"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 21st Jan 2021

Isolation Tips
Lockdown, quarantine and self-isolation: How COVID restrictions affect our mental health
In the year since the city of Wuhan, China, went into the world's first coronavirus lockdown, we have all had to live under some form of pandemic-related restriction. Some countries have opted for strict national lockdowns, like the one currently in place in the UK, while other countries such as Taiwan have opted for border closures and mandatory quarantine for overseas arrivals. Such different approaches to restricting movement have different effects on our well-being.
The silent epidemic: Abuse against Spanish women rises during lockdown
Fewer Spanish women were killed by their partner or ex-partner in 2020 than in previous years, but that statistic masks a rise in gender-based violence as COVID lockdowns left victims confined with their abusers, rights groups and officials say. Emails to abuse helplines soared nearly six-fold in April, the first full month of Spain’s lockdown. “Control-based violence - which doesn’t murder, but is insidious and devastating - grew, because violent partners already had women under their physical control,” Victoria Rosell, the ministry’s top official on gender abuse issues, told reporters on Wednesday. In 2020 overall, calls to the government’s abuse helpline rose 15% while emails increased more than 230%, but contact with victims was often lost as enforced cohabitation pushed women to seek help silently to avoid partners’ reprisals.
Having plants at home improves psychological well-being during lockdown
An international study coordinated by the Research Group for Urban Nature and Biosystems Engineering (NATURIB) from the University of Seville's Escuela Técnica Superior of Agricultural Engineering emphasizes that having plants at home had a positive influence on the psychological well-being of the dwelling's inhabitants during COVID-19 lockdown. Researchers from the Hellenic Mediterranean University (Greece), the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco (Brazil) and the University of Genoa (Italy) participated in the study along with representatives from the University of Seville.
Hygiene Helpers
Coronavirus vaccine passports will leave bosses on shaky legal ground
With more than four million people in Britain having received a first dose of the Covid vaccine and another ten million or more expected to do so over the next month, there is a clamour for those protected from the virus to be allowed to go about their normal lives. Many businesses, particularly in the transport and travel industries, believe that vaccine passports could offer a way out of restrictions and governments are reviewing the feasibility of such schemes.
Biden starts term with COVID actions on masks, support for WHO
The 46th US president, Joe Biden, will make several executive orders today pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, including issuing a mask mandate on federal grounds, reports CNN. Biden will also ask Americans to wear a mask when in public for the next 100 days, and to adhere to physical distancing. He has already set forth a goal of distributing 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the next 100 days. "As you've heard the president-elect say, the pandemic will continue to get worse before it gets better," Jeff Zients, the incoming White House COVID-19 response coordinator, told reporters according to the Washington Post. "This is clearly a national emergency and we will treat it as such."
COVID-19: Plans for daily testing in schools put on hold over worries about accuracy
Plans for daily tests in schools are being halted amid warnings about the accuracy of lateral flow tests. The rapid turnaround tests were due to be used to keep pupils and staff in school if they had come into contact with a positive case.
Israel extends Covid lockdown despite vaccination drive
The Israeli government decided Tuesday to extend the country's coronavirus lockdown to the end of the month after a spike in infections, despite an intensive vaccination campaign. Israel began its third lockdown in late December and tightened it on January 8, with officials saying at the time it would be lifted after two weeks if the daily caseload decreased sufficiently. Since the rollout of vaccinations one month ago, the Jewish state had innoculated more than 2.2 million of its nine million inhabitants, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Tuesday.
Community Activities
Distributing the COVID-19 vaccine ... the just way
A look at COVID-19 vaccine distribution and how the developing world will almost certainly be left behind in the vaccination process.
Coronavirus: French students highlight pandemic's mental health toll
French students have planned a series of protests on Wednesday to draw attention to the rising mental health problems many say they are suffering as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. A combination of isolation, inactivity and a broader loss of purpose has left many students close to breakdown, according to university psychologists. Student mental health resources, such as counsellors, have been overwhelmed by the numbers seeking help in recent weeks. In the last two weeks alone, two undergraduates in Lyon have tried to take their lives.
Covid: Crops 'damaged nationwide' by lockdown walkers avoiding mud
Crops are "being damaged nationwide" by lockdown walkers avoiding mud, a rural business organisation has said. The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said an influx of people walking over planted crops was affecting farmers' businesses. One farmer said there had been a tenfold increase in walkers during lockdown, while another had seen a 5ft (1.5m) path widen to 36ft (11m) across. Walking charity Ramblers said people must "stick to marked paths". CLA president Mark Bridgeman said while he did not want to discourage people from using the countryside, "crops are being damaged nationwide" by those avoiding quagmires.
