"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 28th Aug 2020

Isolation Tips
Who is eligible for the £182-a-week self-isolation benefit and how to claim it
After months of lockdown, and several last-minute restrictions placed on travellers from countries such as France and Spain, quarantine has almost become a part of normal life. But one of the biggest worries for most Britons is how to manage work when forced to stay home for two weeks. Now, the Government has launched a scheme that is aimed at helping low-income workers receiving either Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit who cannot work remotely when they need to self-isolate.
'Fear of failure' giving UK children lowest happiness levels in Europe
Children in the UK have the lowest levels of life satisfaction across Europe, with “a particularly British fear of failure” partly to blame, according to a major report into childhood happiness. More than a third of UK 15-year-olds scored low on life satisfaction, the annual Good Childhood Report from the Children’s Society found. They also fared badly across happiness measurements including satisfaction with schools, friends and sense of purpose compared to children in other European countries. The rise in UK child poverty and school pressures were cited alongside the fear of failure as reasons why only 64% of UK children experienced high life satisfaction – the lowest figure of 24 countries surveyed by the OECD. Children in Romania had the highest levels of life satisfaction (85%), just ahead of Finland (84%), while the UK fared worse than Spain (82%) and France (80%)
Domestic violence has seen a sharp rise – mothers will be in danger when children go to school
At least 26 women have been killed during the coronavirus lockdown by domestic terrorisers – the youngest was two, the oldest 82. A woman was on the phone behind me at the supermarket, her voice loud and panicky. She was talking about a friend or relative who was dreading the reopening of schools: “He’ll start belting her again. Kicked her head in last time. Stopped when the kids were home.” Most parents are desperate to get their children back into the classroom. But for this woman – whoever she was – and many others too, as I later discovered – being alone with an abusive partner is as dangerous as being in a cage with a raging, wild beast. It was bad enough before the pandemic, when around two women per week were being killed by men they knew. The media often neglects to report these deaths. They died as they had lived, without dignity or due care. Look up the Counting Dead Women Project, which lists these homicide cases. It’s like walking into the saddest graveyard of buried bodies, whose stories will never be fully known.
Hygiene Helpers
Covid-19: Five ways to avoid catching the virus indoors
Good ventilation could be the key to avoiding coronavirus as autumn approaches and people spend more time indoors. For months we've been told to wash our hands and maintain social distancing to beat coronavirus. But scientists and engineers say we also need to think about the air we breathe, as children go back to school and more people return to offices. Good ventilation matters in five ways.
France to make face masks mandatory everywhere in Paris
Face masks must be worn everywhere in the French capital Paris from Friday morning in order to curb a surge in coronavirus infections, police said on Thursday. The measure applies to all pedestrians as well as cyclists in Paris and its suburbs in an area that includes three neighbouring departments that form the Petite Couronn inner ring around Paris, a densely populated area with a total population of nearly seven million people. Motorists will not have to wear a mask inside their car. “The deterioration of the health situation...has led the prefect to take this strong measure in the interest of the population,” the Paris police prefecture said in a statement.
Active Irish COVID-19 tracing app users drop on battery problem - HSE
A brief technical issue led some people to delete Ireland’s COVID-19 tracing app, leaving 1.2 million active users compared to the 1.65 million who downloaded it since early July, the head of Ireland’s health service operator said on Thursday. Ireland’s app has been downloaded by 33% of the population - among the highest take up rates in Europe - and its developers have since been hired to roll out a similar service in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Gibraltar and Pennsylvania. Like many European versions, Ireland’s app uses architecture designed by Alphabet’s Google and Apple. A Google Play Services update caused the app to rapidly drain handset batteries for a two-day period earlier this month. “There were some issues, which we have addressed with Google and Apple. We’ve a total of 1.65 million downloads, there were of course some that were deleted and we’ve probably about 1.2 million active users but we are seeing people reloading,” Health Service Executive (HSE) chief Paul Reid told a news conference.
California, Florida, New York, Texas will not follow new U.S. COVID-19 testing plan
Several large U.S. states are not heeding new federal health officials’ calls to reduce COVID-19 testing of some exposed to the virus, joining a broad rebuke of the Trump administration by public health leaders.
