"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 24th Nov 2020

Isolation Tips
Pandemic inflames violence against women
No country has been spared the coronavirus epidemic, nor the scourge of domestic violence, which has surged during lockdowns as the day marking such violence approaches on Wednesday. From a spike in rapes in Nigeria and South Africa, increased numbers of women missing in Peru, higher rates of women being killed in Brazil and Mexico and overwhelmed associations in Europe: the pandemic has aggravated the plague of sexual violence. According to U.N. data released in late September, lockdowns have led to increases in complaints or calls to report domestic abuse of 25 percent in Argentina, 30 percent in Cyprus and France and 33 percent in Singapore. In essentially all countries, measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus have resulted in women and children being confined at home.
Hygiene Helpers
New Zealand leader Ardern offers virus know-how to Joe Biden
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday became the latest world leader to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden on his election victory, saying she offered to share her nation's expertise on dealing with the coronavirus. Ardern said the tone of the 20-minute phone call was warm and that Biden spoke very favorably about how New Zealand was handling the pandemic. “What has been really at the center of our response has been some fundamentals around testing, contact tracing, isolation,” Ardern said. “That’s over and above what we’ve done at our borders.”
New Zealand study details COVID-19 spread on long-haul flight despite tests
A recent case study details COVID-19 transmission on a New Zealand long-haul flight, even with negative pre-departure testing results and social distancing requirements. The 12-page report, released by New Zealand health officials last weekFriday, follows a cluster of coronavirus cases linked to one passenger traveling on an 18-hour flight from Dubai to New Zealand in September. Though the traveler tested negative with a PCR test before the flight, researchers concluded that "at least four in-flight transmission events of SARS-CoV-2 likely took place" as the pre-symptomatic yet contagious person infected at least four others. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19.
Covid-19: Daily coronavirus test plan to cut contacts' 14-day self-isolation
Daily coronavirus tests will be offered to close contacts of people who have tested positive in England, as a way to reduce the current 14-day quarantine. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people will be offered tests every day for a week - and they will not need to isolate unless they test positive. He also said rapid tests will allow every care home resident to have up to two visitors tested twice a week. Labour welcomed increased testing but raised concerns over test-and-trace. The chairman of the Independent Care Group which represents independent care homes, Mike Padgham, said the government was being "rather ambitious".
China tests millions after coronavirus flareups in 3 cities
Chinese authorities are testing millions of people, imposing lockdowns and shutting down schools after multiple locally transmitted coronavirus cases were discovered in three cities across the country last week. As temperatures drop, widescale measures are being enacted in Tianjin, Shanghai and Manzhouli, even though the number of new cases remains low compared to the United States and other countries that are seeing new waves of infections. Experts and government officials have warned that the chance of the virus spreading will be greater in cold weather. Recent flareups have shown that there is still a risk of the virus returning, despite being largely controlled within China.
Study: Mask Mandates Boost the Economy
Opponents of COVID-19 restrictions often claim preventative rules would hurt the economy, but a new study finds that statewide mask mandates can actually be a benefit. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that researchers from the University of Utah business school determined that mask orders make consumers feel better about shopping—so they visit more stores and spend more time in each one. The study authors found statewide mandates were more helpful to the local economy than county orders. “The thing that really pops out,” professor Nathan Seegert said, “is that statewide mask mandates are much more effective at both saving lives and livelihoods.”
Doctors say CDC should warn people the side effects from Covid vaccine shots won't be 'a walk in the park'
The CDC must be transparent about the side effects people may experience after getting their first shot of a coronavirus vaccine, doctors urged during a meeting Monday with CDC advisors. Dr. Sandra Fryhofer said that both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines require two doses and she worries whether her patients will come back for a second dose because of potentially unpleasant side effects after the first shot. Both companies acknowledged that their vaccines could induce side effects that are similar to symptoms associated with mild Covid-19, such as muscle pain, chills and headache.
Community Activities
A birthday lunch left 15 Texas relatives battling covid-19: ‘Please don’t be like my family’
Enriqueta Aragonez reclined on a hospital bed in Arlington, Tex., with plastic tubes snaking from her nose and pneumonia in both of her lungs. The 57-year-old had a message for everyone doubting the need for covid-19 restrictions. “I went to my nephew’s house and loved seeing my family, but now, I’m fighting against covid-19,” Aragonez said in a video message. “Please protect yourself. It’s real.” Aragonez is one of 15 family members who contracted the coronavirus after a small indoor birthday celebration earlier this month where no one wore masks. Weeks later, in an emotional video shared by the city of Arlington, the family is begging others to avoid gathering with anyone outside their immediate household.