China triumphant one year after Wuhan lockdown
"People Supremacy, Life Supremacy" reads the sign at a Wuhan exhibition, where visitors are greeted by a paean to China's triumph over the pandemic and the agility of its communist leadership in a crisis. Saturday marks one year since the start of a 76-day lockdown of Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus was first detected before sweeping across the world and killing more than two million people. With China's official death toll from the virus under 5,000, Beijing is on a prolonged victory lap to promote its narrative of how it contained Covid-19, engineered vaccines and rebooted its economy.
Australian Open linked to more coronavirus cases after arrivals for grand slam
Ten people who have flown to Melbourne for the Australian Open have tested positive to coronavirus, authorities said. Lisa Neville, police minister for the state of Victoria, reported three new cases on Wednesday, adding one of the cases was a player who has been in "hard lockdown" since arrival into Australia as he came in on a flight where positive cases had been recorded. The second case related to another player and the third is a support person with the player, she added. Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said the safety of the Victorian community will not be compromised, but added the body was walking a "tightrope"
New Zealand Hosts 20,000-Person Concert as Country Marks 2 Months Without COVID in Community
On January 16, New Zealand held a 20,000-person outdoor concert where attendees neither had to wear face masks nor observe social distancing measures. The concert occurred as the country marked its second month without any new COVID-19 transmissions occurring between citizens. The concert was the first stop in the six-stop summer tour of the native soul-pop band Six60. Before Six60's concert, the country had hosted various New Year's Eve music festivals that also had massive crowds, including Rhythm and Vines, Rhythm & Alps and the Northern Bass festivals, each held in different parts of the nation, according to NME
Is Joe Wicks ok?
Cometh a third lockdown, cometh Joe Wicks: once more beaming positivity and PE lessons into our lounges. But what about his own mental state? Kerry Potter stretches off and listens to his woes
Race, income inequality fuel COVID disparities in US counties
A study today in JAMA Network Open details US county-level COVID-19 infection and death inequities based on racial composition and income in the first 200 days of the pandemic, adding to mounting evidence of disproportionate burdens among racial minorities and those of lower income levels. Researchers from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and DePaul University analyzed data from seven US agencies and organizations on all but 1 of 3,142 counties in 50 states and Washington, D.C. from Jan 22 to Aug 8. They found that a 1.0% increase in a county's income inequality was associated with a 2.0% increase in COVID-19 infection and a 3.0% rise in related deaths.
Desperate relatives of Covid patients in Brazil queue for hours to fill their loved-ones' oxygen tanks as mutant strain ravages country
Amozonas state has been gripped by a devastating resurgence of the disease and doctors at hospitals in Manaus, the rainforest's largest city, are having to decide which of their patients should get oxygen. Desperate family members queued up outside a local oxygen plant during a downpour on Tuesday. They arrived with huge green tanks to be filled with oxygen and then rushed back to their ailing relatives. Comes as Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro dispatched oxygen to the region infuriating President Jair Bolsonaro. 'He could give aid to his people too, right? Wages there don't buy half a kilo of rice,' Bolsonaro said
Winterwatch wildlife to help get us all through coronavirus lockdown three
Springwatch helped many people in the UK get through the first lockdown. So it was a joy to have Winterwatch on our screens, reminding us that even during these dark days we can still be inspired by the great outdoors. Winterwatch presenter Chris Packham says: “People think winter’s a dead time, which is so wrong. All of our seasons are always setting up for the next one.They are always dynamic, so there’s always an enormous amount of things going on. You have the bite of the cold up your nose and beautiful clear skies – and it’s a great time to see wildlife. Now is the time to make that extra special effort.”
Working Remotely
Back to the office: Meet some of the firms that have committed to new London HQs
In England, government guidance remains to work from home where you can, and the central London office leasing market suffered drastically last year. It was hit as bosses held off property move decisions, and many waited to see how staff coped away from HQs. However, despite market concerns home working is here to stay, a number of firms have shown confidence in the London office post-pandemic, inking deals for new space. The way buildings are occupied in future may change, with many companies poised to embrace a mix of home and office work, but recent lettings show that for some chief executives, having a base in town remains vital.
Is remote work making us paranoid?