WHO warns young people flouting lockdown rules could lead to spike in deaths of elderly this winter
As the winter months get nearer, a stark warning about a possible increase in coronavirus deaths has been issued by the World Health Organization (WHO). During a briefing on Thursday morning, WHO’s European regional director Hans Kluge warned that as youngsters stay in more during the colder months they may be more likely to spread coronavirus, especially if they visit multiple households. Kluge said there was growing evidence that young people were infecting people at social gatherings and said that this could result in increase hospitalisations and deaths. He said: "The younger people are not necessarily going to die from it but it's a tornado with a long tail…
Community Activities
New Blackpool hotel will be first of its kind - and you can stay for £300 a month
A 'new kind' of hotel is set to open in Blackpool that offers remote workers a place to stay and work. Somewhere Different sells itself as a co-working co-living space in the centre of Blackpool, offering flexible workers from all over the world the chance to experience life in the seaside town whilst still earning a living. Tourism entrepreneur and photographer Duncan Ridgley had the idea to launch Somewhere Different after spending years working as a 'digital nomad' - someone who typically works remotely in foreign countries. During his travels he saw a lack of successful and affordable co-working co-living spaces, so he decided to set up his own in Egypt and later saw the opportunity to launch one in the UK.
Working Remotely
90% Of Employers Say Working Remotely Hasn’t Hurt Productivity
The pandemic has taught employers a lot about the value of having flexible work arrangements for employees. So much so that 83% now say that, even after today’s crisis has passed, they plan to put more flexible work policies in place, such as allowing more people to work from home or letting them adjust their schedules. That’s according to a recent survey of nearly 800 employers by Mercer, an HR and workplace benefits consulting firm. Working from home has often been viewed skeptically by managers and executives, who assumed it would result in less work getting done if they weren’t there to oversee it. But a full 94% of employers surveyed said their company productivity was actually the same (67%) or higher (27%) than it was before the pandemic, even though so many of their employees have been working remotely this year.
Survey: Nearly Half of Workers Expect to Work Remotely Post-COVID
Nearly 80 percent of employees are expected to still be working from home come Labor Day, according to newly released survey results involving 106 companies in Massachusetts and conducted over 11 days this month. The survey, which was released by the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, also found that the number of employees working remotely increased from 18 percent pre-COVID to 82 percent currently. The survey covered businesses representing more than 127,000 employees and found 40 percent of companies are operating 100 percent remotely, and 66 percent of the companies surveyed, representing over 75,000 employees, report that 90 percent or more of all their employees are currently working remotely. Also, employers estimated that 47 percent of their workforce will continue to work remotely after a treatment for COVID-19 has been developed, over twice the number of employees than before the pandemic.
Software company Okta will let most of its 2,600 employees work remotely permanently
Workplace software company Okta said Thursday it plans to let most of its employees work remotely on a permanent basis, becoming the latest Silicon Valley company to adopt sweeping office policy changes amid the pandemic — and in the face of shifting US immigration policy. Okta, which provides worker-login software to nearly 9,000 organizations including JetBlue, Nordstrom and Slack, said as much as 85% of its workforce is expected to work remotely under the new policy, up from 30% before the coronavirus crisis. The company has roughly 2,600 employees. The decision highlights how US businesses are increasingly bracing for a long pandemic. Google has extended its remote work policies until at least July 2021. Earlier this week, Airbnb said it will allow its employees to work remotely through next August, even if their local offices have reopened.
Ford Rethinks the Office, Betting That Work Will Be Partly Remote Longer-Term
Thousands of office employees at Ford Motor Co. have come back to work in recent weeks to retrieve their things. All of their things. With its white-collar employees working remotely at least until January because of the coronavirus pandemic, Ford is taking advantage of its empty buildings to reconfigure the workplace for a new era in which employees will have more options to do their jobs remotely, a company real-estate director said in an interview this week. Most of the roughly 30,000 employees who work at or near Ford's Dearborn, Mich., headquarters have returned to the office this summer to clean out their desks and workspaces, all while donning face masks.
Matt Hancock says how well civil servants do their jobs is more important than whether they're back in the office
Matt Hancock has said he cares more about how well his civil servants “perform” in their jobs than whether or not they return to the office, amid pressure on Whitehall to set an example after months of lockdown. The Health Secretary said he had “absolutely no idea” what percentage of staff in his department had returned to the office amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And he heaped praise on officials for “delivering at an unbelievable rate“ during the crisis. Ministers have been under pressure to encourage civil servants to go back to their offices rather than working remotely amid warnings that city centres are suffering from a lack of footfall.
