar" ahead of a G20 Global Health summit on Friday in Rome, where he will speak. Johnson's office said it would involve a network of surveillance hubs that could watch out for outbreaks and share data on variants and vaccine resistance.
21st May 2021 - Reuters

EU grapples over COVID-19 passes for summer travel

The European Union reached a deal on Thursday on COVID-19 certificates designed to open up tourism across the 27-nation bloc this summer, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) said. European Parliament lawmakers and current EU president Portugal representing the bloc's 27 members sealed the agreement after a fourth round of negotiations on Thursday afternoon. The certificate will take the form of a QR code on a smartphone or paper, letting authorities determine the status of a visitor based on records in their home EU country. The certificate would show if a person had received a vaccine, had a recent negative test or had immunity based on recovery.
20th May 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: Why prioritising prevention matters in a pandemic of cures

Prevention is better than cure. Simple. Clear. Logical. Except that it is easily overcomplicated, clouded, and misplaced. When we forget that prevention is better than cure, primary care becomes an easy scapegoat, even though the pandemic has reinforced its importance in improving baseline population health, reducing health inequalities, delivering a vaccination strategy, and keeping people out of hospital. We might forget the mammoth efforts of general practice to reconfigure care—and then reverse some of that reconfiguration—the extra burden and complexity created by limitless digital access of patients to health professionals,3 and the ingenuity and partnership now needed between primary and secondary care to clear a 4.7 million person waiting list with £160m of innovation funding. Or that preventing racism in general practice and in hospitals, in doctors’ education, training, assessment, and disciplinary procedures, is better for patients, an issue that the UK’s General Medical Council is now promising to tackle head on.
20th May 2021 - The BMJ

Experts say CDC missed mark on COVID mask guidance

When Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, announced last week that fully vaccinated Americans no longer had to wear masks in most indoor settings unless local mandates dictate so, many public health experts scratched their heads and braced themselves for what they knew would be a confusing moment in America's battle against COVID-19. "The CDC got the science right, but the policy and communication was really wrong," said Leana Wen, MD, the former Baltimore health commissioner and Washington Post contributing columnist and CNN medical analyst. "There are unintended consequences that can endanger people and sew distrust in the CDC." Each week, more studies are published that show the three vaccines currently used in the United States are highly effective in preventing transmission of the COVID-19 virus, even its newer variants.
20th May 2021 - CIRAP


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Fauci: Americans 'misinterpreting' mask rules

Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious diseases expert, said in a new interview that some Americans do not have a full understanding of the latest guidelines put forth by the federal government relative to mask wearing and coronavirus vaccines. "I think people are misinterpreting, thinking that this is a removal of a mask mandate for everyone. It's not," Fauci told Axios on Wednesday. "It's an assurance to those who are vaccinated that they can feel safe, be they outdoors or indoors." Fauci said it's not people's "fault" if they don't understand the new guidance because, in many cases, people "either read them quickly, or listen and hear half of it."
19th May 2021 - The Hill

Study: Under-60s who received first AstraZeneca dose can safely be given Pfizer for second shot

A study in Spain carried out by the Carlos III Health Institute has concluded that the under-60s who have already received one shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can be safely administered the Pfizer-BioNTech medication for their second dose. The recommendation comes after the Spanish Health Ministry suspended the use of AstraZeneca among this age group due to associations with rare cases of blood clots. A total of 672 volunteers and five hospitals in Madrid, Bilbao and Barcelona took part in the study, officially called CombivacS. The participants had received their first dose of AstraZeneca between eight and 12 weeks previously. They were divided into two groups, with 442 people receiving the Pfizer vaccine for their second dose and 221 as a control group. The latter participants were not given another vaccine, allowing for the two groups to be compared.
18th May 2021 - El Pais


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Coronavirus: Ministers to step up vaccine take-up calls amid variant fears

In the UK, ministers will step up calls for people to book a Covid vaccination as soon as they are offered one, amid increasing concern about the Indian variant. The health secretary said anyone who was unsure should look at Bolton, where most people in hospital with Covid were eligible for a jab but had not had one. Matt Hancock said 86 local councils had five or more cases of the variant that is thought to be more transmissible. It comes as lockdowns eased in England, Wales and most of Scotland on Monday.
18th May 2021 - BBC News

Singapore seeks COVID-19 vaccination for all adults by August

Singapore is expecting to administer at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine to its entire adult population by early August, authorities said on Tuesday, after a decision to widen the gap between doses to inoculate more people faster. Close to two million of Singapore's 5.7 million people have received at least one dose, according to official data as of Monday. About 1.4 million recipients have completed the full two-dose regimen, authorities said. "Lengthening the interval to between six to eight weeks will enable us to cover more people with the first dose of the vaccine more quickly, who will then have some protection," the health ministry said.
18th May 2021 - Reuters

Martin McKee: What went wrong in the UK’s covid-19 response?

In May 2020, Sarah Wollaston, Mike Gill, and I called for a rapid inquiry into the British government’s response to the covid-19 pandemic. This would have been an opportunity to learn lessons and not to repeat them. At that time we knew that the United Kingdom’s response to the news of an emerging infection had been slow, leading to tens of thousands of avoidable deaths. We were anxious that this should not be repeated. Our call was ignored and the events of debris in March 2020 were repeated in December 2020, as the prime minister, anxious to be seen to “save Christmas,” dithered as a new variant, B.1.1.7, spread rapidly. More recently, he delayed imposing a ban on travel from India until 23 April 2021.
18th May 2021 - BMJ Blog


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Survey shows 3 in 4 Kiwis adopted COVID-19 protective behaviors

Research from Massey University shows an overwhelming majority of New Zealanders support regional (94 percent) or national lockdowns (81 percent) if there are new COVID-19 infections in New Zealand. In a national survey conducted by Senior Lecturer Dr. Jagadish Thaker (JT) of the School of Communication, Journalism & Marketing in February and March 2021, with nearly 1100 respondents, three in four Kiwis (77 percent) said they had used the contact tracing app to record visits to the office, supermarkets and other venues. Dr. Thaker says the results show why effective communication from trusted sources continue to matter during and after vaccination.
17th May 2021 - Medical Xpress

California will stay masked for another month

California won’t lift its mask requirement until June 15 to give the public and businesses time to prepare and ensure cases stay low, the state health director said Monday, a decision that runs counter to many other states including Oregon and Washington that quickly aligned with last week’s new federal guidelines. “This four-week period will give Californians time to prepare for this change, while we continue the relentless focus on delivering vaccines particularly to underserved communities and those that were hard hit throughout this pandemic,” Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said. The timing aligns with California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s earlier announcement that if cases remain low, the state will drop nearly all COVID-19 restrictions on June 15.
18th May 2021 - The Associated Press

Retailers, states grapple with shifting COVID-19 mask mandates

Major retailers across the country, including Target, Starbucks, and Walmart, are changing their in-store mask requirements following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) announcement last week that fully vaccinated Americans are now safe to resume almost all activities without wearing a mask. Starbucks, Walmart, Costco, and Trader Joe's have all said they will require masks for fully vaccinated patrons only if local law dictates it. Today Target and CVS said they will "strongly recommend" masks for unvaccinated customers and employees, but fully vaccinated shoppers are not expected to don masks. All businesses, however, have emphasized that they will follow local laws and regulations. Despite the new guidance from the CDC that vaccinated people don't need to wear masks for most activities, many vaccinated Americans remain reluctant to give up their masks, the Associated Press reports. The mask has acted as both a security measure and was a visible way to signal that a person took the pandemic seriously. As of yesterday, 18 states have lifted statewide mask mandates, meaning about one third of the country is now mask-free for the first time in roughly 1 year.
17th May 2021 - CIDRAP


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COVID-19: Surge testing for Indian and South African variants under way across England

Surge testing to tackle an outbreak of the Indian variant of coronavirus is under way in parts of England. Extra resources to ensure widespread community testing in targeted locations within east London - including Shoreditch and Dalston - have been put in place after the South African variant was also found. The infections occurred in three workplaces in the area, Hackney Council said.
16th May 2021 - Sky News

Mask mandates might be going away, but don’t ditch yours just yet, scientists caution

Fully vaccinated people are exhaling this weekend, ditching masks and easing up on social distancing, per the latest Covid-19 guidance put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new advice marks a significant milestone in the nation’s effort to stamp out the disease, and signals the beginning of a return to normalcy. But scientists say there are good reasons not to toss out your mask stash just yet. “It’s important to not see this change as a signal that this means that the pandemic is over or that there is no capacity for policy reversals in the future,” said William Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
16th May 2021 - STAT News

U.S. Vaccine Rollout Expands to Children Ages 12 to 15

The first mass campaign to inoculate children against the coronavirus officially began in the United States on Thursday, after the federal government recommended making the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine available to children ages 12 to 15. Teenagers 16 and older became eligible in most states last month. From Seattle to San Antonio to New York, children in graphic T-shirts and sports jerseys shuffled into vaccination centers, skipping math classes to get vaccinated and, at times, holding a parent’s hand the moment the shot entered their arm. It was a far different scene than only a few months ago, when it was seniors over the age of 65 who descended on vaccination centers, and a marker of how far the country has come in its race to vaccinate the majority of the American population.
15th May 2021 - The New York Times

'Hugely encouraging' milestone as three million Scots receive coronavirus vaccine

More than three million Scots have now had their first coronavirus vaccine. Scottish Government chiefs have said today that the first doses have now reached a massive two thirds of the adult population as of last night. Health bosses are moving through the programme to vaccinate those aged 40 to 49 years old and more than 50% of this age group having come forward so far. Next up will be those in their 30s who will be offered an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after health complaints from some younger people about the jab.
15th May 2021 - Daily Record

COVID-19: Big changes in the rules for people who are fully vaccinated in the US

Vaccinated people in the US will be allowed to stop wearing their face masks in most settings. Masks are no longer being recommended for vaccinated people when they are in crowded places outdoors and in most indoor settings - and they won't have to follow social distancing measures either. The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) changed its guidance for fully vaccinated people on Thursday. Masks will still need to be worn in crowded indoor settings such as buses, planes, hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters.
15th May 2021 - Sky News

COVID-19: Portugal confirms UK tourists with negative coronavirus test allowed to travel from Monday

Portugal has confirmed that tourists from the UK will be able to travel to the country from Monday. The country's foreign affairs minister has said anyone arriving from 17 May must have had a negative PCR result within the previous 72 hours. Existing travel restrictions on travel into the country from Britain will end on Sunday, the minister confirmed in a statement released by Portugal's tourist board, Visit Portugal.
15th May 2021 - Sky News

UK races to test, vaccinate as virus variant threatens plans

British health workers, aided by the army, distributed coronavirus tests door-to-door Saturday in two towns in northern England, seeking to contain a fast-spreading variant that threatens plans to lift all lockdown restrictions next month. Cases of a variant first identified in India have more than doubled in a week, defying a sharp nationwide downward trend in infections won by months of restrictions and a rapid vaccination campaign. Government scientific advisers say this variant is likely more transmissible than even the U.K.’s dominant strain, though it’s unclear by how much.
15th May 2021 - Associated Press

Amazon offers $100 vaccine bonus to entice 75,000 US workers

Amazon is seeking to hire 75,000 people in a tight job market and is offering bonuses to attract United States workers, including $100 for new hires who are already vaccinated against COVID-19. The jobs are for delivery and warehouse workers, who pack and ship online orders. Amazon, which already pays at least $15 an hour, gave out raises for some of its workers last month, and the company said Thursday that new hires will make an average of $17 an hour.
14th May 2021 - AlJazeera


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CDC’s U-Turn Puts Business in ‘Damned If You Do’ (Or Don’t) Bind

Companies are rushing to assess their mask policies after a sudden announcement by U.S. officials put newly relaxed federal guidelines in conflict with the rules at many businesses. Home Depot Inc. and TJX Cos. said they don’t immediately plan to change their policies advising face coverings be worn inside their stores, while Macy’s Inc., Levi Strauss & Co. and Gap Inc. said they’re reviewing the new guidance. The National Restaurant Association is also looking at the recommendations and is evaluating its Covid-19 operating guidance and best practices for restaurants, while some banks are indicating they’ll continue to require face coverings -- at least for now.
14th May 2021 - Bloomberg on MSN.com

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine seeks to incentivize coronavirus vaccines with chance to win $1 million

As demand for the coronavirus vaccine plateaus, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is giving state residents a shot to win $1 million. The Republican governor announced Wednesday night that vaccinated adults will be eligible to enter a lottery that will pay out $1 million each to five winners beginning May 26. Separately, DeWine is offering five vaccinated teenagers full-ride scholarships to the state’s public universities, which includes all four years of tuition, room, board and textbooks. “I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money.’ But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to covid-19,” DeWine said in a statewide address.
13th May 2021 - The Washington Post

COVID-19 vaccination drive again exposes India’s digital divide

For anyone aged between 18 and 44, getting a slot in India’s expanded vaccination drive – already plagued by shortages and political squabbles – has been like buying tickets for a rock concert where popular bands sell out in minutes. The expansion came with restrictions, including only online registrations for the 18-44-year-olds, locking out up to half of India’s population, particularly in poor and rural areas, who do not have smartphones or internet access. A report by The Indian Express newspaper on Thursday said 85 percent of those who got vaccinated since May 1 belong to just seven of the 28 states, raising “critical questions on vaccine equity”.
13th May 2021 - AlJazeera

Pediatricians primed to lead Covid vaccination efforts as kids become eligible

Now that both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have green-lighted Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in kids ages 12 to 15, pediatricians will soon find themselves on the front lines of the country's vaccination efforts, playing an essential role in communicating to parents the safety and importance of getting their kids the shot. That's a tall order for pediatricians who say they're facing skyrocketing vaccine hesitancy among families.
13th May 2021 - NBC News

COVID cases across India being traced to weeks-long Kumbh Mela

As a second wave of the coronavirus began in India in early April, millions of Hindus congregated at Haridwar, a Himalayan city in Uttarakhand state, to take a holy dip in the Ganges. When the devotees returned home in crowded buses and trains, they spread the infection in villages and towns, prompting officials in some states to track and quarantine them. But many did not turn up for coronavirus tests, despite officials making public announcements urging devotees to report and be screened.
13th May 2021 - AlJazeera

Lifesaving tips on reopening the US

Widespread vaccine coverage in the US is rapidly reducing new infections, illnesses and deaths from Covid-19. States and cities are quickly removing restrictions on business and leisure activities. Yet, while the public enjoys the return to normalcy, governments behind the scenes should be ramping up public health systems to guard against another possible wave and to build more competency for the inevitable next epidemic, whenever it may arise. First, a note of warning. Newly confirmed cases in the US are now below 40,000 per day. This is down from the peak in January, when new cases reached over 300,000 per day. And daily cases continue to decline, even more rapidly. Yet, just before India's recent surge to over 400,000 cases per day, that country had reported just over 10,000 cases per day as recently as early March. It's a reminder that the Covid-19 epidemic can spread from very few cases to a devastating surge at a terrifying rate, in just a few weeks.
12th May 2021 - CNN


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French lawmakers approve COVID 'health pass' at second attempt

France's National Assembly approved on Wednesday the creation of a COVID-19 "health pass" that people can use to attend sports events, festivals and theme parks with large crowds, a hotly contested government measure to help safely re-open the economy. The health pass, which will come into effect from June 9, will provide proof that a person has either been vaccinated against the coronavirus, holds a recent negative PCR test, or is recovering from COVID-19 and therefore has natural antibodies. The proposal was initially shot down in the lower house on Tuesday evening over fears it would impinge on civil freedoms
12th May 2021 - Reuters


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Clock is ticking for EU vaccine certificates as summer looms

As strict lockdowns are loosened across Europe and many EU citizens dream about holidays in the sun, the 27-nation bloc has yet to agree on how to quickly implement a virus certificate scheme to boost summer travel and tourism. European affairs ministers gathered Tuesday in Brussels to assess progress in discussions with European lawmakers. A deal between the Parliament and EU countries is required in May to ensure the system will be up and running by the end of June, but several sticking points remain.
11th May 2021 - The Independent

NHS app to be used as 'coronavirus vaccine passport' for holidaymakers from Monday

Holidaymakers who have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine will be able to “prove” their status to other countries from Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, as limited international travel resumes. The minister confirmed that people in England who travel abroad will be able to use the reworked NHS app to demonstrate they are fully vaccinated when the ban on overseas leisure travel is lifted on Monday, May 17.
11th May 2021 - Manchester Evening News

Medicare requires nursing homes to report COVID vaccinations

Medicare will require nursing homes to report COVID-19 vaccination rates for residents and staff, the government said Tuesday. Officials hope to nudge facilities to keep giving shots as the worst ravages of the pandemic ease but the danger of a rebound still lurks. “We’re hoping to drive increased vaccination rates among residents and staff, as well as transparency for residents and their families,” Dr. Lee Fleisher, chief medical officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told The Associated Press. Medicare’s move to sustain the pace of vaccinations comes as an initial effort to get shots to nursing homes across the country has wound down.
11th May 2021 - Associated Press


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Coronavirus vaccine passports under consideration in Australia amid international travel hopes

Vaccine passports enabling Australians to travel overseas are not a matter of 'if' but 'when', leading industry experts say. As the country's coronavirus vaccine rollout ramps up to more than two million doses, the door to international travel edges a little closer to reopening. With countries and continents like Europe, UK and Canada flagging their intention to introduce a digital vaccine passport system, experts say Australia is not far from doing the same.
10th May 2021 - 9News.com.au

CVS, Walgreens Are America's Epicenters For COVID-19 Vaccine Waste

NPR's Sacha Pfeiffer speaks with reporter Joshua Eaton about the two pharmacy chains accounting for the majority of wasted COVID-19 vaccines, according to reporting from Kaiser Health News. The findings are based on CDC data and show that those two companies are responsible for more wasted vaccines than federal, state and local government agencies combined.
10th May 2021 - NPR


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To mask or not to mask? With vaccines and new guidelines, the mask-faithful navigate a ‘weird gray area.’

When David Díaz went for a recent five-mile run in Iowa City, he took along a partner he has depended on for more than a year: his face mask. Díaz, 29, knew he did not have to. He’s fully vaccinated, and recent federal guidance says unmasked, outdoor exercise is safe. At first, he wore the mask around his neck. But after passing people one block later, he pulled it up — and then began wondering why. Was he posturing? Was he showing concern for others? Was he worried passersby would view him as an anti-masker? Was he actually being anti-science? “At what point are you doing more harm than good and letting fear or something rule your life?” Díaz, a data analytics consultant, said days later. “It’s still a thing I’m trying to work through.”
10th May 2021 - The Washington Post

Fauci says face masks could become seasonal after Covid pandemic

White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that people may wear masks during certain seasons when respiratory illnesses are more prevalent. “We’ve had practically a non-existent flu season this year [...],“Fauci said. His comments come less than a month after the Biden administration announced a relaxation of federal guidance on wearing masks outdoors.
10th May 2021 - CNBC

Covid-19: HSE advises people to wear face masks as restrictions ease

Families have been advised to maintain social distancing and to wear masks when meeting after Covid-19 restrictions are eased next week. The so-called “vaccine bonus” will see fully vaccinated people from up to three households permitted to mix indoors from Monday. The same will also apply to those who received a first AstraZeneca shot more than four weeks ago and to people who have had a PCR test confirmed infection in the past six months. These groups can also meet indoors with unvaccinated people from another household, provided they are not at risk of severe illness. The measures aim to benefit older people and those with health conditions who have had to spend lengthy periods cocooning since the pandemic began.
8th May 2021 - The Irish Times

Covid-19: Vaccines will be tested against variants of concern after £29m funding boost from UK government

The efficacy of different covid-19 vaccines against variants of concern, including those first identified in the UK and South Africa, will be assessed by Public Health England after a funding boost from the government. The UK government’s Vaccine Taskforce has announced £29.3m (€34m; $40.8m) in extra funding for new facilities at Porton Down in Wiltshire, which will increase the site’s capacity for testing variant samples from 1500 to 3000 a week. This is on top of a £19.7m investment approved last September to increase capacity for clinical testing of vaccines. The government has said that the Porton Down facilities will also be used for work to update existing vaccines to specifically target variants. Data are currently limited on the efficacy of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 variants, as many of the earlier vaccine trials were carried out before these variants emerged.
8th May 2021 - The BMJ

Covid-19: Africa scrambles to increase genomic testing capacity as variants spread

African countries are struggling to bolster genomic sequencing as SARS-CoV-2 variants spread on the continent, reports Abdullahi Tsanni As the world entered 2021, the covid-19 pandemic began a new phase, one dominated by worries over emerging variants. But the way of detecting these threats has not been standardised—even in the UK, where genomic sequencing is relatively frequent, only 5-10% of covid-19 positive cases were being sequenced at the start of the year. The spotlight on sequencing has highlighted inequalities in global capacity. Many countries in Africa do not perform sequencing themselves, and those that do only do so on a small scale. Genomic sequencing requires expertise, machinery, software, reagents, and funding. Over the past year, as African countries grappled with scaling up basic testing capacity for covid-19, it hasn’t been a high priority. But as variants such as B.1.351—first identified in South Africa and which now accounts for some 90% of the country’s covid-19 cases—led to growing concern, there are worries that the lack of sequencing capacity will leave the continent unable to spot and stop variant outbreaks before they fuel a new wave of infections.
8th May 2021 - The BMJ


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Covid-19 vaccine rates lower among ethnic minorities, disabled people and in deprived areas

Take-up of a Covid-19 vaccine has been lower among all ethnic minority groups compared with the White British population, figures show. Lower uptake has also been seen among some religious groups, disabled people and those living in more deprived areas, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. Reasons for lower vaccination rates are likely to be complex but modelling showed could not be fully explained by geography, socio-demographic factors or underlying health conditions, the ONS report concluded. It comes as other figures show vaccine hesitancy in England remains low overall but is higher in younger age groups, people in deprived areas and Black adults. A study exploring the reasons for vaccine refusal and uncertainty in more depth is due to be published soon, the ONS said.
6th May 2021 - Pulse

Dollar stores: gateways to equitable Covid-19 vaccine distribution

With the number of Americans receiving Covid-19 vaccines each week starting to decline, it’s time to pull out the stops to reach those who are willing to be vaccinated but haven’t yet been able to do so. Enlisting dollar stores as vaccination sites is one way to make vaccines more widely and equitably available. Every American adult is now officially eligible for to get a Covid-19 vaccine. Although the barriers to vaccination aren’t yet well-studied or surveyed, difficulty scheduling an appointment and distance to a vaccination site are widely considered to be significant obstacles. In mid-April, the Biden administration announced that 90% of Americans now live within 5 miles of a vaccination site, in part because of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. Every week, in addition to allocating vaccine doses to the states to distribute, the federal government also allocates millions of vaccine doses directly to retail pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers this program critical to the success of its efforts to deliver vaccines directly to communities and achieving that 5-mile goal.
6th May 2021 - STAT News


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UK pledges £29m more to fast-track vaccines against Covid variants

The UK government is pledging extra money to fast-track vaccines in an effort to stay “one step ahead” of coronavirus variants. The multimillion-pound investment in testing facilities at Porton Down in Wiltshire would help to “future-proof” the country, said the health secretary, Matt Hancock. The government is pledging an additional £29.3m, on top of £19.7m already promised. Scientists at the Porton Down research laboratory test blood samples to monitor the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines. Current testing capacity is 700 tests a week, but it is increasing to 1,500 by January 2022.
5th May 2021 - The Guardian

Third coronavirus vaccine could be offered to people over 50 before winter

A third jab could be offered to those over 50 before winter in bid to stop the threat of coronavirus in the UK by Christmas, it is understood. People could receive a vaccine specifically modified to tackle new variants of the Covid, or a third shot of the three vaccines already in use. That’s according to the Times, which said trials of these two options are under way and being supervised by England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty.
5th May 2021 - Evening Standard

White House to shift COVID-19 vaccine to states with more need

COVID-19 vaccine doses allocated to a U.S. state but left unordered will become available to other states under a policy shift aimed at delivering vaccines to where they are most in demand, the White House said on Tuesday. Vaccines have been allocated state by state based on population - a formula the Biden administration held to even as some states such as Michigan saw increases in coronavirus infections.
5th May 2021 - Reuters


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Weird and wonderful incentives encouraging people to get vaccinated

Scientists typically estimate that an inoculation rate of at least 70% is needed for herd immunity - where entire populations are protected against a disease. Some bodies and community groups have turned to a weird and wonderful range of incentives in order to get people jabbed. For instance, New Jersey has launched "Shot and a Beer", a scheme offering a free beer to those who get their first dose in May. To claim a drink, all they have to do is turn up to a participating brewery with their vaccination card.
4th May 2021 - ITV News

Canada backing vaccine passports, health minister says

Canada looks set to back coronavirus ‘vaccine passports’ to allow residents to travel internationally, according to the country’s health minister. Patty Hajdu told CBC radio show “The House” the country would “absolutely” be taking part in such a programme and is in conversation with G7 nations about the rollout of a vaccine passport scheme. “Canadians need to be able to have the right kind of certification for international travel because, as we know, Canadians will want to travel internationally, and they will want to make sure they have the right credentials to do that from a vaccination perspective,” she said.
4th May 2021 - The Independent

Unexpected places now offering COVID-19 vaccines

Seventy one fans got vaccinated during the Milwaukee Bucks vs. Brooklyn Nets basketball game Sunday, marking the latest effort by health departments to make COVID-19 vaccines convenient and even fun. The Bucks game vaccination pop-up, a partnership with the Milwaukee Public Health Department, was open to fans at least 16 years of age and is part of a series of mobile vaccination pop-ups the health department has hosted at community centers, churches, businesses and neighborhood events, according to Emily Tau, a health department spokesperson.
4th May 2021 - ABC News

$100 as an Incentive to Get a Shot? Experiment Suggests It Can Pay Off.