The number of people working remotely has skyrocketed since January 2020, with approximately half the U.S. labor force working from home in the early days of the pandemic, according to a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Those workers tend to be more educated and wealthier than workers whose jobs cannot be performed remotely, and low-wage workers have been much more likely to lose their jobs during the pandemic.While some have returned to the office since last spring, a significant number have not. Many estimates of how many workers office workers projected to work permanently at home, post-pandemic, range from 20% to 30%, up from under 10% before the coronavirus. But millions more Americans communicating completely virtually with their co-workers does not mean our emotional office dynamics have caught up yet to our new videoconference world. Many are feeling a spectrum of new anxieties about their interactions with colleagues.
Working remotely abroad is here to stay
This year, millions of us started working from home for the first time. Companies around the world, big and small, realised that their staff could be just as productive, if not more so, if they worked remotely. Many established a better work-life balance and enjoyed the freedom of not having to get the 7.30 train into the office every day. Great swathes of people left London to move to rural destinations that would have required torturous commutes before. People were given a taste of a new way to live. Work became more flexible, and the idea of offices with their florescent lights and soul-destroying cubicles now feels increasingly dated and unnecessarily costly. As the vaccine is dished out to the elderly and vulnerable, the idea of a post-pandemic world no longer feels like pie in the sky. One thing that looks increasingly likely is that, when this is all over, the office will not be the same again. Our concept of where and how we work has forever changed - for the better.
Virtual Classrooms
Education must act on advances made during lockdowns
Jamie Beaton is the founder of Crimson Education and CEO of Crimson Global Academy, New Zealand’s first registered online high school.He writes "The Government must now focus on the opportunities the Covid-19 pandemic has provided our country, not just the threats. In an education sense, we’ve heard about the disruption the pandemic caused to students and teachers, and its impact on assessments. At the same time, many capital projects across schools and universities will be deferred. We’ve heard less about just how clever our education providers and students have been in advancing their digital capability. By that, I mean successfully fast-tracking their ability to educate and learn online."
School attendance in England higher than first lockdown
School attendance in England is five times higher than during the first lockdown, official figures show. One in five (21%) primary school pupils and one in 20 (5%) secondary school pupils went into school last week, the Department for Education reports. Only 4% of state primary school pupils and 1% from state secondaries were in school during closures last year. The increase has been driven in part by children without laptops or tablets being allowed to attend school. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of Schools and Colleges, said schools were "under tremendous pressure" as they juggled pupils learning in school and online.
Public Policies
PH to receive COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX Facility within 1st quarter of this year
The country is set to receive COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility within the first quarter of this year, government officials said on Wednesday night. This was announced by Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III and Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr.
COVID-19: 'Real-world' analysis of coronavirus vaccine in Israel raises questions about UK strategy
The first real-world analysis of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine suggests it is matching its performance in clinical trials, but raises serious questions about the UK's decision to delay the second dose. Scientists in Israel - which is leading the COVID-19 vaccination race - have told Sky News that they are "very hopeful" having studied preliminary data from 200,000 vaccinated people. But crucially they say their results do not show efficacy at a level close to that used by the UK to justify delaying the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech jab.
New CDC director to take over beleaguered agency amid worsening COVID-19 crisis
Dr. Rochelle Walensky will be tasked with reasserting the agency while the pandemic is in its deadliest phase yet and the nation’s largest-ever vaccination campaign is wracked by confusion and delays
Outer Hebrides islands put into lockdown as Covid takes hold
About 1,000 islanders on Barra in the Outer Hebrides are taking a “robust and responsible” approach to being placed in full lockdown from midnight on Tuesday, as a coronavirus outbreak spreads to affect about 16% of the population. Having kept the virus off the 11-mile-long island since the pandemic began, there are now 45 positive tests with a further 140 individuals self-isolating. Although islanders were already observing a voluntary lockdown as the outbreak spread rapidly since taking hold in the second week of January, Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday that the islands of Barra and Vatersay, which are connected by a causeway, would go into tier 4, the highest level of Scotland’s five levels of Covid controls.
Germany extends and tightens COVID lockdown
Germany's coronavirus restrictions will stay in place until the middle of February. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of the country's 16 states agreed that the recent drop in infection rates was not enough to ease the current measures.
Spain headed toward de facto lockdown amid surge in coronavirus cases
The third wave of the coronavirus pandemic is pushing Spain toward a de facto lockdown, that – while stopping short of the strict home confinement rules introduced last spring during the first wave – greatly restricts social activities and freedom of movement. In response to the rising number of coronavirus cases, Spanish regions have introduced tough new measures, such as the perimetral lockdowns of municipalities and the closure of all food and drink establishments. But there is now debate about whether or not the current state of alarm should be modified to allow regions to apply even stricter restrictions.
