"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 16th Dec 2020

Isolation Tips
Pets Help Counter Lockdown Blues
The UK’s reputation as a nation of animal lovers has strengthened even further over the course of 2020, with a surge of new pets helping to comfort owners against a backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Sainsbury’s Bank, almost a quarter (24%) of UK adults say they have either welcomed a new pet into their home since March 2020 or are planning to do so before Easter 2021. Findings from the bank revealed that around half (47%) of those people who have taken in a new pet have done so for reasons of companionship and improved mental health support. Other positive advantages also emerged from the research. In addition to lifting the spirits through lockdown, about a fifth of owners (22%) pointed out that their health had improved thanks to exercising with their pet.
Hygiene Helpers
US vaccinations ramp up as feds weigh 2nd COVID-19 shot
Hundreds more U.S. hospitals will begin vaccinating their workers Tuesday as federal health officials review a second COVID-19 shot needed to boost the nation’s largest vaccination campaign. Packed in dry ice to stay at ultra-frozen temperatures, shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are set to arrive at 400 additional hospitals and other distribution sites, one day after the nation’s death toll surpassed a staggering 300,000. The first 3 million shots are being strictly rationed to front-line health workers and elder-care patients, with hundreds of millions more shots needed over the coming months to protect most Americans. The FDA is set to publish its analysis of a second rigorously studied COVID-19 vaccine, which could soon join Pfizer-BioNTech’s in the fight against the pandemic. If FDA advisers give it a positive recommendation on Thursday, the agency could greenlight the vaccine from drugmaker Moderna later this week.
Community Activities
Paris Opera singers go digital after COVID keeps theatres closed
Just five days before they were due to perform before a live audience for the first time in almost two months, the singers of the Paris Opera learned they could not re-open before January as France’s coronavirus cases remained stubbornly high. So they decided to film their performance of works by a young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and 18th century French composers Chevalier de Saint-Georges and Andre Gretry and offer it on a new video-on-demand portal launched last week by the Opera de Paris, which runs the Garnier and the Bastille opera venues. “Of course it is sad, but we’re very lucky to be able to film this concert, especially because some pieces of music that will be played have never been recorded”, said French soprano Pauline Texier.
Many African, Asian families marry off daughters amid virus
The man first caught a glimpse of Marie Kamara as she ran with her friends past his house near the village primary school. Soon after, he proposed to the fifth-grader. “I’m going to school now. I don’t want to get married and stay in the house,” she told him. But the pressures of a global pandemic on this remote corner of Sierra Leone were greater than the wishes of a schoolgirl. Nearby mining operations had slowed with the global economy. Business fell off at her stepfather’s tailoring shop, where outfits he had sewn now gathered dust. The family needed money. Her suitor was a small-scale miner in his mid-20s, but his parents could provide rice for Marie’s four younger sisters and access to their watering hole. They could pay cash. Before long, Marie was seated on a floor mat in a new dress as his family presented hers with 500,000 leones ($50) inside a calabash bowl along with the traditional kola nut
2.7 billion people did not get state aid during pandemic: Oxfam
The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures to contain it have hit millions of people hard, with poverty set to increase sharply in almost every country for the first time in decades unless action is taken now, according to a new report by Oxfam. Hundreds of millions of people have lost their jobs and income, and 2.7 billion people have not received any public financial support to deal with the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Oxfam said in the report published on Tuesday.
BAME groups hit by Covid 'triple whammy', official UK study finds
Black and minority ethnic groups suffered a “triple whammy of threats” to their mental health, incomes and life expectancy that left them more vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic when it took hold earlier this year, according to the UK government’s official statistics body. Research from the Office for National Statistics into the wellbeing of different ethnic groups in the UK showed that 27% of people from black backgrounds reported in April finding it difficult to make financial ends meet, compared with fewer than 10% among most white groups.
Working Remotely
3 Ways to Set Boundaries When You Work from Home
When your house is your office and vice versa it becomes increasingly difficult to separate work and home. Instead of concentrating solely on the task at hand, you’re distracted by the pile of laundry waiting to be done or the TV that’s just itching to be turned on. At an office, neither of these things are a possibility, so while offices have their own distractions, working solo at home arguably comes with more. Not to mention, some semblance of a work-life balance is already a challenge to maintain, but doing so when you’re working and living in the same space takes effort and one (or more!) of these strategies.