What’s the best way to persuade the millions of Americans who are still unvaccinated against Covid-19 to get their shots? Reassuring public service announcements about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness have proliferated. But increasingly, people are realizing that it will take more than just information to sway the hesitant. In recent randomized survey experiments by the U.C.L.A. Covid-19 Health and Politics Project, two seemingly strong incentives have emerged. Roughly a third of the unvaccinated population said a cash payment would make them more likely to get a shot. Similarly large increases in willingness to take vaccines emerged for those who were asked about getting a vaccine if doing so meant they wouldn’t need to wear a mask or social-distance in public, compared with a group that was told it would still have to do those things.
4th May 2021 - New York Times


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Estonia introduces a digital vaccine passport

Estonia has introduced a digital vaccine passport to support the country’s response to COVID-19 pandemic; the secure vaccination certificate, called VaccineGuard, is issued through the Estonian national patient portal and is available immediately, enabling the country’s citizens to cross borders with proof of vaccination status. The VaccineGuard platform is based on a yearlong collaboration with the Estonian, Hungarian and Icelandic governments, the World Health Organisation and AstraZeneca Estonia, the local branch of the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company. The platform was developed by Estonian-founded deep tech company, Guardtime.
30th Apr 2021 - Estonian World

EU Set to Test Vaccine Certificates With Goal of June Roll-Out

The European Union will start testing its vaccine certificate system in early May with the aim of getting it fully operational by June 30, EU officials said. Legislation may not be completely finalized by then, meaning a roll-out could still be delayed, officials said in a briefing Friday. The European Parliament on Thursday broadly backed the European Commission’s vaccine certificate plans, allowing negotiations to begin with the bloc’s member states over final details.
30th Apr 2021 - Bloomberg

Here’s what to do if you get covid-19 between vaccine doses

people who are planning to be vaccinated should be well, because immune cells need to be healthy to have a robust reaction to vaccine. That waiting period is also designed to protect others — such as in vaccination centers, for example — from exposure to the virus. Experts said the only instances in which people are advised to wait longer than 10 days to get their shot is when they have a specific medical issue that needs to be managed or when they have had covid-19 and been treated with convalescent plasma or lab-manufactured monoclonal antibodies. Some people on immunosuppressive therapies may need to delay a dose because the therapies can blunt the immune response to the vaccine, for instance. And those who have received convalescent plasma or monoclonal antibodies are told to wait at least three months before getting the shot because they will have antibodies against the coronavirus spike protein “and the vaccine coming in will be spike-protein-induced protection,” Yildirim said.
30th Apr 2021 - The Washington Post


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Cuba could be closing in on COVID vaccine sovereignty

With two domestically produced COVID-19 vaccines in stage-three clinical trials, Cuba is racing towards potentially becoming the first country in Latin America to develop its own shot against the coronavirus. The island of 11 million people, which has been under a strict US trade embargo for decades, is in process of developing five experimental shots, including Soberana 02 and Abdala, which reached final-stage trials last month. The names of the vaccines reveal much about how Cuba sees the national effort. Soberana translates as “sovereign”, while the Abdala shot was named after a patriotic poem by the Cuban revolutionary hero Jose Marti. Around 44,000 people will receive the Soberana 02 vaccine, and some 48,000 volunteers have been recruited for the Abdala trial. According to local reports, an additional 150,000 frontline workers will also receive the Soberana 02 shot.
30th Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera English

COVID-19: Why a domestic catastrophe for India could also become a global vaccine crisis

Of all the developing nations, India should have been able to summon a defence against COVID's second wave. Overcrowding, poverty and patchy public health systems across a vast and disparate country were all factors in the virus' favour, but India is also home to the world's biggest vaccine manufacturing capacity. The Serum Institute of India (SII) is at the centre of plans for Covax - a global coronavirus vaccine-sharing project seen as the key to ensuring billions of people beyond the economically secure West receive protection.
29th Apr 2021 - Sky News

Covid-19: Workplace testing to be expanded in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, Covid-19 testing for people in the workplace is to be expanded. The workforce asymptomatic testing programme is now open to all organisations with 10 or more employees or volunteers, who cannot work from home. Previously this was open to organisations with more than 50 employees. Health Minister Robin Swann welcomed the announcement in a statement. "This is a significant move in the testing programme as up to one third of people who have coronavirus are asymptomatic," he said.
29th Apr 2021 - BBC News

Policies to eliminate Covid instead of mitigating it through lockdowns were better for the economy and saved more lives, study claims

Experts argue deaths, economic impact and loss of freedom lower in elimination. They said damage of locking down hard and early would 'pay off in the long run.' Only five countries out of 37 of the world's most developed chose elimination. All of Europe except Iceland went for mitigation – controlling the virus
28th Apr 2021 - Daily Mail

BioNTech chief confident Covid jab will work on variant found in India

BioNTech’s chief executive has said he is confident the Covid-19 vaccine his company pioneered with Pfizer will work against a new variant circulating in India, where health officials are recording hundreds of thousands of new coronavirus cases a day. Ugur Sahin, who founded the German biotech with his wife Ozlem Tureci, said BioNTech had developed the vaccine with variants in mind. “[It] will hold, I’m confident of that,” he said, adding that BioNTech’s early experience developing cancer therapies meant that the company had been prepared for the virus to mutate. “We come out of cancer medicine and [there] the tumour is constantly changing and mutating . . . So we have experience with these escape mechanisms,” he said at an online meeting with reporters.
28th Apr 2021 - The Financial Times

EU Parliament: COVID-19 pass should guarantee free movement

European lawmakers said Thursday that COVID-19 certificates aimed at facilitating travel across the European Union should be enough to move freely this summer, a position likely to clash with member states’ prerogatives in their upcoming negotiations. EU legislators said Thursday in their negotiating position on the European Commission’s proposal that EU governments shouldn’t impose quarantines, tests or self-isolation measures on certificate holders. The EU’s executive arm proposed last month that the certificates would be delivered to EU residents who can prove they have been vaccinated, and also to those who tested negative for the virus or have proof they recovered from it. The European Commission’s goal is to boost travel from one member state to another during the pandemic.
29th Apr 2021 - Associated Press

Free rides and beer: Incentives are added to vaccine drive

Free beer, pot and doughnuts. Savings bonds. A chance to win an all-terrain vehicle. Places around the U.S. are offering incentives to try to energize the nation’s slowing vaccination drive and get Americans to roll up their sleeves. These relatively small, mostly corporate, promotion efforts have been accompanied by more serious and far-reaching attempts by officials in cities such as Chicago, which is sending specially equipped buses into neighborhoods to deliver vaccines. Detroit is offering $50 to people who give others a ride to vaccination sites, and starting Monday will send workers to knock on every door in the city to help residents sign up for shots. Public health officials say the efforts are crucial to reach people who haven’t been immunized yet, whether because they are hesitant or because they have had trouble making an appointment or getting to a vaccination site.
29th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

World to spend $157 billion on COVID-19 vaccines through 2025 -report

Total global spending on COVID-19 vaccines is projected to reach $157 billion by 2025, driven by mass vaccination programs underway and "booster shots" expected every two years, according to a report by U.S. health data company IQVIA Holdings. IQVIA said it expects the first wave of COVID-19 vaccinations to reach about 70% of the world's population by the end of 2022. Booster shots are likely to follow initial vaccinations every two years, the report said, based on current data on the duration of effect of the vaccines. The United States is preparing for the possibility that a booster shot will be needed between nine to 12 months after people receive their first full inoculations against COVID-19, a White House official said earlier this month.
29th Apr 2021 - Reuters


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Cloth face coverings can be as effective as surgical masks at protecting against COVID-19

Researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Surrey have found that well-fitting, three-layered cloth masks can be as effective at reducing the transmission of COVID-19 as surgical masks.
28th Apr 2021 - Medical Xpress

How Your Brain Might Trick You Into Thinking Covid Vaccines Are Riskier Than They Really Are

Dr. Joshua Liao explores how omission bias affects the way your mind naturally thinks about the risk of measures like vaccination, and how you can rationally overcome it.
27th Apr 2021 - Forbes

COVID-19: NHS app to be used as coronavirus passport for international travel, Grant Shapps confirms

Britons will find out which countries they will be able to enjoy quarantine-free travel to this summer "in the next couple of weeks" - as the transport secretary confirmed an NHS app will be used as a COVID passport for travel abroad. Under Prime Minister Boris Johnson's roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions, international travel without one of the current exemptions - which exclude holidays - will not be allowed any earlier than 17 May.Ministers have set out plans for a "traffic light" system to be used this summer to categorise different destinations. And, speaking to Sky News on Wednesday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed "in the next couple of weeks" he will be able to give details on which countries have made it on to the "green list".
28th Apr 2021 - Sky News

Outdoor mask guidance echoes what many Americans already do

On Tuesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased its guidelines on the wearing of masks outdoors, saying fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to cover their faces anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers. And those who are unvaccinated can go outside without masks in some situations, too. For most of the past year, the CDC had been advising Americans to wear masks outdoors if they are within 6 feet of one another. The decision marked the U.S. government’s latest step toward normalcy, but came as much of the country already had moved on from mask rules. The CDC essentially endorsed what many Americans have already been doing.
28th Apr 2021 - Associated Press

BioNTech boss: Europe will reach herd immunity this summer

More than half of Europe’s population should have received the coronavirus vaccine in the next two months, allowing governments to consider easing lockdown rules for those who’ve been immunized, the head of German pharmaceutical company BioNTech said Wednesday. The European Union has lagged behind Britain and the United States in the race to get shots into arms, but in recent weeks the pace of vaccinations has picked up significantly. Ugur Sahin, whose company developed the first widely approved shot against COVID-19 with U.S. partner Pfizer, predicted that “50-60% of the population will have received the vaccine” by the end of June, at which point any easing of pandemic restrictions would affect a broad swath of the population.
28th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

Vaccinating adolescents could help prevent third wave of Covid in UK – study

Vaccinating older children and slowing down the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions are among measures that could help to prevent a third wave of Covid in the UK, according to a report from an organisation set up by the former prime minister Tony Blair. The government’s roadmap suggests all Covid restrictions could be lifted in England on 21 June. However, scientists have warned that even with an ongoing vaccination programme, the plan could lead to a resurgence of the virus and thousands, if not tens of thousands, of additional Covid-related deaths by summer next year. It is a scenario the prime minister, Boris Johnson, himself has acknowledged, saying on Monday another wave is a possibility we have “got to be realistic” about. However, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI) has released a report saying a third wave is not inevitable, should three key actions be taken.
28th Apr 2021 - The Guardian


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UK survey finds rising unease about AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

British enthusiasm for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has faded in the past month, reflecting rising unease about its possible links to rare adverse side effects, though overall UK confidence in vaccines is high, an updated survey has found. The survey of almost 5,000 people showed a significant increase in the proportion who said they want to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible, but also found that almost a quarter of those asked now believe the AstraZeneca vaccine causes blood clots – up from 13% last month.
28th Apr 2021 - Reuters UK

West Virginia Will Pay Young People $100 To Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Young people who get the COVID-19 vaccine in West Virginia won't just gain protection against a deadly virus — they'll also make money. The state will offer a $100 savings bond to everyone between the ages of 16 and 35 who gets vaccinated, Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, announced at a Monday briefing. It's part of an ongoing push to get shots into the arms of younger residents, who have been largely slow to roll up their sleeves so far. The initiative will apply retroactively to people in this age group who have already gotten their shots. It is funded with money from the CARES Act, with Justice adding that officials have "vetted this in every way that we possibly can."
27th Apr 2021 - NPR

U of Portland, Willamette U to require COVID-19 vaccinations

University of Portland officials announced on Tuesday that the school will require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations for all students, faculty and staff when the fall semester starts. The Catholic university said in a news release that employees must provide proof of vaccination by Aug. 1 and students must provide proof by Sept. 1. The news release says more than 100 colleges and universities nationally have announced vaccination requirements for students and/or employees, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. “As we have stated from the start of the pandemic, the health and well-being of (University of Portland) community members must be our collective priority,” wrote University President Rev. Mark L. Poorman, C.S.C., in a memo also signed by other University leaders. “The vaccination requirement we announce today is just the latest step we must take on our journey to keep one another safe and return to the cherished in-person campus community that is so essential to our mission.”
27th Apr 2021 - Associated Press

CDC: Fully vaccinated Americans can go maskless outdoors

Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks during bike rides, runs, small outdoor gatherings with friends, or dining outdoors at restaurants. Though the agency still recommends mask wearing in large outdoor gatherings, such as sports games and concerts, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said data are clear that being outside poses little threat to fully vaccinated people, meaning those who are 14 days out from their Johnson & Johnson vaccine or received their second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine 14 or more days ago. "Most of transmission is happening indoors than outdoors," Walensky said, explaining that less than 10% of documented COVID-19 transmission has occurred outside. Unvaccinated Americans may also now safely resume exercising outdoors without a mask, the CDC said, and socialize with fully vaccinated friends and family members in small outdoor gatherings. "Today is another day we can take a step back to [the] normalcy of before," Walensky said during a White House press briefing on the guidance change.
27th Apr 2021 - CIDRAP


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Here are 9 ways we can make it easier for Australians to get the COVID-19 vaccine

Between vaccine supply issues, confusion about the role of GPs, and changed advice for AstraZeneca, the Australian COVID-19 vaccine rollout is well behind schedule. How can we make it easier for the majority of Australians who want to be vaccinated? Especially given all Australians over 50 years of age are eligible to be vaccinated from May 3 next week. There are tangible things we can do now to help people understand the benefits and possible risks of COVID-19 vaccination, and get the vaccine quickly as soon as they’re eligible.
26th Apr 2021 - The Conversation

Boris Johnson defends mass Covid-19 testing programme

Boris Johnson has defended the use of lateral flow tests for the general population, saying they “offer great prospects for the country”. The Prime Minister was questioned about the tests following reports that the UK’s healthcare regulator has raised concerns with the Government that the mass testing programme is “a stretch” of the authorised use of rapid tests. Alongside the rollout of vaccines, the Government says regular testing is an essential part of the easing of restrictions, will help identify variants and will stop individual cases from becoming outbreaks. But the Guardian reported that while the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had approved lateral flow to find coronavirus cases, it was unhappy they may be used as a “green light” for people to have more freedom.
26th Apr 2021 - Evening Standard

Danish bar offers COVID-19 tests on tap

A bar in Copenhagen has started offering customers a COVID-19 test and a beer while they wait for the result to help get business moving again after months of restrictions. Punters hand over about $25 to get tested in a booth at Warpigs Brewpub. After about half an hour, if they get the all-clear, they are allowed inside. It works under Denmark's "corona-passport" system where people can either use a mobile app or a government-approved form to show if they have been vaccinated, previously infected or have had a negative test in the past 72 hours. Under the scheme that started on Wednesday, staff at museums, bars, cafes and restaurants check customers' status before they let them in.
26th Apr 2021 - Yahoo! News

Column: Vaccine the key to getting 135,000 into Indy 500

It’s pretty spacious inside Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a sprawling national landmark of 300 acres that can fit Vatican City, Yankee Stadium, the White House, Liberty Island, the Taj Majal, the Roman Colosseum, Churchill Downs and the Rose Bowl inside. All at the same time. The plan calls to put 135,000 fans in there next month for the Indianapolis 500. During a pandemic. A number that screams too many! Too reckless! But the speedway is not your average place. She’s a behemoth along Georgetown Road and 16th Street, the largest sporting venue in the world. On a typical race day, there can be 400,000 people on the grounds for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Roger Penske will have to settle for 135,000 this May 30, the 105th running of the race, and that’s still a whole lot better than last year when he held the first ever Indy 500 without any spectators. State and local health officials said 40% attendance and Penske and the folks at IMS smiled and said thank you.
26th Apr 2021 - Associated Press

US sees drop in COVID-19 cases, deaths as J&J vaccine resumes

Case counts and deaths from COVID-19 are dropping throughout the United States, including in Michigan, where state officials are seeing an average of 4,859 new COVID-19 cases a day, down 29% from the 7-day average of 6,732 a week ago, according to mlive. The 7-day positivity rate in the state is 12.3%. Though still high, the numbers show the surge of virus activity that took hold of the Upper Midwest and Northeast in recent weeks is likely on the decline, as more and more of the most vulnerable Americans are fully vaccinated. But younger adults, those under 50 who may not yet be vaccinated or do not think they need protection from the virus, are still driving cases in Michigan, according to the New York Times. Michigan hospitals are now admitting about twice as many coronavirus patients in their 30s and 40s as they were during the fall peak.
26th Apr 2021 - CIDRAP


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Covid-19: India arrivals begin UK hotel quarantine

The first people to arrive in the UK from India since the country was placed on the travel "red list" have entered hotel quarantine. British and Irish nationals and those with residency rights must isolate in approved accommodation for 10 days after rules changed overnight. India has seen a second wave of infections, with shortages of medical oxygen leaving some patients untreated. Some British Asians have spoken of the trauma of witnessing India's surge. Meeta Joshi, from Guildford, Surrey, described how she has lost nine close relatives and friends in India in the past week - four due to Covid.
23rd Apr 2021 - BBC News

Brazilians are not showing up for their second COVID vaccination

Brazil’s COVID-19 vaccination programme is being put at risk by people failing to show up for their second shot, with 1.5 million people missing appointments for the follow-up dose needed to maximise protection, according to the Health Ministry. Specialists say that is particularly concerning after a recent real-world study from Chile found that the Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccine, which has accounted for some 80 percent of Brazil’s program, is just 16 percent effective after one shot.
23rd Apr 2021 - AlJazeera

California's public universities to require COVID-19 vaccine

Two of the nation’s largest university systems say they intend to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students, faculty and staff on University of California and California State University campuses this fall. Several U.S. colleges and universities hoping to get back to normal campus life after months of online learning also have said they plan to make the vaccination mandatory. But Thursday’s joint announcement from the 10-campus University of California and the 23-campus California State University is the largest of its kind in American higher education. The CSU system in the nation’s biggest four-year college system, with about 485,000 students and tens of thousands of staff, while the UC system has more than 280,000 students.
22nd Apr 2021 - The Independent


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COVID-19: Nightclub to reopen doors in Liverpool as part of 'historic' trial

The first nightclub event in the UK for over a year is set to take place in Liverpool at the end of the month. It will be held across two nights, with nightclub Circus hosting The First Dance event, which will welcome 6,000 clubbers to the city's Bramley-Moore Dock warehouse. The event will not require any social distancing or face coverings, as it is hoped it will pave the way for more clubs to open across the country. The event is part of the national Events Research Programme (ERP), which will provide data on how events for a range of audiences could be permitted to safely reopen as part of the roadmap out of lockdown.
22nd Apr 2021 - Sky News

BRIT music awards to host 4,000-strong audience in UK pilot event

Some 4,000 people will attend the BRIT Awards next month, in what organisers of Britain's pop music honours said would be the first major indoor music event with a live audience as the country emerges from COVID-19 lockdown.
22nd Apr 2021 - Reuters UK

California's public universities to require COVID-19 vaccine

Two of the nation’s largest university systems say they intend to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students, faculty and staff on University of California and California State University campuses this fall. Several U.S. colleges and universities hoping to get back to normal campus life after months of online learning also have said they plan to make the vaccination mandatory. But Thursday’s joint announcement from the 10-campus University of California and the 23-campus California State University is the largest of its kind in American higher education. The CSU system in the nation’s biggest four-year college system, with about 485,000 students and tens of thousands of staff, while the UC system has more than 280,000 students. “Together, the CSU and UC enroll and employ more than one million students and employees across 33 major university campuses, so this is the most comprehensive and consequential university plan for COVID-19 vaccines in the country,” CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro said in the statement.
22nd Apr 2021 - The Associated Press


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COVID-19: Regular exercise may cut COVID-19 death risk by a third, major study finds

