"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 9th Oct 2020

Isolation Tips
We can’t survive remote working if no one is forcing us to get dressed
There was a big moment in our pandemic household last week when the younger of the two nieces residing with me since lockdown had her first day at work. It wasn’t, however, anything like the first days you and I may remember, spent struggling to learn a bunch of new names and getting lost on the way back to your desk. Instead, having expressed a lethal amount of perfume, she simply moved ten feet, from the sofa she had been sleeping on, to her laptop on the living room table.
Hygiene Helpers
Italy Makes Masks Mandatory Outside, Imposes COVID Test For UK Arrivals
Italy has imposed stricter coronavirus regulations today as cases in the country are on the rise. It is now mandatory to wear masks in outdoor spaces across the whole of Italy, and visitors arriving from countries including the UK will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test result. With 3,678 coronavirus cases confirmed in the last 24 hours, Italy’s new cases have passed the 3,000 mark for the first time since April 24. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has brought in tougher measures in a bid to avoid another economy-crippling lockdown for Italy.
Japan's response to first coronavirus wave late but had good results, report says
Japan’s virus countermeasures spanning January to July — during which time the country saw its first major wave of COVID-19 — were “belated but produced good results,” according to a report published Wednesday by the Asia Pacific Initiative, a Tokyo-based global think tank founded in the wake of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Insufficient disaster preparedness, disjointed messaging from public officials, a stubborn resistance to raising testing capacity as well as political friction between national and municipal leaders seemed to expose the shortcomings of the “Japan Model.” And yet, using only voluntary countermeasures and “soft lockdowns” that bore no punitive measures, the country did “the best it could with what it had,” the report said.
The real lessons from Sweden’s approach to covid-19
The great thing about using a small country to support your argument is that your opponents are unlikely to know what is really going on there. Perhaps that is why Sweden, with 10.3m people, has become a much-cited example in the debate about how to deal with covid-19. Liberty-loving Swedes are supposedly pursuing a mask-free, lockdown-light strategy that will create herd immunity without bankrupting the economy. Sweden’s success, it is said, is a standing rebuke to the left-wing killjoys who love bossing folk around and shutting everything down.
New Zealand’s ‘go hard, go early’ strategy seems to have worked.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is facing re-election, called the country’s reopening a validation of its “go hard, go early” response.
Community Activities
AI cameras introduced in London to monitor social distancing and lockdown restrictions
Artificial Intelligence cameras are being used in London and other cities in the UK to monitor social distancing. The sensors were initially developed by Vivacity to track the flow of traffic, cyclists and pedestrians and monitor how roads are being used. But when the country went into lockdown in March, Vivacity added on an extra feature to the AI scanners so it could register the distance between pedestrians. This data is shared in a monthly report with the Government.
Cash no longer king in Italy as COVID helps government push for plastic
Italy’s love affair with cash is fading. The coronavirus is turning Italians off notes and coins and the government is launching a raft of incentives to accelerate the trend, believing plastic payment can curb rampant tax evasion. The Treasury estimates some 109 billion euros of tax is evaded annually, equal to about 21% of the revenue actually collected. The government believes the problem can be tackled by boosting digital payments which, unlike cash, leave a trace. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is offering refunds on some money spent electronically, tax breaks for outlets with card machines and a new 50-million euro ($58.93 million) state lottery for card users only. The coronavirus, which forced the government to lock down the economy between March and May, is helping his efforts.
Poorest areas of England four times as likely to face lockdown as richest
England’s poorest communities are nearly four times as likely to face lockdown restrictions as the wealthiest areas, a Guardian analysis has found, as local leaders warned of a “winter of dangerous discontent” in the north of England without urgent financial support. A study of official figures shows a wide disparity in the resurgence of coronavirus across the country, with the most deprived areas bearing the brunt of the second wave. In Liverpool, almost two-thirds of the areas with the highest infection rates were among the poorest 10% of communities in England. More than half of Birmingham and Manchester’s worst-hit areas are among the country’s most deprived.
‘Rural Surge’ Propels India Toward More Covid-19 Infections Than U.S.