How Tech Leaders Can Attain Remote Working Flexibility
The evolution of the remote working model in four waves: the first wave to address cost pressure; the second wave to attract and retain talent; the third wave for COVID-19 business continuity; the fourth wave to establish remote working as a new normal. In this article, I will introduce what challenges top management, especially CIOs, should address if they are to fully realize the potential benefits of remote working for their staff, operations, and the growth of their business.
WPP reveals only 3% of UK staff regularly work from office
WPP has highlighted the glacial pace at which staff are returning to work as the coronavirus lockdown eases, with just 3% of UK employees regularly heading in to its offices. The world’s biggest employer in the marketing and advertising sector, which has clients spanning Ford to Facebook, has a workforce of about 10,000 in the UK. WPP revealed on Wednesday that just 300 staff are working in its British offices, as the company takes a cautious approach to health and safety and embraces the homeworking revolution.
Back to the office? Not even by January for many Mass. companies, survey finds.
If you’re not planning to head back to the office anytime soon, you’re not the only one. Many of Massachusetts’s white-collar employees expect to be conducting business remotely into 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey found.
Why Tourist Spots Like Bermuda Are Offering Remote-Work Visas
With offices still shut and schools in limbo, a handful of countries and resorts are inviting WFH warriors to park their laptops in more scenic surroundings
Virtual Classrooms
Cuomo Says Colleges Must Temporarily Move To Remote Learning If Covid-19 Cases Spike
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) tightened public health regulations for colleges and universities Thursday, announcing if a school has 100 Covid-19 cases or an outbreak equal to 5% of the campus population, it is required to transition to remote learning for two weeks while the situation is evaluated.
'I'm extremely nervous': US grapples with in-person or virtual classes
All five kids were scheduled to meet their homeroom and classroom teachers over Zoom at 1pm on Wednesday afternoon, the second day of online orientation in the Los Angeles Unified school district, the second-largest school district in the US with more than 600,000 students. Ruiz, an activist with Speak Up, a parent advocacy group in Los Angeles, found herself running around the apartment trying to introduce herself to her children’s teachers, “letting [them] know that I am home and that I am present, but I can’t stick with one child the whole time. I’m bouncing back and forth between each one,” she said.
Here’s What America’s Covid-Era Classrooms Look Like
This will be a school year unlike any other, that much is clear. Educators, parents and students across the country are returning to in-person and virtual classrooms shaped by the coronavirus pandemic. There is no one-size-fits-all answer for educators in 2020. Decisions on reopening are largely being made at the local level, leaving administrators to rely on conflicting guidelines from federal and state agencies or from public health experts. In some cases, the details about how to reopen are being ironed out days before students are scheduled to arrive. Amid this confusion, teachers are doing their best to prepare in-person and virtual classrooms to keep students safe and engaged. We asked educators across the U.S. to tell us how the coronavirus is changing their classrooms.
Coronavirus: No plans to fine parents who keep kids off school
Education chiefs in Hertfordshire do not intend to take formal action against concerned parents who continue "to keep their children away from school amid concerns about the spread of Covid-19, it has emerged. Increased hand-washing, teaching pupils in "bubbles", one-way systems and staggered start-times, are among the measures designed to stop any spread of Covid-19 when schools reopen next week. But education officials in Hertfordshire recognise that parents may still have concerns about the virus.
Students Share How They Made Their Remote Classrooms Actually Cool
With more and more universities making the (probably wise) decision to go fully remote this semester because of the COVID-19 pandemic, students across the country are strapping in to spend more time than ever at their at-home desks, transforming them from places to occasionally study to the spots where they’ll take all their classes this fall.
'It’s going to be a different experience': preparing for online learning at uni
The 2020-21 academic year is going to be like no other. Shaken up by coronavirus, campuses have spent the summer rapidly redrawing their curriculum in anticipation of a “blended” approach that combines online learning with classroom teaching where possible. “It’s going to be a very different experience, especially for students who haven’t been to university before,” says Sana Ali, wellbeing officer at the University of Leicester’s students’ union. That means your tech choices are more important than ever – so do your research before buying a laptop.