Regular exercise reduces the chances of dying from infectious diseases such as COVID-19 by more than a third and makes people 31% less likely to catch the virus, a major study has found. The world's first study into the link between exercise and COVID-19 immunity suggested people need to be doing 30 minutes a day, five days a week, or 150 minutes a week of exercise that gets them at least slightly out of breath. Recommended activities include walking, running, cycling and strengthening exercises.
21st Apr 2021 - Sky News

Virginia’s emergency alert on coronavirus vaccine availability startles some

Virginia officials startled some residents Monday by using the wireless emergency alert system to send out notice that coronavirus vaccines are now available to everyone over age 16. The buzzing cellphone messages led some residents to fear the worst. Complaints on Twitter ranged from “terrified there was an active shooter in my area” to “I thought it was time for a tornado” to “I thought Nukes were incoming or something” to “Thank you Commonwealth of Virginia for waking me up from my nap.” Alena Yarmosky, a spokeswoman for Gov. Ralph Northam (D), said her office had seen some criticism but felt that the response was generally positive
21st Apr 2021 - The Washington Post

Govt in talks with mainland authorities to use coronavirus vaccine records for travel

Hong Kong’s health chief Sophia Chan Siu-chee said the Hong Kong government is in talks with authorities in Guangdong over the mutual recognition of the vaccination records, to hopefully resume cross border travel in the near future. In response to written questions raised by lawmakers, the health secretary said both administrations have already started looking into how the vaccination records can be mutually recognized by linking up the digital vaccination record platforms. Chan said members of the public will be given a paper vaccination record card after getting the jab, or they can also download the government “iAM Smart” app to get a digital vaccination record. “Both records will contain a QR code for easy access of information, authorities will make use of this feature, providing a foundation for cross-border travels in the future,” she added.
21st Apr 2021 - Hong Kong Standard

Singapore's swift COVID vaccinations start with 5-minute bookings

As a small but wealthy city-state with advanced medical infrastructure, Singapore was always well-positioned to quickly vaccinate its population against COVID-19. So far, it is pulling it off -- largely thanks to effective use of digital technology. Singapore has jumped ahead of its neighbors in terms of the proportion of the population inoculated. The latest figures from Sunday show over 23% of residents -- or roughly 1.3 million people -- had received at least one vaccine dose, according to the statistics website Our World in Data. That was the highest ratio in Asia excluding even tinier Bhutan, which has rapidly proceeded with shots acquired from India for free.
21st Apr 2021 - Nikkei Asia

Vaccines alone will not stop Covid spreading - here's why

Many of us are hoping vaccines against coronavirus will be our route out of lockdown, enabling us to reclaim our old lives. But scientists say jabs alone will not currently be enough and other measures are still needed. The "Swiss cheese respiratory pandemic defence model" was first created by Ian M Mackay, a virologist at the University of Queensland, Australia. The infographic has been translated into more than two dozen languages. It is based on a concept originated by James T Reason, a cognitive psychologist, now a professor emeritus at the University of Manchester, UK. It is used in scientific circles when discussing mitigating risk.
18th Apr 2021 - BBC


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Arizona Becomes Sixth State To Ban Coronavirus Vaccine Passports — See The Full List Here

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed an executive order Monday to ban state and local governments from mandating vaccine passports, making Arizona the sixth state to denounce the passes that allow holders to prove they’ve been vaccinated against coronavirus as Republicans continue to ramp up a political culture war issue.
20th Apr 2021 - Forbes

Vaccine-busting Covid variant a matter of ‘when, not if’, WHO expert warns

A deadly Covid variant that can beat the current vaccines is a matter of “when, not if”, a leading scientist from the World Health Organisation warned today. With India and Brazil and other countries gripped by surges caused by new mutations, Dr David Nabarro said the disease was proving to be “ferocious” and Britain must not relax social distancing measures. “I want to be clear with you that I personally expect that variants will appear in different parts of the world that are capable of beating the protection offered by the vaccines,” he said on Sky News. “It’s not the case of if, but when. So I’m saying to everybody that I work with, we do have to maintain our respect for this virus. We can beat it, but it means maintaining the physical distance and wearing masks, and also being really good about isolating.
20th Apr 2021 - Evening Standard

COVID-19: Michael Gove visits Israel to study country's 'green pass' as he mulls vaccine passport options

Michael Gove is visiting Israel to study a COVID "green pass" smartphone app that could soon be the model for vaccine passports in the UK. The Cabinet Office minister, in charge of a Whitehall study into how coronavirus certification might work in the UK, has been a big fan of the Israeli scheme for weeks. He is being accompanied on his visit by Jonathan Van-Tam, England's deputy chief medical officer, who is hugely influential in the government's COVID strategy. Their visit involves meetings with Israel's health minister, Yuli Edelstein and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
20th Apr 2021 - Sky News

Covid-19: India red list add 'may be too late', Prof Mark Walport says

India's addition to the UK's "red list" of banned countries due to rising Covid cases and concerns over a new variant may have come too late, the UK's former chief scientific adviser has said. Prof Mark Walport told the BBC he believed the new variant was "more transmissible" and there were "good reasons" for keeping it out of the UK. Health officials say it is too early to know whether it is more transmissible. India has been reporting more than 200,000 cases daily since 15 April. Its capital Delhi announced a week-long lockdown after a record spike in cases overwhelmed the city's healthcare system.
20th Apr 2021 - BBC News

Report: HHS put repatriated US citizens at risk for COVID-19

In a new report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that coordination and safety problems among Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) staff during repatriation efforts early in the COVID-19 pandemic put themselves, the recalled US citizens, and surrounding communities at risk of infection. According to the report, released yesterday, HHS agencies didn't perform in the roles identified for the emergency return of US citizens during a pandemic when bringing the roughly 1,100 US citizens home, where they were quarantined.
20th Apr 2021 - CIDRAP


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The exotic holiday hotspot offering coronavirus vaccinations to visitors amid a slow vaccine rollout in Australia

It was one of the first countries to fully reopen to travellers, and now the Maldives is striving to get ahead of the game when it comes to vaccine tourism. As Australia grapples with a slow COVID-19 vaccination rollout, the small archipelagic state in South Asia has launched an inventive invitation to potential visitors. Officials for the Indian Ocean destination have announced plans to offer coronavirus vaccinations to tourists on arrival in a bid to lure more tourists over. Dr Abdulla Mausoom, the country’s minister for tourism, has confirmed that the Maldives is developing a “3V tourism” scheme, which would allow tourists to “Visit, Vaccinate and Vacation.”
19th Apr 2021 - 7NEWS.com.au

Brussels' Bru-VAX vaccine reservation system is online

As of Monday, people living in the Brussels Capital Region can use the Bru-VAX reservation system to register for a coronavirus vaccine appointment. The digital tool, hosted on the Doctena platform, will replace the current system which involves people who are eligible for a vaccine receiving a letter with a code to make an appointment with.
19th Apr 2021 - The Brussels Times

All U.S. Adults Now Eligible For Covid-19 Vaccine—These States Are Doing The Best (And Worst) Rollouts

Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C., were the last to open up eligibility on Monday, after other states expanded access to the general public over the past month. New Hampshire has so far given at least one dose of the vaccine to 58% of its population—the highest of any state—while New Mexico and Maine are tied for the highest share of residents who are fully vaccinated at 32.3%, according to Bloomberg.
19th Apr 2021 - Forbes

Fifth of adults fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as UK hits 10m second dose milestone

The UK passed the milestone of 10m second doses on 18 April - meaning nearly one in five of all UK adults have now received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Government figures show that by the end of Saturday 17 April, 9,930,846 people UK-wide had received two doses of vaccine. More than 350,000 second doses were delivered per day on average over the week to 17 April - and the daily total has dropped below 200,000 just once in the past 12 days - suggesting that the 10m mark was passed over the weekend.
19th Apr 2021 - GP Online

A jab on the job: Companies, unions offer COVID-19 vaccines

Marie Watson wanted to be among the first in line when she and other essential workers became eligible for the coronavirus vaccine — and with good reason. The maintenance parts buyer for a Mission Foods tortilla plant in Pueblo, Colorado, had lost her father to COVID-19 in the fall and was told by a doctor last year that she herself almost certainly had the virus. So when her union, the United Food Workers and Commercial Workers, secured appointments for the plant’s 200 workers, she jumped in her car and drove to a nearby drive-thru clinic for the first of two doses. “There was this sense of relief,” Watson said. “This was more confirmation that I’m on my way to being normal.”
19th Apr 2021 - Associated Press


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As mask mandates end, Oregon bucks trend with permanent rule

As states around the country lift COVID-19 restrictions, Oregon is poised to go the opposite direction — and many residents are fuming about it. A top health official is considering indefinitely extending rules requiring masks and social distancing in all businesses in the state. The proposal would keep the rules in place until they are “no longer necessary to address the effects of the pandemic in the workplace.” Michael Wood, administrator of the state’s department of Occupational Safety and Health, said the move is necessary to address a technicality in state law that requires a “permanent” rule to keep current restrictions from expiring.
17th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

Amid hesitancy, Louisiana gets creative in vaccine outreach

Brass bands playing at a 24-hour drive-thru coronavirus vaccine event. Doses delivered to commercial fishermen minutes from the docks. Pop-up immunization clinics at a Buddhist temple, homeless shelters, truck stops and casinos, with shots available at night or on weekends. And now, door-to-door outreach getting underway in neighborhoods where few people have gotten vaccinated. Louisiana is making a full-court press to get shots in arms, with aggressive — and sometimes creative — outreach to make it as easy as possible to get vaccinated. The effort comes as vaccine supplies are surging but demand is not.
16th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

Africa's solar-powered way to keep vaccines cool

Ghana-headquartered PEG Africa is trialing it's solar-powered fridges and freezers in Senegalese and Ivorian fishing communities. They use the "Koolboks" to store fish, but PEG Africa's CEO say it could be a useful tool in the continent's vaccination campaign. Nneka Chile has more.
16th Apr 2021 - Yahoo News UK

All about your coronavirus vaccine card (and what to do if you lose it)

There are various ways to document that you received a coronavirus vaccine. Some people have snapped selfies proudly displaying the Band-Aid on their upper arm. Some vaccination sites are handing out stickers. But the official form of documentation is the small white vaccination record card issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which you receive after your first shot. “You do want to make sure you keep it safe,” says Kelly Moore, deputy director of the Immunization Action Coalition. “You do want to make a copy of it and keep that on file, not because it’s the only record, but because it’s the one that you control.”
16th Apr 2021 - The Washington Post

India: Vaccine exclusion fears over digital ID, face recognition

Millions of vulnerable people are at risk of missing out on COVID-19 vaccines as India uses its national digital identity for registration and pilots facial recognition technology at inoculation centres, rights groups and experts said. Amid a surge in coronavirus cases, authorities are testing a facial recognition system based on the Aadhaar ID for authentication in the eastern state of Jharkhand, and plan to roll it out nationwide, a senior official said last week.
16th Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Guatemala blocks travel from Brazil, UK and South Africa in new COVID measure

Guatemala will restrict entry to visitors who have recently been to Brazil, the United Kingdom and South Africa in an effort to control a jump in coronavirus cases, President Alejandro Giammattei said on Friday. The measure will go into effect on Saturday and last through April 30, applying to tourists who have been to those countries within the prior two weeks, Giammattei said in a public address. He noted that Guatemala had registered 5,813 new COVID-19 infections in the last five days, bringing the total in the Central American country to 210,667 confirmed cases.
16th Apr 2021 - Reuters


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CDC reports 5800 COVID-19 infections in fully vaccinated Americans

About 5,800 people who have been vaccinated against coronavirus have become infected anyway, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells CNN. Some became seriously ill and 74 people died, the CDC said. It said 396 -- 7% -- of those who got infected after they were vaccinated required hospitalization. This is the CDC's first public accounting of breakthrough cases, and the agency is searching for patterns based on patient age and gender, location, type of vaccine, variants and other factors.
15th Apr 2021 - CTV News

Pfizer CEO says third Covid vaccine dose likely needed within 12 months

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said people will “likely” need a booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated. He also said it’s possible people will need to get vaccinated against the virus annually.
15th Apr 2021 - CNBC

Covid-19 vaccine passports could create 'two-tier society', equality watchdog warns

Introducing vaccine passports risk creating a 'two-tier society' which could lead to millions feeling discriminating against, the Government has been warned. The Equality and Human Rights Commission also believe mandatory Covid-19 status certificates - which would provide proof of whether you've had two doses of the jab - are "likely to be unlawful". It could create a situation where people from groups where vaccine take up is lower are barred from social events, venues and even travel.
15th Apr 2021 - The Mirror

Hong Kong widens COVID-19 vaccine scheme to under 30s

Hong Kong authorities said on Thursday that the city's vaccine scheme would be widened to include those aged between 16 to 29 years old for the first time, as they aim to boost lackluster demand for inoculations in the Asian financial hub. Hong Kong has seen a relatively slow take-up of vaccines since rolling out the scheme in February, with only around 8% of Hong Kong's 7.5 million residents having been inoculated so far. Patrick Nip, Secretary for the Civil Service, said that the widening of the scheme would enable a total of 6.5 million residents to take part. "We appeal to the public to take the vaccine as soon as possible so HK won’t fall into the vicious cycle of wave after wave of outbreak," he said.
15th Apr 2021 - Yahoo News UK

COVID-19: Pilot mass gatherings to be supported by government-backed compensation scheme

Large-scale event pilots that are testing the viability of mass gatherings will be supported by a government-backed compensation scheme. Up to £300,000 will be made available to organisers should an event have to be cancelled. It comes after a minister previously said that such a scheme could end up "pulling the rug" from big events.
15th Apr 2021 - Sky News

NHS trusts in London preparing to make Covid vaccinations compulsory for workers, leaked email reveals

A major NHS trust in London has discussed making vaccinations against coronavirus a contractual requirement for all its staff, according to a leaked email seen by The Independent that also reveals other trusts may follow suit. The letter to staff at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust, signed by the chief executive Lesley Watts, has not yet been sent to staff but has been shared with dozens of senior NHS bosses across London for them to “adapt and use in your trusts.” Adding a contractual requirement for a vaccination to employment contracts would constitute a change in terms and conditions for staff and is likely to be legally difficult to enforce.
15th Apr 2021 - The Independent


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African Union seeks to boost vaccine-making with 5 new centres

The African Union (AU) has announced the launch of a partnership to manufacture vaccines at five research centres to be built on the continent within the next 15 years. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which helps run the global COVAX coronavirus vaccine-sharing programme with the public-private alliance Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), signed a memorandum of understanding to boost African vaccine research and development as well as manufacturing. The five centres will be located in the north, south, east, west and centre of Africa over the next 10-15 years, according to John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an AU agency. “Trusted partnership will be critical in advancing the vaccine manufacturing agenda on the continent,” he said on Tuesday after a two-day virtual meeting. “The partnership with CEPI symbolises cooperation and collaboration to help respond to infectious disease threats and ensure Africa’s health security.”
14th Apr 2021 - Aljazeera

Chelsea and Westminster NHS trust is set to tell staff that Covid jabs are compulsory as it calls on workers who have turned down vaccines to change their minds

Letter will go out to all of the trust's 6,000 staff shortly to inform them of change Pfizer's jab has cut emergency admissions by three quarters in elderly people Ministers are also pushing for jabs to become mandatory for care home staff.
14th Apr 2021 - Daily Mail on MSN.com

COVID-19: Yes, prime minister, lockdown is driving down coronavirus cases - but vaccines are helping too

As with pretty much everything else about COVID-19, uncertainties abound. It's hard to be sure with any level of precision how much of an impact one or another intervention has made during the coronavirus pandemic. Even having said that, it's pretty clear that of all the interventions during COVID-19, few have been as powerful as nationwide lockdowns.
14th Apr 2021 - Sky News

Battle to control South African Covid-19 variant in London

Londoners were today urged to get tested for Covid-19 to protect the city from the South African variant as surge testing was extended to a third borough. Residents in a “targeted area” within SE16 in Southwark are being urged to get a test after a case of the mutation was detected there. Additional testing sites, some of them mobile, are also being rolled out in Wandsworth and Lambeth where dozens of cases of the SA variant virus have been identified. Health chiefs believe the SA mutation may be more resistant to vaccines but the jabs, including the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna inoculations which have been approved in the UK, are thought to still offer significant protection against severe disease.
14th Apr 2021 - Evening Standard

200 tourists, 1 isolated resort: a lockdown test

Almost 200 Dutch tourists arrived on the Greek island of Rhodes on Monday to trade lockdown in the Netherlands for eight days of voluntary confinement in a Greek holiday resort, as part of a test to see if safe holidays can be arranged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
14th Apr 2021 - Reuters.com

Vaccine tourism: Why are people crossing borders for a jab?

One Saturday morning in late March, Milicia Praca and her roommate grabbed their passports and a bag of crisps and drove towards the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and the Republic of Serbia. They were keen to accomplish an important task – enter Serbia, pull up their sleeves, and get vaccinated against COVID-19.
14th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera


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Third wave of Covid-19 could still lead to 50,000 UK deaths despite vaccine success, JCVI adviser warns

There could still be a “big third wave” of Covid-19 in the UK leading to tens of thousands of deaths, despite the success of the vaccination programme, a senior scientist has warned. Professor Jeremy Brown, a member of the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that advises the Government on its immunisation plan, said even a small percentage of the population not getting their jab it could lead to the virus spreading. And he said it was still important to retain social distancing measures while the remaining age groups were waiting to be immunised, in order to avoid up to 50,000 more deaths.
13th Apr 2021 - iNews

Opinion | Coronavirus Variants Don’t Need to Be Scary

Five variants have now been proved guilty, as shown by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s designation “variants of concern.” They are B.1.1.7 (first identified in Britain), B.1.351 (first found in South Africa), P.1 (identified in Brazil) and two more recent variants found in California and New York. Each has fewer than two dozen notable mutations, many of which are in the virus’s spike protein, which binds to our cells and is the vaccines’ principal target. Some mutations enhance the virus’s ability to bind to the cells lining our upper airway, while others interfere with our bodies’ capacity to mount a full immune response.
14th Apr 2021 - The New York Times

VAX Live: Concert to help get 27m medical workers vaccinated

Backed by an international concert hosted by Selena Gomez and headlined by Jennifer Lopez, Global Citizen is unveiling an ambitious campaign to help medical workers in the world’s poorest countries quickly receive COVID-19 vaccines. The anti-poverty organisation is announcing the musical event – VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World – with a goal of enlisting corporations and philanthropists to raise $22bn for global vaccinations. The concert, which airs on May 8 on US TV channels ABC, CBS and FOX as well as on iHeartMedia radio stations and YouTube, will also showcase the Foo Fighters, Eddie Vedder, J Balvin and H.E.R. The acts will be recorded at SoFi Stadium in the western US city, Los Angeles, California. Ahead of the event, Hugh Evans, CEO of Global Citizen, highlighted the magnitude of the problem his organisation aims to address. “There are 27 million healthcare workers globally who don’t have access to the vaccine,” Evans told The Associated Press. “I’m 38 years old, and it’s not ethical for me to have access to the vaccine before these heroic first responders and community health workers. So we need governments to start urgently donating those doses.”
13th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera

Vaccine passport discussions should prioritize fairness over economics, ethicist says

The issue of vaccine passports is one rife with the potential for discrimination, and should be approached with a focus on fairness above the economic benefits, says one bioethicist. “(Passports) have the potential to make the inequities that we're seeing from COVID even worse because we know that people who are the hardest hit by COVID are actually the least likely to be vaccinated in some cases at this point in time,” University of Toronto researcher Alison Thompson told CTV’s Your Morning on Monday. “We want to make really sure that vaccine access has been equitable and that it's been not just accessible, but that we have actually reached those communities that need it the most.”
13th Apr 2021 - CTV News

Apple and Google block update of Covid-19 app in England and Wales

An update for the Covid-19 app used in England and Wales has been blocked by Apple and Google, after they found that it breached privacy rules set out in the agreement with the government. The update would have meant that users who tested positive for Covid-19 would be asked to upload details of venues they had checked into recently. But according to people briefed on the decision, the companies did not make the update available for download from app stores at the allotted time last week — which was designed to coincide with the relaxation of coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England this week.
13th Apr 2021 - Financial Times


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WHO: Growing COVID-19 surge hits critical point

Top officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) said today that COVID-19 cases have climbed for the seventh week in a row, warning that masks, distancing, and other measures are needed to give vaccines a chance to reduce transmission. At a briefing today, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said last week marked the fourth highest COVID total in a single week, despite the fact that 780 million doses of vaccine have been given across the globe. "Make no mistake, vaccines are a vital and powerful tool," Tedros said. "But they are not the only tool."
12th Apr 2021 - CIDRAP

Strong support for coronavirus vaccine passports

Most Britons back vaccine passports if they mean the end of social distancing, polling for The Times suggests. A survey showed strong support for Covid status certificates in every setting except shops, though a significant minority would be reluctant to visit pubs and restaurants if they had to show one, suggesting a threat to hospitality revenues if they were introduced.
12th Apr 2021 - The Times

NHS Covid-19 app update delayed after breaking Google and Apple privacy rules

A planned update to the NHS Covid-19 smartphone app has been delayed after the introduction of a new feature is understood to have broken Google and Apple's privacy rules. The UK government was planning to update the app in England and Wales last Thursday (8 April) with software to enable users to upload a list of all their venue check-ins if they subsequently caught coronavirus. But this goes against the rules set by Apple and Google, which explicitly state that their joint Exposure Notifications System used within the app must “not share location data from the user’s device with the Public Health Authority, Apple, or Google”.
12th Apr 2021 - Wales Online


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Stalled at first jab: Vaccine shortages hit poor countries

As many as 60 countries, including some of the world’s poorest, might be stalled at the first shots of their coronavirus vaccinations because nearly all deliveries through the global program intended to help them are blocked until as late as June. COVAX, the global initiative to provide vaccines to countries lacking the clout to negotiate for scarce supplies on their own, has in the past week shipped more than 25,000 doses to low-income countries only twice on any given day. Deliveries have all but halted since Monday. During the past two weeks, according to data compiled daily by UNICEF fewer than 2 million COVAX doses in total were cleared for shipment to 92 countries in the developing world — the same amount injected in Britain alone. On Friday, the head of the World Health Organization slammed the “shocking imbalance" in global COVID-19 vaccination. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus said that while one in four people in rich countries had received a vaccine, only one in 500 people in poorer countries had gotten a dose.
10th Apr 2021 - The Independent

Vaccine-hunting volunteers help Americans score COVID jabs

Armies of online volunteers have taken it upon themselves to help total strangers navigate myriad COVID-19 vaccine scheduling systems in the United States. It’s admirable, vital work — as well as a symbol of the country’s sometimes chaotic vaccination campaign.
9th Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera English

China's response to COVID-19: a chance for collaboration

According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, China's strategy was built on active case finding and case management with identification and quarantine of close contacts, as well as risk-based lifting of restrictions. Chinese authorities aim to test each suspected case and all close contacts of those infected. After three COVID-19 cases were identified in October, 2020, in Qingdao, a pooled testing approach coordinated by the government with the cooperation of residents enabled 10·9 million people—almost the entire population of the city—to be tested within 5 days. Although few COVID-19 cases have been reported, people are generally adhering to non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as avoiding large gatherings. After the government urged people to abandon travel plans, and with local governments imposing strict quarantine measures, there was a 70% drop in the number of passenger trips across the country in the 2 weeks leading up to the Chinese Lunar New Year this year, compared with the same period in 2019. China's public health measures, as well as the public's compliance, largely owing to high trust in the government, have contributed to the effective response. Elements of China's approach, such as those that involve monitoring citizens’ whereabouts, might not be countenanced in many western countries. However, China's domestic successes in controlling COVID-19 stand in contrast with outcomes elsewhere, and other countries should learn what public health lessons they can.
10th Apr 2021 - The Lancet

The pandemic has demonstrated the collective power of doctors speaking up

During the pandemic, doctors came together to push for political change. We must continue to use our newfound voice, says Samantha Batt-Rawden. This time last year the UK’s covid situation was in freefall, with our prime minister hospitalised by the virus, intensive care beds filling up, and the number of deaths rising sharply. As we fought to save lives, the spectre of what had happened in Italy weighed heavily on all of us. It was every intensivist’s worst fear: that we might have to ration care if our resources became overwhelmed. Despite all they had faced, our Italian colleagues had taken the time to reach out to the intensive care community in the UK. In February 2020 I had sat in on Zoom calls and listened to their stark warnings about what would come to pass if the UK did not act quickly. We were a few weeks behind Italy, we heard. In that moment, the UK had a brief window of opportunity to prevent the scale of loss of life seen elsewhere. This was an opportunity we would let slip right through our fingers.
9th Apr 2021 - blogs.bmj.com


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Covid-19 or Allergies?