'We'd just begun our careers - and then the pandemic hit'
The sudden lockdown in March this year turned the world of work upside down. Millions were sent home to refashion their living rooms into a place to do business. For many that was a challenge, but imagine what it was like for those of us only just beginning our working lives.
Howard Levitt: Remote working arrangements need to be codified with clear guidelines to boost productivity
As this year comes to a close, some working Canadians will still be phoning it in — literally — and doing so for the foreseeable future. But even at this late hour, the long-term consequences of remote working are just being discerned. Amid the chaos of the early lockdowns, businesses had no choice but to frantically, sometimes frenetically, adapt. As large portions of the workforce were ordered to work from home, employees too had to quickly acclimate to an unfamiliar environment. Often, it was the blind leading the blind. Almost a year later, most remote workers have become quite comfortable with their circumstances. For employers, not so much. As a considerable portion of the workforce continues to work unseen, many businesses have struggled for quality and consistency
Virtual Classrooms
Schools Work to Speed Up Internet in Rural Homes for Remote Learning
In the U.S., school districts and cities are racing to bridge a digital divide that has existed for decades. According to data collected before the pandemic, approximately 30% of U.S. K-12 public-school students lived in households without either an internet connection or a device adequate for distance learning. That is 16 million children. At least 39 states have said they would use funds from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (Cares) Act to help school districts close the tech gap, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The hardest part is determining exactly who needs access. School districts survey parents about their internet needs but don’t always get a high response rate.
Despite virtual learning era, some Pennsylvania schools opt for snow day ahead of winter storm: 'Just be a kid'
In Pennsylvania, nearly every school district in the Delaware Valley has a few snow days baked into the calendar just in case Old Man Winter decides to unload on the region during the academic year. But is there ever a real need to cancel classes now that so many students are already learning remotely courtesy of COVID-19? It turns out several of those school districts still say, yes.
Home school parents have some tips for school districts and parents on how to improve virtual instruction
With more school districts switching to virtual learning because of COVID-19, and many encountering challenges with the transition, parents whose children have been doing virtual learning from home since before the pandemic started — via home schooling — have some tips for both for schools and parents.
Boston Public Schools officials report rise in students missing classes as course failures increase
The coronavirus pandemic forced Boston Public Schools students out of the classroom and onto a computer screen, but nearly a quarter of them did not log into classes on any given day this fall and there was an increase in course failures across all four core subjects, according to school data presented during a Saturday meeting that hints at ongoing academic disengagement. Moving to virtual and distance learning during the public health crisis raised a myriad of concerns last spring, from waning student performance, to deteriorating mental health, to widening gaps in educational inequality as nearly all students need access to technology, internet service, and parental support from home.
English Learners Are Falling Further Behind In The Virtual Classroom
In the U.S., English learners are receiving D’s and F’s at higher rates than other student groups during distance learning, according to recent data released by several San Diego County school districts. While all student groups are failing classes at higher rates than they were before the pandemic, the English learner population is in some classes receiving twice as many D’s and F’s this school year compared to the 2019-2020 school year.
Public Policies
Britain to spend $5 billion on vaccines and bear liability, watchdog says
Britain has agreed to spend 3.7 billion pounds ($4.93 billion) on COVID-19 vaccines and in most cases will bear the liability if claims are made against the pharmaceutical firms involved, the National Audit Office (NAO) said on Wednesday. The government has agreed supply deals for 357 million doses of seven different candidate shots, but has not gone into detail about how much it has spent or indemnity agreements, citing commercial confidentiality around the contracts. The NAO said the business ministry had signed firm deals for five of the candidates, including the Pfizer/BioNTech shot which has already been approved and is being rolled out, as well as those developed by Oxford/AstraZeneca, France’s Valneva, Novavax and Moderna. Britain also has deals in principle for Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline’s shot as well as Johnson & Johnson’s candidate.
COVID-19 vaccine costs could reach £12bn, as drug companies demand immunity from potential legal cases
Up to 267 million doses of COVID vaccines were purchased by the government at a cost of £2.9 billion, according to the public spending watchdog. And the National Audit Office (NAO) estimates the total cost of buying and deploying vaccines - and investing in global access schemes - could reach £11.7bn.