Defiance of the coronavirus rules is happening across rural India, and it is propelling this nation’s virus caseload toward the No. 1 spot globally. Infections are rippling into every corner of this country of 1.3 billion people. The Indian news media is calling it “The Rural Surge.” In the Indian megacities where the pandemic first hit, vigorous public awareness campaigns have left the populace mostly on guard. But when it comes to government efforts to contain the virus, rural India is resisting. In many villages, no one is wearing masks. There is no social distancing. People are refusing to get tested and they are hiding their sick.
We should be counting years of life lost or saved
A group of researchers led by Olga Yakusheva, a University of Michigan economist, has sought to estimate the net number of lives saved (or lost) by pandemic-mitigating policies in the US in 2020. The team finds that these public-health measures saved between 913,762 and 2,046,322 lives, but also could result in an “indirect collateral loss” of 84,000 to 514,800 lives, implying 398,962 to 1,962,322 net lives saved. That is a wide range, but still clearly a positive outcome.
Working Remotely
What employees really think about working from home
The shift to the home office may have led to longer workdays and more work, but workers are much happier and three in four are annoyed it took a pandemic for bosses to finally embrace remote work. A global study from Atlassian reveals that nearly seven in 10 Australian workers say their job satisfaction and work-life balance has improved since the shift to remote work. The study looked at the work-from-home experiences of more than 5000 workers in Australia, France, Germany...
Handling Mental Health While Working Remotely
After months of millions of people working from home for the first time, it has become clear that there are both pros and cons to this work arrangement. The benefits have always been highlighted, such as no commutes, dressing casually and being able to complete home-related tasks in between meetings. However, a new study of 12,000 people across 11 countries conducted by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence revealed the downsides of remote working. The research found that 78% of respondents saw a negative impact to their mental health this year. Additionally, 41% said they are feeling challenged due to blurred lines between home and work lives. Even more staggering, 85% said mental health issues are impacting their home life due to sleep deprivation, poor physical health, decreased happiness, problems with family relationships and being isolated from friends.
3 in 5 Indian professionals have felt lonely while working remotely
Around 3 in 5 (60%) Indian professionals have felt lonely at at some point while working remotely in the last few months, while 37% still feel lonely now. These are the findings of the LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index, an online survey of 16,199 Indian professionals conducted between April and September to understand the impact of the pandemic and remote work on their mental health
Most Target HQ Employees To Work Remotely Until June 2021
Target has informed its corporate employees that all who are currently working remotely will now continue to do so until June 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement came in an email sent to employees Thursday morning. “It’s hard to believe we’ve been living with the pandemic for more than a half a year already. I never imagined that we’d transition to remote work in the spring and that I’d be writing this message to you, still from home, in the fall,” chief human resources officer Melissa Kremer wrote. The company has taken a gradual approach to returning workers to headquarters, with what the company termed as a “very small portion” of them working on the premises. Kremer said that many workers have clearly adapted to working virtually
These 6 countries are accepting American travelers for remote-work trips
The pandemic has proved challenging for digital nomads, people who travel the world working remotely. With countries closing their borders and air travel heavily restricted, working abroad has become extremely difficult if not totally impossible for Americans. And as some destinations begin to allow foreign visitors, travelers from the United States may still be banned because of the America’s escalating number of coronavirus cases. But there are exceptions. Some countries are welcoming working travelers, including Americans, back again despite the pandemic.
The Secret's Out: Remote Work Just Works
As we look to 2021, most companies are debating how they’re going to work in the future. They’re asking themselves: Are we a remote team now? Should we go back to the office? What many are starting to realize is that the cat is very much out of the bag — remote work is possible and even effective. And it means companies aren’t just going remote, they’re also starting to wonder how they can combine the benefits of working from home with the best parts of working from an office.
How We're Turning Remote Work Into Better Management
This year has seen one of the fastest and most dramatic changes in how we work, ever. At the end of the first quarter, millions of people shifted to working from home, aided by digital advances in communications and collaboration. Soon after that, retail delivery, distributed teams, logistics, and planning went through their own accelerations. Many more aspects of work are likely to change as well, in ways that will endure long after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. As a technologist, there's never been a stronger proof point that advanced digital technologies are ready for prime time. On a personal level, I feel lucky: There is a long history of pandemics, but this is the first time we've had the technology to connect with loved ones and co-workers, work remotely, and entertain ourselves while at home.