Covid shows up in a variety of ways, but dry cough, fever, fatigue and loss of sense of smell are four very common symptoms. Unlike flu, which typically comes on fast, Covid symptoms may emerge over several days, often starting with fatigue or a minor cough. Other common Covid symptoms include headache, chest tightness, feeling out of breath with activity, chills, aches, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
8th Apr 2021 - New York Times

COVID-19: Changes to NHS Test and Trace app mean everyone will now have to check in

Changes to the way we check in to venues on the NHS Test and Trace app have been made ahead of the reopening of hospitality from Monday. The updates to the app have come into effect to coincide with the availability of rapid lateral flow tests for everyone in England from Friday. The new regulations now state that everyone in a group must check in when they arrive at a pub or restaurant, either by scanning an NHS QR code poster on the app or by providing your contact details.
8th Apr 2021 - Sky News

UK infections drop about 60% amid vaccinations, lockdown

The U.K.’s COVID-19 vaccination program is beginning to break the link between infection and serious illness or death, according to the latest results from an ongoing study of the pandemic in England. Researchers at Imperial College London found that COVID-19 infections dropped about 60% in March as national lockdown measures slowed the spread of the virus. People 65 and older were the least likely to be infected as they benefited most from the vaccination program, which initially focused on older people. The study also found that the relationship between infections and deaths is diverging, “suggesting that infections may have resulted in fewer hospitalizations and deaths since the start of widespread vaccination.”
8th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

New COVID variants have changed the game, and vaccines will not be enough. We need global 'maximum suppression'

...Since then, new “variants of concern” have emerged and spread worldwide, putting current pandemic control efforts, including vaccination, at risk of being derailed. Put simply, the game has changed, and a successful global rollout of current vaccines by itself is no longer a guarantee of victory. No one is truly safe from COVID-19 until everyone is safe. We are in a race against time to get global transmission rates low enough to prevent the emergence and spread of new variants. The danger is that variants will arise that can overcome the immunity conferred by vaccinations or prior infection.
5th Apr 2021 - The Conversation AU


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Got Your Covid-19 Vaccine? Now Cancel Your Extra Appointments

Pharmacies and health officials are making a plea to Americans who received their Covid-19 vaccines: Cancel the other shots you booked. As vaccine eligibility expands and more places offer shots, many people are signing up for multiple appointments and not backing out of the ones they don’t need. The resulting influx of no-shows is forcing vaccine providers, from pharmacies to community clinics, to find last-minute replacements so doses aren’t wasted. In North Carolina, a county health director has been going door-to-door to find takers for missed slots. A Midwest retailer shut down its wait list and tasked employees with weeding out people who made multiple appointments. On social media, it is increasingly common to see posts from health departments offering shots to anyone who can show up at a vaccine site.
7th Apr 2021 - Wall Street Journal

COVID-19: Piloting domestic coronavirus passports 'the right thing to do', says vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi

Looking at the use of domestic COVID passports for people attending pubs and restaurants is "only the right thing to do", the vaccines minister has told Sky News. Nadhim Zahawi admitted that requiring people to show certification before entering some venues "does throw up a number of difficult, ethical questions". But he stressed the government would push on with piloting a COVID passport scheme at events such as the FA Cup final, as he suggested it would be "completely remiss and irresponsible" of ministers not to trial proposals.
7th Apr 2021 - Sky News

Netherlands to ease lockdown by reopening museums and zoos - ANP News

The Dutch government will begin opening museums and zoos this month by offering coronavirus tests before entry, ANP news reported on Tuesday, citing the Health Ministry, in a first easing of far-reaching lockdown measures. Under current measures, public gatherings of more than two people are banned, restaurants are allowed to serve only takeaway food, and there is an evening curfew.
6th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Boat, snowmobile, camel: vaccine reaches world's far corners

After enduring 40-knot winds and freezing sea spray, jostled health care providers arrived wet and cold on two Maine islands in the North Atlantic late last month to conduct coronavirus vaccinations. As they came ashore on Little Cranberry Island, population 65, residents danced with excitement. “It’s a historic day for the island,” said Kaitlyn Miller, who joined a friend in belting out “I’m not giving away my shot!” from the Broadway show Hamilton when the crew arrived. Around the world, it is taking extra effort and ingenuity to ensure the vaccine gets to remote locations. That means shipping it by boat to islands, by snowmobile to Alaska villages and via complex waterways through the Amazon in Brazil. Before it’s over, drones, motorcycles, elephants, horses and camels will have been used to deliver it to the world’s far corners, said Robin Nandy, chief of immunization for UNICEF.
7th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press


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UK minister defends possible domestic use of ‘vaccine passports’

Boris Johnson was on Tuesday forced on to the back foot over so-called Covid passports, as businesses responded coolly to the idea and a senior Tory MP warned they could create “the miserable dystopia of Checkpoint Britain”. The prime minister is facing a major Tory rebellion after the government said on Monday that it wanted to provide some form of certification to help people prove their Covid-19 status, both for overseas travel and for domestic use. But many businesses, including nightclubs, have expressed reservations about their use, while more than 40 Tory MPs have threatened to vote against domestic Covid certificates.
6th Apr 2021 - Financial Times

NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app to share QR code venue check-ins

England and Wales' contact tracing app will soon ask users to share details of venues they have checked in to, if they test positive for the coronavirus. The update to the NHS Covid-19 app will be deployed ahead of shops reopening in both nations on 12 April,
6th Apr 2021 - BBC News

Covid-19 prevention: Why a Google Doodle is telling you to wear a mask to save lives today

Today’s Google Doodle is reminding people of the importance of wearing a face covering, to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. The doodle shows each of the letters putting on a mask, and then spreading out so they are socially distanced. It links to resources explaining how best to protect yourself and others, with less than two per cent of the world’s population having been fully vaccinated.
6th Apr 2021 - iNews

Twice weekly rapid COVID-19 testing to be available to everyone in England

Access to twice weekly, free, regular, rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) testing from 9 April for everyone in England, the Government has announced. Everyone in England, including those without symptoms, will be able to take a free rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) test twice a week. Alongside vaccine rollout, regular testing is at the heart of plans to reopen society and the economy, helping to suppress and control the spread of variants. Updates will be made to the NHS COVID-19 app in England to coincide with the universal testing offer. Everyone in England will be able to access free, regular, rapid coronavirus testing from 9 April, the Government has announced.
6th Apr 2021 - Pharmafield

White House rules out federal Covid-19 vaccine passports

The White House has insisted it will not introduce mandatory federal Covid-19 vaccine passports, as Republican resistance builds to any sort of vaccine certification system. “The government is not now, nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Tuesday. “There will be no federal vaccinations database, no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.” However, officials are willing to work with private companies to help set standards for how such certificates could be used fairly, she added.
6th Apr 2021 - Financial Times

Warning about coronavirus vaccine and clots is a sign that the system is working

The efficacy of a vaccine programme is not just a percentage figure. It is not just about antibodies and T-cells. It is also about something far more elusive and far more fragile: faith. After the clinical trials had finished, we were never going to find a high number of serious side effects. By definition, anything that did appear once mass vaccination started had to be rare enough that it had not been spotted in trials of tens of thousands of people.
6th Apr 2021 - The Times

Meet the foggers, the latest innovation in the war against Covid-19

This new sanitiser gun, then, may seem a late addition to the arsenal, but it’s great to use on larger parcels – and when lockdown is over and we can invite non-bubble people back into our homes, it will be even more useful for disinfecting surfaces quickly and effectively. The Portibac is what’s known in the antiviral business as a fogger. “Fogging” sprays micro-droplets of disinfectant onto surfaces and into cracks and crevices. They’ve taken off in China and are available for a lot less than Portibac’s £125 on websites such as Alibaba. However, Handigroup, the Cheshire PPE company behind Portibac, say it took care to source and improve the best of the bunch. And it’s a quality product, with a satisfying motorised burr when you press the trigger, a variable mist and a useful blue headlight to see where you’re aiming. Many cheaper foggers say their headlight is ultraviolet, but Portibac makes no such claim.
6th Apr 2021 - Financial Times


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Everyone in England to be offered twice-weekly Covid tests, PM to say

Boris Johnson is to unveil a plan for routine, universal Covid-19 tests as a means to ease England out of lockdown, as the government faced a renewed backlash over the idea of app-based “passports” to permit people entry into crowded places and events. Six months after Johnson unveiled plans for “Operation Moonshot”, a £100bn mass testing scheme that never delivered on its stated aim of preventing another lockdown, all people in England will be offered two Covid tests a week from Friday. The prime minister is to announce the rollout of the lateral flow tests at a press conference on Monday afternoon, at which he will also outline a programme of trial events for mass gatherings, as well as proposals for potentially restarting foreign travel.
5th Apr 2021 - The Guardian

UK to pilot use of coronavirus passports at upcoming large gatherings

The United Kingdom is reportedly planning to test “coronavirus status certifications” in the next few weeks to determine whether or not people can return to mass gatherings such as concerts, sporting events and nightclubs. The Associated Press reports that the trials will collect evidence on how different factors affecting events such as ventilation and social distancing could allow large events to resume, citing British authorities. People who attend such events in April and May will need to be tested for the coronavirus before and after attending. British officials are also looking into COVID-19 passports that will show whether or not a person has been vaccinated, has recently received a COVID-19 test or has some form of immunity to the virus either from illness or immunization, the AP reports
4th Apr 2021 - The Hill

Austria to give Czech Republic 30,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine

Austria will provide the Czech Republic with 30,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s office said on Friday in what it called a display of solidarity after it felt the European Union did not do enough to help its neighbour. After days of negotiations, EU ambassadors on Thursday agreed to change the bloc’s vaccine distribution system for 10 million BioNTech-Pfizer doses due to be delivered in the second quarter, so needier countries could receive more. Of those 10 million doses, 2.85 million so-called “solidarity vaccines” will be shared between five countries - Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia.
2nd Apr 2021 - Reuters

CDC issues next phase of guidance to cruise ship industry

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention on Friday issued new guidance to the cruise ship industry, including the need for COVID-19 vaccinations, a necessary step before passenger voyages can resume. The new technical instructions, the first update since October, include increasing from weekly to daily reporting frequency of COVID-19 cases and illnesses and implementing routine testing of all crew based on a ship’s COVID-19 status and establishing a plan and timeline for vaccination of crew and port personnel. “COVID-19 vaccination efforts will be critical in the safe resumption of passenger operations,” the CDC said.
2nd Apr 2021 - Reuters

Coronavirus Testing Declines May Mask the Spread in Some States

Declines in coronavirus testing in many states in the South and the Great Plains are making it harder to know just how widely the virus may be spreading in those states, even as restrictions are lifted and residents ease back into daily life, experts say. States in both regions are reporting few new cases relative to their population, compared with harder-hit states like Michigan or New York. But they are also testing far fewer people. Kansas, for example, is now testing about 60 people a day for every 100,000 in population, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and Alabama only a bit
1st Apr 2021 - The New York Times

Fully vaccinated people can travel safely again, CDC says

Add travel to the activities vaccinated Americans can safely enjoy again, according to new U.S. guidance issued Friday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance to say fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. without getting tested for the coronavirus or going into quarantine afterward. Still, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky urged caution and said she would “advocate against general travel overall” given the rising number of infections. “If you are vaccinated, it is lower risk,” she said.
1st Apr 2021 - Associated Press


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Vaccination certificates won’t end lockdown. Prosocial approaches will

Covid-19 immunity and vaccination certificates are being held up as golden tickets to the new normal. Israel, the country leading the way on vaccination rates, has a green pass program to help its citizens return to public spaces such as gyms and theaters. The European Union and China have announced similar passports to revive travel. In the United States, the Biden administration is assessing the viability of vaccine certificates. These efforts raise serious red flags. Vaccination certificates will likely deepen existing inequalities in health care, education, and employment. And the rush to a new normal via certificates sets the stage for function creep — a way of short-cutting public debates and considerations around surveillance and the use of personal data. Triggering prosocial behaviors — the want to get vaccinated because it is internally satisfying to help society as a whole — is a better way to promote large-scale vaccination than vaccine certificates, which favor a select group of people who long to go on vacation, go back to the gym, and generally find their new normal.
31st Mar 2021 - STAT News

People will be able to register online for Covid-19 vaccine from mid-April, says Martin

In Ireland, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said a website allowing people to register for a Covid-19 vaccine will available from the third week in April. Mr Martin told the Dáil 70 per cent of the population should be fully inoculated against the virus by the end of July. Mr Martin said the Government aimed to be at the “latter end of the vaccination programme” in July and August. He defended the Government’s change in policy on vaccination prioritisation to now inoculate people solely on the basis of age rather than age and profession as he was warned about “putting all your eggs in the vaccine basket”.
31st Mar 2021 - The Irish Times

COVID-19: Digital vaccine certificates to help European travel 'ready in June at latest'

EU digital vaccine certificates will be ready in June at the latest, Spain's foreign minister has said. European Union leaders agreed last month to work on the certificates to try to kickstart the tourism industry. Speaking on Wednesday, Arancha Gonzalez Laya said the scheme would be a good tool for European citizens and "if all goes well, we will have a vaccination certificate in June at the latest". "If it can be in mid-May, better but not later than June," she added. The certificates would not prevent those without the jab from travelling, Ms Gonzalez Laya said, but people who had one would be able to pass through EU borders faster.
31st Mar 2021 - Sky News

Do doctors have to have the covid-19 vaccine?

Clarence (Lance) Gravlee discusses in his article "How Whiteness Works: JAMA and the Refusals of White Supremacy" Charles Mills' agreement, the “epistemology of ignorance,” the structured ways of not knowing that allows for claiming innocence (1). Can that also relate to "utilitarian supremacy?” Is it telling to note that the BMJ put the article "Do doctors have to have the covid-19 vaccine?" in the section "Careers"? (2) The article doesn't feature the opinions of a medical doctor or any health care worker in general who chooses not to have a COVID19 vaccine. Gravlee writes: "Ignorance is neither passive nor accidental but integral to a system of power and domination. It involves the active refusal to know." Can the 5 refusals that Andrea Gibbons identified (3), as mentioned in Gavlee's article, also indicate BMJ's 5 refusals of "utilitarian supremacy"? There is the refusal of the other’s humanity and tolerance for perpetual violence and exploitation. There is the refusal to listen to or acknowledge the experience of the other. There is the refusal to confront the history of "anti-vaxxer" oppression and the ways it continues to shape the present. There is the refusal to share space. There is the refusal to face structural causes
31st Mar 2021 - The BMJ


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Airlines call for rapid Covid tests to be used to allow international travel this summer 'because they work just as well as hotel quarantine'

Airlines are calling for rapid Covid tests to be used as standard for international travellers to 'reopen' the industry. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) union has published research claiming that using rapid tests could work as well as a 10-day quarantine policy. And it said the cost and time required to use proper lab-based PCR tests to test travellers would keep the holiday industry on its knees
30th Mar 2021 - Daily Mail

Biden implores US to take COVID-19 seriously as cases climb

As a possible fourth COVID-19 pandemic surge looms even amid expanded access to vaccines, President Joe Biden yesterday urged states and cities to reinstate face mask mandates and bid Americans to behave responsibly, the New York Times reports. "Please, this is not politics—reinstate the mandate," Biden said. "The failure to take this virus seriously is precisely what got us into this mess in the first place." Following similar patterns in Europe, average daily US coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are up nearly 19% over the previous 2 weeks, including a foreboding spike in northeastern states, as coronavirus variants rapidly supplant less transmissible strains. COVID-19 cases are rising in 30 states, Forbes reports today.
30th Mar 2021 - CIDRAP

Scientists warn new COVID mutations in a year as vaccines stall

Leading health experts from around the world warned the slow roll-out of vaccines and unequal distribution could mean the shots become ineffective as new coronavirus mutations appear within the next year. Seventy-seven scientists – from leading academic institutions from around the globe – participated in the survey with about 30 percent suggesting second-generation vaccines will be needed as soon as in nine months, unless vaccines become more widely produced and distributed around the world.
30th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

Scientists say ministers to ditch ‘rigid’ Covid rules and teach public how to reduce risk of transmission

Ministers should stop telling people to stick to “rigid” coronavirus rules and instead focus more on explaining how they can reduce the risk of catching the disease, a senior Government scientist has said. The Government loosened Covid-19 restrictions today, implementing a new Rule of Six in England, allowing six people or two households to meet outdoors, including in private gardens. Scientists believe the next step in easing the measures could lead to a rise in Covid-19 cases as people will be more likely to bend the rules after three months of a winter lockdown.
30th Mar 2021 - iNews

Reading and Leeds Festival: Covid vaccine passport need 'likely'

Music fans at this year's Reading and Leeds Festivals will "almost certainly" need some sort of vaccine passport, the organiser has said. Festival boss Melvin Benn said he was confident the events would go ahead after plans to ease lockdown were announced in February. But he said it was likely festival-goers would have to prove they were Covid-free or had been vaccinated. The twin-site festival is due to take place between 27 and 29 August. Under the government's plan, limits on social contact in England could be gone by 21 June, if Covid is under control.
30th Mar 2021 - BBC News

Covid: Secret filming exposes contamination risk at test results lab

Secret filming at one of the biggest UK Covid testing labs has found evidence of potential contamination, discarded tests and pressure to hit targets. A BBC reporter working as a lab technician, filmed staff cutting corners and processing samples in a way that could cause contamination. This means some people who had taken a test via NHS Test and Trace may have received no result or a wrong result. The lab said it had followed all necessary rules and regulations. Evidence at the lab captured on film shows: Checks to ensure samples could be identified, were rushed, meaning tests were sometimes discarded unnecessarily. Some test samples "glooped" across an area where other samples had been placed, risking contamination. Swabs used by people to take Covid tests were left in their tubes when processed, presenting a further contamination risk. A quality control scientist telling the reporter that the quality of the results progressively got worse throughout the day. The findings have led experts to question the way the lab was operating.
30th Mar 2021 - BBC News


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Fauci says new surge in COVID-19 cases has three main causes

Travel, new variants and premature rollbacks of public health restrictions are all contributing factors to the uptick in new COVID-19 cases. Anthony Fauci told CBS that only with more vaccinations can public health measures be safely relaxed.
30th Mar 2021 - The Hill

Biden faces calls to break COVID-19 vaccine patents. Would that boost global supply?