Rwandan capital back under full coronavirus lockdown
Rwanda's capital Kigali was back under total lockdown on Tuesday after a surge in coronavirus cases in a country that has adopted some of Africa's toughest anti-Covid measures. President Paul Kagame's government announced the measures late Monday after a cabinet meeting, banning "unnecessary movements" in the capital. Rwanda imposed one of Africa's first total shutdowns in March 2020, and has maintained an evening curfew, changing the times and imposing curbs on transport as its outbreak fluctuated.
S.Korea may secure additional COVID-19 vaccines from Novavax, Moon says
South Korea may secure additional coronavirus vaccines for 20 million people from U.S. drugmaker Novavax Inc, President Moon Jae-in said, according to a statement from the presidential office on Wednesday. Novavax entered into a development and supply agreement for its vaccine with South Korea's SK bioscience Co last year, according to a statement in August. Moon visited SK bioscience's work site on Wednesday and said that the agreement between Novavax and SK bioscience "raised the possibility of securing vaccines for an additional 20 million people," the statement said. That is in addition to the vaccines that the South Korean government has secured so far. The country has secured 106 million doses to allow for coverage of 56 million people, more than the 52 million residents of the country, Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) director Jeong Eun-kyeong said earlier this month.
Lockdown is imposed on five Beijing neighbourhoods, with 1.6 million people ordered to stay at home
Lockdown has been imposed on five Beijing neighbourhoods after two cases of the British Covid-19 variant were detected in the Chinese capital. The cases had 'no genetic correlation with previously reported local cases and imported cases in Beijing', the head of the Beijing health authority Pang Xinghuo told reporters, but are 'considered to be variants of the new coronavirus discovered in the UK.' The two cases of the UK variant were among seven new Covid-19 cases detected on Wednesday, with six found in the city's southern Daxang district alone.
South Africa's Ramaphosa scrambles for enough Covid-19 vaccines
The scramble by South Africa for Covid-19 vaccines is intensifying pressure on the government to square its plans for immunizing the country with reality. President Cyril Ramaphosa has sketched out a program to acquire and administer enough vaccines to immunize two-thirds of South African’s population of 58 million by the end of this year with the goal of achieving so-called herd immunity. But the plan suffers from a shortage of specifics and a surfeit of ambition, say some in the public health community, who have counseled the government to rethink its target and up its transparency.
Covid unlikely to die out, says New Zealand health chief Ashley Bloomfield
Covid-19 is unlikely to ever die out, even with vaccination efforts, but it could become more transmissible and less deadly, New Zealand’s director general of health has warned. “If you think about influenza, which was first recorded in 1172 I think, in Europe … these viruses don’t tend to die out … They change over time and in fact what we are seeing with these new variants with the Covid-19 virus is that they tend become more transmissible and less deadly over time,” Dr Ashley Bloomfield said. However, Bloomfield said that vaccines would help humans develop immunity, adding to the natural immunity that people who have been infected will also develop. He also warned if some of the new variants of Covid-19 escape managed isolation and quarantine, the impact could be greater than it was last year.
China's capital steps up COVID-19 measures as outbreak persists
China’s capital Beijing said it will investigate all individuals who entered the city from abroad from Dec. 10 and it shut down a subway station after reporting the biggest daily jump in new COVID-19 cases in more than three weeks. The measures come amid what has become China’s most serious coronavirus outbreak since March 2020 ahead of Lunar New Year holiday season, when hundreds of millions of people travel, raising fears of another major COVID-19 wave that could bring the country back into a debilitating standstill. The National Health Commission said on Wednesday a total of 103 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Jan. 19, down from 118 a day earlier. Northeastern Jilin province reported 46 new infections, however, setting another record in daily cases, while Hebei province surrounding Beijing reported 19 new cases.
EU and BioNTech/Pfizer clash over reduced vaccine deliveries
A decision by Pfizer and BioNTech to reduce the number of vaccine vials they send to European countries has forced health officials to slow vaccination plans, with at least one EU member state threatening legal action as tensions over limited supplies mount. The move by the manufacturers followed a ruling this month from the European Medicines Agency that six doses can be extracted from each BioNTech/Pfizer vial rather than five, after health professionals found there was often extra vaccine left over.
