"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 1st Mar 2021

Isolation Tips
Councils to provide grocery shopping to stop people breaking Covid self-isolation rules
People forced to self-isolate with coronavirus will be given help with day to day chores, such as food shopping and care provision for family members, under a shake up of the Government’s test and trace programme. Rishi Sunak is expected to announce millions in additional funding for local authorities to provide extra assistance to ensure people remain at home when asked to self-isolate in his Budget next week. It follows growing concerns within the government over the persistent failure to ensure people remain in quarantine when they test positive for Covid-19 or if they come into contact with someone who has.
Experts notice pandemic's mental health toll on German youth
A recent survey by the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf found that about one child in three is suffering from pandemic-related anxiety or depression or is exhibiting psychosomatic symptoms like headaches or stomach aches. Children from poorer and immigrant families are disproportionally affected, according to the survey. Pollina, who immigrated from Russia with her family in 2019, worries about forgetting much of her German since she only speaks Russian at home. She’s one of 150 youngsters from underprivileged families who, before the pandemic. regularly spent time after school at a youth support program on the eastern outskirts of the German capital.
Mindfulness, laughter and robot dogs may relieve lockdown loneliness – study
Robotic dogs, laughter therapy and mindfulness could help people cope with loneliness and social isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic, researchers at the University of Cambridge have found. The team at the university’s School of Medicine, led by Dr Christopher Williams, reviewed 58 existing studies on loneliness and identified interventions that could be adapted for people living in lockdown or under pandemic-related social distancing measures. Several of the studies involved initiatives to combat loneliness and isolation in nursing and care homes, likely to be hit hard under lockdown. Psychological interventions seemed the most effective overall
Hygiene Helpers
Clean break: the risk of catching Covid from surfaces overblown, experts say
When cases of Covid-19 first began emerging in Australia, some people reported disinfecting their groceries before bringing them into their homes, and there were also concerns that the virus could be living on the surfaces of packages in the mail. During Victoria’s extended lockdown, teams of workers could be seen walking city streets disinfecting traffic light buttons, benches and even fences. An epidemiologist with La Trobe University, Associate Prof Hassan Vally, said just over one year later it has become clear surface transmission is not as significant a factor in Covid-19 spread as once feared. While surface transmission is not impossible, Vally said its role in spread needs perspective. “I want to be clear that nothing should change in terms of washing our hands and personal hygiene,” Vally said. “We can, however, be less anxious about washing every surface 20 times a day, and just concentrate on good hand hygiene and social distancing, and staying home when sick, which should be more than enough to stop us from spreading the virus.”
Minority TikTok influencers create COVID-19 vaccine awareness in new 'See Friends Again' campaign
As the U.S. crossed the 500,000 COVID-19 death milestone earlier this week, Generation Z's minority TikTok influencers switched up their dance routines and comedy skits to bring awareness around the pandemic with a "See Friends Again" campaign. "Sometimes you laugh and brush things off. We need not to laugh," TikTok user Kymon Palau told ABC News. "But we need to have that uncomfortable conversation of what's really wrong, why and then educate people. And I do it through humor." Palau is one of the 18 minority influencers in the campaign, which educates young people of color about the importance of COVID-19 and vaccination. More than 60% of TikTok users are Gen Zers. This racially and ethnically diverse group could bridge the gap between COVID-19 and minority communities.
Plunging COVID-19 test demand may leave US with supply glut
Just five weeks ago, Los Angeles County was conducting more than 350,000 weekly coronavirus tests, including at a massive drive-thru site at Dodger Stadium, as health workers raced to contain the worst COVID-19 hotspot in the U.S. Now, county officials say testing has nearly collapsed. More than 180 government-supported sites are operating at only a third of their capacity. “It’s shocking how quickly we’ve gone from moving at 100 miles an hour to about 25,” said Dr. Clemens Hong, who leads the county’s testing operation. After a year of struggling to boost testing, communities across the country are seeing plummeting demand, shuttering testing sites or even trying to return supplies.
EXPLAINER: Meet the vaccine appointment bots, and their foes
Having trouble scoring a COVID-19 vaccine appointment? You’re not alone. To cope, some people are turning to bots that scan overwhelmed websites and send alerts on social media when slots open up. They’ve provided relief to families helping older relatives find scarce appointments. But not all public health officials think they’re a good idea.