Majority of Croatians sceptical of coronavirus vaccine
A majority of Croatians do not plan on taking a vaccine to immunise against the coronavirus once it becomes available, a recent survey has found. According to the poll, which was conducted by the Valicon market research company and published by Croatian news agency RTL last week, 43 percent of respondents said they would definitely or would probably vaccinate, mostly citing responsibility towards others and that a higher rate of vaccination will limit infections as reasons. But 57 percent said they definitely would not or probably would not vaccinate, citing mistrust of the vaccine until it was proven to be safe, while a large number of respondents also said they feared there could be side effects. Others said they would not vaccinate because they believed they were not at risk, while a quarter of respondents said the virus constantly mutates and that vaccinating would not protect them. The survey gathering opinions from 523 people in Croatia comes as a global scientific race is under way to produce an effective vaccine for the coronavirus.
Millions of Americans set to ignore warnings against Thanksgiving travel
Ominous warnings came as Donald Trump appeared to admit that coronavirus is “running wild” across the US, in contrast with his statements throughout the election campaign that the virus would simply “go away” or “disappear” and, more recently, that the country was “rounding the turn” on the pandemic. As new Covid-19 infections in the US approached 200,000 a day, Trump tweeted on Saturday night to insist things were bad outside the United States as well, posting: “The Fake News is not talking about the fact that ‘Covid’ is running wild all over the world, not just in the US.”
In Italy, theater reopens in town devastated by COVID
In a signal of rebirth, the Donizetti theater in the northern Italian city of Bergamo, devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, reopened this weekend after three years of renovations. But the planned gala celebration had to be postponed, and new productions for an annual festival dedicated to the city’s native composer Gaetano Donizetti had to be streamed online from an empty theater. Festival musical director Riccardo Frizza said the autumn festival was envisioned as a life-affirming moment for the city and province, where 6,000 people died in a single month last spring.
Pizza worker at centre of South Australia lockdown 'unaware' of public attention
In Australia, the Spanish national at the centre of a police investigation into his failure to disclose to contact tracers he worked shifts at the Woodville Pizza Bar is unaware of the growing public focus on him as he remains in hotel quarantine, Guardian Australia has learned. The 36-year-old man, currently on a temporary graduate visa in Australia, had his devices seized by South Australian police over the weekend after they issued a search warrant to obtain them from his quarantine hotel room. All the focus on the one man is causing concern among contact tracing experts, who argue it might hinder people coming forward for testing. They say the best way to get the most accurate information from people during contact tracing interviews is to ensure their privacy and protect them from punishment.
Working Remotely
What Canada’s top CEOs think about remote work
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, millions of Canadians switched from working in a central office location to working from home. Days turned into weeks, and weeks have turned into months. Now it’s almost 2021, and millions of employees in Canada still work from home full time with no end in sight. Many Canadians wish to continue working remotely once the pandemic ends, which raises the question: Is remote work here to stay? For millions of employees, the answer will depend on what their senior management decides. In my recent research, I analyzed the language used by chief executive officers (CEOs) in quarterly earnings calls with investors and analysts. While the discussion of remote work was limited in the years prior to 2020, it was central in the public companies’ earnings calls this year.
Taxing questions being asked about remote working
Economists at Deutsche Bank Research recently floated the idea of imposing a 5 per cent tax on those who choose to work from home after the pandemic has passed, arguing that remote workers contribute less to the infrastructure of the economy while still receiving its benefits. Bank strategist Luke Templeman summed it up thus: “For years, we have needed a tax on remote workers – Covid has just made it obvious.” He and his team argue that employees can afford to pay for working from home because they spend less on commuting, lunch on the go, and even office clothing. They calculate that such a tax would raise £7 billion a year in the UK that could be redistributed to low-income earners who are unable to work remotely, and who thus assume higher costs.
