"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 9th Nov 2020

Isolation Tips
Covid: How to survive a winter lockdown, from those who've done it
Lockdown in Tromsø began in March 2020, when the average temperature was -1.1C, with lows of -8.9C. It rained or snowed almost every day. Ida Solhaug says coping with a winter lockdown is all about mindset. The mindfulness researcher at the University of Tromsø says my line of questioning - about how to "get through" the cold months - is a big part of the problem. She says Brits often see winter as "something to endure" rather than "really embracing winter for what it's worth".
As Police gear up to enforce the second coronavirus lockdown, Island Echo has put together an easy-to-read list of all the reasons you are permitted to leave your home address over the next 4 weeks.
Coronavirus lockdown childcare bubbles and linked households explained
Lockdown version 2.0 has officially begun, with the biggest difference between the first set of restrictions being the fact schools and nurseries are able to remain open this time. And while everyone is instructed to stay indoors unless they have to go out for work, essential shopping, or exercise, juggling childcare and the often complicated arrangements many families have around who looks after whose kids when and where is made even more complicated by another coronavirus lockdown. But this time things seem to be slightly more relaxed in terms of who can look after the children or where they can go, than the lockdown in March.
Second French lockdown less severe for the economy one week in
One week into France’s second coronavirus lockdown this year, the euro zone’s second-biggest economy is holding up much better than the first time, data ranging from traffic congestion to electricity use show. High-frequency data bear out anecdotal evidence that there are many more people on the streets and businesses open this time, compared to March and April when major French cities were ghost towns. France’s experience one week in offers an initial glimpse of what the economic fallout will look like from a second lockdown for other European countries that have since or will soon follow.
Hygiene Helpers
Covid-19 mass testing in Liverpool to be extended to secondary school pupils
The mass Covid-19 testing in Liverpool will be extended to secondary school pupils within days, it has now been agreed. Parents of pupils aged 11-18 will be sent letters asking if they are willing to consent to their child receiving a test.
UK and others look for lessons from Slovakia's Covid mass-testing project
Authorities in Slovakia say they hope a nationwide programme in which two-thirds of the country’s population were tested for Covid-19 in just two days last weekend will halve the number of cases of the virus in the country. The Slovak testing programme has drawn interest from across Europe, as debates continue about whether or not blanket testing is the best way to fight coronavirus. A Downing Street team travelled to Slovakia last weekend to witness the testing, keen to draw lessons before a mass testing programme due to be launched in Liverpool this weekend. Slovak officials said the team included two Downing Street advisers and two people responsible for arranging the UK’s large-scale testing programme in Liverpool.
Coronavirus: How thousands died of Covid-19 they caught in hospitals
During the first wave of the pandemic, patients who went into hospital to be treated for conditions unrelated to Covid were infected and died. Hospital-acquired infections accounted for one in ten Covid deaths. Though the figures relate to all deaths from Covid from March 1 to August 31, experts are calling for action to protect the public as the problem is 'ongoing'
Queen Elizabeth II wears mask at tribute to Unknown Warrior
Queen Elizabeth II donned a face mask in public for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic when attending a brief ceremony at Westminster Abbey last week to mark the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior. While the 94-year-old monarch has been seen in public on several occasions over the past few months, she had not been pictured wearing a face covering until now. On Wednesday, during her first public engagement in London since March, she wore a black mask that was edged with white. Pictures of the ceremony were officially released late Saturday.
Coronavirus: Greece reintroduce SMS authorisation for movement as country enters second lockdown
Residents in Greece will need to obtain permission before leaving their homes as the country's second lockdown comes into force. Similar to measures adopted during the first lockdown, people will be required to send a text message to a five-digit number, providing their name, address and the reason why they need to leave their house. The country's digital governance minister announced the permissible reasons on Thursday.
Community Activities
It’s official: allotments are good for you – and for your mental health
Jen Anderson managed to grow five “small but tasty” melons in Glasgow this summer, and she is not alone in finding her allotment a godsend during the pandemic. For the four years she has owned it, she says, it has “absolutely 100%” made her happier. Her experience tallies with a study by academics at the University of Sheffield, published last week, which outlines the wellbeing benefits of allotment gardening. The 163 volunteers recorded “high levels of social and community activities, including the sharing of surplus food produce, knowledge exchange, awareness and interaction with wildlife, emotional connection to their allotment, appreciation of time spent outside and aesthetic delight in the natural world”.