Getting the vaccine will protect you from the coronavirus — and it may keep people around you healthier, too
Health experts say the coronavirus vaccines may do more than protect recipients from covid-19. Researchers say people who are vaccinated and still contract the virus may carry less of it and also shed less of it — meaning those whom they expose to it may not become as sick. There isn’t a lot of evidence yet to support this hypothesis, but researchers say it is likely the case based largely on observations in animal studies, as well as some preliminary research in humans. This, however, doesn’t mean that vaccinated people should stop taking precautions, such as wearing a mask. “Even if you’re vaccinated and you’re going out, keep masking up until we get more people vaccinated,” said Ilhem Messaoudi, director of the Center for Virus Research at the University of California at Irvine.
We’ll never reach herd immunity if we don’t vaccinate more non-White people
States have taken wildly different approaches to vaccine distribution, but one thing unites them: Many of their most at-risk residents, particularly in communities of color, are being left behind. In Connecticut, which boasts one of the best coverage rates in the country, the share of the White population inoculated is at least twice that of the state’s Black population. In North Dakota, another supposed success story, the gap is starker — the share of White residents who have received at least one dose is more than three times that of Black residents. This pattern holds for every state providing data. This doesn’t just cost lives. It also undermines our ability to achieve herd immunity, the point at which enough people are vaccinated to provide protection for a whole community
Can vaccinated people still spread the coronavirus?
If all goes well, vaccines will very soon reduce the rate of severe disease and death worldwide. To be sure, any vaccine that reduces disease severity is also, at the population level, reducing the amount of virus being shed overall. But because of the emergence of new variants, vaccinated people still have the potential to shed and spread the coronavirus to other people, vaccinated or otherwise. This means it will likely take much longer for vaccines to reduce transmission and for populations to reach herd immunity than if these new variants had never emerged. Exactly how long that will take is a balance between how effective vaccines are against emerging strains and how transmissible and infectious these new strains are.
Community Activities
Covid has connected UK communities and spurred volunteering, report finds
In the UK, the coronavirus pandemic has fostered “a greater sense of connection”, spurring millions to volunteer to help others in their communities, research suggests. An ICM poll found that almost three times as many people said Covid had made their community more united (41%) than said it had become more divided (13%). When extrapolated to the entire UK population, the results of the nationally representative survey of 2,373 UK adults suggest 12.4 million adults volunteered during the pandemic. Out of these, 4.6 million were first-time volunteers, of which 3.8 million people were interested in volunteering again.
Germans say ‘Nein Danke’ to Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine
The head of STIKO, Thomas Mertens, conceded on BBC's Radio 4 Today program Thursday morning that in terms of slow take-up, his panel's assessment "may be part of the problem." "[Even though] we always stated that [our assessment] had nothing to do with the safety of the vaccine ... we never criticized the vaccine to be unsafe," he added. Mertens noted that there are now 1.4 million doses of the vaccine in Germany, while only about 240,000 have been administered. "We are working quite hard … to try and convince people to accept the vaccine and really to build ... trust in the vaccine among the population," he said. The government is also rushing to regain this trust, assuring citizens that the vaccine provides reliable protection from severe and lethal cases of COVID-19. "The vaccine ... is safe and highly effective," tweeted government spokesman Steffen Seibert on Monday. "It prevents many infections and protects against serious illnesses. Vaccination can save lives."
Is Covid at risk of becoming a disease of the poor?
Detailed data on uptake down to a community level is not being published by the government to the frustration of many - the figures for Birmingham were published by the council. But what information is available suggests the poorest and most ethnically diverse communities (there is a huge overlap between the two) are seeing the lowest levels of uptake.
Funding boost for groups helping COVID hit communities
A housing trust has given community groups in Birmingham and Telford that are working to help those hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19 a funding boost. Bournville Village Trust has awarded grants totalling £17,500 to 15 grass-roots groups as part of a commitment to support communities through the pandemic.
Charity drive to bring North West communities together over covid rules
New research shows that more than half of the people living in the North West of England believe those who disagree on rules around covid 19 are a threat to the country’s future. The charity Engage Britain is launching a national drive to help bring communities back together. It comes after the poll asked people in the North West about how issues like the vaccine and lockdown rules are impacting their lives. Boris Johnson has laid out his road map out of lockdown, but the survey found that community spirit is still fading after battling the pandemic for almost a year. 22% of residents said they’ve become more suspicious of people in their community with a different approach to the rules.