Remote working could lead to jobs being pushed offshore
Remote working is damaging productivity and could even lead to jobs being moved abroad, a member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee has claimed. In an interview with The Times newspaper this weekend, Professor Jonathan Haskel – who also works as an economics professor at Imperial College Business School – said that employees were working more hours, and that higher levels of output experienced by businesses while employees have been working remotely is unsustainable. He referred to research carried out by the Bank of England into hours worked, concluding that remote workers were devoting the average 59 minutes they saved each day on commuting to work tasks, rather than leisure. “Once many of these firms start working from home, it might expand the labour pool in some way,” he told The Times, referring to the opening up of opportunities for parents with childcare responsibilities offered by remote working.
The shift to remote work carries an inherent risk
This year’s mass experiment with remote working has, for some, triggered a prickling sense of unease: if I can do my job from home in London, Brooklyn or Canberra, could someone else do it more cheaply from Sofia, Mumbai or Manila? In the corporate world, we might have enjoyed skipping commutes and ditching office wear, but will we feel as smug in a few years if we have joined factory workers in the ranks of the “left behind”? It is not a new fear. In 2007, Alan Blinder, an economist at Princeton University, estimated that “stunning advances in computerised telecommunications technology” meant that between 22 and 29 per cent of US jobs were already offshorable, or would be within a decade or two.
Equity In The Pandemic: What If Some People Can’t Work Remotely?
It’s becoming an issue in more organizations: some employees have been able to work from home during this crisis while others in the same company have jobs that require them to come into work every day. Many of these latter workers feel they should be seeing more benefits for the increased risk they’re assuming. A study from the university of Chicago has found some 37% of jobs in America can be done entirely from home, a lot higher than was represented by the 8% of Americans who telecommuted full-time before the pandemic. Of course, there are unique challenges to working remotely: from loneliness and lack of collaboration, to bosses expecting you to be available 24/7, to kids or other loved ones distracting you. But say some of those who are braving the pandemic: none of that compares to the health risk of this virus, costs of transportation going to and from their workplace (not to mention time), and increased accountability that can come with in-person work.
Virtual Classrooms
Learning in a pandemic proves difficult in Alabama
At the beginning of the school year, virtual school seemed like the safest option for Oak Mountain High School junior Quest Agee. Agee and his parents worried about the health of grandparents who lived with them at the time and family members suffering from asthma. His mother, Jarralynne Agee, believed he could handle the extra responsibility required to complete assignments outside the structure of a regular classroom. For a while, everything seemed to be going well. Then Agee began getting calls from teachers that her son, who had previously been an A/B student, was in danger of failing. It caught them both off guard. “How we kind of got behind is we would ask my son ‘How are you doing?’ and he would say, ‘Great,’” Jarralynne Agee said. “Even though they feel like they are doing all right, you really have to go back and make sure they are doing it all.”
Atlantic City students return to virtual learning this week
Atlantic City students will go back to virtual learning this week, as a deep-cleaning of all the schools is conducted. Superintendent Barry Caldwell said the decision was “out of an abundance of caution.” Hundreds of teachers and staff called out last week in protest of the return to in-person schooling. They said many of the buildings were not safe, citing issues including the ventilation system. But at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, Director of Operations Atiba Rose gave a presentation assuring the public that the proper precautions were taken. When board member Al Herbert suggested the board vote to halt in-person teaching until certain necessities were delivered, Caldwell said instead that, with the holidays coming up, that the students could go to school and then the decision could be readdressed after the holidays.
Upholding academic integrity also key in virtual classrooms’
Although many schools in the Philippines and Southeast Asia have adapted to the new learning environment by introducing new methods of distance learning and blended learning, an official from an educational-software company recently pointed out that educators and students—even parents—need to develop academic integrity to make learning a relevant and substantial undertaking. “Despite sudden changes in [education deployment] system-wide, academic integrity is still a key concept to discuss and establish with all students,” Turnitin Southeast Asia Head of Business and Partnerships Jack Brazel said. According to Brazel, educators can start teaching integrity in the syllabus by defining it, while pointing out the consequences of submitting plagiarized work. He said the next step is to continue teaching tangible lessons around it throughout the class.
Can AR be the antidote to virtual classroom shortcomings?