Boris Johnson says UK ready to deploy tweaked vaccines
Boris Johnson on Wednesday declared Britain was ready to quickly deploy tweaked vaccines to combat new variants of coronavirus, as the number of daily Covid-19 deaths in the UK hit a record of 1,820. The prime minister said he was concerned about the risk posed by dangerous variants of the virus — as well as Britain, Brazil and South Africa have reported new strains — as he justified new border restrictions in the UK. Neil O’Brien, a Conservative MP, asked Mr Johnson at prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons about “concerning data from South Africa” that the virus could mutate and thus “dodge the vaccines and reduce their efficacy”.
Maintaining Services
Glass maker Schott predicts enough vials to go around for COVID-19 vaccines
Germany’s unlisted Schott AG, the world’s biggest supplier of speciality glass for medical bottles and syringes, said on Wednesday it did not see any shortage of vials for bottling COVID-19 vaccines. Drugmakers last year warned of limited supplies of vials to bottle future COVID-19 vaccines, but Schott said at the time that their rush to secure supplies early risked making matters worse. Schott, whose founder Otto Schott invented heavy-duty borosilicate glass in the 1890s, delivered 110 million vials for COVID-19 vaccines during the second half of last year and was now scheduled to clear an order backlog of 600 million vials for that purpose well into 2022.
Fury as coronavirus vaccine IT loophole 'allows people to jump the queue
Links to Swiftqueue website meant to allow over-70s and NHS staff book jabs But they have reportedly been shared on social media and Whatsapp People using them not asked for proof of eligibility when making appointments
Saga requires all cruise customers to have Covid vaccine
Saga, the travel group targeting the over-50s, has become the first holiday business to insist that all of its customers must be vaccinated against coronavirus before they embark on its cruises. The company, whose customers are primarily in the UK, said on Wednesday that it had told holidaymakers they must be fully inoculated against the virus at least 14 days before travelling and take a pre-departure Covid-19 test. The requirement means customers must have had two doses of vaccine.
Covid-19 vaccines diverted to areas lagging behind as overall numbers of vaccinations fall
Vaccine doses are to be diverted into areas falling behind with the coronavirus inoculation drive amid concerns over differing levels of vaccination across England. As the Government fended off accusations of a “postcode lottery” in the programme, new vaccination figures suggested it was falling behind its pledge to supply the jabs to 14.6 million people in the most vulnerable groups by 15 February.
COVID-19: 'Public health emergency unfolding' in prisons as coronavirus cases soar
The new coronavirus strain and a rapidly rising number of infections in prisons across England and Wales is a "public health emergency unfolding before our eyes," the shadow justice secretary has warned. Labour MP David Lammy said it was vital that ministers "act urgently" to prevent the virus from spreading further in jails - or risk preventable deaths. "We're not condemning our prisoners to death in this country, but for some prisoners, that's what it means," said Mr Lammy.
Small UK businesses are ‘running out of cash’, chancellor warned
"I suppose the technical phrase is we’re screwed,” said Ruari McCulloch, owner of Pinstripes & Peonies, a high-end London florist, which counts several London department stores and the Paris Air Show among its clients. Mr McCulloch is one of the many small business owners facing the toughest few months yet of the pandemic, starved of income for much of the past year as the UK approaches the anniversary of the first national coronavirus lockdown in March. Cash levels are depleted and debt loads have risen fast for companies with high fixed costs but zero revenues, leading to urgent calls from the UK’s business lobby groups, including the CBI and the British Chambers of Commerce, for immediate and sustained financial support from the chancellor Rishi Sunak.
London Schools Could Re-Open First After UK Lockdown, Official Says
The U.K. reported its highest daily death toll since the Covid-19 pandemic began, as data suggested one in eight people in England have had the disease. A further 1,610 people in the U.K. died within 28 days of a positive test, according to government figures released Tuesday -- taking the total number of deaths to more than 90,000. Covid-19 related deaths will “continue for some time throughout this second wave,” Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said in a statement. “Whilst there are some early signs that show our sacrifices are working, we must continue to strictly abide by the measures in place.”
France faces tough COVID month, with ski lifts and restaurants set to stay shut
A more infectious coronavirus variant is expected to spread rapidly through France in the coming month, hospital chiefs said on Wednesday, raising fears of another lockdown as hopes faded that ski lifts and restaurants could reopen soon.