Covid-19 prompts UK call for statutory paid bereavement leave
People who lose a close relative or partner should be entitled to two weeks’ statutory paid bereavement leave, the Sue Ryder charity has said. The coronavirus pandemic has brought into focus the current rules, under which employers are only obliged to grant bereavement leave to parents who have lost a child. Sue Ryder says that extending the requirement would give people space to grieve and alleviate some of the pressure they feel, particularly benefitting those in low-income jobs. People in low-income jobs often are less likely to be offered bereavement leave, and research has found they are at higher risk of experiencing ongoing grief because of the higher relative impact of financial losses and the fact that they face more barriers in accessing services to help them cope.
Can I still go fishing during coronavirus lockdown?
Anglers will be able to continue with their sport during lockdown, which started across England on Thursday. The national governing body representing all game, coarse and sea anglers in England, Angling Trust, is urging people to: "Fish safely, locally and respect the ‘rule of two’ during lockdown." Those who enjoy spending time on the banks of waters are being trusted by Government to respect the restrictions tied-in with fishing's continuance, as they were as the first to enjoy recreational activity again after spring's lockdown when many newcomers were attracted to the sport.
Working Remotely
How Remote Working Can Transform Small Town Life
As remote working has boomed during COVID-19, the rise in the number of people working from home has prompted many to reconsider where they wish to live. It's causing what new research from the University of Utah refers to as "Zoom Towns", which are places that have experienced a flood of remote workers fleeing cities to seek a quieter, often greener existence, and "commuting" to work electronically. "This trend was already happening, but amenity migration into these communities has been expedited and it can have destructive consequences if not planned for and managed. Many of these places are, as some people say, at risk of being loved to death," the researchers explain.
University of Iowa reimagines employee experience in the wake of COVID-19 remote working
When COVID-19 crippled campus operations in March, a vast majority of University of Iowa employees made a rushed shift to remote work, and now UI administrators are asking whether a more thorough reimagination of the workplace is in order. Via a new 25-member Employee Experience Committee, the campus aims to “re-imagine the employee experience to align with emerging talent needs and trends.” The group of faculty, staff and student representatives will consider how and where employees work — and how to foster innovation. Specifically, the group will discuss flexibility for employees who are balancing children at home, along with virtual schooling; those living in different locations but bringing certain expertise to the UI workforce; and a growing need to be more open about how work can be productively performed.
Battered by COVID-19, hotels pitch themselves as remote workspaces
Rose Lounsbury, an entrepreneur in Dayton, Ohio, was supposed to go to a retreat in California this past spring, just as she does twice a year. Instead, she attended the retreat via Zoom from her house. It didn't go well. She wound up getting distracted by laundry and her 11-year-old triplets' virtual schooling. "It was just terrible," she said. "It was worse than a normal day." When it came time for the fall retreat, Lounsbury tried something different: She booked "a cute loft apartment above a store" three miles from her house through AirBnB.
'1 in 4 private sector staff capable of remote working'
More than 1 in 4 private sector employees in this country are capable of working remotely and the development of co-working hubs with high speed broadband has the potential to open up economic and environmental opportunities and stimulate inclusive recovery in the regions, a new report has found. The regional co-working analysis, which was prepared by the three regional assemblies of Ireland, found that 387,000 private sector workers are capable of operating remotely, with just over 186,000 likely to be based in Dublin as of quarter 2, 2020.
COVID-19: Remote work requires reconsidering how employees are evaluated, paid
Remote work is about more than just working from home — it means working differently. Because working from home may become much more prevalent even after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, it’s time to adapt employee evaluation and compensation schemes to address the new reality. Performance evaluation systems have a long history, dating back to the United States military’s rating system during the First World War. Since then, profit-driven employers have implemented employee assessments with the ultimate goal of aligning worker motivation with organizational objectives. Decades of research have tried to map out best practices in this area.
Thompson: Creativity while working remotely
Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought.” Little did I know that an onslaught of a global pandemic would have brought Einstein’s words to life. Creativity has helped us retain access to art and culture, certainly, but it also has been crucial to business continuity as so many of us transitioned from our traditional working environments to something that looks and feels much different.
If you worked remotely due to Covid-19, a state tax surprise could be coming
More than half of adults who worked remotely during the pandemic are unaware that they could face tax consequences because they didn’t update their tax withholding to reflect their new location, a study by the American Institute of CPAs found. People working from different locations could find themselves on the hook for non-resident state taxes when filing next year. Track your locations and the length of time you’ve spent working in other states. You may need to adjust your state tax withholding.
How to Keep Your Sense of Purpose While Working Remotely
How does remote work affect people’s ability to find purpose and satisfaction in their work? Remote work is both an enormous convenience and terribly disruptive, sometimes for the same people at different times. The initial giddiness that many people experienced at being able to “catch up” on work at home and not facing tiresome commutes has faded into a sense of missing those we work with and who structure our working lives. For others, this time has been an extraordinary challenge that has brought home and work spheres into direct conflict. Being productive (and professional) while managing care for dependents in real time has been the reality for many as they’ve had to work from home during the pandemic.