Schools across the country are well into their second go-round of distance learning at this point. Things seem to be running more smoothly than the first attempt last spring–however, we are still experiencing growing pains to say the least. Students, parents, and educators have all expressed serious concerns regarding distance learning. In a survey done by The Education Trust, a statewide poll found that 90 percent of parents are worried about their children falling behind academically due to coronavirus-related school closures. One of the most difficult adjustments to this change, especially for teachers, has been the adoption of digital tools that aid distance learning. We’ve all become much more acquainted with Zoom and Google Meets.
Public Policies
Hong Kong Will Close More Indoor Entertainment Venues, Lam Says
Hong Kong will shutter more indoor entertainment venues, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, amid a surge of Covid-19 cases in the city. “The direction is to cover this kind of premises because according to the WHO, we have to avoid three things: Avoid closed areas, avoid crowds -- the ‘three C’s’ -- and avoid close contacts,” Lam told a weekly briefing Tuesday, the day before she was set to deliver her delayed annual policy address. There will be an announcement later Tuesday on the new virus-related directives, Lam said, without specifying a time, or giving further details about what the closures would encompass. Hong Kong reported 63 new local coronavirus cases on Monday, the most since early August. Concerns are rising about a new wave of infections in a city that had seen initial success in stamping out the outbreak. “Unfortunately we see a rebound, so we need to do our best to keep it under control,” she said. Still, “we have to look at it globally because this is a global pandemic,” she said. “Hong Kong is not doing bad at all.”
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak orders statewide 'pause' for three weeks with restaurants, bars and casinos being forced to reduce capacity as COVID-19 cases surge
Nevada Gov Steve Sisolak has ordered a statewide 'pause' for three weeks Under Sisolak's latest public health orders, restaurants and bars must reduce operations from 50% to 25% of capacity. There are also additional social-distancing requirements, including prohibitions on service without advance reservations, according to the governor. Casinos, which reopened in June after being ordered closed for more than two months following COVID-19 outbreak, will likewise be capped at 25% capacity. Nevada has set daily records for hospitalizations in the last week alone. On Friday, the state reported the most hospitalizations since the pandemic hit the US in March with 1,288; on Sunday, the state reported 1,273 hospitalizations
Covid-19 pandemic: Merkel 'worried' about vaccines for poor countries
Germany's chancellor has raised concerns about the world's poorest securing access to Covid-19 vaccines. Angela Merkel was speaking at a G20 summit which saw leaders promise a fair distribution of jabs. But Mrs Merkel warned progress was slow, saying she would raise the matter with global vaccine alliance GAVI. "We will now speak with GAVI about when these negotiations will begin because I am somewhat worried that nothing has been done on that yet," she said.
Bulgaria Plans Lockdown to Contain Coronavirus Infection Surge
Bulgaria plans to close schools, restaurants and shops and ban all sports events, private celebrations and excursions as it struggles to contain a coronavirus case surge. The Balkan country's health minister Kostadin Angelov said on Monday that the measures, to be debated by the centre-right government on Wednesday, were aimed at preventing a struggling health system from being overwhelmed. New coronavirus cases have doubled in the past week to 23,569, Bulgarian health ministry data showed, bringing the total number to 121,820 in the country of 7 million.
UK PM Johnson sets out new measures to replace COVID lockdown
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out new measures on Monday to replace a COVID-19 lockdown in England from Dec. 2, reinforcing a previous regional approach to try to reopen businesses in areas where infection rates are lower. Just over two weeks after Johnson introduced a national lockdown in England to try to tame a spiralling increase in new coronavirus cases, he said the measures had reduced COVID infection rates and would be eased on Dec. 2 as promised. Johnson has been under pressure to scrap the lockdown from lawmakers in his Conservative Party, where many have threatened to vote against any new restrictions without more evidence of their effect in stemming infections.
Germany Moves Toward Tightening Partial Lockdown Until Dec. 20
A Covid-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc prevented a majority of people from getting the disease but fell short of the bar set by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. The virus is forecast to claim another 30,000 American lives by mid-December. New York state will reopen an emergency facility on Staten Island, where hospital capacity is strained. New York City will be in “dire, dire shape” without federal aid, its mayor said. And in neighboring New Jersey, the number of patients in intensive care jumped 13% in one day.
'Lockdown is working', says Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on COVID-19 plan
As Europe is battling the second wave of the novel coronavirus and has initiated a second lockdown, Spain is one country where the government is satisfied with the 'plan'. Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, on Saturday, appreciated the progress the country has made in the last few weeks and said the plan of containing the virus through lockdown "is working".