How to Help When Your Child Is the New Kid in a Virtual Classroom
This school year is going to be downright bizarre. There is a lot of new in our new normal to adjust to—especially if, in addition to everything else, you’re also the new kid in what is suddenly a virtual classroom. Being new to the class is exciting and stressful during non-pandemic days, but how do you help your new student acclimate when their classroom doubles as the family’s dining room?
UNICEF: A third of world's children missed remote learning
The U.N. children’s agency says at least a third of children couldn’t access remote learning when the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools, creating “a global education emergency.” At the height of lockdowns meant to curb the pandemic, nearly 1.5 billion children were affected by school closures, UNICEF said. “For at least 463 million children whose schools closed due to COVID-19, there was no such a thing as remote learning,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said. “The sheer number of children whose education was completely disrupted for months on end is a global education emergency,” she said in a statement. “The repercussions could be felt in economies and societies for decades to come.”
Public Policies
France, Germany join nations tightening controls to halt virus surge
Germany and France drew up tougher rules on Thursday in line with a growing number of countries battling a resurgence in coronavirus infections with Paris making masks obligatory in all public places in a bid to curb a rise of new cases in the city.
Germany extends its furlough scheme until the end of NEXT YEAR at a likely cost of £27billion
German economy saw GDP fall by 11.7 per cent over first six months of the year More than 10.1 million workers were on furlough at the peak of the lockdown It is thought that the economy will not get back on its feet until the end of 2021
Xinjiang starts to ease Covid-19 lockdown after surge in social media anger
China has relaxed some Covid-19 lockdown measures on the city of Urumqi in Xinjiang following a surge of complaints about their severity on Chinese social media. The city of 3.5 million people, which has been in strict lockdown since mid-July, has reported no new cases of the disease since August 16. Xinjiang residents flooded social media platform Weibo with complaints about the restrictions which had kept them trapped at home for more than a month. There have also been claims people were forced to take traditional Chinese medicine, which has not been proven to alleviate Covid-19 symptoms.
Argentina daily COVID-19 cases top 10,000 for first time
Argentina posted a record daily rise of 10,550 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the health ministry said, taking the total caseload to 370,188 as the country struggles to rein in the spread of infections while trying to ease open its crisis-hit economy. The grains producer, which imposed a strict lockdown in March that initially helped slow the spread of the virus, is now fast catching up with other hard-hit countries in the region, including neighbor Chile where new infections have slowed. Latin America has become the epicenter of the global pandemic, with the highest number of infections and deaths, while the region’s economy is set to plunge sharply this year pushing millions of people into poverty. The nightly report showed there had been 276 new COVID-19 fatalities in the 24-hour period since the previous evening’s count, taking the total to 7,839.
South Korea sees its highest number of coronavirus infections for months
The 441 cases recorded on Thursday was the highest daily increase since the 483 reported on March 7. More than 300 of the cases were reported in Seoul, home to more than half of the 51m population.
Libya's Tripoli government imposes COVID-19 curfew after protests escalate
Libya’s Tripoli-based government has announced a 24-hour curfew to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus as it struggles to contain protests over deteriorating living conditions and corruption. The curfew, which took effect on Wednesday night, was imposed by the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) three days after protests in the capital and the nearby town of Zawiya began to escalate. The decision exempts people who need to go out for essential food or medicine at nearby shops, but it angered protest supporters who posted messages online saying it was designed to prevent further demonstrations.
Coronavirus: UK reports highest number of coronavirus cases since 12 June with 1,522 infections
The UK has reported its highest daily number of new coronavirus cases since 12 June. A total of 1,522 people received a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 test on Thursday, despite infection rates remaining well below those in Spain, France and other parts of Europe suffering a resurgence of the disease. The latest daily new case total figure is up from 1,048 on Wednesday. It is the highest daily new case total since before non-essential shops reopened to the public in England on 15 June, and restaurants and pubs resumed operations on 4 July.