Microsoft CEO says remote work can feel like 'sleeping at work'
Microsoft has been a major beneficiary of the work-from-home boom spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. But chief executive officer Satya Nadella is realizing the pitfalls of being away from the office for so long. Online meetings can make employees tired and make it difficult to transition from a work mindset to private life, the executive said at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council on Tuesday. "When you are working from home, it sometimes feels like you are sleeping at work,” he added.
Mental Health And Remote Work: Survey Reveals 80% Of Workers Would Quit Their Jobs For This
Mental health matters, for today’s remote workforce: a vast majority of workers (80%) would consider quitting their current position for a job that focused more on employees’ mental health. That’s according to a recent survey of 1,000 Americans, published by TELUS International. Research indicates that 75% of U.S. workers have struggled at work due to anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent world events. On the eve of World Mental Health Day, it seems that the coronavirus has created massive amounts of stress, anxiety and uncertainty for remote workers and leaders alike. Below you will find three things that companies can do, today, to help employees during this difficult time.
10 essential soft skills for the remote work era
How can you best support your colleagues and teams during this ongoing period of remote work? Prioritize and cultivate these soft skills, leaders. Fostering connections during this initially unexpected (and now ongoing) period of remote work may be one of the bigger unforeseen management challenges of our times. It’s also an area where most IT leaders don’t have extensive experience. Interpersonal skills – particularly those that foster a culture of open and honest communication ­– are key to the success of remote IT organizations in this time of extreme change.
City firms consider axing office space as remote working continues
Demand for remote working is forcing City firms to review how much office space they really need, according to new research. A financial services survey from the CBI and PwC has found that 74% of London-based banks and insurance firms have been assessing their office needs, according to The Guardian. The companies are thought to be looking at how they can either use office space differently or reduce it. Of the 133 financial firms that took part in the survey, 88% said that COVID-19 had resulted in a greater shift towards working from home with more than 90% of their workers able to do their jobs without being tied to a physical office.
Virtual Classrooms
Online Learning In COVID-era Receives Major Boost
With growing emphasis on virtual learning, online program enablement is more important than ever. Bengaluru: As more schools respond to Covid-19 exposure with hybrid or virtual learning this fall, educational technology providers focus on delivering interactive online learning that engages students. That is why Construct, a global leader in learning design, announced a new case study highlighting how one school district with nearly 20,000 students has moved to 100% virtual learning while maintaining student engagement.
Lompoc Unified providing additional funding to classrooms to assist with virtual learning
The Lompoc Unified School District is using COVID-19 funds to help provide additional supplies for teachers and their classrooms. District officials say each classroom will be given $500 to use toward student supplies as virtual learning continues. “We recognize that distance learning presents multiple challenges. We believe that students need to be provided adequate supplies so they can fully participate in their lessons and we are grateful to be in this position to be able to provide,” said Superintendent Trevor McDonald in a press release. “Our staff continue to rise to the challenges of this new instructional model and have been adaptive and continue to focus on students. They have forged ahead and keep doing what is best for kids.”
Students and professors weigh in on the virtual classroom experience at UF
Two months into UF’s mostly online Fall semester, students and faculty alike are still struggling with the new virtual classroom environment. UF professors and students agree that it takes patience on both sides of the screen. With 65% of UF’s classes being held online this Fall, students and professors are scrambling to set schedules, struggling to maintain productivity and trying to cope with minimal social interaction.
Luxury hotels are offering 'school-cation' packages' with tutors and poolside classrooms
In Pittsburgh the Kimpton Hotel is offering a virtual learning package that includes an on-site Chief Virtual Officer to assist kids Auberge Resorts, which has 19 properties, is offering in-person and virtual tutoring starting at $195 per 50 minutes Some resorts offer exciting physical education 'electives' including fly-fishing at Montage International's resort in Deer Valley, Utah. The Eden Roc Cap Cana resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic offers in-suite classrooms, bilingual 'children concierges' and Merengue dance lessons. The Rosewood Miramar Beach hotel in Montecito, California offers a poolside cabana classroom that cost $195 a day and swimming instead of gym
I’ve Been Watching My Kid’s Teacher on Zoom, and I’m Horrified
We have our 6-year-old child in a Catholic school, and Catholic schools are the few schools open for in-person learning in our county. The year started with distance learning and without much notice opened for in-person learning, with an option to continue distance learning if desired. For a variety of reasons (rushed reopening with some serious safety concerns in the plan, no smaller class sizes, mixing cohorts at extended care, being the first schools in our area to reopen for in-person, and someone in our family who’s considered high-risk), we have continued distance learning for the past four weeks (along with half of the 30 students).