Working Remotely
Why Remote Workers Spend More on Housing and Rent
As some employers consider remote-forever policies, there have been a few attempts to quantify the economic impacts of this digital turn away from the office. The focus tends to be on what the move might cost (or save) employers, in terms of productivity or salaries. Other research has delved into the savings, in gas, time and carbon emissions, from Covid-altered commuting regimes. But a new working paper distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research looks at another, hidden cost: Employees who find themselves without an office tend to increase their own spending — on more room. Or, more rooms. About 0.3 to 0.4 more rooms, to be exact.
Pay Cuts, Taxes, Child Care: What Another Year of Remote Work Will Look Like
Companies are anticipating another largely remote work year, and new questions about compensation and benefits are weighing on managers. Discussions about the future of work, such as whether to reduce the salaries of employees who have left high-cost cities, are priority items in board meetings and senior executive sessions across industries, according to chief executives, board members and corporate advisers. Among the questions companies are trying to resolve: Who should shoulder tax costs as employees move to new locations while working remotely? And what is the most effective way to support working parents? Companies say there is much at stake, from the happiness and productivity of employees to regulatory consequences, if they get these decisions wrong.
Out of office: what the homeworking revolution means for our cities
Many analysts believe a shift to remote working was already under way, with coronavirus accelerating it by around a decade. Seven in 10 UK employees who have been working remotely during Covid-19 told a survey that they felt as productive at home as in the workplace. More than half (53%) of workers said they would prefer a hybrid model in future, splitting their time equally between their desk and a remote location. Boris Johnson provided little new guidance on managing the return to workplaces when he presented his roadmap out of lockdown, promising only to review the advice on working from home by late June. Most social restrictions are expected to be relaxed in midsummer, but businesses are not anticipating a large-scale recolonisation of offices before September, provided coronavirus case rates continue to decline.
Banks weigh up home working - the new normal or an aberration?
As the finance industry prepares for life post-pandemic, commercial banks are moving quickly to harness working from home to cut costs, while investment banks are keen to get traders and advisers back to the office. But there are concerns that remote working does not benefit everyone. Junior staff miss out on socialising and learning opportunities and there are also risks home working can entrench gender inequality.
Virtual Classrooms
Does remote learning kill the art of feedback?
Mark Enser is head of geography and research lead at Heathfield Community College in East Sussex. He writes about the ways in which giving feedback to pupils has changed during the pandemic because of virtual learning: "Every lesson, every day, for the past 18 years has involved me getting and giving feedback. Now it feels like I’ve been teaching in a sensory deprivation tank. Whether in live lessons or pre-recorded ones, the quick and automated flow of feedback and response has been stymied as body language is obscured, pupils slowly reach for the unmute button or we try to look through hundreds of pieces of work to glean clues as to what has and has not been learned. And we continue to be ingenious, of course. We find workarounds, we explore new ways of using technology and we make the best of it, but there is no getting away from the fact that it is not as good and it is not as easy."
School cooks up a treat with virtual half term holiday club as head praises staff's handling of pandemic
In England, a primary school cooked up a treat for families by hosting a virtual holiday club over half term. Children at Bury and Whitefield Jewish Primary School enjoyed everything from kids' yoga and street dance sessions to scavenger hunts and scratch games thanks to the online activities hosted throughout last week. Parents and staff at the Unsworth school gave up their time to put on the sessions and even headteacher Claire Simon got involved, showing children how to make her 'staffroom favourite' florentines.
Unprecedented numbers of students have disappeared during the pandemic. Schools are working harder than ever to find them.
School districts across the U.S. that closed buildings in mid-March in response to the coronavirus pandemic handled the transition to remote learning with varying levels of success. During the disruption, schools lost track of students. Many students who were present in the classroom in early March could not be found online. And others who showed up in the spring haven’t been seen since. Many districts, cognizant of the damage that lost school time can cause, have employed extraordinary efforts to track down students to ensure that they are safe and have devices to learn. Others, like Detroit and Miami, have kept students on rosters even after they failed to show for an entire month. North Dakota began tracking attendance for all schools on a daily basis, and several schools used coronavirus aid to hire family liaisons to find missing students.