Some lawmakers are calling on the Biden administration to suspend patent protections on COVID-19 vaccines to help boost supply in other countries. And last week, they took a shot at pitching the idea to White House officials. After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a request to review proposals for breaking COVID-19 drug and vaccine patents, the White House held a meeting last week, CNBC reports, citing people familiar with the situation. The prevailing view among supporters is that “we’re not safe until the world is safe," one source told CNBC. The United States has administered more than 143 million coronavirus vaccine doses, while some countries have yet to start vaccinations.
29th Mar 2021 - FiercePharma

The Biden administration is developing a national coronavirus 'vaccine passport' scheme for Americans

The Biden administration is working on a vaccine passport program that would allow people to prove they have received a coronavirus vaccination, in order to enter venues which have been closed due to social distancing requirements, such as offices or movie theatres. Five officials, who spoke anonymously, told the Post that the White House is pushing efforts by federal agencies and private companies to develop the scheme. Vaccine passports have been widely touted around the world as a way for various industries to start returning to normal whilst minimising the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks and could be an entry requirement for anything from sports arenas, music venues, or restaurants, to international travel.
29th Mar 2021 - Yahoo News UK

Tech 24 - Covid-19: A closer look at the EU's Digital Green Certificate

The Digital Green Certificate is just a fancy term for vaccination pass. It will show proof that a person has either been vaccinated against Covid-19, has received a negative test result or has recovered from the disease. It will be free of charge and will rely on a QR code to ensure security and authenticity of the certificate. However, some 68 percent of French people oppose this vaccination pass, as they see it as threatening their privacy. Peter O'Brien tells us more about how French people are very attached to their freedom of speech and movement. This comes as a social media challenge dubbed "L for Liberty" has been launched in the French capital to ensure individual freedom is preserved.
29th Mar 2021 - FRANCE 24

UK ministers weigh Covid certificates for offices

UK ministers are drawing up plans to let employers use Covid-19 certificates for staff working in office buildings once most people are vaccinated later in the year, according to officials and industry figures. The move comes after 12 months of remote working for most white-collar workers in the UK, with chancellor Rishi Sunak among those emphasising the benefits of people working closely with colleagues in person. Last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested pub landlords could look to restrict customers if they do not have proof of either vaccination, antibodies or a recent test for Covid-19.
29th Mar 2021 - Financial Times


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Covid-19: Pfizer director says science 'winning the race' against virus

Science is winning the race between coronavirus and the vaccine, Pfizer's UK medical director has said. Dr Berkeley Phillips told BBC News NI it was important people were "allowed to start living again". While the main threat continues to come from new variants, Pfizer is already designing an updated vaccine that will work, he said. Dr Phillips said "incredible progress" had been made in the past year and "we're winning that race". "If you look at what's happening in the UK there are dramatic reductions in the death rate, dramatic reductions in hospitalisations and in the number of cases," he said.
26th Mar 2021 - BBC News

Hauliers face new COVID rules in England as Heathrow seeks holiday easing

Certain lorry drivers arriving in England will need to take COVID-19 tests in a bid to tackle the spread of any future variants, the government said on Sunday as Heathrow Airport lobbied for the easing of an overseas holiday ban from mid-May. From April 6, Hauliers arriving from outside Britain and Ireland for more than two days will need to take a test within 48 hours and one every 72 hours thereafter as part of the new rules. “This is to ensure we keep track of any future coronavirus variants of concern,” transport minister Grant Shapps said. Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested earlier this week that Britain might need to tighten restrictions on arrivals from France
28th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Keep Your Covid-19 Vaccination Card Safe — You’re Going To Need It

Your most precious travel accessory this summer is going to be a small white piece of paper. Some destinations, cruise lines and major sports venues are already requiring travelers to provide proof that they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Other businesses, like Krispy Kreme, are offering freebies and other perks to people who can prove they’ve been inoculated. If you are among the 48 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the only proof that you have received your Covid shots is typically your paper vaccination record card with the CDC logo in the upper corner. The vaccination card tells you what Covid-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it — but that information is not being stored in any centralized, easily searchable database.
28th Mar 2021 - Forbes

COVID-19: Vaccinated people should be able to meet up and go on holidays, says scientist

A scientist has called for vaccinated people to be allowed to meet up with each other and to travel freely, saying there is no scientific reason why this should be forbidden. Professor Tim Spector, who leads the COVID Symptom Tracker app study run by King's College London, said the vaccination programme was successful and now people's mental health needs to be considered. He told the PA news agency: "I think we're actually in a much better place than many people are telling us, and I, for one, I'm not worried too much about what's happening abroad.
26th Mar 2021 - Sky News

Small rise in Covid-19 infections among secondary school children in England, figures show

Covid-19 coronavirus infection levels among children of secondary school age in England have increased slightly, new figures suggest. The percentage of children in school years 7 to 11 likely to have tested positive for Covid-19 in the week to March 20 is 0.43%, up from 0.32% the previous week. The estimates, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), coincide with the return from March 8 of pupils to secondary schools across England – a move that is likely to have affected the spread of coronavirus, thanks to the mixing of staff, parents and students. Testing has also been scaled up, with all students in secondary schools expected to complete three rapid Covid-19 tests on their return, spaced three to five days apart, then further tests twice a week.
25th Mar 2021 - Wales Online


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Thousands of ambassadors help VDH get COVID-19 information to community members

Whether you’re wearing a mask or keeping your distancing from others, a lot of small actions have a big impact in the fight against coronavirus. That’s why the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is looking for people to take small steps to share important COVID-19 information in their community. They created the COVID Community Ambassador Program in January with the goal of having citizens share accurate information with the people they’re already talking to. “Whether it be their neighbors, their family, their book club, their religious facility; whatever their network is — whether it’s two people or 2,000, it’s the idea that they could share with each other,” explained Virginia Department of Health Public Information Officer Brookie Crawford.
25th Mar 2021 - WTKR

Vaccination race enlists grassroots aides to fight mistrust

His last job was selling cars, but in his new gig, working to turn the tide against a pandemic, Herman Simmons knows not to be too pushy or overbearing. He’s one of more than 50 outreach workers a Chicago hospital has enlisted to promote vaccination against COVID-19 in hard-hit Black and brown neighborhoods. Their job is approaching strangers at laundromats, grocery stores and churches, handing out educational material and making vaccination appointments for those who are willing. “I see myself as my brother’s keeper. I don’t try to force them. I’m persistent,” he said.
25th Mar 2021 - The Associated Press

Covid-19 vaccine: Trust 'key' to care home staff jab take-up

"Respectful conversations" and building trust will be key to convincing care home workers who have refused to have a Covid-19 jab, a health chief has said. About 10% of Middlesbrough care staff had turned down the offer, councillors at a health security panel were told. Mark Adams, director of public health for South Tees, said they were working to increase the coverage. Myth-busting sessions have been held between staff and GPs to debunk misconceptions and ease concerns. Mr Adams told the panel that refusals tended to be seen among younger people in the workforce who were concerned about their fertility on the back of disinformation, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.
25th Mar 2021 - BBC News


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Britain to launch new health security agency to battle pandemics

Britain will launch a new health security agency next week to better prepare for and tackle pandemics by bringing together its testing, analytical and scientific capabilities, health minister Matt Hancock said on Wednesday. The new agency, called the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), will be headed up by Jenny Harries, England’s deputy chief medical officer, who has been at the forefront of the government’s efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Britain has one of the highest death tolls from the novel coronavirus but is gradually easing the latest lockdown under a four-step plan underpinned by the success of its vaccination programme.
24th Mar 2021 - Reuters

The hidden ideological obstacles to vaccination

So far, most world governments have managed to weather the storm of COVID-19. Countless administrations that have been unable or unwilling to implement the necessary measures to protect their citizens from the deadly virus are still in office over a year into the pandemic. This, however, could soon change as countries have now entered a race to vaccinate their citizens against COVID-19, reach herd immunity and, finally, leave this unprecedented public health emergency behind. Governments around the world are aware that the fastest and least-costly way out of this pandemic is through widespread vaccination. However, rapid mass vaccination has proved elusive for many countries for multiple reasons – many of them political or even ideological rather than practical.
24th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera


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Government considering mandatory vaccines for care home workers, says Hancock

Care home workers in England could be required by law to have a coronavirus vaccine under plans being considered by the government, Matt Hancock has said. The health secretary said legislation would need to be put forward in order to protect vulnerable residents but that there was already a precedent for such a move. “There is a duty of care that people have if you work in an elderly care home, after all, residents of elderly care homes are the most vulnerable of all to Covid,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. “There are important moral questions on both sides, there would be a change in the law required, so this is something that we are considering but we haven’t made a final decision on and we do want to hear from care homes and indeed care home staff on this question.”
23rd Mar 2021 - The Independent

Rock 'n' Rollout: Is Gibraltar a glimpse into the future for vaccination-leading UK?

Gibraltar, the tiny British territory on Spain’s south coast, was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic this winter - but it has now become one of the most open places in Europe. With its population densely packed in, and frequent movement of people over the border from Spain, COVID-19 infected 4,000 of its 33,000 residents, killing 93. The small but packed population that made coronavirus so dangerous there, has also helped with the rollout of its vaccination campaign, with the government expecting to have vaccinated all residents over the age of 16 by the end of this month. Its successful vaccination campaign is largely down to the shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech jabs from the UK. This has meant a recent easing of restrictions - and could be a preview of what the UK will be hoping to see when a high enough percentage of its 66 million residents has been immunised.
23rd Mar 2021 - Euronews


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Data will drive the recovery from covid-19

While the current focus on the NHS is rightly on its heroic efforts in the fight against covid-19, we’re also witnessing dramatic progress made in its use of data. In the past year, the NHS has built advanced epidemiological models in days, generated new data to track new cohorts of patients within weeks, and rapidly produced daily reports on progress that have been used by thousands of staff to make daily decisions in response to the pandemic. By quickly acting on the insight from this data, from redirecting staff to building new capacity, acute demand has been managed and real differences made to the quality of care delivered. This shows that the health service can be an agile data-led organisation, able to apply insight to make informed decisions for patients and staff. Even amid the current storm, data has made a difference. Progress that would previously have taken years has been achieved in weeks, and obstacles to collecting and sharing information that have plagued the system for years have been overcome. The task now is to build on those successes and make sure the NHS has the tools to meet the new challenges ahead.
22nd Mar 2021 - Health Service Journal


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Covid: Masks and social distancing 'could last years'

People may need to wear face coverings and socially distance for several years until we return to normality, a leading epidemiologist has predicted. Mary Ramsay, the head of immunisation at Public Health England, said basic measures could be in place until other countries successfully roll out jabs. She also said a return of big spectator events required careful monitoring and clear instructions about staying safe. The defence secretary has not ruled out the foreign holiday ban being extended. Ben Wallace told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show that booking a break abroad now would be "premature" and "potentially risky".
21st Mar 2021 - BBC News

Qantas boss: Governments 'to insist' on vaccines for flying

The boss of Australian airline Qantas has told the BBC that "governments are going to insist" on vaccines for international travellers. Coronavirus vaccines are seen as crucial to reviving an industry that saw worldwide passenger numbers fall 75.6% last year. Chief executive Alan Joyce said that many governments are talking about vaccination as "a condition of entry". Even if they weren't, he thinks the airline should enforce its own policy. "We have a duty of care to our passengers and to our crew, to say that everybody in that aircraft needs to be safe," Mr Joyce said. He believes that would justify changing the terms and conditions on which tickets are booked.
21st Mar 2021 - BBC News

Covid-19: Mumbai to rollout random testing in crowded places

The Indian city of Mumbai is to roll out mandatory coronavirus tests in crowded places as the country grapples with a rise in infections. The local government said rapid tests would be done randomly in areas such as shopping centres and train stations. A refusal to be tested will "amount to an offence", it said. India recorded 40,953 new Covid cases on Saturday, the biggest daily jump for nearly four months. A total 159,000 people have died with the disease. It has seen more than 11.5 million cases of coronavirus infections so far - and the number has been steadily climbing for weeks as the country scrambles to vaccinate its population and identify highly contagious variants of the disease.
20th Mar 2021 - BBC News


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Covid-19 testing will become 'permanent feature of life', documents reveal

Covid-19 testing is likely to become a “permanent feature” of life in Scotland, government documents reveal. A new strategy sets out plans to keep testing people with symptoms beyond the threat of the pandemic. A £13 million genomic sequencing centre is being set up to help swiftly identify variants which may cause fresh outbreaks or beat vaccines. Nicola Sturgeon announced details of the laboratory, saying it would be able to sequence up to 1,000 samples a day. Scotland presently has to send some samples to England to find out details of the viral strain.
18th Mar 2021 - The Times

Covid-19 rapid tests could be offered to younger NI pupils

In Northern Ireland, pupils younger than those in years 12 to 14 could be included in Covid-19 testing for schools "at a later stage". That is according to guidance on testing in schools published by the Department of Education (DE). All post-primary staff and year 12 to 14 pupils are to be offered twice-weekly lateral flow tests from 22 March when they return to school. After the Easter holidays, all staff in primary and pre-schools will also be offered regular testing.
18th Mar 2021 - BBC News


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EU sets out virus pass plan to allow free travel by summer

The European Union’s executive body proposed Wednesday issuing certificates that would allow EU residents to travel freely across the 27-nation bloc by the summer as long as they have been vaccinated, tested negative for COVID-19 or recovered from the disease. With summer looming and tourism-reliant countries anxiously waiting for the return of visitors amid the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission foresees the creation of certificates aimed at facilitating travel between EU member nations. The plan is set to be discussed during a summit of EU leaders next week.
17th Mar 2021 - The Associated Press


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Skin rashes are the ONLY symptoms for one in five Covid-19 patients

21% of people who have Covid develop a rash as their only symptom of infection 17% get a rash first and then get other symptoms later on as disease progresses Rashes show as hives, bumps or swelling and occur across the whole body
16th Mar 2021 - Daily Mail


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For the first time in decades, vaccines are having a moment. Will it last?

Rupali Limaye got her first dose of Covid-19 vaccine a couple of weeks ago. “I bawled,” she admitted without the slightest hint of embarrassment. It so happens that Limaye is a staunch proponent of vaccination; she works at the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins University. But her reaction is not uncommon. Talk to anyone working in or volunteering at Covid vaccination clinics, and you’ll hear tales about the joy, the relief, the shedding of the cloak of dread that has weighed people down during our difficult period of pandemic isolation. “I don’t think many people felt grateful for vaccines before Covid,” Ruth Karron, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Immunization Research, told STAT. “I think it is a reset.”
15th Mar 2021 - STAT News

Covid-19 pandemic: Trump urged to encourage supporters to get jabs

The top US infectious disease expert says it would be "a game-changer" if ex-President Donald Trump encouraged Republicans to get the Covid vaccine. "It will make all the difference in the world," Dr Anthony Fauci told Fox News Sunday. "He's a very widely popular person among Republicans." A recent US opinion poll showed as many as 49% of Republican male supporters did not want to get vaccinated. Mr Trump last month said "everybody, go get your shot" at a conservative forum. It was the first time he publicly encouraged Americans to do so. He has not commented on the issue since then.
15th Mar 2021 - BBC News

Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine faced EMA manufacturing concerns ahead of emergency nod: report

About a month before Pfizer and BioNTech won an emergency nod for their COVID-19 vaccine in Europe, regulators raised flags about lower-than-expected levels of intact mRNA in commercial batches, the BMJ reports. The European Medicines Agency outlined “a significant difference" in the RNA in clinical batches and the proposed commercial batches, according to information leaked from an EMA cyberattack in December, which the BMJ subsequently reviewed. While the production issue has since been resolved—and Pfizer's vaccine has since won approval in Europe—the leaks show the “complexities of quality assurance” for mRNA vaccines, especially with regards to RNA instability, the BMJ said. It’s an issue that affects all mRNA developers, including Moderna and CureVac. That instability is the reason for the shots’ frigid cold chain requirements and the need to encapsulate mRNA in lipid nanoparticles, BMJ said.
15th Mar 2021 - FiercePharma

How TikTok is helping demystify the science around Covid-19

The researcher has become a sensation on our platform with more than 212,500 followers; her videos have amassed nearly three million likes. In them, Dr Blakney shows how the vaccines are actually made and tested in the lab, she demystifies the science around the coronavirus and debunks myths about the vaccine’s risks and effectiveness – sometimes involving a dance challenge simultaneously, and often with addictively catchy soundtracks that make learning about vaccines a seat-dancing experience.
15th Mar 2021 - Evening Standard

Czech Republic: What’s behind world’s worst COVID infection rate?

With a population of 10.7 million and about 1.4 million COVID cases to date, the Czech Republic has the highest per capita infection rate in the world. Its death toll – a grim 22,000 people – is also concerning. On March 1, Prime Minister Andrej Babis introduced the strictest lockdown so far. People are banned from travelling within the country, between districts, and cannot visit one another. All retailers, except essential shops such as supermarkets, are closed. The surge in cases comes as the so-called Kent-variant, a highly infectious strain first discovered in the UK, makes it way through the country, pushing Czech hospitals and the economy to the brink of collapse. Leading expert in viral sequencing, Jan Pačes from the Academy of Sciences, talks to Al Jazeera about the severity of the pandemic and calls on the government to take stricter precautions.
15th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera


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What You Can and Can’t Do if You’ve Been Vaccinated: Travel, Gatherings, Risk Factors, What You Need to Know

Many people hope that getting a Covid-19 vaccine will mark an immediate return to normal: no more masks, no more distancing, safe indoor dinner parties and big hugs with friends. The reality is more complicated. For now, people who have gotten their shots must navigate decision-making in a world where the vaccinated and unvaccinated will coexist for months, even within the same household. Fully vaccinated people can gather indoors with others who are also fully vaccinated without taking extra precautions, the CDC said. And vaccinated people may gather with one other unvaccinated family without masks and distancing as long as the unvaccinated members are healthy and aren’t at risk for developing a more serious case of Covid-19. But the CDC urged fully vaccinated people to continue taking precautions in public, and in medium or large private gatherings.
14th Mar 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

British Airways calls for vaccinated people to travel without restrictions

British Airways’s new boss said vaccinated people should be allowed to travel without restriction and non-vaccinated people with a negative COVID-19 test, as he set out his ideas for a travel restart a month before the UK government finalises its plans. Holidays will not be allowed until May 17 at the earliest, the government has said, but before that, on April 12, Britain will announce how and when non-essential travel into and out of the country can resume. Sean Doyle, appointed BA’s chief executive last October, called on Britain to work with other governments to allow vaccines and health apps to open up travel, after a year when minimal flying has left many airlines on life support.
14th Mar 2021 - Reuters

What role could vaccine passports play in the pandemic?

After months of costly shutdowns, closed borders and curtailed personal freedoms, the concept of vaccine passports is gaining traction with governments eager to plot their path through the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of countries, including China and Israel, have already rolled out their own forms of certification ostensibly intended to ease future international travel or revive activity in hard-hit sectors of economies, such as hospitality.
13th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera


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Beware the narrative of ‘normality by June’ – it could go the same way as ‘five days of Christmas’

In the UK, the danger now is that in our excitement over developing effective vaccines against a virus that was unknown just over a year ago we will be seduced into failing to rebuild our basic public health defences. That danger is made worse by the combined pressure of born-again free marketeers and the hedonistic impulses of a public that is being encouraged to believe that a normal summer can be just round the corner with all-inclusive holidays in favourite European resorts a tantalising few months away. Sadly this narrative of the possibility of normality from June onwards could well go the same way as the ‘five days of Christmas’ Boris Johnson promised us back in December. The WHO mantra that ‘nobody is safe until everybody is safe’ is what should inform our expectations rather than one of near instant gratification. If the UK had had a grip on the circulation of the virus it would have thwarted the virus’s propensity to mutate as it passes through large numbers of hosts in the population as it did with the Kent variant.
11th Mar 2021 - The Telegraph

Nobel Prize economists call for vaccine equity and debt relief

Nobel Prize-winning economists Joseph Stiglitz and Michael Spence are spearheading calls for urgent action to help poorer countries recover from the economic ravages of the coronavirus pandemic, including measures to advance vaccine equity, debt relief, and bolstering fiscal resources for cash-strapped nations. The proposals were outlined in a new interim report released on Thursday – the one-year anniversary of the global pandemic – by the Institute for New Economic Thinking’s Commission on Global Economic Transformation, co-chaired by Stiglitz and Spence.
11th Mar 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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Developing nations demand equal access to coronavirus vaccines

South Africa, India, and more than 100 other nations have called on the World Trade Organization (WTO) to temporarily waive patents for COVID-19 vaccines, saying they are being prevented from immunising their people. The two countries first made the appeal in October last year, calling on the WTO to waive provisions in a trade agreement governing intellectual property rights so medical products can be more easily accessed by developing nations. More than 100 nations have since joined the calls. Endorsing requests for a waiver, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said earlier this month: “If a temporary waiver to patents cannot be issued now, during these unprecedented times, when will be the right time?”
10th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

Vaccine passports 'long, complex, global dialogue,' expert says

As vaccines continue to roll out across the globe, conversations surrounding “vaccine passports” or any other kind of government-issued papers used to show a person has been inoculated against COVID-19 are ramping up. Israel has already rolled out a vaccine passport, and while questions remain about its security several European countries have followed suit and expressed they are considering implementing their own. Canada has also mulled the prospect of vaccine passports, with federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu saying conversations are “very live” with G7 partners.
10th Mar 2021 - CTV News

Covid-19: NHS Test and Trace 'no clear impact' despite £37bn budget

The impact of NHS Test and Trace is still unclear - despite the UK government setting aside £37bn for it over two years, MPs are warning. The Public Accounts Committee said it was set up on the basis it would help prevent future lockdowns - but since its creation there had been two more. It said the spending was "unimaginable" and warned the taxpayer could not be treated like an "ATM machine". But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the MPs' report "defies logic".
10th Mar 2021 - BBC News


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Fully vaccinated people can gather without masks, CDC says

Fully vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing, according to long-awaited guidance from federal health officials. The recommendations also say that vaccinated people can come together in the same way — in a single household — with people considered at low-risk for severe disease, such as in the case of vaccinated grandparents visiting healthy children and grandchildren. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the guidance Monday. The guidance is designed to address a growing demand, as more adults have been getting vaccinated and wondering if it gives them greater freedom to visit family members, travel, or do other things like they did before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world last year.
9th Mar 2021 - The Associated Press

China launches ‘virus passport’

China has launched a health certificate programme for Chinese citizens travelling internationally, one of the first countries in the world to issue a “virus passport”. The digital certificate, which shows a user’s vaccination status and virus test results, is available for Chinese citizens via a programme on Chinese social media platform WeChat that was launched on Monday. The certificate is being rolled out “to help promote world economic recovery and facilitate cross-border travel”, a foreign ministry spokesman said. The certificate, which is also available in paper form, is currently only for use by Chinese citizens and is not yet mandatory.
9th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

UK lawmakers say COVID-19 test and trace system yet to prove its worth

England’s COVID-19 test and trace system has not yet proven its worth as there is little evidence of its overall effectiveness, the British parliament’s Public Accounts Committee said on Wednesday, decrying the “unimaginable” costs of the programme. The vast amounts spent on England’s test and trace system and its limited impact has drawn criticism, with opposition politicians calling for it to be run by the state-run health service. The Public Accounts Committee said that Test and Trace had cost 23 billion pounds ($32 billion) so far but had not achieved a key goal of avoiding a cycle of national lockdowns. “Despite the unimaginable resources thrown at this project Test and Trace cannot point to a measurable difference to the progress of the pandemic,” chair of the committee, opposition Labour party lawmaker Meg Hillier said.
9th Mar 2021 - Reuters


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In Japan, vending machines help ease access to COVID-19 tests

In Japan, convenience is king and getting tested for COVID-19 can be highly inconvenient. Part of solution, as it is for a range of daily necessities in Tokyo, has become the humble vending machine. Eager to conserve manpower and hospital resources, the government conducts just 40,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests a day, a quarter of its capacity, restricting them to people who are quite symptomatic or have had a high chance of being infected. That’s led to the public to rely heavily on private clinics or buying PCR tests by other means. Vending machines selling test kits offer consumers the option of avoiding crowded clinics or having to wait for an appointment
8th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Fully vaccinated people can gather without masks indoors, should still avoid travel: U.S. says

People who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can meet without masks indoors in small groups with others who have been inoculated but should avoid non-essential travel and continue to wear face-coverings in public, the Biden administration said on Monday. In a long-awaited update of its guidance for behaviors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said fully vaccinated people could also meet in small groups with unvaccinated individuals deemed at low-risk for severe COVID-19 from one other household without masks. The slight lifting of restrictions represented a still cautious approach to public health guidance despite the quickly growing number of vaccinated people. President Joe Biden has urged Americans to remain vigilant and continue to follow CDC guidelines to prevent another surge of cases.
8th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: School rapid test cannot be overruled, says minister

The government is sticking to the rule that a positive rapid Covid test done in secondary schools in England cannot be overruled by the gold-standard tests processed by labs. Concerns have been raised by testing experts that significant numbers could be incorrectly told they are infected. They have called for all positives from the rapid testing done in schools to be confirmed by the standard PCR test.
8th Mar 2021 - BBC News


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You've been vaccinated — the CDC is finalizing guidance on what's safe for you to do

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is finalizing guidance aimed at clarifying what Americans who have received COVID-19 vaccines should and shouldn't do, according to two sources at the agency familiar with its drafting. The upcoming guidance, first reported by Politico, is expected to include that fully vaccinated individuals should be able to gather in small groups with other people who have also been vaccinated. The CDC currently does not recommend in-person gatherings with the general public, saying "gathering virtually or with the people you live with is the safest choice." Even for people who have been fully vaccinated, other mitigation measures will still be recommended, including wearing a mask in public and social distancing.
7th Mar 2021 - CBS News

Thailand mulls Covid-19 vaccine passports to boost tourism sector

Thailand is considering Covid-19 vaccine passports and quarantine exemption amid efforts to boost the ailing tourism sector as inoculation rolled out worldwide. Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha has ordered the foreign ministry to conduct a study into the vaccine passports. "If we decide to unveil the plan, China will be among the first countries that we're going to negotiate with," Thai Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said
6th Mar 2021 - The Star Malaysia

The great school reopening - what could go wrong?