Air Zoo museum in Portage offers virtual science education labs for children
The Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum is deploying virtual learning programs through its museum in Portage and across the country in an effort to expose kids and their parents to science education, the museum announced in a news release. The Air Zoo’s virtual programs are for children age 3 and up, and designed up to immerse kids in hands-on science education courses. Financial aid and scholarships are offered to help both individuals and groups that meet requirements and cover the cost of most of their educational programs, Air Zoo said in the release.
Godfrey Okoye University Develops Its Own Customised Virtual Classroom
Godfrey Okoye University has gone beyond the zoom technology in teaching and learning and developed its own online learning platform with an incredibly robust virtual classroom. The technology was developed and customised by the ICT Unit of the university under the Ag. Director, Mr. Chinedu Chibuzo, an alumnus of the university.
Mature students ditch lockdown for the virtual classroom
Sophie Gray was working as a journalist for a South Okanagan newspaper in British Columbia when the pandemic hit. “Sales were down, staff were laid off and it was very difficult to go out and find local stories,” she says. “There was no room for advancement at that moment; everything was stationary. It didn’t feel like you would be set back by returning to school.” She wound up leaving her job to pursue a full-time public relations certificate at Simon Fraser University Continuing Studies. “I think the pandemic pushed many people to realize that their career isn’t ideal or that it’s not what they really want long-term,” she says.
New platform aims to help teachers gauge student understanding in virtual classrooms
A new software platform, created by two U of T Engineering alumni, aims to make virtual classrooms more functional by providing real-time feedback and specific insights into how student understanding of mathematics is changing. Last March, Nived Kollanthara (IndE 1T7 + PEY) was living in New York City, where he volunteered part-time at a shelter, helping kids with their math homework. When the pandemic hit, he realized right away the impact it would have. “The kids I work with need extra, individual attention to help them succeed in the classroom,” he says. “I was worried about how they would be getting that in a remote environment.”
Public Policies
Sweden tries to isolate COVID-19 cases without a lockdown as infections surge
Sweden, almost alone in Europe in rejecting a broad lockdown this northern spring, has introduced new guidelines to curb a surge in coronavirus infections but is sticking to its largely voluntary approach. The Nordic country, which only had minor restrictions throughout its epidemic, had until recently been spared by the second wave of COVID-19 cases currently sweeping Europe. Authorities’ hopes that this was the result of collective immunity built as the disease spread rapidly through communities earlier in the year were dashed in recent days when a surge in new cases put Stockholm on track to reach last northern spring’s infection record. The new measures, in force for less than a week, recommend that all members of a household should isolate for a week if one of them becomes infected. Those unable to work from home will be eligible for sick pay.
Coronavirus: Government’s test and trace system has ‘concerning’ worst-ever week
The government’s contact-tracing programme failed to reach more than 30 per cent of close contacts of people who tested positive for the coronavirus in England, the latest figures show, in what is the worst week on record since the beginning of Test and Trace. Some 68.6 per cent of close contacts were reached through the system, once dubbed “world-beating” by prime minister Boris Johnson, in the week ending 30 September, according to data published by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). This is the lowest weekly percentage since Test and Trace began, and is down from 72.5 per cent in the previous week. Meanwhile, only two-thirds of positive Covid-19 cases were transferred to the system over the same time period.
Jordan returns to weekend lockdown as COVID-19 cases mount
Jordan will enter a nationwide 48-hour lockdown on Friday for the first time in months as health officials worry a major spike in coronavirus infections could threaten its stretched healthcare system, officials said. The country has seen what officials say is an “exponential” rise, with around 10,000 cases confirmed in just over a week – a near-doubling of the total number of infections since the first cases in early March and a reversal what had been among the lowest infection and death rates in the Middle East. Senior officials are struggling to avoid a broader lockdown that the hard-hit economy can ill afford.