France set to continue coronavirus lockdown while easing some restrictions
French President Emmanuel Macron could announce a slight easing of lockdown measures on Tuesday when he addresses the nation in a primetime speech to update on the country's COVID-19 situation. The president is expected to announce an adaptation of restrictions which have been in place since the end of October. Many expect that non-essential commerces may be able to reopen in the month of December. The government has pushed Black Friday back to December 4, the economy minister announced, in order to allow shops to "reopen in the near future", for instance. "To be clear: the lockdown will continue and so there will continue to be limits on travel," said French government spokesman Gabriel Attal in an interview with the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche. There will be three steps of relaxing restrictions, starting in the beginning of December, then before the Christmas holidays, and finally in January 2021, Attal specified.
Maharashtra considering another lockdown to cap Covid-19 surge
The Maharashtra government will decide in the next eight days whether to impose curbs or a complete lockdown depending on the surge in Covid-19 cases, Vijay Wadettiwar relief and rehabilitation minister said Monday. He said that such measures will have to be taken if lives are to be saved. “If needed, in the next eight days, after careful study we will decide whether there is a need for a complete lockdown or imposition of some curbs or add new conditions. Such measures will have to be taken because ultimately lives are important,” the minister said.
South Korea's capital Seoul announces new coronavirus controls
Authorities in the South Korean capital on Monday announced a tightening of social distancing regulations, including shutting nightclubs, limiting service hours at restaurants and reducing public transportation. The measures going into effect on Tuesday also include a ban on public rallies or demonstrations of more than 10 people. Restaurants can provide only take out and delivery after 9 p.m., and public transportation will be limited after 10 p.m. Acting Seoul Mayor Seo Jung-hyup told reporters one-third of city employees will work from home. He recommended that churches convert to online worship services only.
Covid: Australia state reopens border after Covid cases plummet
The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has reopened its border with neighbouring Victoria for the first time since July after coronavirus cases there fell to zero. Victoria, which imposed a tough lockdown after a surge in cases, has reported no new infections since the beginning of November. The state is also relaxing its rules on wearing face masks. Australia has recorded about 900 deaths and 28,000 infections in total.
Johnson says there will be no compulsory COVID vaccination
Britain’s government will not force people to have vaccinations against COVID-19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday. “There will be no compulsory vaccination. That’s not the way we do things in this country,” Johnson told a news conference. “We think it (vaccination) is a good idea, and you know I totally reject the propaganda of the anti-vaxxers, they are wrong,” he said. “Everybody should get a vaccine as soon as it is available.
Maintaining Services
England to use testing to shorten quarantine for incoming passengers
England will introduce a new system on Dec. 15 allowing passengers arriving from high-risk countries to take a COVID-19 test after five days of quarantine and to be released from any further self-isolation if they test negative. Airlines and other companies in the travel and tourism industries had been calling for such a scheme for months, having suffered devastating consequences from a 14-day quarantine rule that has deterred people from travelling. “The move will give passengers the confidence to book international trips in the knowledge that they can return home and isolate for a shorter period if they have received a negative test,” the government said in a statement on Tuesday.
Here’s how the U.S. government plans to distribute the first Covid-19 vaccines.
In the wake of a steady stream of positive results indicating the effectiveness of several coronavirus vaccines, the official in charge of the federal coronavirus vaccine program explained on Sunday news shows how the vaccines might be distributed to Americans as early as next month. Dr. Moncef Slaoui, head of the administration’s Operation Warp Speed, said that within 24 hours after the Food and Drug Administration approves a vaccine, doses will be shipped to states to be distributed. “Within 48 hours from approval,” the first people would likely receive injections, Dr. Slaoui said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”
Qantas announces Covid-19 vaccination will be mandatory for all passengers
An airline has revealed that it will demand proof of a Covid-19 vaccination from international passengers. Head of Australian carrier Qantas has confirmed that having the jab - and being able to prove it - will be required by every passenger wanting to fly abroad on their services. CEO Alan Joyce said that as soon as a vaccine became available, it will become a condition of travel, deeming it a necessity for international travel.