Strategies for remote-work success: Set clear start and end times, check in on people, have patience
If you’re working in technology you’re likely working remotely, whether you want to or not. Working remotely is not new; for years people have embraced its many advantages. But with COVID-19 forcing entire industries to adopt remote work, many people, myself included, theorized remote-work was here to stay. Why is it then, when so many of us are working remotely, and companies such as Dropbox are transforming their office spaces into collaboration spaces, that we find people unsatisfied with what was supposed to be a utopian vision of our future? The answer is simple: remote work was never meant for everyone. Now, entire companies are forced to adopt whether they, their managers, or their organizations are ready. I wanted to share best practices I’ve learned over more than five years of working 100% remotely as a technology executive — practices that could make you a world-class remote worker.
Virtual Classrooms
Encouraging family engagement during virtual learning -
With many students continuing to learn virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, education officials say family engagement is more important than ever. Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane announced Thursday that the state Board of Education has designated November as Family Engagement in Education Month. According to a release, this is encouraging school divisions to develop plans and policies to enhance parental engagement in the school work of children.
Javier Miyares and Jim Rosapepe: Virtual learning was better option for some even before pandemic
As educators are well into the school year, the national debate about the efficacy of online learning continues. Now, though, the stakes are higher. As the economy emerges from the current health crisis, an educated and motivated workforce will be needed to fuel its recovery. Education is not one-size-fits-all, and for many students, online education may be a perfect fit. Educators who embrace the creative use of the online modality may find that they can now accommodate a surprising number of students who are high achievers, even if they don’t fit the traditional mold.
6 ways to make virtual learning interesting and effective for children with special needs
With the closure of regular schools due to Covid-19 and disruption in the daily schedule, it is difficult for children with special needs with autism, ADHD, dyslexia to follow their individualised plans. Here are certain tips by Dr Puja Kapoor, Pediatric neurologist and Co-Founder of Continua Kids for parents on how to make virtual sessions interesting and effective.
Aiken County superintendent talks future of virtual learning
A demand for virtual learning may remain after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, said King Laurence, superintendent of the Aiken County Public School District. The superintendent delivered a presentation – titled “Brick and Mortar or Virtual – We’re Building for Today and Tomorrow” – on school upgrades, the penny sales tax and the future of virtual learning at the Aiken Chamber of Commerce’s November First Friday breakfast.
The Building Blocks for Special Needs Kids
As school districts across the nation have adopted remote learning, children with special needs will be the ones to experience the greatest challenges, often without the crucial resources normally available, and mandated by law, in a typical classroom setting.
Distance learning isn't failing Anchorage high school students
Anchorage School District Superintendent Deena Bishop recently announced her intent to return all ASD students to the classroom despite rising COVID-19 numbers, stating that “the mission of our school district is to prepare our students for success,” and “(w)e are not meeting that mission.” As neighbors with daughters beginning their second quarter of online school through Service High School, we disagree with the superintendent’s broad, generalized message and her back-to-the-classroom plan for high schoolers. Our experience with high school distance learning thus far is not the colossal failure the superintendent asserts, thanks to the Herculean efforts of high school teachers and staff. Rather than sending high schoolers back to class in person with COVID-19 cases rising – which we believe would be irresponsible, reckless, and unnecessary – we suggest staying the course and building on the online framework currently in place
Virtual students can be ordered back to campus if they're struggling, TEA says
A virtual learning student who is struggling academically can be required to return to the classroom, according to new guidance issued Thursday by the Texas Education Agency. "I work full time, Monday through Friday, eight to five," said Stephanie Rosa, whose daughter attends Driscoll Middle School. "My kid stays home alone to do her work. But it's been chaos." Rosa said her daughter would benefit from switching to in-person classes as opposed to virtual learning. "She's taking Spanish for the first time," Rosa said. "I think definitely needs to be done in person. So she can actually hear the teacher and she can see the paperwork."
What schools need to know about safeguarding while teaching remotely
Policies, infrastructure, communication and trouble-shooting: these are the four crucial things to consider as online teaching becomes increasingly common, writes Charlotte Aynsley. The Department for Education’s (DfE) recent temporary continuity direction, which requires all schools to provide “immediate access to remote education” is likely to be interpreted in large part as a call for schools to provide learning online.
Covid-19: Monday executive meeting to look at current restrictions
Cafes and restaurants could be allowed to reopen from Friday but not bars, the deputy first minister has suggested. Michelle O'Neill said it was "something we are considering" ahead of the executive meeting to discuss easing some Covid-19 restrictions. Current measures are due to end on Friday, and ministers have been advised pubs and restaurants should remain closed for another two weeks. Ms O'Neill said there could be some "flexibility" for easing restrictions. Speaking to the BBC's Sunday Politics, she said any decisions would be taken in a "graduated" manner. Meanwhile, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has confirmed it has closed its training college at Garnerville in Belfast for two days for a deep clean.