Peru says negotiations to secure Sinopharm vaccine 'well advanced'
Negotiations between Peru and China’s Sinopharm to purchase COVID-19 vaccines are “well advanced,” the government said on Tuesday, as the hard-hit Andean nation scrambles to lock down supplies to combat the virus. The announcement comes just days after local authorities temporarily suspended a 12,000 participant trial for the Chinese firm´s vaccine after a volunteer fell ill. The case is still under investigation. “The negotiations with ... Sinopharm are well advanced, with {only} minor details to be verified,” Peruvian Foreign Minister Elizabeth Astete told a legislative commission.
Lebanon to get first batch of COVID-19 vaccines in two months, minister says
Lebanon is expected to sign a deal this week for supplies of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine and is set to receive the first batch eight weeks after that, the caretaker health minister said. A surge in infections is straining Lebanon’s healthcare system which has been struggling amid a financial crisis and after a huge port explosion in August smashed up hospitals in Beirut. Despite the nation’s dire shortage of foreign exchange, the government expects to sign the $18 million deal for supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week, Health Minister Hamad Hassan told Reuters
Supreme Court continues to block state COVID-19 restrictions on religious gatherings
The Supreme Court continued its solicitude toward religious freedom in the face of a pandemic Tuesday by giving religious leaders in New Jersey and Colorado another chance to block strict limits on houses of worship. The action followed similar ones affecting religious institutions in New York and California. In all four cases, the high court indicated that states may not impose stricter standards on churches, synagogues and mosques than they do on most commercial establishments.
Sweden’s Second Wave Offers Hard Reality Check
Every country has at one point dared to believe they’ve figured out how to beat SARS-CoV-2, until reality sets in. The U.K.’s misguided flirtation with a hands-off “herd immunity” strategy in March led quickly to a U-turn and tough restrictions. France and Spain promised they’d never repeat the draconian lockdowns they imposed early on — only to break their vow when test-and-trace systems failed to keep pace with summer vacation contagion. Israelis, who after a first lockdown were told to enjoy life and “have a beer,” are now facing a third one. Donald Trump recently claimed he’d ended the pandemic (he hadn’t).
Coronavirus pandemic: France imposes 8pm curfew after lifting lockdown
As Europe's surge eases off slightly, France is planning to lift a six-week lockdown from Tuesday but impose a curfew from 8pm, including on New Year's Eve.
Netherlands set for five-week coronavirus lockdown with schools, shops and gyms closing until mid January
The Netherlands is set to enter a tough second lockdown for at least five weeks, the country's prime minister has announced. The tough new nationwide measures mean schools, non-essential shops, museums and gyms will close at midnight until January 19. In a rare televised address, Mark Rutte told the nation: "We have to bite through this very sour apple before things get better.” As he spoke from his office in The Hague, protesters could be heard blowing whistles outside. "The reality is that this is is not an innocent flu as some people - like the demonstrators outside - think," he said. "But a virus that can hit everybody hard.”
Covid-19: New Zealand and Australia agree on quarantine-free travel bubble
New Zealand has agreed to a quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia "in principle". The country's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said trips under the agreement could begin early next year. However, the much-anticipated deal will depend on the Covid-19 situation in both counties remaining as it is now.
Prepare for a short lockdown while on holiday, pack a 'Covid kit', Government warns
Holidaymakers in New Zealand are being asked to pack a “Covid kit” and stay put at their campgrounds if Covid-19 emerges during the summer break. The Government has assembled a Covid-19 resurgence plan aimed at giving the country an unrestricted holiday, as Britons arrange “Christmas bubbles”, the Netherlands and Germany enter lockdowns, and the pandemic death toll in the United States eclipses 300,000 people. The resurgence plan largely resembles the existing response, with loosely mapped out summer scenarios providing some guide to travellers about how to respond to Covid-19 cases. Holidaymakers may be asked to return home if an alert level change occurs, and events may be cancelled.
South Africa tightens restrictions further as COVID-19 infections rise
South Africa imposed further COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, closing down beaches on the eastern coast and limiting large public gatherings ahead of the festive season, as the country looks to slow a sharp rise in infections. South Africa, which has recorded 866,127 total coronavirus cases, has seen a sharp spike in infections since the start of December with reported cases hovering around 8,000 per day in last few days, from around 3,000 in November. The country’s reported daily cases in the first wave peaked at around 14,000 in July.