Poorest countries face lost decade due to Covid-19, says IMF
The shock waves from Covid-19 will lead to a lost decade for the world’s poorest countries unless they get concerted and urgent help, the International Monetary Fund has said. The Washington-based IMF said low-income developing countries (LIDCs) entered the pandemic in a vulnerable position and faced the prospect of their progress in poverty reduction over the past seven to 10 years being wiped out. In a blog, IMF economists called on the international community to adopt a seven-point plan so that poor countries could cope with Covid-19 and recover quickly. Growth, which averaged 5% in 2019, was likely to come to a standstill this year, the IMF said, adding that previous pandemics had left permanent scars. It backed a recent call from the World Bank president, David Malpass, for a more ambitious programme of debt relief that would move beyond repayment holidays to a reduction in the stock of debt.
Gaza coronavirus lockdown extended by 72 hours after infections spread
Gaza will remain in lockdown at least until Sunday, health officials said on Wednesday after reporting two deaths and 26 COVID-19 cases in the first public outbreak of the coronavirus in the blockaded Palestinian enclave. As of two days ago, when the first four cases were discovered in a refugee camp in the 360 square-kilometre (140 square-mile) territory, and a 48-hour lockdown was imposed, there had been no infections outside border quarantine facilities for new arrivals. But by late on Wednesday, health officials said 26 people in several locations had tested positive for COVID-19 and two patients had died - a sign the world pandemic had penetrated Gaza’s forced isolation
Maintaining Services
China Calls It A 'Wartime Mode' COVID-19 Lockdown. And Residents Are Protesting
Except in Xinjiang. A sweeping, western region nearly four times the size of California, Xinjiang remains largely cut off from the rest of the country and its some 22 million residents under heavy lockdown, an effort officials say is needed to contain a cluster of more than 800 officially diagnosed cases. In mid-July, officials declared a "wartime mode" for the region. Community officials continue to go door to door, sealing doors with paper strips, tape and in some cases metal bars, to prevent residents from leaving their homes. The region has effectively been penned off from the rest of the country, meaning scant information about the lockdown has emerged. In July, Xinjiang's train stations were closed, intercity bus routes canceled, and centralized quarantine imposed on residents returning to the region.
Falling care home demand since Covid poses threat to UK
There is a graph circulating in the care home industry that should send chills down the spine of the health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock. It predicts, under a worst-case scenario, a plunge in the demand for care homes by the end of 2021 that would leave 180,000 beds empty. The forecast by consultants Knight Frank is not good news based on a healthier aged population, but rather is based on fresh waves of coronavirus killing thousands more people in the community and in care homes, creating a flight from the sector. It is pessimistic, but for care home bosses reeling from the first wave of the pandemic – which killed more than 17,000 of their customers – it does not seem impossible. Short-term, it could have a serious impact on an NHS left to look after the infirm. Longer-term, it could seriously erode the UK’s capacity to look after its most vulnerable.
Brits must return to offices to stop city centres becoming 'ghost towns', CBI boss warns
City centres risk becoming permanent "ghost towns" if staff do not return to offices, a senior business leader has warned. Carolyn Fairbairn, the director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said getting staff back into offices and workplaces is as important as pupils returning to school in September. Boris Johnson signalled an end to stay at home guidance in July as he gave employers the green light to get staff back to work, but Dame Carolyn called for the Prime Minister to do more to get office workers back at their desks. "The UK’s offices are vital drivers of our economy," she wrote in the Daily Mail. "They support thousands of local firms, from dry cleaners to sandwich bars. They help train and develop young people. And they foster better work and productivity for many kinds of business.
FOCUS: Firms downsizing offices amid coronavirus upheaval
An increasing number of companies in Tokyo are downsizing their offices as teleworking spreads in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic -- a trend that looks likely to continue even after the outbreak ends. IT ventures and startups, known for their quick and flexible decision-making, are at the vanguard of the move. They are rethinking the worth of paying expensive rents, partly since they are struggling to raise capital amid the pandemic.
Healthcare Innovations
Trump-backed hydroxychloroquine doesn't treat Covid-19 and raises the risk of death
A review of 29 studies showed hydroxychloroquine does not save lives. Combined with the antibiotic azithromycin, the risk of death increases by 27%. The researchers in France claimed there is 'no need' for more research. But British scientists have previously warned against prematurely discarding it President Trump has said the drug is a 'game changer' without proof it works
Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine shows promising results in small trial of elderly patients
The vaccine was tested on 10 adults between the ages of 56 and 70 and 10 elderly adults aged 71 and older, Moderna said. Each participant received two 100 microgram doses of the vaccine 28 days apart. The vaccine produced neutralizing antibodies, which researchers believe are necessary to build immunity to the virus, and T-cells, Moderna said.