Coronavirus: Vaccinators could lose their licences for giving second doses prematurely
Hospitals say they have been told they could lose their licence to deliver coronavirus vaccines if they give second doses to anyone before 12 weeks have passed since their first jab. In a message sent to vaccinators at the University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust and seen by The Independent, staff were told the hospital’s chief executive had been given a “crystal clear” instruction that no second doses should be given to anyone before 12-week mark. There is mounting criticism of the delays in giving frontline NHS staff a second dose of the vaccine amid concerns that these could leave them more at risk. Emerging data from Israel suggested on Wednesday that the effectiveness of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine could be as low as 33 per cent after only the first dose.
New York City reschedules 23,000 vaccination appointments due to supply issues
Tens of thousands of New Yorkers had their coronavirus vaccine appointments rescheduled this week due to a lack of supply, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said Wednesday. According to the mayor, a delay in the delivery of Moderna's vaccine contributed to the supply issues, which puts the city's goal of 1 million vaccinations by the end of the month in jeopardy. "We've had to tell 23,000 New Yorkers who had an appointment this week that they will not be able to get that appointment for lack of supply," de Blasio said during a news conference.
Healthcare Innovations
Moderna cooperating with investigation into possible COVID-19 vaccine allergic reactions
Moderna said in a statement yesterday that it is ‘fully’ cooperating with an investigation into possible allergic reactions at a vaccination centre in the US administering its mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. The adverse events were reported by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in the US, after a number of individuals at a vaccination centre in San Diego were treated for possible allergic reactions following vaccination using doses from one lot of Moderna’s jab. On Sunday, California’s state epidemiologist Dr Erica Pan issued a statement with recommendations for healthcare providers to pause vaccination from the lot in question – no. 041L20A – after the possible allergic reactions.
One-dose vaccine strategy may not protect against Covid-19
Health officials have said they must look “very carefully” at Britain’s plan to delay second vaccine doses after research from Israel suggested that one dose may not provide adequate protection against Covid-19. Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, said this morning that the government would “just need to keep measuring the numbers” to ensure that a single dose offered reasonable protection. He also said it was monitoring how many inoculated people were taken to hospital with the virus.
DNA test developed in Cambridge can identify secondary infections in Covid-19 patients in hours
A DNA test developed in Cambridge can quickly identify secondary infections in Covid-19 patients, who face double the risk of developing pneumonia while on ventilation compared to those with other conditions. It is capable of detecting 52 pathogens that often cause infection in intensive care, and can pick up antibiotic resistance. It means targeted antibiotic treatments can be given within hours, rather than days. Dr Andrew Conway Morris, from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Medicine and an intensive care consultant, said: “Early on in the pandemic we noticed that Covid-19 patients appeared to be particularly at risk of developing secondary pneumonia, and started using a rapid diagnostic test that we had developed for just such a situation. “Using this test, we found that patients with Covid-19 were twice as likely to develop secondary pneumonia as other patients in the same intensive care unit.”
BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine found effective against Covid-19 variant
The Covid-19 vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer is likely to be effective against a rapidly spreading strain of the virus that was first discovered in the UK, a laboratory-based study by the companies has shown. The variant, known as B.1.1.7, has a high number of mutations, which has led to concerns that could bypass the immune defences built up by vaccines being rolled out worldwide, a large proportion of which have been made by BioNTech and Pfizer. However, researchers at BioNTech’s headquarters in Mainz found that a test-tube version of the virus carrying all the new strain’s mutations was neutralised by antibodies in the blood of 16 patients who had received the vaccine in previous trials, half of whom were over 55 years old.
Patients, clinicians seek answers to the mystery of 'Long COVID'
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, public attention has mainly focused on the number of people who become severely ill and die from COVID-19. But what's become clear in recent months is the large and growing group of people who continue to deal with prolonged symptoms long after their original illness. In a recent study posted on the preprint server medRxiv, analysis of an international survey of more than 3,700 respondents with COVID-19 found that over two-thirds were still experiencing numerous symptoms at 6 months, with significant impacts on patients' lives and livelihoods. Respondents with symptoms for more than 6 months said they are experiencing an average of nearly 14 symptoms across multiple organ systems.
China's COVID-19 vaccine makers apply to join COVAX scheme
China said on Wednesday three drugmakers had submitted applications to supply their COVID-19 vaccines to global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX in the country's first formal move to provide locally developed shots to the initiative. Sinovac Biotech, China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and CanSino Biologics have applied to join the scheme, China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a news conference on Wednesday. The COVAX scheme - led by the World Health Organization and GAVI vaccine alliance - is due to start rolling out vaccines to poor and middle-income countries in February, with 2 of 3 billion doses expected to be delivered this year.