Covid safety advice at Christmas ‘set to be significantly strengthened’
Guidance from the Government about how to safely celebrate Christmas across the UK is expected to be strengthened, it has been reported. Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove held talks with leaders of the four devolved nations on Tuesday night about the plans to ease coronavirus restrictions over a four day period for Christmas. And following the discussions the Government’s advice on how to safely celebrate over the festive period will be “significantly strengthened” in the coming days, reports BBC News. However, the broadcaster added that plans to allow up to three households to form a bubble from December 23 to 27 is not expected to change.
Singapore announces plans to allow entry to business travellers from all countries
Singapore is set to launch a new segregated travel lane for business travellers on short-term stays, Chan Chun Sing, the country's Minister for Trade and Industry announced on Tuesday via a post on his verified Facebook account. The special travel lane, called the Connect@Singapore initiative, "will be open to a limited number of business, official, and high economic value travelers from all countries who are coming to Singapore for short-term stays of up to 14 days," Chan said. The applications for this initiative will open in mid-January of 2021.
Ex-FDA chief Gottlieb pushes for antibody manufacturing scale up as 2021 pandemic 'insurance policy'
Even as COVID-19 vaccines start to creep across the regulatory finish line, supplies will be limited for months at least. Meanwhile, antibody drugs, hailed as a crucial stopgap treatment since the pandemic's early days, are scarce, thanks to federal manufacturing missteps earlier this year. But the U.S. government has the power to ratchet up production of COVID-19 antibody therapies—a move it should pursue if it hopes to snare an “insurance policy” against the pandemic in 2021, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., wrote in The Wall Street Journal. The two antibodies sporting an emergency nod in the U.S.—Regeneron’s cocktail REGN-COV2 and Eli Lilly’s bamlanivimab—aren’t that difficult to make, but supplies are tight because the government failed to lock down sufficient manufacturing space in the spring, Gottlieb said.
Tourists in Turkey can roam freely, but locals are in lockdown
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. But when in Turkey, do whatever you please — but only if you are a tourist. According to some latest news reports, just like many other countries, Turkey has also been witnessing a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, and to bring things under control, the country’s capital Istanbul instituted a lockdown, which is in force on weekends only — between 9.00 pm on Fridays and 5.00 am on Mondays. But, this lockdown does not apply to international tourists — it is for local residents only. According to a New York Times report, most museums stayed open for visitors, and hotel restaurants were allowed to remain open, but only for guests. In fact, the lockdown was monitored by police, who checked IDs to make sure locals stayed home. Anyone found flouting the norm was fined.
Netherlands and Czech Republic to enforce strict Christmas lockdowns
The Netherlands and the Czech Republic have said they will follow Germany into strict second lockdowns over the holiday period, with Italy weighing similar measures to avoid a fresh surge in coronavirus infections over Christmas and new year. In a rare television address, the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, said non-essential shops and businesses, gyms, museums, cinemas and theatres would close for five weeks after the country’s seven-day new case average rose by more than 40% in the past week. Bars and restaurants in the Netherlands have been closed since mid-October but the partial lockdown has not slowed the spread of the virus enough, Rutte said, as anti-lockdown protesters booed and whistled outside his office.
Maintaining Services
U.S. Government Begins Covid-19 Education Campaign
The U.S. government is hurrying to start a messaging campaign on social media, TV and radio this week to motivate the public to get inoculated with Covid-19 vaccines once supply increases and they become available, likely next year. The $250 million effort aims to increase vaccine acceptance by focusing on the science behind Covid-19 vaccines, including one from Pfizer and BioNTech. It is the government's second try after officials scrapped a previous one that sought to pair doctors with celebrities. Set to run through August, the aim is to appeal to ethnic and minority groups, older Americans and others who may be skeptical about taking the shots, said Mark Weber, deputy assistant secretary for public affairs at Health and Human Services
Parisians enjoy taste of lockdown freedom ahead of Christmas, while hospitality workers protest bar and restaurant ban set to last until January 20
Parisians last night enjoyed a taste of lockdown freedom ahead of Christmas, while hospitality workers took to the streets in protest at a festive season ban. In a Christmas Village at Hotel de Ville in the heart of the French capital last night, masked revellers were seen enjoying fairground rides and market stalls. But while some enjoyed the festivities, just a short distance away, near the Arc de Triomphe, face mask-wearing police officers protested their working conditions. Hospitality workers also protested a possible ban on reopening bars and restaurants until January 20. It comes as France plans to ease measures from its second national lockdown today.