To reduce the risk of spread of the virus, the government has introduced mass testing. All secondary school pupils will be offered three tests on their return before being asked to carry them out twice a week at home. These will be rapid lateral flow tests that provide a quick result on the spot, unlike the ones that are carried out in official testing centres - known as PCR tests - that are sent off to labs. The rapid tests are less accurate - they may pick up only between half to three-quarters of positive cases, but given they are being used to spot cases before people develop symptoms or for those who do not develop symptoms, the government is adamant they have an important role.
5th Mar 2021 - BBC News

Covid-19: Is school mask and testing policy flawed?

Schools reopen to all pupils next week in England - the first part of the UK where this will happen. It is a crucial step for children and wider society in the route out of lockdown. Masks are to be worn by secondary school children in classes, while mass testing is being introduced. But will these steps be a help? And does it even matter if infection rates go up?
5th Mar 2021 - BBC News

Covid-19 News: Restaurant Dining and Lack of Mask Mandates Are Each Linked to U.S. Virus Spread, C.D.C. Says

The world needs up to 10 billion syringes for coronavirus doses, and manufacturers are pulling out all the stops to meet the demand. The pandemic’s racial disparities persist in the U.S. vaccine rollout.
5th Mar 2021 - New York Times

How to Wear Your Mask ‘Knotted and Tucked’

Step one: Fold your mask in half lengthwise. Step two: With the mask still folded, take one ear loop and knot it, keeping the knot as close as possible to the edge of the mask. Repeat on the other side. Step three: Unfold your mask. It should look like a little canoe with holes on either end. Fold the extra fabric on each end inward, as if to close up the canoe. Step four: Put on the mask, taking care to make sure the fabric you folded inward stays folded. This should prevent any air from coming in through gaps on the side of your mask.
28th Feb 2021 - Medium


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Biden’s announcement moves teachers up in the vaccine line. Will it make a difference?

In school systems where classrooms remain shuttered, or where children may only attend school once or twice a week, President Biden hopes his move to press states into prioritizing teachers for coronavirus vaccination will help them move toward normalcy. But his announcement Tuesday — and his pledge to make vaccination available to all educators and day-care workers by the end of March — was met with mixed emotions. Union leaders, who had lobbied hard for the move, applauded the action. But critics charged it comes far too late in the school year to make much of a difference for schoolchildren.
4th Mar 2021 - The Washington Post

British Airways prepares for travel restart with testing kit plan

British Airways has struck a deal with a COVID-19 testing kit provider as airlines prepare for the desperately-needed restart of summer travel, which is likely to include tests for passengers. After months of lockdown, airlines hope Britain will give the go-ahead from mid-May for holidays to restart, boosting an industry whose finances have been slammed by the pandemic. But it is not yet clear how mass foreign travel will resume. The government will provide more information on April 12.
4th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Alabama extends mask mandate as other US states lift restrictions

Alabama’s governor said on Thursday she was extending the state’s mask mandate for another month, heeding the advice of health experts and breaking with decisions by neighbouring Mississippi and Texas earlier this week to lift their requirements. Alabama’s mandate, due to expire on Friday, will remain in effect until April 9, but no longer than that, Governor Kay Ivey, a Republican, said. “After that, it’ll be personal responsibility,” Ivey said at a briefing. “Even when we lift the mask order,” she added, “I will continue to wear my mask while I’m around others and strongly urge my fellow citizens to use common sense and do the same,” Ivey said.
4th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera


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Brazil's Covid outbreak is global threat that opens door to lethal variants – scientist

Duke University neuroscientist urges international community to challenge Brazilian government over its failure to contain - “The world must vehemently speak out over the risks Brazil is posing to the fight against the pandemic,” said Nicolelis, who has spent most of the last year confined to his flat on the west side of São Paulo. “What’s the point in sorting the pandemic out in Europe or the United States, if Brazil continues to be a breeding ground for this virus?”He said: “It’s that if you allow the virus to proliferate at the levels it is currently proliferating here, you open the door to the occurrence of new mutations and the appearance of even more lethal variants.” Already, one particularly worrying variant (P1) has been traced to Manaus, the largest city in the Brazilian Amazon, which suffered a devastating healthcare breakdown in January after a surge in infections. Six cases of that variant have so far been detected in the UK.
3rd Mar 2021 - The Guardian

US coronavirus: CDC director urges people to keep masking and distancing 'regardless of what states decide'

The director of the US Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday said she hopes people will decide to individually "do the right thing" about distancing and wearing masks, even in states moving to eliminate restrictions against the CDC's recommendations. "I think we at the CDC have been very clear that now is not the time to release all restrictions," Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing. Walensky's comments come after governors of Texas and Mississippi said they were lifting mask mandates and allowing businesses to open at full capacity, starting now or within days.
3rd Mar 2021 - MSN.com

Vaccine passports: false dawn or golden ticket?

Vaccine passports are a classic case of possible good news accompanied by massive complications. These digital certificates promise a golden key to living a normal life again: but they risk distracting us from the greater need for vaccines in arms and responsible behavior from all. With so much money and power at stake, the world’s biggest brains — from IBM to airlines — are working on systems to allow the vaccinated class access to a wider range of venues and countries.
3rd Mar 2021 - Politico

UK government may start offering financial rewards for becoming healthier

The government is expanding access to weight loss services and may start offering people financial rewards for maintaining a healthy lifestyle as part of the fight against obesity. The Department of Health and Social Care is giving the NHS and local councils in England £70m to pay for up to 700,000 overweight or obese people to go on weight management courses, such as those provided by Weight Watchers or Slimming World, or work with a personal coach to help them shed unwanted pounds. In addition, it has asked Sir Keith Mills, the creator of the Nectar and air miles reward schemes, to look into whether financial incentives would motivate people to eat better and exercise more.
3rd Mar 2021 - The Guardian

Biden says 'big mistake' for states to lift mask mandates given virus toll

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday said decisions to end the required wearing of masks - such as those by governors of Texas and Mississippi - amounted to “Neanderthal thinking” given the rising death toll from the coronavirus pandemic. Asked if he had a message to Texas and Mississippi, Biden told reporters: “I think it’s a big mistake. Look, I hope everybody’s realized by now, these masks make a difference.” Biden said the increasing availability of vaccinations was making a difference in containing the pandemic, but it was critical to remain vigilant about wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing. “The last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that, ‘In the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it.’ It still matters,” Biden said before a brainstorming meeting with Republican and Democratic lawmakers to address cancer.
3rd Mar 2021 - Reuters


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Vaccine passports could allow people back into Scots pubs, says government advisor

A system of vaccine passports could ultimately allow the return of international travel, MSPs have been told, while some countries are already requiring vaccination "green passes" for entertainment venues. Professor Devi Sridhar of Edinburgh University spoke to the Scottish Parliament's Health Committee about international travel regulations during the pandemic. The Scottish Government adviser said that if coronavirus vaccines significantly reduced transmission of the disease, as initial evidence suggested, electronic vaccine passports could help to restart international tourism. She said EU countries were already developing plans for a digital green pass, with countries like Spain and Greece keen to welcome visitors again. Prof Sridhar said: "I think if these vaccines stop transmission, which they look like they might, we will reach a stage of vaccine passports.
2nd Mar 2021 - Daily Record

Covid-19: Regular tests a 'game-changer' for schools, says science adviser

Regular testing of secondary pupils will be a "game-changer" in giving confidence that schools are safe, a government science adviser has said. Prof Calum Semple told the BBC better ventilation and face masks would also contribute to a safe reopening in England from 8 March. Rates of infection in schools had been "quite low", he said. But a school leaders' union warned the testing demands may mean a staggered return for many. Secondary pupils in England will be asked to take a rapid lateral flow test twice a week to help identify anyone who might be infectious.
2nd Mar 2021 - BBC News


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Expert Views - What role for vaccine passports in coronavirus fight?

As the rollout of vaccines against COVID-19 gathers pace, countries from Sweden to Israel are exploring how certificates and passports could help reopen economies by identifying those protected against the virus. But a push for identity proofs and digital certificates risks excluding poorer and vulnerable groups from vaccine passports and the benefits that come with them, rights experts warn. The Thomson Reuters Foundation spoke to business executives, researchers and advocates about what role vaccine passports should play in the global fight against the pandemic.
1st Mar 2021 - Reuters

'Covid-killing' remote working pods to revive town centres

The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has left many of the UK’s high streets with an increasing number of empty retail spaces. These vacant buildings could get a new lease of life from Space Republic, which is proposing to install self-contained, self-cleaning office ‘pod’ spaces that use ultraviolet light to kill coronavirus in empty shops. Billed as a “safe, private workspace for the work-from-anywhere generation”, the sealed work stations, called Pluto work pods, would be put inside defunct high-street chains, pubs, hotels and shopping centres, so that people living locally could walk or cycle to get to them. Anyone can hire a pod for a two-hour concentration session in a safe environment where they can plug in devices for focus-friendly solo working.
1st Mar 2021 - E&T Magazine


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Clean break: the risk of catching Covid from surfaces overblown, experts say

When cases of Covid-19 first began emerging in Australia, some people reported disinfecting their groceries before bringing them into their homes, and there were also concerns that the virus could be living on the surfaces of packages in the mail. During Victoria’s extended lockdown, teams of workers could be seen walking city streets disinfecting traffic light buttons, benches and even fences. An epidemiologist with La Trobe University, Associate Prof Hassan Vally, said just over one year later it has become clear surface transmission is not as significant a factor in Covid-19 spread as once feared. While surface transmission is not impossible, Vally said its role in spread needs perspective. “I want to be clear that nothing should change in terms of washing our hands and personal hygiene,” Vally said. “We can, however, be less anxious about washing every surface 20 times a day, and just concentrate on good hand hygiene and social distancing, and staying home when sick, which should be more than enough to stop us from spreading the virus.”
27th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

Minority TikTok influencers create COVID-19 vaccine awareness in new 'See Friends Again' campaign

As the U.S. crossed the 500,000 COVID-19 death milestone earlier this week, Generation Z's minority TikTok influencers switched up their dance routines and comedy skits to bring awareness around the pandemic with a "See Friends Again" campaign. "Sometimes you laugh and brush things off. We need not to laugh," TikTok user Kymon Palau told ABC News. "But we need to have that uncomfortable conversation of what's really wrong, why and then educate people. And I do it through humor." Palau is one of the 18 minority influencers in the campaign, which educates young people of color about the importance of COVID-19 and vaccination. More than 60% of TikTok users are Gen Zers. This racially and ethnically diverse group could bridge the gap between COVID-19 and minority communities.
26th Feb 2021 - ABC news

Plunging COVID-19 test demand may leave US with supply glut

Just five weeks ago, Los Angeles County was conducting more than 350,000 weekly coronavirus tests, including at a massive drive-thru site at Dodger Stadium, as health workers raced to contain the worst COVID-19 hotspot in the U.S. Now, county officials say testing has nearly collapsed. More than 180 government-supported sites are operating at only a third of their capacity. “It’s shocking how quickly we’ve gone from moving at 100 miles an hour to about 25,” said Dr. Clemens Hong, who leads the county’s testing operation. After a year of struggling to boost testing, communities across the country are seeing plummeting demand, shuttering testing sites or even trying to return supplies.
27th Feb 2021 - The Independent

EXPLAINER: Meet the vaccine appointment bots, and their foes

Having trouble scoring a COVID-19 vaccine appointment? You’re not alone. To cope, some people are turning to bots that scan overwhelmed websites and send alerts on social media when slots open up. They’ve provided relief to families helping older relatives find scarce appointments. But not all public health officials think they’re a good idea.
25th Feb 2021 - Associated Press

Getting the vaccine will protect you from the coronavirus — and it may keep people around you healthier, too

Health experts say the coronavirus vaccines may do more than protect recipients from covid-19. Researchers say people who are vaccinated and still contract the virus may carry less of it and also shed less of it — meaning those whom they expose to it may not become as sick. There isn’t a lot of evidence yet to support this hypothesis, but researchers say it is likely the case based largely on observations in animal studies, as well as some preliminary research in humans. This, however, doesn’t mean that vaccinated people should stop taking precautions, such as wearing a mask. “Even if you’re vaccinated and you’re going out, keep masking up until we get more people vaccinated,” said Ilhem Messaoudi, director of the Center for Virus Research at the University of California at Irvine.
27th Feb 2021 - The Washington Post

We’ll never reach herd immunity if we don’t vaccinate more non-White people

States have taken wildly different approaches to vaccine distribution, but one thing unites them: Many of their most at-risk residents, particularly in communities of color, are being left behind. In Connecticut, which boasts one of the best coverage rates in the country, the share of the White population inoculated is at least twice that of the state’s Black population. In North Dakota, another supposed success story, the gap is starker — the share of White residents who have received at least one dose is more than three times that of Black residents. This pattern holds for every state providing data. This doesn’t just cost lives. It also undermines our ability to achieve herd immunity, the point at which enough people are vaccinated to provide protection for a whole community
28th Feb 2021 - The Washington Post

Can vaccinated people still spread the coronavirus?

If all goes well, vaccines will very soon reduce the rate of severe disease and death worldwide. To be sure, any vaccine that reduces disease severity is also, at the population level, reducing the amount of virus being shed overall. But because of the emergence of new variants, vaccinated people still have the potential to shed and spread the coronavirus to other people, vaccinated or otherwise. This means it will likely take much longer for vaccines to reduce transmission and for populations to reach herd immunity than if these new variants had never emerged. Exactly how long that will take is a balance between how effective vaccines are against emerging strains and how transmissible and infectious these new strains are.
27th Feb 2021 - The Conversation US


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‘It’s Up to You’: Ad campaign to encourage coronavirus vaccination gets underway

For tens of millions of Americans still unsure about taking coronavirus vaccine shots, advertising industry experts and government scientists have a new message: “It’s Up to You.” That message and accompanying ad campaign — shaped by months of consumer research and backed by more than $50 million in donated funds — is to be unveiled Thursday across TV and digital video, social media and audio platforms like Pandora and Spotify. It also will include messaging tailored toward Black and Hispanic communities, where studies have found a lack of trust about the coronavirus vaccines and their long-term effects. The ads and related events will feature celebrities, scientists and members of the faith community.
25th Feb 2021 - The Washington Post

Coronavirus vaccine: one of UK's largest care home firms introduces 'no jab, no job' policy

One of the UK’s largest care home operators has instituted a no jab, no job policy for new staff amid ongoing concern about vaccine take-up among care workers. A spokesperson for Care UK, which runs 120 homes and has seen more than two-thirds of its staff vaccinated, said: “Everyone applying for a role which requires them to go into a home will be expected to have been vaccinated before they start work.” The move comes after Barchester, which operates more than 220 private care homes, said it would insist that current staff are vaccinated, warning that if they “refuse … on non-medical grounds [they] will, by reason of their own decision, make themselves unavailable for work”.
25th Feb 2021 - The Guardian


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Covid-19 can survive on clothing for up to THREE DAYS - with polyester garments sustaining the virus the longest, scientists warn

Coronaviruses similar to Covid-19 can survive on clothing for up to three days, according to new research. Research carried out by De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester looked at how a coronavirus behaves on three fabrics commonly used in the healthcare industry. Polyester enables the virus to survive at infectious levels for up to 72 hours, whereas it dies within 24 hours on 100 per cent cotton.
24th Feb 2021 - Daily Mail

Ukraine: Health workers welcome COVID-19 vaccination drive

Ukraine launched a COVID-19 vaccination campaign Wednesday in hopes of halting the spread of the coronavirus that has put a significant strain on the country's teetering health care system. Medical workers and military personnel in different regions of the country were the first to get their shots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, 500,000 doses of which arrived in the Ukrainian capital from India on Tuesday. It is better to prevent infections "than to treat the complications of the disease later,” said Yevgeny Gorenko, an intensive care specialist who was the first person to receive a shot on Wednesday.
24th Feb 2021 - The Independent

Covid-19: First doses of vaccines in Scotland led to a substantial fall in hospital admissions

Rollout of the Pfizer BioNTech and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines has led to a substantial fall in severe covid-19 cases requiring hospital admission in Scotland, suggest the results of the first study to report on the impact of the UK’s vaccination strategy.1 - The results, available as a preprint, showed that four weeks after the first doses of the Pfizer BioNTech and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines were administered the risk of hospitalisation from covid-19 fell by up to 85% (95% confidence interval 76 to 91) and 94% (95% CI 73 to 99), respectively.
24th Feb 2021 - The BMJ

Coronavirus: Home tests will give Germany 'more freedom'

Speaking to Germany's Bundestag parliament on Wednesday, Health Minister Jens Spahn pointed to the approval of home coronavirus tests, known as antigen tests, as an important step on the return to normalcy. Though Spahn spoke of freedoms regained, he warned citizens not to let their guard down and called for patience about the availability of tests. Three such self-administered rapid antigen tests have been given special approval for use by Germany's Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices. Although he expressed confidence that more and more tests would be available in the days and weeks following approval, Spahn warned they would be in short supply initially.
24th Feb 2021 - Deutsche Welle

New normal? 'Green Pass' opens music concert to vaccinated Israelis

It was an event that could set a precedent in a world longing for a return to normal - a music concert attended by scores of Israelis vaccinated against COVID-19. The open-air concert in Tel Aviv on Wednesday was one of the first in a programme to restart cultural events by restricting attendance to people who have been vaccinated or those with immunity after contracting the disease. Attendees were required to show a “Green Pass”, a government-validated certificate showing they had received both doses of the vaccine more than a week prior to the event or that they had recovered from COVID-19 and were presumed immune. The passes are valid for six months from the time of full vaccination.
24th Feb 2021 - Reuters

NHS Covid app could be used to prove status and access venues in England

People could use a revamped NHS app to prove their Covid status on entering pubs or theatres in England under plans being considered by ministers, as one major care provider said staff have two months to get jabbed or lose their jobs. Ministers are expected to give businesses in England the power to check Covid certification – whether people have been vaccinated or the result of recent tests. That will include small-scale venues like restaurants or bars. However, the equalities watchdog and trade unions have said that any move that relies solely on vaccine certification could be unlawful and that passes must not be used to relax Covid safety measures in workplaces.
24th Feb 2021 - The Guardian


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NHS app could be used to show coronavirus vaccine or test result

The NHS app could be used to display vaccination status or latest coronavirus test results, as ministers consider the ethical issues surrounding the possible introduction of vaccine passports. Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that he has tasked senior minister Michael Gove with leading a review into the “deep and complex issues” surrounding “Covid status certificates”. But it was understood that the “proper review” will also investigate whether businesses such as pubs and theatres could be prohibited from making access conditional on vaccination alone.
23rd Feb 2021 - Aberdeen Evening Express

Covid-19: Frustration over London's maskless passengers

Mask wearing on public transport looks likely to be with us for some time. But the most recent figures from Transport for London (TfL) show there is still a significant minority that do not wear them. Commuters have also complained to me about maskless rail staff who also ignore social distance regulations. TfL said about 90% of its passengers wear masks. Around 137,000 maskless people have so far been stopped from using London's public transport and told to wear a face covering since it was made mandatory on 15 June, latest figures show.
23rd Feb 2021 - BBC News

UK Covid Lockdown: Ministers Review Vaccine Passport Options to Help Firms Open

U.K. firms may be allowed to demand proof that customers do not have coronavirus under options being considered to help businesses reopen after the pandemic. Ministers are conducting a review of whether so-called vaccine passports and test certificates could enable venues to open without fueling a surge in infections once lockdown rules are lifted. In one potential scenario, someone planning to go to an event could be asked to show staff a medical record on their National Health Service smart-phone app proving they have been vaccinated or tested negative for Covid-19, a person familiar with the matter said.
23rd Feb 2021 - Bloomberg

Covid-19: Vaccine success drives England's lockdown exit

Siren study - The Pfizer and BioNTech covid-19 vaccine is at least 70% effective against symptomatic and asymptomatic infection 21 days after the first dose and at least 85% seven days after the second dose, shows a UK study of healthcare workers. The Siren study previously investigated the effect of prior infection on protection against reinfection but has now been amended to investigate vaccine effectiveness. The first results following this update have looked at the eight weeks after the first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine dose.
23rd Feb 2021 - The BMJ

Easing lockdown will allow Covid to spread. Here's how to mitigate the risks

The government’s roadmap for ending Covid restrictions in England commits it to steps that may increase the rate at which the virus spreads. Some of that is unavoidable. But even as we reopen, there is more that we could do to mitigate the risk, and get us to the summer – and normality – without a resurgence. One reason that east Asian countries have done better during the pandemic is that prior experience with Sars has given people the understanding of how respiratory diseases spread, and how to avoid them. Japan’s three Cs guidance – avoidance of closed spaces, crowded places, and conversations – helped it avoid a serious epidemic without imposing a national lockdown. But the UK’s messaging still prioritises hand washing, surface cleaning and 2-metre distancing, and there has been no public education campaign about ventilation on the scale of last year’s hand-washing campaign.
23rd Feb 2021 - MSN.com


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Air New Zealand to trial digital Covid `vaccination passport`

Air New Zealand will trial a digital travel pass to give airlines and border authorities access to passenger health information, including their Covid-19 vaccination status, the carrier said Monday. The scheme, dubbed a "vaccination passport" by industry observers, is intended to streamline travel once borders reopen by allowing passengers to store their health credentials in one place.
22nd Feb 2021 - WION


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Green Pass: Israel's Covid-19 vaccination certificate opens fast track to normal life

People with the so-called "Green Pass" will get access to gyms, hotels and theatres, as more than 46 percent of its 9 million population get vaccinated.
21st Feb 2021 - NBC News

Here are the four steps needed to safely end the UK's Covid lockdown

Our first collective aim should be reducing transmission to as low a level as possible – and keeping it low. Secondly, it will be crucial that we continue to monitor transmission and quickly identify any new variants. The third important aspect of this roadmap should be a highly effective test, trace, isolate and support system. As cases fall and people begin to mix again, keeping the virus under control will depend upon the effectiveness of this system. Councils and communities must work together to ensure those who are least likely to take up the offer of a vaccination are engaged and supported, whether through targeted, culturally aware communication campaigns or enlisting community representatives to encourage uptake. Local community leaders, businesses, faith groups, libraries, schools, sports clubs and local media will all be central to these efforts.
20th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

What's safe after COVID-19 vaccination? Don't shed masks yet

It’s great if the vaccine means someone who otherwise would have been hospitalized instead just has the sniffles, or even no symptoms. But “the looming question,” Fauci said during a White House coronavirus response briefing last week, is whether a person infected despite vaccination can still, unwittingly, infect someone else. Studies are underway to find out, and hints are starting to emerge. Fauci pointed to recent research from Spain showing the more coronavirus an infected person harbors — what’s called the viral load — the more infectious they are. That’s not surprising, as it’s true with other illnesses.
20th Feb 2021 - The Independent


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Covid-19 passports aim to streamline travel requirements. But there’s no one-size-fits-all fix.