Public Policies
Latvia to enter COVID-19 lockdown on Monday
Latvia’s government on Friday declared a four-week lockdown starting on Nov. 9 to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has accelerated in recent weeks in the Baltic nation. Latvia reported 367 new cases on Friday, bringing the total number to 7,119 with 87 deaths. It had only 2,086 total cases on Oct. 1. Under the new rules, social contact is discouraged and a maximum of 10 people from no more than two households will be allowed to gather inside. Restaurants can serve only takeaway food and shops will limit the number of people inside.
Greek PM orders nationwide lockdown to curb COVID cases surge
Greece’s conservative government on Thursday ordered a nationwide lockdown for three weeks to help contain a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the new restrictions will come into effect on Saturday, November 7.
UK's coronavirus vaccine taskforce chief faces questions over biotech fund
The head of the government’s vaccine taskforce faces fresh questions after it emerged she hailed the launch of a biotechnology investment fund in her capacity as managing director of a venture capital firm despite having “stepped away” from the role. Kate Bingham, a venture capitalist married to the Conservative minister Jesse Norman, came under scrutiny this week when Labour asked the cabinet secretary to “undertake an urgent and swift investigation” after it was claimed she showed US financiers government documents at a $200-a-head conference. She has garnered further attention after the Times reported that, although Bingham voluntarily declared that SV Health Investors “does not invest in companies related to work on the Covid-19 vaccine”, it has shareholdings in companies named Alchemab and Adimab, which have been involved in the race to develop antibody cocktails.
How Biden navigated pandemic politics to win the White House
Joe Biden was fresh off winning the Michigan primary and effectively capturing the Democratic presidential nomination, a prize he’d sought for the better part of three decades. Instead of plotting a strategy to build momentum, he was contemplating an abrupt halt. He gathered his senior team in a conference room on the 19th floor of his campaign’s Philadelphia headquarters, the type of in-person meeting that would soon be deemed a public health risk. A former surgeon general and Food and Drug Administration commissioner joined on speakerphone.
COVID-19 surge creates new headache for beleaguered PM Muhyiddin
As Malaysia celebrated its national day at the end of August, it appeared to have brought COVID-19 to heel. But two months later, the Southeast Asian nation of 30 million people finds itself confronted with a brutal resurgence of the virus centred mostly on Sabah on the Malaysian part of Borneo
Vaccine diplomacy and the US-China rivalry in Africa
Earlier this year, the China-United States global rivalry escalated, as both countries deployed their diplomatic arsenals to try to sway the competition for 5G contracts. The US managed to get the United Kingdom to rescind a deal with China’s Huawei to set up the country’s 5G network, which was seen as a major win for Washington. This rivalry extended into Africa, with both superpowers trying to recruit client African states to their side. The US has tried to put pressure on Kenya and South Africa, among other African countries, to reconsider Huawei’s involvement in the set-up of 5G systems. China, for its part, has put its weight behind the tech giant.
NHS England suspends one-to-one nursing for critically ill Covid patients
Nurses will be allowed to look after two critically ill Covid-19 patients at the same time after NHS bosses relaxed the rule requiring one-to-one treatment in intensive care as hospitals come under intense strain. NHS England has decided to temporarily suspend the 1:1 rule as the number of people who are in hospital very sick with Covid has soared to 11,514, of whom 986 are on a ventilator. The move comes amid concern that intensive care units, which went into the pandemic already short of nurses, are being hit by staff being off sick or isolating as a result of Covid. It follows a warning last week by Prof Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, that the Covid resurgence could overwhelm the NHS.
No10 admits mistake in coronavirus forecasts used to justify England's lockdown
Downing Street has admitted there were mistakes in coronavirus forecasts used by Boris Johnson to justify England's new lockdown. Alarming slides shown at the No10 press conference on Saturday by Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance predicting Covid deaths could hit 1,400 a day by early December have now been revised downwards. The graph, based on forecasts by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, projected a top-end range of more than 1,400 deaths a day by December 8 - well above the first-wave peak of almost 1,000. But on Tuesday, the slide was quietly reissued with the top-end range revised down to just over 1,000 deaths a day. Another slide forecasting hospital admissions would reach nearly 9,000 at the top end has also been changed to just over 6,000 a day.