Covid-19 visiting scheme in place at 'small number' of care homes
Most of Northern Ireland's care homes have not implemented a visiting scheme eight weeks after it was announced by the health minister, the chief nursing officer has said. Charlotte McArdle said a "small number" of homes had started up the so-called care partners scheme. Normal care home visits have been suspended due to Covid-19. The care partner initiative allows a designated relative or carer to visit a resident. Guidance on the scheme was announced by Health Minister Robin Swann on 23 September.
US, Germany and UK could start Covid vaccinations as early as December
As G20 leaders pledged to ensure the equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests so that poorer countries are not left out, the US, UK and Germany each announced plans to begin vaccinations in their countries in December, while Spain said it would start administering the vaccine to its citizens in January. Britain could give regulatory approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine as early as this week, even before the US authorises it, the UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported on Sunday. Pfizer and BioNTech could secure emergency US and European authorisation for their Covid-19 vaccine next month after final trial results showed a 95% success rate and no serious side effects.
Gyms and non-essential shops will open after England lockdown ends: BBC
Gyms and non-essential shops in all areas of England are expected to be allowed to reopen when the country’s current lockdown ends on Dec. 2, the BBC reported on Monday.
Hungary imposes restricted shopping hours to protect elderly in pandemic
Hungary’s government on Monday limited retail store visits in an effort to separate elderly shoppers and contain the coronavirus pandemic in the most vulnerable over-65 age group. “This government decree serves the protection of the elderly,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a Facebook video. “The pandemic’s statistics clearly show that the most endangered age group is that of our parents and grandparents. Let’s take care of them.” Hungary has tried for months to avoid a second lockdown and prevent further harm to the economy but was forced to close secondary schools and impose an 8 p.m.-5 a.m curfew.
Gaza declares COVID-19 disaster with health system near collapse
A rapid rise in coronavirus infections in the Gaza Strip has reached a “catastrophic stage”, with the blockaded Palestinian enclave’s medical system likely to collapse soon, health officials warn. COVID is spreading exponentially in Gaza – one of the most crowded places on Earth – especially in refugee camps, and the health ministry has warned of “disastrous” implications.
UK aims to inoculate those most at risk from COVID by Easter - Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that he hoped almost all Britons at high risk from COVID would be vaccinated against the disease by Easter. “We should be able to inoculate, I believe on the evidence I’m seeing, the vast majority of the people who need the most protection by Easter,” Johnson told a news conference.
England to allow 4,000 fans at elite events in lowest-risk areas
Up to 4,000 spectators will be allowed to attend outdoor elite sports events in the lowest-risk tier one areas of England when a month-long national lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 is lifted on Dec. 2, the British government said on Monday.
Healthcare Innovations
AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine Up to 90% Effective in Late-Stage Trials
AstraZeneca PLC and the University of Oxford added their vaccine candidate to a growing list of shots showing promising effectiveness against Covid-19—setting in motion disparate regulatory and distribution tracks that executives and researchers hope will result in the start of widespread vaccinations by the end of the year. AstraZeneca and Oxford said their vaccine was as much as 90% effective in preventing the infection without serious side effects in large clinical trials, though they said the vaccine’s efficacy is up to 90% in late stage trials
Decades of work, and half a dose of fortune, drove Oxford vaccine success
It took Oxford University’s brightest minds decades of work to give them the expertise to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. In the end, it was a momentary error - and a dose of good fortune - that carried them over the line. The Oxford vaccinologists were exhilarated on Monday when drugmaker AstraZeneca, with whom they developed the shot, announced that it could be around 90% effective, citing data from late-stage trials. “It can only happen if extraordinary support is provided,” Adrian Hill, director of Oxford University’s Jenner Institute which developed the shot, told Reuters. “We had pretty well the whole institute in Oxford working on this vaccine.” While skill and hard work drove development, AstraZeneca said it was a minor mistake that made the team realise how they could significantly boost the shot’s success rate, to as much as 90% from around 60%: by administering a half dose, followed by a full dose a month later. The Oxford vaccinologists were exhilarated on Monday when drugmaker AstraZeneca, with whom they developed the shot, announced that it could be around 90% effective, citing data from late-stage trials. “It can only happen if extraordinary support is provided,” Adrian Hill, director of Oxford University’s Jenner Institute which developed the shot, told Reuters. “We had pretty well the whole institute in Oxford working on this vaccine.”