Global education has permanently changed
Japan has for the most part made the shift to what was initially seen as “emergency remote teaching” but has been slower to adapt to the new education environment compared to other countries, such as South Korea. The experience with shifting rapidly to online education has had a forcing effect, shaking things up that badly needed shaking. It is amazing how Japan can change when absolutely forced to, although Japan could have been more proactive with reforms rather than being forced grudgingly into them. Had it been more experimental with its education prior to COVID-19, the disruption it caused would not have been as painful as it has been for schools, families, companies and society as a whole. There are still problems with virtual classes but for the most part people have become comfortable with them, or at least the idea of them, as they have with teleworking.
Public Policies
Covid-19: Brazil 'variant of concern' detected in UK
The Brazil variant is something officials are worried about because it shares similar mutations to the South Africa variant of concern. Both have undergone genetic changes that could make them more contagious and perhaps less easy to stop with our current vaccines. The coronavirus jabs being given to people now were designed around earlier versions of the pandemic virus, not these new variants. Scientists believe they should still protect, although perhaps not quite as well. Work is already under way to redesign or tweak the vaccines to make them a better match for some of these new "variants of concern". These updated vaccines could be ready within months, meaning the UK would have millions of doses ready to give people a booster shot before next winter to make sure the population is protected.
Dutch appeals court says coronavirus curfew was right move
A Dutch appeals court said on Friday the government had been right to impose a night curfew in the fight against the coronavirus, overturning a lower court’s order which had caused confusion over the measure last week. In a clear victory for the government, the appeals court said it had rightfully used emergency powers to install the curfew, the first in the Netherlands since World War Two, and had adequately proved that the measure was necessary to rein in the pandemic.
Greece extends lockdown to more areas to stem spread of pandemic
Greece extended lockdown restrictions on Friday to more areas of the country as the COVID-19 pandemic showed no signs of waning exactly one year after its first coronavirus infection was detected, health authorities said. From Saturday, the islands of Lefkada, Syros and Samos, the towns of Arta and Amphilochia in western Greece, the wider area around Corinth in the Peloponnese and Heraklion on the island of Crete will all be in lockdown.
Brazil's capital goes into lockdown to quell COVID-19 surge
The governor of Brazil’s capital city, Brasilia, plans to announce a 24-hour lockdown for all but essential services on Friday to curb a worsening COVID-19 outbreak that has filled its intensive care wards to the brim, an aide told Reuters.
Czech government tightens lockdown, limits movement to fight COVID surge
The Czech government announced on Friday strict new restrictions limiting people’s movement over the next three weeks and tightening shop and school closures in a bid to slow a fast spread of COVID-19 infections. The country is facing a renewed surge in infections, accelerated by the British variant. The number of patients in serious condition is a record. Some hospitals have been forced to transfer patients hundreds of miles away due to capacity.
New Zealand's largest city Auckland back to lockdown after COVID-19 case
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that the country’s biggest city, Auckland, will go into a seven-day lockdown from early morning on Sunday after a new local case of the coronavirus of unknown origin emerged.
EU medicines regulator approves Regeneron Covid-19 therapy
Regeneron's synthetic antibody treatment was used to treat former US President Donald Trump after he contracted coronavirus last year.
Canada approves AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot in boost to campaign
Canada’s drug regulator on Friday approved AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, including the version produced by the Serum Institute of India, paving the way for health authorities to accelerate Canada’s lagging vaccination campaign. The vaccines produced by AstraZeneca Plc and the Serum Institute were approved under Canada’s interim order system, which allows for accelerated approvals similar to the US Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorisation.
US advisers endorse single-shot COVID-19 vaccine from J&J
U.S. health advisers endorsed a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson on Friday, putting the nation on the cusp of adding an easier-to-use option to fight the pandemic. The acting head of the Food and Drug Administration said in a statement that the agency will move quickly to follow the recommendation, which would make J&J’s shot the third vaccine authorized for emergency use in the U.S. Vaccinations are picking up speed, but new supplies are urgently needed to stay ahead of a mutating virus that has killed more than 500,000 Americans.