International travel declined by around 90 percent after the pandemic hit — but those still crossing borders may have begun to encounter a novel concept: “covid-19 passports,” or a mobile platform that proves a traveler meets a country’s requirements, like a negative coronavirus test or, in a few cases, having received the coronavirus vaccine. Also called health passports, these are not official documents granted by governments; rather, they are digital passes issued by apps, and accepted by some companies and countries, that have arisen to meet demands by airlines and governments that travelers have a negative coronavirus status. Instead of showing paper-based proof of a test or vaccination card at an airport — which could either be forged, lost or arbitrarily rejected without a streamlined process — a traveler would be able to store and certify their information via their phone
18th Feb 2021 - Washington Post

Covid: Ethnicity vaccine gaps in over-70s

Black and mixed heritage people in their 70s are being vaccinated against Covid-19 at much lower rates than white people, GP records suggest. And fewer Bangladeshi and Pakistani people had been jabbed by 11 February. This follows data from earlier in the vaccination programme showing similar gaps among the over-80s. A discrepancy was not seen in the over-70s at that point, but this is most likely because very few were being vaccinated at that stage. The findings come from a study called OpenSafely, run by the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The team has access to completely anonymised medical records covering 40% of GP practices in England.
18th Feb 2021 - BBC News

Mass tests for teachers and pupils to be part of England lockdown easing, report says

Teachers, schoolchildren and their families could be tested for coronavirus twice a week under a plan for mass rapid testing that has been touted as key to safely easing England’s lockdown, reports claim. As many as 400,000 rapid lateral flow tests will be sent to homes every day, supported by a public information campaign to encourage people to take tests even if they do not show any symptoms, it is claimed. Boris Johnson is expected to give further details of the scheme when he outlines his roadmap for easing restrictions on Monday.
18th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

South Korea warns against lax distancing as daily COVID-19 count hits one-month high

South Korea's Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Wednesday warned against the loosening enforcement of social distancing rules after the number of new coronavirus cases hit the highest levels in nearly 40 days. The government relaxed distancing curbs on Saturday to take effect starting this week, after getting on top of a third wave of COVID-19 outbreaks that peaked at around 1,200 daily cases in late December. But the numbers shot back up in just three days, topping 600 for the first time in 39 days on Tuesday, after a ban on nighttime entertainment facilities was lifted and a restaurant curfew extended by one hour to 10 p.m.
18th Feb 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

White House announces plans to ramp up COVID testing

The White House announced new efforts on Wednesday to expand and improve testing for the coronavirus, as the United States ramps up efforts to vaccinate Americans. In a news briefing, Carole Johnson, the nation’s new COVID-19 testing coordinator, announced that the federal government would invest $1.6bn to increase nationwide testing. “We need to test broadly and rapidly to turn the tide of this pandemic but we still don’t have enough testing and we don’t have enough testing in all the places it needs to be,” Johnson said during a news briefing. She said the funds would support testing in schools and in underserved populations, increase manufacturing of critical testing supplies, as well as increase genomic sequencing – key to studying virus variants. According to a White House factsheet, $650m will go towards expanding testing capacity for schools, which will assist them in reopening.
18th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

How covid-19 testing is developing and its future

An HSJ and Siemens Healthineers roundtable discussed how the covid-19 testing regime has developed to date, how it will need to evolve further to consistently reach the right person with the right test at the right time, and what its likely legacy will be for the diagnostics sphere as a whole. The words “testing” and “game changer” have frequently been seen together in the months since the pandemic began. Boris Johnson initially applied the phrase to antibody testing and then in September to rapid mass testing of asymptomatic individuals, which he suggested could offer a route to renewed social gatherings even pre-widespread vaccination. But away from such high profile proclamations, how has covid-19 testing actually developed? And how could and should it develop in the longer term?
17th Feb 2021 - Health Service Journal


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White House announces plans to ramp up COVID testing

The White House announced new efforts on Wednesday to expand and improve testing for the coronavirus, as the United States ramps up efforts to vaccinate Americans. In a news briefing, Carole Johnson, the nation’s new COVID-19 testing coordinator, announced that the federal government would invest $1.6bn to increase nationwide testing. “We need to test broadly and rapidly to turn the tide of this pandemic but we still don’t have enough testing and we don’t have enough testing in all the places it needs to be,” Johnson said during a news briefing.
17th Feb 2021 - AlJazeera

Vaccines, drugs, testing key to easing lockdown safely - UK's Raab

Vaccines, drugs and testing at scale are key to easing lockdown measures safely, Britain’s foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Wednesday as the government prepares to set out a roadmap on how to loosen restrictions. “The two or three things that are going to be really important if we are to ease out of lockdown safely and responsibly are, yes of course, the vaccine and... the drugs... but also this lateral flow testing, being able to do at it at scale,” he told Sky News.
17th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Contact tracing alone has little impact on curbing Covid spread, report finds

Contact tracing alone has a marginal impact on Covid transmission, curbing the spread of the disease by just 2% to 5%, official estimates show. The figures come after Dido Harding, who heads the government’s £22bn test-and-trace programme in England, suggested it was set to substantially reduce the spread of coronavirus this spring. Newly published data behind that assertion shows the vast majority of the impact of test and trace is down to people self-isolating. An army of contact tracers has been hired to track down close contacts of those who test positive for Covid, and ask them to self-isolate. The contact tracers also remind people of the need to quarantine after a positive test.
17th Feb 2021 - The Guardian


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Hotel quarantine rollout in England 'an absolute joke', says border official

Border staff received guidelines on how to execute England’s new “red list” quarantine rules in an email two and a half hours before they came into force in a rollout that one worker described as “an absolute joke”. British and Irish nationals or UK residents arriving from a list of 33 countries are now required to book a 10-day quarantine package costing £1,750 per adult, as the government seeks to limit the spread of new and potentially more dangerous coronavirus variants arriving from abroad. Border Force sources told the Guardian that all immigration control staff had received a lengthy email with five attachments, detailing official guidance for carrying out the new checks at the border, at 9.25pm on Sunday. The rules came into effect at midnight.
15th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

Fauci wins $1 million Israeli prize for 'defending science'

The Dan David Foundation, which is based at Tel Aviv University, said on Monday that Fauci has won the prize for “courageously defending science in the face of uninformed opposition during the challenging COVID crisis,” the Seattle Times reported. “As the COVID-19 pandemic unraveled, [Fauci] leveraged his considerable communication skills to address people gripped by fear and anxiety and worked relentlessly to inform individuals in the United States and elsewhere about the public health measures essential for containing the pandemic’s spread,” the foundation’s awards committee said.
16th Feb 2021 - The Hill

No new virus cases raise hopes New Zealand will end lockdown

For a second consecutive day, New Zealand reported no new community cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, raising hopes that a lockdown in Auckland will be lifted Wednesday. Just how three family members contracted the disease remains a mystery. After the cases were found, top lawmakers hurriedly placed New Zealand’s largest city into a three-day lockdown, the nation's first in six months. COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the final decision by lawmakers on whether to lift the restrictions will depend on any new information or cases that crop up over the next 24 hours. “A day when we get zero positive test results is always a good day,” Hipkins said.
16th Feb 2021 - ABC News


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COVID-19: Oxford vaccine creator calls for donations to help people in poorer countries receive a jab

The co-creator of the Oxford vaccine has called on people to give money to support coronavirus vaccination in poorer countries. Professor Sarah Gilbert is backing a new campaign launching today, which asks people in the UK to give money to the World Health Organisation COVID-19 relief fund when they receive the date for their coronavirus vaccination. "We produced and developed the Oxford vaccine as a vaccine for the world," Professor Gilbert said about the campaign, which is called Arm in Arm. "We are happy to support a new initiative to get COVID vaccines to as many people as possible."
14th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Wearing a face mask can reduce your risk of severe Covid-19: Humidity inside coverings limits the spread of the virus to the lungs leading to milder infection, study shows

NIH researchers assessed humidity of a space before and after wearing a mask. Masks increase humidity by between 38 and 90 per cent compared to maskless. This leads to hydrated air being inhaled by the person wearing the mask. This helps the respiratory tract to clear out the virus in the mucus and prevent it reaching the lungs
15th Feb 2021 - Daily Mail

Vaccine passport for shops could happen, says Dominic Raab

Shops and restaurants could require customers to show vaccine passports under plans being considered by the government, the foreign secretary has suggested. Dominic Raab said that the government was considering using vaccine passports at the “domestic or local level”. His comments appear to put him at odds with No 10, which has repeatedly ruled out using them within the UK. The government is working on plans for the use of vaccine passports to enable international travel. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, denied that there were plans to introduce them within the UK.
15th Feb 2021 - The Times

Widespread vaccinations in the US won't come until the summer. Here's what's been driving down Covid-19 cases so far

Kudos to all the Americans who've been responsible about mask wearing and social distancing. Health experts say your efforts are paying off. After an abysmal start to winter, some Covid-19 numbers have been falling for weeks. But it's not just due to vaccines. More than 14 million Americans have been fully vaccinated with both doses of their Covid-19 vaccines, but that's only about 4% of the US population. And it takes weeks for vaccines to fully kick in. So why are we seeing improvement? "It's what we're doing right: staying apart, wearing masks, not traveling, not mixing with others indoors," said Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US CDC
15th Feb 2021 - CNN

Covid-19: First travellers arrive in UK for hotel quarantine stay

The first travellers required to stay at quarantine hotels have begun arriving in the UK. All British and Irish citizens and UK residents who arrive in England after being in a high-risk Covid country now have to self-isolate in hotels. The "red list" of 33 countries includes Portugal, Brazil and South Africa. The new regulations, which aim to stop Covid variants entering the country, apply to arrivals who have been in one of those places in the past 10 days. In Scotland, the rule to stay in a hotel applies to travellers from all countries - rather than just those from the list of 33 countries.
15th Feb 2021 - BBC News


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COVID-19: Australia's Victoria state enters snap lockdown after coronavirus outbreak linked to quarantine hotels

A five-day lockdown is being imposed in Australia's Victoria state, barring spectators from the first few days of the Australian Open tennis tournament. A new COVID-19 cluster has been linked to a quarantine hotel in the state capital Melbourne, reaching 13 cases on Thursday and prompting authorities to take action. Around 6.5 million people went into lockdown at midnight, lasting until the same time on Wednesday, in a state which endured one of the world's strictest and longest lockdowns last year.
13th Feb 2021 - Sky News

How AI and data models help governments fight Covid-19

A not-for-profit business group including IBM and Rolls-Royce is using AI and data models to help Europe fight Covid-19 and help prepare an economic recovery. As Covid-19 vaccines roll out, getting economies and societies back to normal after the worst of the pandemic has passed will depend on collaboration between industry and the public sector – and harnessing the power of data and technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI). These are among the reasons why IBM, Rolls-Royce, Microsoft and dozens of global companies recently founded Emergent Alliance − a not-for-profit collaboration specialising in data, analytics and technology. Last April, data scientists and AI experts at IBM (Data Science and AI Elite Team) and Rolls-Royce (R2 Data Labs) joined a team to work on a crucial pandemic-related challenge: how to get a more accurate and up-to-date regional picture of Covid-19 cases so as to help local authorities mount a more effective response to coronavirus outbreaks.
13th Feb 2021 - The Financial Times

Double masking can block 92% of infectious particles, CDC says

Double masking can significantly improve protection, new data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. Researchers found that layering a cloth mask over a medical procedural mask, such as a disposable blue surgical mask, can block 92.5% of potentially infectious particles from escaping by creating a tighter fit and eliminating leakage. "These experimental data reinforce CDC's prior guidance that everyone 2 years of age or older should wear a mask when in public and around others in the home not living with you," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, told a White House briefing.
14th Feb 2021 - CNN

Covid passports could deliver a 'summer of joy,' Denmark hopes

Like many countries around the world, Denmark is desperate to reopen the parts of its economy frozen by the pandemic. The kingdom of under six million people has become one of the most efficient vaccination distributors in Europe and aims to have offered its whole population a jab by June. But before that target is reached, there's pressure for life to get back to normal for Danes already inoculated and to open up borders for Covid-immune travelers from overseas. Morten Bødskov, Denmark's acting finance minister, last week raised the prospect of a so-called coronavirus passport being introduced by the end of the month. "Denmark is still hard hit by the corona pandemic," he said. "But there are parts of Danish society that need to move forward, and a business community that needs to be able to travel."
13th Feb 2021 - CNN

COVID-19: New surge testing after more South Africa variant cases detected

Surge testing is being introduced in more areas of England after a few more cases of the coronavirus variant first discovered in South Africa were detected. The testing will be deployed in: Middlesbrough within the TS7 postcode - Areas in Walsall - Specific areas in the RG26 postcode in Hampshire - People in these areas are strongly encouraged to take a COVID test this week, whether or not they have symptoms.
13th Feb 2021 - Sky News

UK social distancing rules could remain until autumn

Social distancing norms in Britain could remain until the autumn under plans being considered by ministers, The Times newspaper reported on Friday. The government's roadmap out of lockdown assumes people will have to wear masks and remain a metre apart of each other for months, the newspaper reported here. Scientists believed the restrictions may need to go on until the end of the year, according to the report.
12th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Late April or May before lockdown eases with month of low cases needed before change

Level 5 restrictions will not be eased until very low Covid-19 case numbers are sustained for up to four weeks, according to multiple senior Government sources. Such a scenario could see the wider reopening of society, beyond schools and construction, pushed back until late April or early May. The concept of a “pause”, where no easing takes place until numbers stay at a consistent level for a few weeks, is used in New Zealand and Australia and is viewed favourably by a number of Ministers as an effective indicator that it is safe to lift restrictions. The “cautious and conservative” approach enunciated by Taoiseach Micheál Martin in recent days is now widely accepted across all three Government parties. Ministers including the Taoiseach have accepted mistakes were made before Christmas, when measures were relaxed too early .
12th Feb 2021 - The Irish Times


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Ministers to discuss vaccine certificates for international travel

Ministers are set to discuss plans on Friday for vaccination and test certificates to ease international travel after lockdown is lifted. But the discussion will not involve "vaccine passports" to prove immunity at venues in the UK. Instead, it will focus on how Britain can co-operate with the international system expected to be introduced eventually to facilitate journeys between different countries. A source said proposals were at a very early stage, and any scheme is not expected to be put into effect for some time.
11th Feb 2021 - The Independent

C.D.C. Urges Better Masking for Increased Virus Protection

Wearing a mask — any mask — reduces the risk of infection with the coronavirus, but wearing a more tightly fitted surgical mask, or layering a cloth mask atop a surgical mask, can vastly increase protections to the wearer and others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Wednesday. New research by the agency shows that transmission of the virus can be reduced by up to 96.5 percent if both an infected individual and an uninfected individual wear tightly fitted surgical masks or a cloth-and-surgical-mask combination.
11th Feb 2021 - The New York Times


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CDC study finds two masks are better than one vs. COVID-19

US government researchers have found wearing two masks was better than one when preventing the spread of Covid-19, according to a Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study. In a lab experiment, two artificial heads were placed six feet from each other and studied on how many coronavirus-sized particles were expelled and inhalled while wearing a variety of face coverings. Researchers found that wearing one mask, either cloth or surgical, prevented 40 per cent of incoming droplets from being breathed in. When adding a surgical mask underneath a cloth mask, 80 per cent of incoming droplets were stopped.
10th Feb 2021 - The Independent

Feds focus on mask upgrades, COVID-19 vaccine sites

Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data showing the fit of face masks—both cloth and surgical—can significantly reduce COVID-19 transmission, by as much as 96.5% if both infected and uninfected people wear them properly. "What we know now is everyone needs to be wearing a mask when they are in public or inside with people from outside their households," said Rochelle Walensky, MD, director of the CDC during a press briefing today.
10th Feb 2021 - CIDRAP

Covid-19: Sports equipment presents 'low risk'

The risk of coronavirus transmission from sharing sports equipment is "lower than once thought", a study suggests. Researchers, led by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, applied live virus particles to nine types of sports equipment and a control material. They concluded it "seems unlikely" that sports balls and accessories are a major cause for transmission. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last June that cricket balls are a "natural vector" of coronavirus. The Strike study found the virus was least transferrable on absorbent materials like cricket gloves and tennis balls, compared with non-porous equipment like racing saddles and rugby balls.
10th Feb 2021 - BBC News


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Are two masks better than one?

When it comes to protecting yourself against new coronavirus variants, two masks may be better than one. A number of politicians, including Vice President Kamala Harris and Senator Mitt Romney, have been spotted doubling up on face masks, and top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci has recommended that everyday Americans do the same. As part of our #AskReuters Twitter chat series, Reuters gathered a group of health experts to answer questions about the coronavirus, including what they consider the “right” way to wear face coverings.
10th Feb 2021 - Reuters

COVID app triggers overdue debate on privacy in Singapore

For a country that prides itself on being on the cutting edge of high-tech governance, there has been little national discussion in Singapore on the balance between data collection and individual privacy. Now, COVID-19 has forced the conversation, after it was revealed that data from the government’s contact-tracing app, contrary to initial promises, could also be used for criminal investigations. The public backlash prompted the government to not only acknowledge that it had made a mistake but also to introduce new legislation to restrict the use of the data. Under the new amendments to the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, passed in the Singapore Parliament this month, personal data collected by digital pandemic contact-tracing programmes can only be used to contact trace, unless it is required by law enforcement for investigations into “serious offences”. Pritam Singh, the leader of the opposition, has called for an “immediate conversation” on the balance between individual privacy and the use of technology and data collection in Singapore.
10th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

COVID-19: 'Surge testing' in Manchester after mutation of Kent variant detected

Thousands of extra COVID tests are being rolled out in Manchester after a mutation of the Kent variant was found in the city. Four people from two unconnected households were found with the E484K mutation, Manchester City Council said, and 10,000 extra tests will now be distributed.
9th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Covid-19: Travel rule breakers could face £10k fines and prison terms

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned travel rule breakers they could face fines of £10,000 and even a decade in prison. Speaking in the Commons, Mr Hancock set out the "tough" measures for people who do not comply with the new quarantine rules for UK arrivals. He said the policy, which begins on Monday, applied to England but that the devolved administrations were looking at similar measures.
9th Feb 2021 - BBC News

COVID-19: NHS Test and Trace app has prevented 600,000 cases, study suggests

As many as 600,000 coronavirus cases have been prevented as a result of the NHS COVID-19 app, new research suggests. Scientists at The Alan Turing Institute and Oxford University found that for every 1% increase in app users, the number of infections falls by up to 2.3%. The analysis, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, is based on data gathered in between the app launching in September and the end of last year. "The impact of the app could be increased by more people using it," said Professor Christophe Fraser at the University of Oxford.
9th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Covid-19: Travellers face £1,750 cost for England quarantine hotels

Travellers having to stay in quarantine hotels in England will be charged £1,750 for their stay, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced. The measures, which come into force on Monday, apply to UK and Irish residents returning from 33 red list countries. Those who fail to quarantine in a government-sanctioned hotel for 10 days face fines of up to £10,000. Meanwhile, all travellers arriving into Scotland from abroad by air will have to go into quarantine hotels.
9th Feb 2021 - BBC News

COVID-19: All travellers arriving in UK to have to pay for £100 COVID tests while in quarantine

All travellers arriving in the UK are to face mandatory coronavirus tests - paid for by themselves - from next week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock is poised to announce to MPs. In a Commons statement, Mr Hancock will say that from next Monday, 15 February, all passengers arriving in the UK will be required to take a PCR test, which currently cost around £100 per test, on days two and eight after they arrive. The new rules, which will cause further dismay in the already-reeling airline industry, will apply to arrivals not just from 33 so-called Red Zone countries heading into hotel quarantine, but also those isolating at home.
9th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Spain’s government pinning hopes on a vaccination passport to help kick-start ailing tourism sector

The Spanish government is pinning its hopes on 2021 being a year of recovery. That said, the administration is well aware that one of the mainstays of the country’s economy, tourism, will struggle to return to some kind of normality this year given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. To deal with this issue, the coalition government – made up of the Socialist Party (PSOE) and junior partner Unidas Podemos – is looking for formulas to speed up the return to levels of tourism that existed pre-Covid. One of the key factors being considered is the creation of a Europe-wide vaccination card that could help bring back foreign tourists.
9th Feb 2021 - El Pais


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4 in 5 Americans ready for COVID-19 shot, but vaccine messages remain key, analysis finds

Has the vaccine hesitancy tide turned into a wave of vaccine excitement? Possibly. A new W2O Group study using search and social data found that 80% of Americans are likely willing to get vaccinated. However, vaccine makers still have their work cut out for them—especially among certain groups of people—and messaging will be critical, W2O Chief Data Officer Seth Duncan said. Out of four groups of people established for the study, many of those who aren’t inclined to get vaccinated are politically right-leaning. Among the group—defined as those who follow at least three right-leaning politicians, journalists or news outlets—only 41% show a willingness to get a vaccine. That compares with 95% of center left, 93% of the educated left and 91% of the apolitical groups who are ready to get vaccinated.
8th Feb 2021 - FiercePharma

Cambridge firms underpin game-changing lateral flow test for Covid-19

Two Cambridge-based biotechnology companies have been instrumental in the development of a game-changing platform for lateral flow (LF) tests that could be vital in the fight against Covid-19. Large-scale Covid-19 antibody screenings with high specificity and sensitivity, such as the LF test, could provide public health authorities with reliable data to monitor the impact of regional and national lockdown restrictions and provide evidence of antibody generation after vaccine immunisations. The platform is underpinned by Activotec, a laboratory equipment supplier based in Comberton, while Excivion is developing novel vaccines from St John’s Innovation Centre.
8th Feb 2021 - Cambridge Independent

Covid testing expanded to more workplaces in England

Workplace Covid testing is being offered to more companies in England, for staff who cannot work from home during lockdown, the government says. Businesses with more than 50 employees are now able to access lateral flow tests, which can produce results in less than 30 minutes. Previously only firms with more than 250 staff qualified for testing. Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged businesses and employees to take up the offer to "stop this virus spreading". "When you consider that around one in three people have the virus without symptoms and could potentially infect people without even knowing it, it becomes clear why focusing testing on those without symptoms is so essential," he said, adding that firms should regularly test staff.
8th Feb 2021 - BBC News