France's culture sector mobilises over continued closures as Covid-19 lockdown lifts
France emerges from its second Covid-19 lockdown on Tuesday. But with new daily coronavirus infections still high above the government's 5,000-a-day objective, the easing will not look like it did in May. An 8pm-to-6am curfew goes into effect, except for Christmas Eve, and cultural venues remain closed, sparking anger in the sector. As the second lockdown lifts, theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and sporting venues remain closed, at least until January 7 – after a holiday season that, while normally lucrative for the culture sector, has authorities concerned festive gatherings this year will spur further the spread of the novel coronavirus. French authorities justified keeping the venues shuttered in order to "avoid increasing public crowd flows, concentrations, and intermingling", but the decision has irked the culture sector in France after a difficult year.
Delivery Workers in South Korea Say They’re Dying of ‘Overwork’
At a logistics depot the size of an airplane hangar in southern Seoul, couriers recently held a ritual at the start of another grueling work day: They stood for a moment of silence to remember more than a dozen fellow couriers who they say died this year from overwork. “We won’t be surprised here if one of us drops dead, too,” said Choi Ji-na, one of the couriers. Ms. Choi, 43, and other delivery workers in South Korea say they feel lucky to have jobs amid growing unemployment, and that they are proud to play an essential role in keeping the country’s Covid-19 cases down by delivering record numbers of packages to customers who prefer to stay safe at home.
Europe wanted to keep schools open this winter. Coronavirus surges have disrupted those plans.
Surging coronavirus outbreaks in a number of nations are forcing governments to close schools, despite initial promises to keep them open this winter. The latest country to change course is Germany, where most schools will move to distance learning Wednesday as part of tougher new lockdown rules. Widening outbreaks have also triggered the closure of schools in the Netherlands and in Asia, where the South Korean capital, Seoul, opted for similar measures this week.
Northern Ireland hospital treating patients in parked ambulances
Patients were being treated in the back of ambulances in a Northern Ireland hospital car park on Tuesday, a health official said, a day after a warning that COVID-19 was putting healthcare under “unbearable pressures”. The British-run region has been in and out of some form of lockdown since mid-October when it was one of Europe’s worst COVID-19 hotbeds. The most recent curbs were lifted last week, when all shops, restaurants and pubs serving food reopened.
California orders 5,000 body bags amid "most intense" coronavirus surge
California has ordered 5,000 body bags as the state undergoes its "most intense" COVID-19 surge to date, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday. Why it matters: California saw 32,326 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and has reached a 14-day average positivity rate of 10.7%, its highest since the pandemic began. With daily COVID deaths four times higher than they were just a month ago, the state has placed 60 53-foot refrigerated storage units on standby and activated its coroner mutual aid and mass fatality program.
Dutch shopkeepers grapple with sudden Christmas lockdown
Shopkeepers in the Netherlands on Tuesday were grappling with the effects of a new lockdown, which meant they suddenly had to close their doors in what should have been the busiest and most lucrative part of the year. “Obviously it is a big loss, this time of year is extremely important to us”, said Robert Reuter, the owner of City Diamonds in the center of Amsterdam. “It is a very hard decision, it is bitter for us, but I think it is necessary.” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Monday night announced a tough second lockdown in the Netherlands, in a push to drive down the coronavirus infection rate, which has rapidly moved back to record levels in the past week.
Healthcare Innovations
Valneva to start clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine candidate in UK
French pharmaceutical firm Valneva will start the first clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate at four sites in England, Britain’s business ministry said on Wednesday. The Phase I and Phase II trials involve 150 volunteers in Bristol, Birmingham, Southampton and Newcastle, and will be designed to show whether the vaccine is safe and produces an immune response. If these are successful, larger trials are planned for April 2021 to determine efficacy. There are four other vaccine candidates undergoing clinical trials in the United Kingdom.