Coronavirus: the Commission signs first contract with AstraZeneca
Today, the first contract the European Commission has negotiated on behalf of the EU Member States with a pharmaceutical company entered into force following the formal signature between AstraZeneca and the Commission. The contract will allow the purchase of a vaccine against COVID-19 for all the Member States of the EU as well as the donation to lower and middle income countries or the re-direction to other European countries. Through the contract, all Member States will be able to purchase 300 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with an option for further 100 million doses, to be distributed on a population-based pro-rata basis. The Commission continues discussing similar agreements with other vaccine manufacturers and has concluded successful exploratory talks with Sanofi-GSK on 31 July, Johnson & Johnson on 13 August, CureVac on 18 August and Moderna on 24 August.
Too many corners are being cut in the race to find a Covid-19 antibody test
During the pandemic, Covid-19 tests have provided a rich source of media coverage. Most of us now know a bit about how these tests work, and that they can generate errors that lead to wrong and harmful decisions. Tests have to be used on the right samples at the right time, else more errors can be made, and there are important differences between “have I got it?” viral swab tests, and “have I had it?” antibody blood tests.
Novacyt launches test to differentiate COVID-19 and flu
Clinical diagnostics company Novacyt, one of many healthcare companies whose shares have surged during the pandemic, launched a test on Thursday to differentiate between COVID-19 and common winter diseases. Novacyt said its “Winterplex” test panel included two gene targets specific to COVID-19, as well as gene targets for influenza A&B and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). “We believe Winterplex™ is one of the world’s first approved respiratory test panels that can differentiate between COVID-19 and other common respiratory diseases,” Novacyt CEO Graham Mullis said. Novacyt said the new product was expected to drive major revenue growth, and Novacyt’s Paris-listed shares rose by around 6% in early trading, with the stock price having already surged by around 1,900% since the start of 2020. Novacyt’s new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) respiratory test panel is one of many such ‘PCR’ type products already on the market, aimed at diagnosing the presence of COVID-19. The PCR test is the preferred COVID-19 testing method in many countries. It detects the presence of the disease by amplifying its genetic material to a point where it can be spotted by scientists
WHO advance team heads to China to set up probe into coronavirus origin
A two-member advance team of World Health Organization (WHO) experts has left for China to organise an investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus behind a pandemic that has killed more than 550,000 people globally, the U.N. agency said on Friday. The virus is believed to have emerged in a wholesale market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year after jumping the species barrier from the animal kingdom to infect humans. The two WHO experts, specialists in animal health and epidemiology, will work with Chinese scientists to determine the scope and itinerary of the investigation, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said, declining to name them. “We know it’s very, very similar to the virus in the bat, but did it go through an intermediate species? This is a question we all need answered,” Harris told a news briefing.
Covid-19: Five ways to avoid catching the virus indoors
Good ventilation could be the key to avoiding coronavirus as autumn approaches and people spend more time indoors. For months we've been told to wash our hands and maintain social distancing to beat coronavirus. But scientists and engineers say we also need to think about the air we breathe, as children go back to school and more people return to offices. Good ventilation matters in five ways.
Convalescent plasma treatment for covid-19 has been oversold by the US
Convalescent plasma is known to have been used to treat pandemic flu back in 1918. It involves collecting blood plasma – the yellow liquid component of blood stripped of its blood cells – from people who have recovered from a disease. The plasma can contain antibodies generated by the immune system to fight or prevent a future infection, although the antibody levels vary between donors. The treatment does appear to work for some infections, such as diphtheria, but research has been spotty, and there has been a lack of randomised, placebo-controlled trials, says Lise Estcourt at the University of Oxford. More recently, the treatment was found to be ineffective for Ebola. Several studies are under way to test convalescent plasma for covid-19. The largest has been run by the Mayo Clinic in the US – about 71,000 people have received treatment across 2780 hospitals over the past five months as part of a programme that enables access to experimental therapies. Based on the data collected from around 35,000 of these individuals, the researchers behind the project found that people treated with plasma containing higher levels of antibody, and those treated earlier in the course of their illness, appear less likely to die within a seven or 30-day window.