Western Australia to make masks mandatory for high school students and teachers in rigorous post-lockdown ruling - after recording another day of ZERO cases

Masks will be mandatory for teachers and senior school students in the Perth, Peel and South West regions. Western Australia recorded no new cases of Covid on Sunday, both within the community and in hotel quarantine.
8th Feb 2021 - Daily Mail

Travellers to UK set to be tested after arrival

Travellers entering the UK are set to be tested for coronavirus a few days after they arrive. The new, expanded testing regime will be announced shortly. Enhancing the testing regime "to cover all arrivals while they isolate" would add another level of protection, the Department of Health said. The move is designed to help to track any new cases which might be brought into the country and make it easier to detect new variants. It is in addition to the current rules which say travellers arriving in the UK, whether by boat, train or plane, must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to be allowed entry. The test must be taken in the 72 hours before travelling, and anyone arriving without one faces a fine of up to £500.
8th Feb 2021 - BBC News

A digital option is the right investment for at-home Covid-19 testing

The Biden administration’s recent investment of $230 million to expedite rapid production of the Ellume home Covid-19 test represents an audacious step forward in mitigating the pandemic. Some experts have criticized it as a “waste of money” because this kit costs more than other alternatives and because of the timing of the investment. I believe the test is worth the extra cost, due to its connectivity and the types of research it enables, though all of these tests need to be evaluated against the other options. Throughout the pandemic, public health officials have struggled to demonstrate the value and importance of measures such as mask wearing, social distancing, and vaccines. The ultimate result has been public skepticism, poor uptake of helpful interventions, and even outrageous conspiracy theories. We must learn from these missteps and design interventions that can be measured quickly and precisely.
8th Feb 2021 - Stat News


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The U.S. needs a National Vaccine Day

Vaccines don’t save lives. Vaccinations do. That is an essential lesson we have learned from working at the forefront of vaccine development and health communication. One of us (S.P.) helped develop vaccines for rubella, rabies, and rotavirus, that have played an essential role in reducing preventable childhood deaths in the United States and around the world — but only because of public health campaigns that built trust in vaccination and made vaccines easily accessible to people from every walk of life. Now along comes Covid-19, a highly infectious disease caused by a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV2, that humans had never previously encountered. In an amazing feat of science and speed, we now have vaccines against this virus that are proving to be highly effective.
7th Feb 2021 - Stat News

NFL Offers All 30 Stadiums For Use As Coronavirus Vaccine Sites

Every NFL team will offer their stadium as a possible mass vaccination site to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a letter to President Biden. The move would expand an effort that currently includes seven teams. Each team "will make its stadium available for mass vaccinations of the general public in coordination with local, state, and federal health officials," Goodell wrote in the letter, which was sent on Thursday. The effort would be helped, he said, by the experience the teams already have with transforming parts of their facilities into coronavirus testing sites. The NFL has 32 teams, but the offer comprises 30 stadiums, because pairs of teams share facilities in both New York and Los Angeles.
6th Feb 2021 - NPR

COVID-19: Rapid testing to be offered to workplaces with more than 50 employees

Rapid tests will be offered to workplaces with more than 50 employees in an effort to control the COVID-19 pandemic. The lateral flow tests can produce results in less then 30 minutes but were previously only available to firms with more than 250 staff. Officials said the move is an effort to "normalise" testing in the workplace and ensure the safety of those who cannot work from home.
7th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Calls grow for US to rely on rapid tests to fight pandemic

When a Halloween party sparked a COVID-19 outbreak at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, school officials conducted rapid screening on more than 1,000 students in a week, including many who didn’t have symptoms. Although such asymptomatic screening isn’t approved by regulators and the 15-minute tests aren’t as sensitive as the genetic one that can take days to yield results, the testing director at the historically Black college credits the approach with quickly containing the infections and allowing the campus to remain open. “Within the span of a week, we had crushed the spread. If we had had to stick with the PCR test, we would have been dead in the water,” said Dr. Robert Doolittle, referring to the polymerase chain reaction test that is considered the gold standard by many doctors and Food and Drug Administration regulators.
6th Feb 2021 - The Associated Press

Europe moves toward COVID-19 vaccine passports but not every country is on board

A few European Union countries have taken steps to distribute special passes to allow citizens inoculated against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 to travel freely. Others countries, including the U.K., are considering such a measure.
5th Feb 2021 - MarketWatch


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COVID-19 rarely spreads through surfaces. So why are we still deep cleaning?

The WHO updated its guidance on 20 October, saying that the virus can spread “after infected people sneeze, cough on, or touch surfaces, or objects, such as tables, doorknobs and handrails”. A WHO spokesperson told Nature that “there is limited evidence of transmission through fomites. Nonetheless, fomite transmission is considered a possible mode of transmission, given consistent finding of environmental contamination, with positive identification of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the vicinity of people infected with SARS-CoV-2.” The WHO adds that “disinfection practices are important to reduce the potential for COVID-19 virus contamination”. The CDC did not respond to Nature’s queries about inconsistencies in its statements about the risks posed by fomites.
29th Jan 2021 - Nature

Britain's COVID-19 hotel quarantine policy to start Feb. 15

Britain’s hotel quarantine policy for travellers arriving from COVID-19 hot spots will start on Feb. 15, the government announced on Thursday after critics said it was not moving fast enough to bring in the measures. The mandatory 10-day stay in government-provided accommodation, first announced last month, is designed to tighten borders against new variants of the coronavirus which could endanger Britain’s vaccination programme. Opposition lawmakers have criticised Boris Johnson’s government for not implementing the plan more quickly, saying the delay was putting lives at risk. The prime minister said on Wednesday details would be announced on Thursday, only to be contradicted by his spokesman less than 24 hours later.
4th Feb 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19 vaccine inequality could cause 'deadly consequences,' experts warn

Around 70% of the total coronavirus vaccine doses administered globally have been in the 50 wealthiest countries compared to only 0.1% administered in the 50 poorest countries, according to analysis by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The IFRC described the disparity as alarming and said it could result in “deadly and devasting” consequences, warning that if large areas across the globe remain unvaccinated, the virus will carry on circulating and mutating. “This is alarming because it is unfair, and because it could prolong or even worsen this terrible pandemic,” Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the IFRC, said.
4th Feb 2021 - CNN Philippines

COVID: No special freedoms for the vaccinated in Germany

The German Ethics Council on Thursday spoke out against lifting restrictions for individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Germany has been in partial lockdown since November. Vaccinations started at the end of December with people over 80 and their carers front of the line. There is currently a shortage of vaccines in Germany, and it will take several months for a majority of people to be immunized and become eligible for the lifting of restrictions. Over the past few weeks tourism agencies, event managers and some politicians had suggested allowing those who have been vaccinated to travel, eat in restaurants, attend concerts and other events which would involve close contact with a high number of other people.
4th Feb 2021 - Deutsche Welle

Face masks mandatory beyond WA lockdown

West Australians will be required to wear face masks while out in public and be restricted to seated service at bars and restaurants for another week when the state emerges from lockdown. WA has posted four consecutive days of no new community COVID-19 cases, paving the way for metropolitan Perth, the Peel region and South West to exit lockdown at 6pm on Friday. But Premier Mark McGowan has announced a range of restrictions will remain in place for Perth and Peel until 1201am on Sunday February 14.
4th Feb 2021 - The Canberra Times

Kaduna, Zipline sign agreement for drone-delivered COVID-19 vaccines

In Nigeria, Kaduna State Government has signed a deal with medical delivery firm Zipline that will allow drone shipment of COVID-19 vaccines without significant state investment in cold-chain storage. Zipline in a Reuters report noted that its end-to-end cold chain distribution capability can safely deliver even the Pfizer vaccine which would allow Kaduna health facilities to bypass purchases of ultra-low freezers and enable on-demand deliveries of precise amounts of COVID-19 vaccines.
4th Feb 2021 - The Guardian Nigeria

2 American cruise lines announced they will require all guests and crew members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine

Hornblower Group cruise lines will require COVID-19 vaccination. Both guests and workers must be vaccinated, and the protocol applies to all sailings starting July 1. The cruise lines still have trips lined up for April through June.
4th Feb 2021 - Business Insider


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UK begins door-to-door testing of 80,000 people to halt South African variant

Volunteers and police officers in several parts of England began knocking on people’s doors to hand out COVID-19 testing kits on Tuesday to try to halt the spread of a highly infectious variant that originated in South Africa. The testing surge was announced by the government on Monday after 11 people in different regions tested positive for the variant without having any links to people who had travelled to South Africa. In total, Britain has found 105 cases of the variant, of which all but those 11 were people who had either been to South Africa or been in contact with someone who had
3rd Feb 2021 - Reuters UK

Denmark: ‘Digital corona passport’ will be ready in months

Denmark’s government has said it is joining forces with businesses to develop a digital passport that would show whether people have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, allowing them to travel and help ease restrictions on public life. Finance Minister Morten Boedskov told a news conference on Wednesday that “in three, four months, a digital corona passport will be ready for use in, for example, business travel.” “It is absolutely crucial for us to be able to restart Danish society so that companies can get back on track. Many Danish companies are global companies with the whole world as a market,” he added. As a first step, before the end of February, citizens in Denmark would be able to see on a Danish health website the official confirmation of whether they have been vaccinated.
3rd Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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If You've Been Working from Home, Please Wait for Your Vaccine

Steven W. Thrasher, Ph.D., is a professor at Northwestern University in the Medill School of Journalism and the Institute of Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. He writes about access to the new coronavirus vaccine: "Hopefully the Biden administration will ramp up production as promised, and patents will not be used as an excuse not to be manufacturing vaccines en masse around the world for all earthlings. In the meantime, those of us who have been working from home and are not especially vulnerable need not be passive about people who really need them. As the Washington Post reported, only one of the world’s poorest 29 countries has gotten any COVID vaccine; meanwhile, young Americans working from home are trying to get vaccines to go to conferences and Burning Man!"
2nd Feb 2021 - Scientific American


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Covid: Lockdown easing must happen 'very slowly', adviser says

Ending the current coronavirus lockdown must happen "very slowly, very cautiously", Public Health England's Covid strategy chief has said. Dr Susan Hopkins said the focus should be on getting people vaccinated and preventing another wave of infections. She told the BBC's Andrew Marr: "I hope that this summer will be similar to last summer... and that will allow us to do things that feel more normal." Meanwhile, Matt Hancock predicted "a happy and free Great British summer". But the health secretary warned of a "a tough few months" as national restrictions continue across the UK while vaccinations are administered. "We have to follow the data, we have to see the impact of the vaccine on the ground. It's a difficult balance: we've got to move as fast as we can but in such a way that keeps people safe," he told BBC Politics East.
1st Feb 2021 - BBC News

Many who have received the coronavirus vaccine wonder: What can I safely do?

Soon after Marc Wilson gets his second dose of coronavirus vaccine, he plans to resume one of his pre-pandemic joys: swimming laps with his friends. But most other activities — including volunteering at a food pantry and homeless shelter — will be off-limits until the outbreak is curbed and scientists know more about the threat of emerging variants. “I can definitely broaden the things I do, but I still have to be quite cautious,” said Wilson, 70, a retired accountant in Norman, Okla., who has diabetes and other health problems. “When your doctor tells you, ‘If you get covid, you’re dead,’ that gets your attention real good.”
1st Feb 2021 - The Washington Post

Everyone entering care homes should be tested for Covid-19, report urges

Everyone entering care homes should be tested for Covid-19, a report has recommended. Care home workers should be tested every day and those moving between homes should be tested before entry to every home, a report by the Stormont Health Committee has also urged. The report was published on Monday following a committee inquiry into coronavirus in care homes across Northern Ireland. It heard that about 40% of those who died with coronavirus in Northern Ireland last year were care home residents, according to Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency figures. As of October 2020 there were 16,110 registered care home beds across 434 independent homes and 48 that are publicly owned and operated.
1st Feb 2021 - Belfast Telegraph

Covid: Door-to-door testing to be introduced across parts of England in response to South Africa variant

Some 80,000 people across England are being encouraged to come forward for “surge” testing, regardless of whether they have symptoms, as part of efforts to contain the growing spread of the South African coronavirus variant. A total of 105 cases in the UK have so far been attributed to the new variant – 11 of which were recently found to be community-based and not linked to people who had travelled to South Africa, suggesting the virus is now circulating among local populations. These infections were detected in eight different English postcodes: in Hanwell, Tottenham and Mitcham in London; Walsall in the West Midlands; Broxbourne, Hertfordshire; Maidstone, Kent; Woking, Surrey; and Southport, Merseyside.
1st Feb 2021 - The Independent

Fauci: Covid Vaccines Are Less Effective Against New Strains — But Still Worth Taking

Even though new strains of the coronavirus have dented some vaccines’ effectiveness, existing vaccines can still prevent serious illness and slow the virus’ spread, White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday, responding to fears that the coronavirus will become more contagious and less susceptible to vaccines as it mutates. “Even when you have a variant circulating in which you may not have a 95% efficacy to prevent infection, it is very important that you might very very positively prevent serious illness and serious disease,” Fauci said. “You need to get vaccinated when it becomes available, as quickly and as expeditiously as possible throughout the country.”
1st Feb 2021 - Forbes

Coronavirus vaccine would have to be 85 percent effective to stop a surge in deaths

Social distancing may remain in place until the end of the year - while coronavirus vaccines would have to be 85 per cent effective to prevent a surge in deaths if restrictions were totally relaxed, scientists warned today. Modelling passed to Downing Street warns that the UK could see a large spike in deaths if inoculation fails to significantly cut transmission. A paper commissioned by SAGE subgroup SPI-M and produced by modellers at the University of Warwick showed a 'high uptake' was also vital to get the country back to normal without risking a third wave of Covid cases.
31st Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Use of masks by Japanese news anchors sparks debate among public and industry

The use of masks by television personalities and news anchors on camera is sparking a debate among the public and within the entertainment industry in Japan after broadcasters on a major network began wearing them during a program. TV Tokyo Corp. began having its anchors wear masks from Jan. 18. After anchor Mariko Oe asked viewers for feedback, the network received over 1,000 comments, of which approximately 80% saw the move in a favorable light. Some of those who disliked the use of masks on camera remarked it was difficult to make out the anchor’s facial expressions. The network is planning to start using subtitles after viewers with hearing difficulties said the masks meant they were unable to lip-read.
30th Jan 2021 - The Japan Times


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Everyday Covid mistakes we are all still making

Covid-19 infections in the UK are reducing but remain stubbornly high, despite a month of lockdown measures. So could we be doing more as individuals to curb transmission of the virus? A virologist, a psychologist and a public health expert share their views on some of the Covid-19 mistakes that we are all still making.
30th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

U.S. Labor Department issues COVID-19 workplace safety guidance

The guidance issued by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) outlines key measures for limiting the coronavirus’ spread, including ensuring infected or potentially infected people are not in the workplace, implementing and following physical distancing protocols and using surgical masks or cloth face coverings. It also provides guidance on use of personal protective equipment, improving ventilation, good hygiene and routine cleaning. But the guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations.
29th Jan 2021 - Reuters


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Covid-19: Vaccines 'needed across world to reduce chance of new variants'

Coronavirus vaccines must be made available around the world in an effort to keep cases down and prevent new mutations which could escape the effects of the jabs, an expert has warned. Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of the British government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the amount of virus circulating in the world will determine the chances of a new variant emerging. He said new strains are "a warning of what is coming, which we must take incredibly seriously" and suggested countries with access to vaccines could donate a percentage of their doses through the international Covax drive which aims to ensure equitable access.
28th Jan 2021 - The Irish News

Covid-19: How to break the cycle of lockdowns

The dominance of new, more transmissible variants means that a policy of trying to “live with” the virus will fail, certainly in the UK where the new B.1.1.7 variant is now the most common. I know of no country that is successfully living with the virus while avoiding lockdown and restriction cycles, a high death toll, or—as in the UK—both. We need to set our sights instead on where we want to be and then work out how to get there. The role models we have are Vietnam (35 deaths, 98 million population), Thailand (73 deaths, 70 million population), South Korea (1371 deaths, 51 million population), and New Zealand (25 deaths, 5 million population) where people have been living much more normal lives for months. Following their example, the way out is for the UK to pursue a national suppression strategy—zero tolerance for any community transmission—which comes with the added benefit of protecting ourselves from homegrown vaccine resistant variants.
29th Jan 2021 - The BMJ

Global Covid-19 vaccine passports 'probably' way to go, says Jason Leitch

Scotland's national clinical director has voiced guarded "support" for calls to introduce a global Covid-19 vaccine passport to suppress future spread of the virus. But Professor Jason Leitch warned more data would be needed on the impact of vaccines before pressing ahead with the move, which is being proposed by former Prime Minister Tony Blair. The ex-Labour leader says the UK could lead the the way in the creation of a global ID that shows Covid-19 vaccine and disease status. Mr Blair claimed this would aid the recovery of the economy, including the vital tourism sector.
28th Jan 2021 - MSN.com


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How much does one coronavirus vaccine dose protect you and others?

About 70 million doses of vaccines against covid-19 have now been administered worldwide, including in excess of 20 million in the US. In the UK, where more than 7 million people have received a first dose, most people will be required to wait for about three months before they receive the second dose. This has left many wondering how protected they are, and what measures they still need to take for their safety and that of others. Here’s what you need to know. …
27th Jan 2021 - New Scientist

Those Covid-19 variants? ‘Don’t worry yet,’ vaccine expert says

In Tuesday, Paul Offit, the vaccine developer and a professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, dropped by, virtually, for a conversation with STAT+ subscribers. During the discussion, he addressed a question on everyone’s mind: How worried should we be about new variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19? Offit — who, overall, believes “we’re going to turn the corner,” with the help of vaccines — had plenty of worries. A rare side effect of the vaccines could emerge and scare people away from them, even when the benefits far outweigh its risks. It could take a long time to fix vaccine distribution and manufacturing problems. But he said his biggest concern is that a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus will learn to evade the vaccines. He also explained, at length, why he doesn’t think it’s time for you to worry yet. The transcript of that explanation follows; it has been edited for clarity and length.
27th Jan 2021 - Stat News

All countries should pursue a Covid-19 elimination strategy: here are 16 reasons why

The past year of Covid-19 has taught us that it is the behaviour of governments, more than the behaviour of the virus or individuals, that shapes countries’ experience of the crisis. Talking about pandemic waves has given the virus far too much agency: until quite recently the apparent waves of infection were driven by government action and inaction. It is only now with the emergence of more infectious variants that it might be appropriate to talk about a true second wave. As governments draw up their battle plans for year two, we might expect them to base their strategies on the wealth of data about what works best. And the evidence to date suggests that countries pursuing elimination of Covid-19 are performing much better than those trying to suppress the virus. Aiming for zero-Covid is producing more positive results than trying to “live with the virus”.
28th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Willingly or pressured, Slovaks take COVID tests to avoid tough lockdown

Slovak physiotherapist Katarina Caklosova was ready to close shop for two weeks rather than heed government requirements to undergo a coronavirus test - until she found that new rules would also ban her from her favourite nature walks. That tipped the balance and Caklosova, 50, will join almost 3 million Slovaks who have taken a test to avoid stricter lockdown measures kicking in on Wednesday and aimed at curbing the number of new COVID-19 cases. Under the new rules to be applied until Feb. 7, people who cannot show a certificate proving they tested negative in the previous week or had the infection in the past, are barred from moving around even for work and exercise.
27th Jan 2021 - Thomson Reuters Foundation


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Four in five over-80s have had first COVID-19 jab despite weekend slump in vaccinations

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said on 25 February that 78.7% of people aged over 80 have now received a dose of COVID-19 vaccine - up from 60% around a week ago. UK-wide there are 3.3m people aged over 80 - suggesting that around 2.6m in this cohort have had at least one dose of vaccine. Of the 6.6m total first-dose COVID-19 jabs administered UK-wide to date, around 40% have gone to over-80s. NHS officials have said around three quarters of jabs in England have been administered by GP-led local vaccination sites.
26th Jan 2021 - GP online

Cloth Masks May Look Better, But They Don’t Work Better

Howard is the lead author and Tufekci a co-author of an influential and extremely informative “evidence review on face masks against Covid-19” that has been making the rounds since April and was published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper concludes that cloth masks may be similarly effective to disposable ones in reducing the chances that a mask wearer with Covid-19 will infect others, because they catch most of the virus-laden droplets that wearers expel when they cough or sneeze or talk. But when virus-laden droplets do make it out into the air, and — as is especially wont to happen in cold, dry winter weather — most of the moisture evaporates, leaving “aerosolized” particles that can float around for hours, disposable medical masks seem to do a better job than cloth ones of keeping them out. The single-biggest piece of evidence for this comes from one of the rare randomized controlled trials of cloth-mask use, which was conducted in 2011 and published in the British Medical Association journal BMJ Open in 2015.
26th Jan 2021 - Bloomberg


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Bulgaria will have all travellers entering the country take Covid-19 test

On Monday, the health minister of Bulgaria announced that they will make all the travellers coming in the country, take a Covid-19 test in order to curb the spread of the new strain of coronavirus. Bulgaria will make everyone coming into the country take Covid-19 tests to stop the spread of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, health minister Kostandin Angelov said on Monday. Bulgarian health authorities say they have so far recorded eight cases of the new variant that was first identified in Britain. "Today we will undertake actions to make PCR tests compulsory for all travellers that want to enter the country, including from the European Union," Angelov told a government meeting. The country has seen a significant drop in new infections in recent weeks and is planning to ease some restrictions and reopen secondary schools, shopping malls and gyms from February 4.
25th Jan 2021 - Hindustan Times

Medical-grade masks now mandatory in Austria

Medical-grade FFP2 face masks are now mandatory in Austria for people aged over 14 on public transport, shops and businesses, pharmacies, as well as hospitals or medical practices. Austria is among the first European countries to make FFP2 masks mandatory. The measure has largely been accepted without complaint, despite controversy over other measures, such as the closing of schools while ski lifts remain open. Though often sold for more than €5 each just a few weeks ago, the masks, which block 94% of aerosols, can now be found at all grocery stores for 59 cent each.
25th Jan 2021 - RTE.ie

Australia halts New Zealand travel bubble amid fears of South African coronavirus strain

The Federal Government has suspended quarantine-free travel for New Zealanders arriving in Australia for 72 hours amid fears of a South African strain of COVID-19 across the Tasman. A New Zealand woman infected with the highly infectious variant of COVID-19 first detected in South Africa visited around 30 sites before her case was detected. Travellers coming from New Zealand to Australia in the next 72 hours will have to go into mandatory hotel quarantine. "This will be done out of an abundance of caution whilst more is learnt about the event and the