Coronavirus: Italy imposes regional lockdown as Europe battles surges
Much of Italy is now in lockdown, including the densely populated northern Lombardy region, after the Covid-19 death toll for 24 hours hit 445 - a six-month record. Italy is now split into three zones: red for high risk, then orange and yellow. The red areas are Lombardy, Piedmont and Aosta Valley in the north and Calabria in the south. The whole country has a night curfew. In neighbouring Slovenia police clashed with violent anti-lockdown protesters. Riot police used water cannon and teargas to disperse the crowd of several hundred outside parliament in the capital Ljubljana. Some demonstrators threw bottles, stones and smoke bombs at officers.
Light coronavirus lockdown causes confusion across France
Oil for cooking is essential but the sale of essential oils is banned. Their statuses reflect the farcical side of a week-old second lockdown that scarcely resembles the harsh first round in the spring. Stumbling by President Macron’s government has compounded confusion over “le confinement, saison 2”, in which schools and public services remain open and much of the workforce troops to the office under pressure from the boss.
Exclusive: India-made COVID-19 vaccine could be launched as early as February - government scientist
An Indian government-backed COVID-19 vaccine could be launched as early as February - months earlier than expected - as last-stage trials begin this month and studies have so far showed it is safe and effective, a senior government scientist told Reuters. Bharat Biotech, a private company that is developing COVAXIN with the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), had earlier hoped to launch it only in the second quarter of next year. “The vaccine has shown good efficacy,” senior ICMR scientist Rajni Kant, who is also a member of its COVID-19 task-force, said at the research body’s New Delhi headquarters on Thursday. “It is expected that by the beginning of next year, February or March, something would be available.”
Covid-19: How a 'warm vaccine' could help India tackle coronavirus
India expects to receive and utilise 400-500 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines and plans to inoculate some 250 million people between January and July next year. They will be mainly distributed through the country's 42-year-old immunisation programme,
Coronavirus vaccine taskforce chief Kate Bingham manages investments for drug firms
The head of the government’s vaccine taskforce has failed to publicly declare that she manages private investments in two companies involved in the race to develop coronavirus drugs. Kate Bingham is a managing partner at SV Health Investors, a venture capital firm. Two months after she was appointed by Boris Johnson, she said it was the “perfect time” to launch a fund that invested in a company researching coronavirus antibody cocktails, The Times can reveal.
Wales will be given 'appropriate' share of coronavirus vaccines by UK, says health minister
Wales will be given a "proportionate" share of a future coronavirus vaccine by the UK Government, the Welsh health minister has said. Vaughan Gething also said plans to deploy the treatment to those most in need were already in place if it became available before the end of this year. Mr Gething was responding to concerns expressed by Plaid Cymru's shadow health minister Rhun ap Iorwerth that the Welsh Government's policy was "to leave things largely to the UK Government when it comes to vaccination"
Biden presidency may mean smoother coronavirus vaccine rollout, fewer cases
President-elect Joe Biden will inherit the world's biggest coronavirus outbreak when he takes office in January. But public-health experts think the process of distributing a vaccine will likely be smoother under Biden's administration than it would have been under Trump's. Experts also expect Biden to institute lockdowns in coronavirus hotspots. These measures, combined with Biden's championing of masks and social distancing, could prompt a decline in cases.
Chinese COVID vaccine finds few volunteers in Pakistani trial
Pakistan, one of China's closest allies, has been struggling to find volunteers for its part of a multicountry Phase 3 clinical trial of a Chinese vaccine against the new coronavirus. "Hospitals ... have been facing difficulties in recruiting volunteers for the trials because of the flood of misinformation, mainly on social media," a senior official at the National Institute of Health (NIH), a government-run research body, told Nikkei Asia on condition of anonymity. In September, Pakistan approved the final phase of clinical trials for the single-dose vaccine candidate Ad5-nCoV, codeveloped by CanSino Biologics, a Tianjin-based Chinese vaccine company, and the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, a Chinese military-backed research arm. In return, China will supply COVID-19 vaccines to Pakistan as priority. For the Ad5-nCoV Phase 3 trial, slated to conclude in January 2022, nearly 40,000 volunteers are expected to participate from Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Pakistan.
Spain’s Prime Minister Claims Coronavirus Vaccine Will be Ready For May 2021
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez confirmed on Thursday in Valencia that the vaccination campaign in Spain against COVID-19 “could be ready” for May 2021. The date given coincides the end of the state of alarm approved by the Central Executive two weeks ago. “The new vaccines could be ready by that time, accompanying the change of season, and that will help us progressively recover that new normal,” said the Chief Executive, who has asked the rest of the political parties to agree on the General State Budgets before the end of the year. “If Spain agrees, Spain wins,” he stressed.