Coronavirus: England expected to be split into three different lockdown tiers next week
England is expected to be carved into three different lockdown tiers next week, with millions of people facing tougher restrictions as the government tries to get a handle on rising coronavirus cases and hospital admissions. Pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities are expected to be closed in parts of the North put into the strictest tier, according to two sources who have seen blueprints of the current plans. Under the proposals, people living in the strictest tier - tier three - are also expected to be ordered not to have any social contact with anyone outside their household in any setting, according to one person familiar with the blueprints being drawn up by the government.
Orthodox New Yorkers condemn Cuomo over new Covid shutdowns
New rules putting parts of New York City back into lockdown amid a rise in fresh coronavirus cases have been met with protests as Andrew Cuomo was accused of using “dangerous and divisive” language against Orthodox Jews. On Wednesday night groups of Orthodox people in Brooklyn and some of their community leaders gathered in the streets, some not wearing masks and some bearing pro-Donald Trump signs. An Orthodox journalist covering the events later said he was attacked by an angry mob.
Coronavirus: Germany’s health minister ‘very concerned’ at surge in Covid cases
Germany is seeing a sharp jump in new coronavirus infections, a development that is raising fears the pandemic is picking up pace in a country that so far has coped better than many of its European neighbors. The country's disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, reported 4,058 new infections and 16 deaths over the past 24 hours, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 310,144, with 9,578 deaths. That death toll is one-fourth of Britain's and one-third of the confirmed virus toll in Italy. “I'm very concerned about this,” Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters in Berlin, which has become one of the hotspots for new cases. He urged Germans to respect social distancing and hygiene measures to avoid reaching a point “where we lose control.”
Europe struggles to stem rapid resurgence of coronavirus
Several mainland European countries have recorded their highest daily number of Covid-19 infections since widespread testing began, as governments struggle to stem a rapid resurgence of the virus that risks overwhelming some healthcare systems. The figures came as the World Health Organization reported a record one-day increase in global coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 338,779 in 24 hours. The previous record for new cases was 330,340 on 2 October. As a region, Europe is now reporting more cases than India, Brazil or the United States.
Locking down early may help economies recover faster, says IMF
Strict, early lockdowns may be less economically damaging than voluntary measures because they reduce infection rates more quickly and pave the way for faster recoveries, the International Monetary Fund has said. By cross-referencing jobs and mobility data with health and economic figures for 128 countries, the fund showed that lockdowns caused more short-term harm than voluntary restrictions but may have “positive overall effects on the economy” by allowing a broader and quicker economic reopening. Central to the analysis was the discovery that “lockdowns and voluntary social distancing played a near comparable role in driving the economic recession”, particularly in advanced economies where people were able to work from home. “Addressing health risks appears to be a pre-condition to allow for a strong and sustained economic recovery."
Madrid High Court strikes down Heath Ministry’s coronavirus restrictions
The Madrid High Court ruled on Thursday that it would not ratify the coronavirus restrictions that were forced on the region by the central government, despite the opposition of the regional administration to implement them. The court reached its decision on the basis that the measures infringe on citizens’ fundamental rights. By midday on Thursday, the Madrid regional government had yet to comment on the ruling or announce what it would do next.
France braces for wider Covid restrictions
France was preparing Thursday for tighter coronavirus restrictions in several major cities, two days after a maximum alert protocol went into force in Paris that included bar closures. "The virus has been spreading faster in recent weeks," President Emmanuel Macron said late Wednesday. "In places where it is spreading too fast, especially where it is spreading among the elderly who are most at risk, and where there are more and more intensive care beds being occupied, we must proceed to more restrictions," he said on French TV.
COVID-19: British government rejects global calls by scientists to end lockdown measures
The British government has rejected the calls of thousands of scientists and health experts urging authorities to put an end to lockdown measures. The controversial Great Barrington Declaration, which has been signed by roughly 7000 scientists and medics worldwide, is calling for a new strategy in response to the ongoing pandemic. The movement, which began in the United States, argues that young, healthy and low-risk people should be permitted to go about their lives as normal, while "focused protection" is offered to the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions - the groups most at risk from COVID-19.