South Korea vaccinates 18,000 to start ambitious COVID-19 campaign
South Korea said 18,489 people received their first doses of AstraZeneca PLC’s vaccine by midnight on Friday as it launched an ambitious COVID-19 inoculation campaign, and will begin using Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines on Saturday. The first to receive the shots are healthcare workers, staffers at assisted care facilities and other high-risk people, with a goal of vaccinating 32 million to 36 million people - some 60% to 70% of the population - by September. The government hopes to reach herd immunity, defined as at least a 70% vaccine take-up, by November, as health authorities remain on alert for signs of sporadic infections.
FDA authorizes J&J 1-dose COVID vaccine
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, giving the United States a third vaccine to fight the pandemic—one that offers an easier, one-dose option. The formal announcement follows yesterday's unanimous recommendation from the FDA's outside advisory panel, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC). In a statement, acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, MD, said vaccines are the best prevention in the fight against COVID-19.
G20 nations warn uneven vaccine roll-out could stall recovery
The uneven distribution of vaccines between wealthier and poorer countries is a key concern of Group of 20 (G20) nations as leaders consider how to create even footing for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic both in economic and health terms, Italy’s economy minister said Friday. Daniele Franco told a virtual news conference after the meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs of the G20 economies that a core priority for the group is “to grant equitable access” to safe vaccines.
Palestinians condemn Israel’s move to send vaccines overseas
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has condemned Israel’s promise to send coronavirus vaccines to far-away countries while ignoring the five-million-strong Palestinian population living kilometres away under its military occupation as an “immoral measure”. On Thursday, Honduras received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from Israel, after Israeli media reported earlier this week the government’s intention to send vaccines to the Central American country, in addition to Guatemala, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Vaccine hoarding threatens global supply via COVAX: WHO
Countries seeking their own COVID-19 vaccine doses are making deals with drug companies that threaten the supply for the global COVAX programme for poor and middle-income countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. “Now, some countries are still pursuing deals that will compromise the COVAX supply. Without a doubt,” WHO senior adviser Bruce Aylward told a briefing. Tedros also called for countries to waive intellectual property rules, to allow other countries to make vaccines more quickly. “If not now, when?” he asked. The idea of temporarily waiving intellectual property rights for tools to fight COVID-19 is set to come up again next week at a meeting of World Trade Organization (WTO) member states. In the past, it has run into opposition from rich countries with big pharmaceutical industries.
EU regulator advises use of Regeneron antibody cocktail for COVID-19
Europe’s medicines regulator said on Friday an antibody drug combination developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals can be used to treat COVID-19 patients who do not require oxygen support and are at high risk of progressing to severe illness. The recommendation can now be used as guidance in individual European nations on the possible use of the combination of casirivimab and imdevimab before a marketing authorisation is issued, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said. Regeneron’s antibody cocktail was authorised for emergency use in the United States in November, and was given to former U.S. President Donald Trump during his COVID-19 infection. The treatment, given via a drip, is part of a class of drugs known as monoclonal antibodies, which are manufactured copies of antibodies created by the human body to fight infections.
Maintaining Services
Two Pfizer coronavirus vaccine errors have put the rollout in the spotlight — but nurses explain the safeguards
When two aged care residents in Queensland were given a higher than recommended dose of the Pfizer vaccine, it was a nurse who sensed something wasn't quite right. "The safeguards that were put in place immediately kicked into action," Health Minister Greg Hunt told the waiting media, after it was revealed the employee who administered the vaccine had not completed the required vaccination training. While teething issues with the national rollout were to be expected, the incident has seen Healthcare Australia — the company responsible for the training — put on notice for potential termination, and its CEO, Jason Cartwright, stood aside. This has put the spotlight on the wider vaccination process, and those involved in administering the vials.
State-backed Covid insurance may be lined up for festivals
Summer festivals could be back on after the government said that it was considering underwriting an insurance scheme so that they could go ahead. The Treasury has until now rejected calls to underwrite insurance for live music events despite pressure from the industry and Tory MPs.
Privacy faces risks in tech-infused post-Covid workplace
People returning to work following the long pandemic will find an array of tech-infused gadgetry to improve workplace safety but which could pose risks for long-term personal and medical privacy. Temperature checks, distance monitors, digital "passports," wellness surveys and robotic cleaning and disinfection systems are being deployed in many workplaces seeking to reopen. Tech giants and startups are offering solutions which include computer vision detection of vital signs to wearables which can offer early indications of the onset of Covid-19 and apps that keep track of health metrics.