New Zealand Inc reaps benefit of hard and fast Covid lockdown
When Covid-19 struck New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern’s government quickly closed the nation’s borders and imposed one of the world’s strictest lockdowns in a bid to eliminate the spread of the virus. The decision in late March plunged businesses into crisis, with many forced to implement radical strategic changes to survive. Air New Zealand was an early casualty, requiring a NZ$900m ($610.4m) bailout from Wellington. But with most restrictions now removed and the virus apparently under control, business confidence is coming back. Many corporate leaders — in industries from tourism to agriculture — hope that Wellington’s decision to prioritise health over keeping its economy open will prove fruitful in the long term.
Covid-19: Nichola Mallon says extending lockdown could help save Christmas
Image caption Restrictions on the hospitality industry should be extended for two weeks to rescue the Christmas period, the infrastructure minister has said. Nichola Mallon said she had come to the conclusion following evidence to the Northern Ireland Executive.
Australia orders more COVID-19 vaccines for total of 135 million doses
The Australian government has agreed to purchase two more COVID-19 vaccines in development, beefing up the country's prospective arsenal against the pandemic to 135 million doses as it aims to complete a mass inoculation programme within months. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday the government will buy 40 million vaccine doses from Novavax, and 10 million from Pfizer and BioNTech. That adds to the 85 million doses Australia has already committed to buy from AstraZeneca and CSL Ltd should trials prove successful, taking the country's total anticipated outlay to A$3.2 billion ($2.3 billion). "We aren't putting all our eggs in one basket," Morrison told reporters in Sydney.
First COVID-19 Vaccine Doses To Go To Health Workers, Say CDC Advisers
Health care workers will almost certainly get the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. when one is approved, according to Dr. José Romero, head of the committee that develops evidence-based immunization guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's a decision based on the science of what will quell the pandemic fastest. "It's not just the doctors and nurses that are interacting with patients, but also the support personnel that help," Romero said in an interview Thursday with NPR. "It could include those persons that are delivering food, or maintenance people that could come in contact with them," so they can protect themselves and patients from the virus, and stay healthy to keep the U.S. health care system running. Romero chairs the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, a longstanding CDC advisory group that includes 15 voting members, plus other vaccination experts who weigh in.
Maintaining Services
Covid: Lack of medical supplies 'hits' disabled people
A hospital trust has declared a major incident as demand for oxygen surges among coronavirus patients. Grimsby and Scunthorpe hospital Trust has seen a surge in coronavirus patients admitted as one of the worst affected areas in the country. As of this morning, there were 106 Covid-positive patients being treated in the Trust's three hospitals - 56 at Grimsby's Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, 47 at Scunthorpe General Hospital and three at Goole. There are six people in ICU in each of the Grimsby and Scunthorpe hospitals, reports the Grimsby Telegraph. Additional nursing staff have been called in to work extra shifts as the virus continues to take its toll on staff.
COVID-19 Nursing Home Cases Up 400% in Surge States
The number of coronavirus infections among nursing home residents in 20 of the hardest-hit states has increased by 400 percent since May, reports the Associated Press. The new data comes from a study by the University of Chicago which determined that cases rose from 1,083 to 4,274 between the week ending May 31 and the week ending October 31. Nursing home resident deaths more than doubled to 699 during the same period and infections among staff more than quadrupled to more than 4,000 in the same five-month period. The rise comes even though the Trump administration has allocated $5 billion to help beef up testing in the country’s nursing homes, including more than 14,000 fast test machines. The 20 states analyzed in the study are those with the highest COVID-19 hospitalizations: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Restaurants Defend Dining Rooms as Covid-19 Spreads
Restaurant chains are setting long-term plans to keep dining rooms open whenever and wherever possible as the coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of relenting. McDonald’s Corp. Starbucks Corp.and other chains are serving customers inside, in line with safety standards they say they have honed during roughly nine months of grappling with the virus. Some executives say they see an immediate boost in sales when dining rooms reopen. However, with Covid-19 cases rising to new heights, these chains and other restaurant owners are closing some dining rooms again now where officials have instructed them to do so. Illinois suspended indoor dining statewide on Wednesday, while a two-week stay-at-home order imposed by El Paso, Texas, through Nov. 11 has shut dining rooms.
Covid-19: Nursing shortage warning as winter looms
Widespread nursing shortages across the NHS could lead to staff burnout and risk patient safety this winter, the Royal College of Nursing has warned. The nursing union said a combination of staff absence due to the pandemic, and around 40,000 registered nursing vacancies in England was putting too much strain on the remaining workforce. The government says more than 13,000 nurses have been recruited this year. It has committed to 50,000 more nurses by 2025. It also hopes England's four-week lockdown will ease pressure on the NHS. The RCN has expressed concern that staff shortages are affecting every area of nursing, from critical care and cancer services to community nursing, which provides care to people in their own homes.