Coronavirus: World Bank supports lockdown
Up to 150 million people could slip into extreme poverty, living on less than $1.90 a day, by late next year depending on how badly economies shrink during the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank said Wednesday in an outlook grimmer than before. Some 82 percent of the people entering extreme poverty are expected to be in middle-income countries such as India, Nigeria and Indonesia, the bank said. Many will be more educated urban residents, meaning cities will see an increase in the kind of poverty traditionally rooted in rural areas.
New Zealand whole again as Auckland lockdown ends
New Zealand is again a country united in its response to coronavirus, with Auckland joining the rest of the nation on the lowest alert level. Auckland was freed from restrictions on gatherings and social distancing requirements in restaurants and bars at midnight on Wednesday. That day three new cases were announced, bringing the total of active cases to 37. Key to lowering the alert level was the absence of active cases in the community, meaning all current cases are in quarantine facilities or managed isolation at home. Twenty-five people have died of Covid-19 in New Zealand, including three since Auckland was put back into level 3 lockdown after a family of four tested positive for the virus on 11 August.
Pelosi: Congress will discuss rules for Trump's removal under 25th amendment
Democrats in the US Congress have announced a plan to create a commission to review whether Donald Trump is capable of carrying out his presidential duties or should face removal from office. The office of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, announced a Friday press conference about the bill after she expressed concern that Trump, who is under treatment for coronavirus at the White House, is suffering a “disassociation from reality”. The president has unleashed a barrage of erratic and self-contradictory tweets and declarations in recent days that have left staff scrambling and raised concerns over his stability. In a zigzagging interview on the Fox Business channel on Thursday, his first since being hospitalised, Trump, 74, boasted: “I’m back because I am a perfect physical specimen and I’m extremely young. And so I’m lucky in that way.”
Justin Trudeau Says Coronavirus Vaccine Will Be Free For All Canadians
With a coronavirus vaccine hopefully being created in the not-so-distant future, Justin Trudeau has confirmed all Canadian’s will be able to access it for free. The Canadian PM discussed the matter yesterday, October 7, in Canada’s House of Commons after his opposition Jagmeet Singh asked him about it. Describing people as ‘worried’ and ‘deeply concerned’ about the ongoing health crisis and their access to a potential vaccine, Singh asked, ‘Once a vaccine is ready, will the Prime Minister commit clearly that that vaccine will be freely available to all Canadians?’
HHS Secretary Azar says U.S. could have enough coronavirus vaccine doses for every American by March
The Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine program Operation Warp Speed expects to have up to 100 million doses by the end of the year, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said. Azar said the U.S. is currently manufacturing doses for all six potential vaccines backed by the U.S. government across more than 23 manufacturing facilities. U.S. health officials have been accelerating the development of vaccine candidates even though doing so could be for naught if the vaccine ends up not being effective or safe.
Australia shuts itself off to visitors until the end of 2021 - or there's a coronavirus vaccine
Holidays and visits to Australia could be unlikely until the end of 2021. Since March 17, only citizens and permanent residents have been allowed to enter Australia with a few exceptions, with arrivals expected to pay for a two week hotel quarantine. Travel between and within some states and territories within Australia is also currently restricted. There is more information here. Australian Federal Budget has announced this week, that international travel will 'remain low' until the end of the year, or whenever a vaccine is widely available. Social distancing measures will also be kept in place until all Australian residents can be vaccinated. Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously said his government will secure almost 85 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine if two current trials they have invested in, prove successful.
EU agrees to buy 200 million doses of Leiden coronavirus vaccine
The European Commission has signed a contract with Leiden-based pharmaceuticals company Janssen for the supply of 200 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine. Of those, at least 7.8 million doses would be allocated to the Dutch market, as soon as the vaccine has approval, health minister Hugo de Jonge told MPs on Thursday. The vaccine, if successful, is likely to become available in the second quarter of 2021, De Jonge said on the second day of debate about the government’s coronavirus legislation. Janssen, part of the giant Johnson & Johnson pharmaceuticals group, has already begun trials of the vaccine in Belgium and the US, where it is quicker to get permission for human testing and recently launched more trials in the Netherlands, Spain and German. The vaccine will be partly produced in the Netherlands and partly elsewhere, broadcaster NOS said.