FDA Clears First At-Home, Over-the-Counter Covid-19 Test
The first Covid-19 test that can be performed entirely at home was cleared by U.S. regulators on Tuesday, and it can be acquired without a prescription. While availability will be limited initially, the new test and others in development could make virus screenings as accessible as over-the-counter pregnancy tests in the U.S. for the first time. The advance follows months of criticism that the Food and Drug Administration has been too slow to approve rapid home tests for the virus. Manufactured by East Brisbane, Australia-based Ellume, the self-administered, single-use nasal swab test is small enough to fit in the palm of a person’s hand. It detects proteins on the virus’s surface in 15 minutes and delivers results to an app.
US regulator deems Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine ‘highly effective’
The US regulator has found Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine to be safe and “highly effective”, clearing the way for a second jab to receive emergency use authorisation later this week. The US Food and Drug Administration report on Moderna’s vaccine trials on Tuesday suggested that immunity starts about 10 days after the first of two injections, much like the one made by Pfizer and BioNTech, which received emergency use authorisation last week. A second approval could significantly expand access to Covid-19 vaccines in the US, where the pandemic has now killed more than 300,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University data. While the US government has been offering to help Pfizer expand manufacturing capacity, it secured another pre-order for 100m Moderna vaccines last week, bringing its total to 200m.
EU regulator brings forward Covid vaccine ruling after German pressure
The EU drug regulator has brought forward its ruling on the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine after Germany made it clear it wanted approval before Christmas. The Amsterdam-based European Medicines Agency’s announcement that it will meet on 21 December instead of 29 December to decide whether to authorise the shot followed a growing backlash from desperate EU countries, with the German health minister, Jens Spahn, saying that the agency risked losing the trust of EU citizens if it did not act fast. “The goal is to get approval before Christmas,” he told a press conference in Berlin. “We want to start vaccinating in Germany before the end of the year.” Italy’s health minister, Roberto Speranza, said he hoped the EMA “will be able to approve the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine ahead of schedule”.
New coronavirus strain spreading in UK has key mutations, scientists say
British scientists are trying to establish whether the rapid spread in southern England of a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 is linked to key mutations they have detected in the strain, they said on Tuesday. The mutations include changes to the important “spike” protein that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus uses to infect human cells, a group of scientists tracking the genetics of the virus said, but it is not yet clear whether these are making it more infectious. "Efforts are under way to confirm whether or not any of these mutations are contributing to increased transmission," the scientists, from the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium, said in a statement
FDA scientists endorse Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, as documents provide new hints on efficacy
Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration endorsed the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Moderna as safe and efficacious on Tuesday, one day after the first doses of a competing vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech were delivered across the United States. The FDA reviewers said that the two-dose vaccine “was highly effective” in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 from occurring “at least 14 days after the receipt of the second dose.” Vaccine-related side effects, such as aches and pains, appeared more severe than with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, though such comparisons should be made with caution and are in no way expected to slow the clearance of the vaccine or present major concerns. There was also preliminary evidence that the vaccine has some efficacy after one dose, and that it prevents asymptomatic Covid-19 cases — those that occur without a person ever feeling ill
Australia's initial vaccine rollout unlikely to stop Covid transmission, study finds
It is unlikely that the first generation of Covid-19 vaccines rolled out in Australia in 2021 will prevent virus transmission, making ongoing high levels of testing, strong contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine crucial, a review commissioned by the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences has found. The academy comprises more than 400 senior researchers, and the review outlines steps for Australia’s pandemic response into the new year. It was authored by the director of the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases Prof Tania Sorrell and University of Queensland immunologist Prof Ian Frazer.
Study finds no link between COVID-19, Guillain-Barré syndrome
A large epidemiologic study in the United Kingdom today finds no association between COVID-19 and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), an autoimmune condition linked to other bacterial and viral infections. GBS is a rare neurologic disease that attacks the peripheral nervous system—typically the feet, hands, and limbs—causing numbness, weakness, pain, and occasionally, fatal paralysis or permanent neurological effects. The most common trigger for GBS is infection with Campylobacter jejuni, a bacterial strain that causes gastroenteritis, or infection of the digestive tract.