Manufacturing of AstraZeneca Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine to start in Australia tomorrow
About 30 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will start production on Monday Biotech company CSL announced manufacturing would begin in Melbourne The doses pending approval are expected to be released in the first half of 2021
Northumberland company chosen for groundbreaking Covid-19 trials
A Northumberland pharmaceutical company has been chosen to take part in ground breaking clinical trials to counter the effect of Covid-19. Morpeth-based Pharma Nord's Bio-Vitamin D3 will be part of the research designed to look at the effects of vitamin D supplementation on the immune system and protecting against the coronavirus. The supplements will be taken by over 5,000 people for a period of six months as they take part in the Queen Mary University of London ‘Coronavit’ study. Scientists hope that the large-scale trial will help to find out if correcting people’s vitamin D deficiencies over winter can reduce the risk and/or severity of Covid-19 and other acute respiratory infections.
Hospital trust declares major incident as Covid-19 surge sees oxygen demand jump
A hospital trust has declared a major incident as demand for oxygen surges among coronavirus patients. Grimsby and Scunthorpe hospital Trust has seen a surge in coronavirus patients admitted as one of the worst affected areas in the country. As of this morning, there were 106 Covid-positive patients being treated in the Trust's three hospitals - 56 at Grimsby's Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, 47 at Scunthorpe General Hospital and three at Goole. There are six people in ICU in each of the Grimsby and Scunthorpe hospitals, reports the Grimsby Telegraph. Additional nursing staff have been called in to work extra shifts as the virus continues to take its toll on staff. Across the Trust last week, 140 staff members were unavailable to work. This includes 71 from Grimsby's hospital, 48 at Scunthorpe, 6 in Goole, and 15 'across the trust'.
Paris police step up patrols to limit lockdown violators
French police have stepped up checks to ensure that the nationwide lockdown is respected across the country, and non-essential travel is avoided. Edward Baran reports.
British police arrest 104 Londoners for breach of lockdown restrictions
British police said they arrested 104 Londoners on Thursday for breach of coronavirus regulations, adding that they expected more arrests as policing operations continued into the night. People gathered in central London despite new restrictions that have been imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus. “Tonight, a crowd of people chose to ignore the new regulations, to behave irresponsibly and meet in a dangerous manner. More than 100 of these people have now been arrested and will have to face the consequences of their actions”, the Metropolitan Police said.
Coronavirus: Parents hit hardest by lockdown energy costs in UK
UK families are the hardest hit by coronavirus lockdown energy costs, according to new research from Credit Karma. School closures during lockdown cost parents a total of £368m ($481m) a month in extra energy costs, with each family facing an average £68 spike in inflated energy bills since the UK went into lockdown. This is more than double the rise in energy bills suffered by the average UK household, as the extra energy used by the average household due to lockdown equated to an additional monthly cost of £32.31, according to a Populus poll. As England goes into a second national lockdown set to last until at least 2 December, families are bracing themselves for rising energy bills, with many unsure on how they’ll afford them.
Teachers are NOT more likely to get coronavirus than other key workers, official study finds
Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures reveal there is 'no difference' in risk Other key workers were those working outside the home for at least a day Trade unions have blasted the Government for keeping schools open
Covid-19: Lockdown 'opportunity' to fix England's roads
Councils in England have a "unique opportunity" to fix potholes, road junctions and roadside drainage during lockdown, the AA has said. It urged local authorities to ask drivers to move their vehicles to car parks near disused shops, pubs and restaurants while repairs take place. Reduced traffic means work could happen safely and without causing congestion, AA president Edmund King said. Councils said £10bn was needed to bring roads "up to scratch". The government said it had already committed £2.5bn for repairs "as part of the biggest nationwide programme ever announced".
Coronavirus vaccine 'could be distributed by GPs on Christmas and Boxing Day'
GPs could distribute a Covid vaccine on Christmas Day and Boxing Day in a bid to protect people in the UK, it has been reported. Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to announce plans next week for jabs to be supplied as early as next month. According to The Sun, family doctors could have capacity to offer the jab seven days a week between 8am and 8pm. It is believed major cities will also have a Covid-19 vaccination centre to help speed up the distribution of the jab. GPs could be supported by 3,000 mobile units, with teams visiting care homes and vulnerable people, the newspaper reported.