Shocking North-South Covid divide laid bare by full list showing cases in each area
A North-South divide has emerged as England prepares to emerge from its third lockdown. London and the South East, despite being crippled by the new Kent variant over Christmas, has seen cases plummet in recent weeks. Now nearly all of England's hotspots for Covid are in the North or the Midlands. Millions in the country are now being vaccinated although so far only people aged over 60 have been called forward. But cases are continuing to circulate, especially among younger age groups not yet protected. And the latest data shows the lockdown is struggling to contain stubbornly high infection rates in the Midlands and areas of the North.
S. Korea allows workers to squeeze extra doses
South Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency has allowed health workers to squeeze extra doses from vials of coronavirus vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Pfizer. The decision on Saturday came after some health workers who were administering the AstraZeneca shots reported to authorities that they still saw additional doses left in the bottles that had each been used for 10 injections. KDCA official Jeong Gyeong-shil said skilled workers may be able to squeeze one or two extra doses from each vial if they use low dead-volume syringes designed to reduce wasted medications and vaccines.
COVID-19: People in their 40s first for phase two of vaccine rollout - no priority for teachers and police
The next phase of COVID vaccinations will continue to prioritise people by age and not their occupation to avoid slowing down the rollout. People aged 40-49 will be the next in line to get a vaccine after all vulnerable groups and the over-50s are covered, the government said. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said this would provide "the greatest benefit in the shortest time". It added that prioritising occupational groups such as teachers and police could make the rollout more complex and could potentially slow the programme overall, leaving some vulnerable people at higher risk for longer.
‘A living hell’: Inside US prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic
Imprisoned people “can’t see friends, and they can’t maintain consistent contact with supports, but they also can’t go to mental health programming,” said Stefen Short, the Supervising Attorney of the Prisoners’ Rights Project run by the New York-based Legal Aid Society. “Well then what’s available to this person? At the middle of a global pandemic, when everybody’s at heightened anxiety, our clients are getting absolutely no support.”
Healthcare Innovations
J&J’s Covid-19 Vaccine: How Does the One-Dose Shot Compare With Others? What You Need to Know
Johnson & Johnson ’s Covid-19 vaccine was authorized for use in the U.S. by federal health regulators. It is the third shot to be cleared after shots from Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE and from Moderna Inc. And it is the first shot requiring just one dose, rather than two. Here’s what we know and don’t know:
Coronavirus spread slowed by vaccines, study suggests
The Pfizer vaccine appears to slow the spread of coronavirus as well as preventing people getting seriously ill, a study at a hospital has found. The findings support similar research by Public Health England and an Oxford-AstraZeneca study, examining whether vaccines can stop the virus spreading. The researchers said the results were a "genuine good news story" but warned that other precautionary measures were still required to combat the virus. The impact on transmission is critical. If a vaccine only stops you getting severely ill - but you can still catch and pass on the virus - everyone will need to be immunised to be protected.
Pfizer-BioNTech Shot Could Help End Pandemic, Israel Study Shows
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine was overwhelmingly effective against the virus in a study that followed nearly 1.2 million people in Israel, results that public-health experts said show that immunizations could end the pandemic. Two doses of the vaccine prevented 94% of Covid-19 cases in 596,618 people vaccinated between Dec. 20 and Feb. 1, about one-quarter of whom were over the age of 60, teams from the Clalit Research Institute and Harvard University reported in a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Amid COVID-19 pandemic, flu has disappeared in the US
The numbers are astonishing considering flu has long been the nation’s biggest infectious disease threat. In recent years, it has been blamed for 600,000 to 800,000 annual hospitalizations and 50,000 to 60,000 deaths. Across the globe, flu activity has been at very low levels in China, Europe and elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere. And that follows reports of little flu in South Africa, Australia and other countries during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter months of May through August.
India host to 7,569 coronavirus mutants, shows study
The novel coronavirus is perhaps the first infectious organism in recent times to form thousands of its variants across the globe. In India alone over 7,569 coronavirus variants have been analysed since the pandemic virus was first recognised in Wuhan. This is despite the fact that not enough samples are sequenced by scientists in the country.