Coronavirus vaccine set to be 'ready for Christmas with mass inoculation by Easter'
Jeremy Hunt is confident the UK will have a coronavirus vaccine by Christmas, with the majority of the population being inoculated by Easter. Mr Hunt, chair of the Health Select Committee today told Sky News that the UK has four candidates for a vaccine. He said: "Most people are confident that one of them will come through. "There is so much effort going into this all over the world. "If I was a betting man I'd say we'll have one by Christmas and it will have been received by the bulk of the population by Easter."
Coronavirus Ireland: Christmas could be cancelled as Covid surges across nation and medics urge move to Level 4
The country faces a nationwide lockdown at Christmas unless stricter measures are introduced in the face of surging coronavirus cases, health experts have warned. Already there are warnings from some health experts over the situation at Christmas unless harder lockdowns are introduced now. The Level 3 restrictions introduced yesterday will not be enough to drive down the number of cases, Professor Anthony Staines, head of health systems at DCU, told the Irish Independent. "We need to go to Level 4 today," he said.
Maintaining Services
Pubs and restaurants take blame for UK’s Covid spike
Health authorities across the UK believe the normalisation of eating out and drinking in pubs has contributed to the UK’s second wave of Covid-19, triggering howls of rage from the battered hospitality sector, which says there is little proof they are responsible for spreading the virus. However, the dispute over the evidence is unlikely to stop England’s politicians following Scotland’s lead in shutting pubs and restaurants in the north of England from next week — a move likely to coincide with the end of Britain’s post-lockdown economic recovery.
North of England leaders vow to oppose lockdown without financial support
Ministers are facing open revolt from leaders in northern England over fresh coronavirus restrictions due to be announced within days, with mayors, MPs, council chiefs and business groups vowing to fiercely oppose any new measures without substantial financial support. Pubs, bars and restaurants across Merseyside, Greater Manchester and parts of West Yorkshire and the north-east could be forced to close next week in an effort to slow the region’s soaring infection rate. The leaders of the big northern cities are planning a formal alliance in opposition to any attempt by government to force restrictions on them without significant Treasury funding.
COVID-19 is predicted to make child poverty worse. Should NZ's next government make temporary safety nets permanent?
Despite the 2017 Labour-led government taking power with a mandate to fight Aotearoa New Zealand’s abysmally high child poverty rate, only incremental progress has been made. The percentage of children living in poor households dropped only slightly, from 16.5% in June 2018 to 14.9% by June 2019. That equates to approximately one in seven children (168,500) living in poverty, according to one official measure used in New Zealand and internationally: households with incomes less than 50% of the median disposable household income before housing costs (BHC).
Ukraine's medical system may not stand, health minister says
Ukraine’s medical system could break down because of a surge in new coronavirus cases and the number of hospitalised people, the country’s health minister warned on Thursday. Ukraine registered a record 5,397 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, up from the previous record of 4,753 new cases reported on Wednesday. The number of deaths grew by 93 and reached 4,690, Maksym Stepanov told a televised briefing. “The medical system will simply not stand it if we all, without exception, simply do not begin to adhere to the rules,” Stepanov said.
Europe’s Second Covid-19 Wave Starts to Spill Over From Young to Old
Since the summer, Europe’s second wave of the coronavirus has mainly affected young people, who usually have mild or no symptoms. But infections are beginning to leak into older age groups, the latest data show, often spreading from younger to older members of the same family. Cases among those aged over 65 are increasing in most European countries, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
NHS ready to roll out coronavirus vaccine next month if jab gets green light
A coronavirus vaccine could be rolled out from next month with the jabs being offered at five giant sites across the UK, it has been reported. Leaked documents say the NHS is hopeful that two vaccines will be available before the end of the year with officials drawing up plans to ensure they are given to those at the top of the priority list. Trainee nurses, physiotherapists and paramedics will be deployed to the vaccination sites so they can treat tens of thousands of people a day, it has been claimed. According to the documents, major cities including Leeds, Hull and London have been earmarked as locations for the vaccination sites. There will also be hundreds of mobile units scattered across the country and vaccination teams will visit care homes and vulnerable people.