Coronavirus lockdown England: Internet usage surges on night one
Lockdown 2.0 yesterday came into force with shops and bars closed As a result people were stayed at home and many streamed and went online At 9:10pm internet usage surged to a peak of 6.46 Terabytes per second
Covid-19 vaccine market worth $10bn a year, analysts say
The future Covid-19 vaccine market could be worth more than $10bn a year, generating bumper revenues for pharmaceutical companies that have funded large parts of their research with government money. The calculations by analysts at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse assume that people will need to take a Covid-19 vaccine every year, like a flu jab, and are based on projected costs for the shot, currently hovering at about $20 a dose. “My base case assumption right now is that you will need annual vaccinations,” said Matthew Harrison, an analyst at Morgan Stanley. “[Covid-19] is not going to go away.” Even taking a “conservative approach” in which only those people who get a flu vaccine also take one for Covid-19, the market would be worth $10bn across developed countries, he said.
Healthcare Innovations
The ‘other vaccine’: Why the Imperial jab offers a different kind of hope in the fight against Covid-19
Robin Shattock won’t say it himself - he is a man of modesty, after all - but more people should be paying attention to his vaccine. As the race for a Covid-19 jab intensifies, the team at Imperial College London has somewhat flown under the radar. Headlines have instead been dominated by the fast-moving progress of their counterparts at Oxford and elsewhere. In time, though, it feels this could all change.
Common cold antibodies hold clues to COVID-19 behavior; lung scans speed COVID-19 diagnosis in stroke patients
Common cold antibodies yield clues to COVID-19 behavior - Among people who were never infected with the new coronavirus, a few adults - and many children - may have antibodies that can neutralize the virus, researchers reported on Friday in Science. Among 302 such adults, 16 (5.3%) had antibodies, likely generated during infections with "common cold" coronaviruses, that reacted to a specific region of the spike protein on the new virus called the S2 subunit. Among 48 children and adolescents, 21 (43.8%) had these antibodies. In test tube experiments, blood serum from both older and younger uninfected individuals with cross-reactive antibodies could neutralize the new coronavirus. That was not the case with serum from study participants who lacked these antibodies. "Together, these findings may help explain higher COVID-19 susceptibility in older people and provide insight into whether pre-established immunity to seasonal coronaviruses offers protection against SARS-CoV-2," the publishers of the journal said in a statement. The findings also suggest that targeting the S2 subunit on the coronavirus spike protein might be the basis for a drug or vaccine that works on multiple types of coronavirus.
Will a small, long-shot U.S. company end up producing the best coronavirus vaccine?
What a difference a year—and a pandemic—make. Today, Novavax is slated to receive up to $2 billion from the U.S. government and a nonprofit organization to develop and manufacture a coronavirus vaccine. The company’s stock closed at $80.71 per share on 30 October, it has hired more than 300 new employees, and this month it plans to launch a pivotal clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine in the United States and Mexico. Made by moth cells harnessed to crank out the virus’ spike protein—which the pathogen uses to invade human cells—Novavax’s vaccine outshone major competitors on key measures in monkey and early human tests.
Coronavirus: Oxford vaccine trial issues warning after participants share swabs with family and friends
A message to participants of the clinical trial, sent today from the Covid research team based at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospitals Trust in London and seen by The Independent, confirmed some positive infections identified by the trial had been tracked to people who were not participating in the study. Oxford University today confirmed the problem but said it was a small number of participants whose results could be easily identified and would not affect the final results. The Oxford University vaccine is one of the leading candidates for mass inoculation against coronavirus to help bring about an end to the pandemic and end the lockdown not just in the UK but around the world.
Coronavirus vaccine campaign will admit that jab may not be 100% safe
A campaign to encourage people to have a Covid-19 vaccination will acknowledge that the jab is not 100 per cent safe under an honesty-first approach designed to win over waverers. Barely half of Britons say that they will definitely be vaccinated against coronavirus, and plans being developed in government aim to acknowledge concerns to ensure the undecided are not swayed by antivax propaganda.
If One Leading Coronavirus Vaccine Works, Thank This Tiny Firm in Rural Austria
A key ingredient in what could be the first U.S.-approved Covid-19 vaccine comes from a family-owned company with 90 employees in the Austrian countryside, underscoring the fragility of the potential treatment’s supply chain. Polymun Scientific Immunbiologische Forschung GmbH is one of a handful of makers of lipid nanoparticles, microscopic vessels used to deliver genetic material into the body.
Regeneron looks to target most in-need patients for Covid drug
Regeneron said on Thursday it was working to address questions over how to target the most in-need patients for its antibody treatment for Covid-19, which US president Donald Trump said was a “cure” for the disease. The treatment could be approved for emergency use in the “relatively near future”, Leonard Schleifer, Regeneron’s chief executive, told analysts in a discussion of its latest earnings. The New York-based biotech said it will have 80,000 doses available by the end of the month, and 300,000 by the end of January. But the number of Covid-19 patients who could benefit from the drug, if approved, is soaring, with 100,000 cases reported in the US in a single day on Wednesday for the first time.