Healthcare Innovations
Study: Most People Infected With Coronavirus During U.K. Lockdown Had No Symptoms When Tested
A team of researchers in the U.K. are calling for more widespread coronavirus testing after finding that more than four in five Britons who tested positive during the country’s lockdown did not exhibit the symptoms most commonly associated with a Covid-19 infection, like a fever, lasting cough or a loss of taste or smell. “The fact that so many people who tested positive were asymptomatic on the day of a positive test result calls for a change to future testing strategies,” said Irene Petersen, a professor at UCL in a statement. “More widespread testing will help to capture ‘silent’ transmission and potentially prevent future outbreaks.”
Moderna says it won't enforce coronavirus vaccine patents during pandemic
Moderna will not enforce patent rights related to its experimental coronavirus vaccine during the pandemic, announcing Thursday that its leadership feels "a special obligation under the current circumstances" to address the global health crisis. The committment earned praise from an intellectual property activist who said Moderna's pledge "should be matched by every manufacturer." Moderna said it will allow open access to the patents for the "pandemic period," and is willing to out-license the same intellectual property once the pandemic is over. In doing so, the biotech joins Gilead in making its patent-protected discoveries available in the name of fighting COVID-19, although Gilead has restricted its Veklury licensing activity only to low- and middle-income countries.
COVID-19 vaccines NOT affected by coronavirus mutations, study finds
Scientist infected ferret blood with two forms of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. These were the initially dominant 'D' strain and the now prevalent 'G' variant. A vaccine currently in development was found to be effective against both. Reassuring research indicates a vaccine should be effective against all strains. Means vaccines for the coronavirus pandemic will not have to be regularly changed and adapted, as is the case for seasonal flu
Coronavirus vaccine blow as Oxford trial faces another delay to investigate side effects
The hotly anticipated University of Oxford vaccine faces knock-on delays with its trials. A month-long pause in the jab's development could mean volunteers who had already been given one shot may not be able to get the planned second. The delay is due to American regulators investigating potential side effects, the Times reports. A previous delay on September 6 was triggered by AstraZenaca, which is developing the vaccine with Oxford, after a trial participant in the UK fell ill. Other people who had received the first shot were due for a second one next week, which has now been cancelled.
The state of coronavirus vaccine development in the U.S.
Virtual symposium, cohosted by Johns Hopkins and the University of Washington, brought together leading experts from government, media, and academia
PGI trial: 53 participants healthy after first dose of Covid vaccine
The late-phase human clinical trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is also known as ‘Covishield’ in India, have been running smoothly at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) and have not shown any adverse side-effects so far. An official statement released by the institute today reads, “The second phase of human clinical trials of Covishield, the potential vaccine developed by the Oxford University, is going well here at PGIMER. Till date, 97 volunteers have been screened. Of them, 65 volunteers have already been vaccinated since September 25 when PGIMER started administering the first dose of the vaccine to the volunteers. Among 65 volunteers given first dose, 53 have already completed seven days post vaccination without any major side effects.”
Chile scientists study potential coronavirus mutation in remote Patagonia
Scientists in Chile are investigating a possible mutation of the novel coronavirus in southern Patagonia, a far-flung region near the tip of the South American continent that has seen an unusually contagious second wave of infections in recent weeks. Dr. Marcelo Navarrete of the University of Magallanes told Reuters in an interview that researchers had detected “structural changes” in the spikes on the distinctive, crown-shaped virus. He said research is underway to better understand the potential mutation and its effects on humans. “The only thing we know to date is that this coincides in time and space with a second wave that is quite intense in the region,” Navarrete said. The Magallanes region of Chile is largely a remote, glacier-strewn wilderness dotted with small towns and the regional hub Punta Arenas, which has seen cases of COVID-19 spike in September and October following a first wave earlier this year.
Lilly, with new data, seeks emergency clearance for COVID-19 antibody drug
Eli Lilly has asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve an experimental antibody drug for emergency use in treating COVID-19, making it the first of an emerging class of medicines to be submitted to public health regulators. Lilly aims to use one of its antibodies in higher-risk patients recently diagnosed with mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19. But the drugmaker on Wednesday shared new findings suggesting a combination of two antibodies may help treat COVID-19 patients as well. Lilly plans to ask for emergency clearance of that regimen in November, and file for a standard approval as early as the second quarter of 2021.