"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 21st Apr 2021

Isolation Tips
Should you tell people you got the Covid-19 vaccine? Here's what to consider
Sharing your vaccine status with friends and family and on social media can mean an outpouring of support -- and it also can mean unwanted scrutiny, questions or even backlash. There are also concerns around social life. Sharing your status could mean unwanted social pressures to hang out when you don't feel comfortable returning to life before Covid-19. Some who qualified to get the vaccine earlier than others worry about jealously or judgment from friends or acquaintances if they disclose their status. Some worry their employers may force them back to the office before they feel safe returning if they share their vaccine status.
Covid-19: Suicide rate 'did not rise during first lockdown'
The number of suicides in England did not rise following the first national lockdown in 2020, research has found. Charities had reported more people seeking mental health support, leading to fears the number of suicides would also increase. But University of Manchester scientists found a broadly similar rate from April to October 2020 to that seen between January and March. The findings are in line with research from other high income countries. Using real-time surveillance data, which records suicides as they occur but before an inquest is held, academics studied suicides in areas of England covering some 13 million people - around a quarter of the population.
Hygiene Helpers
Arizona Becomes Sixth State To Ban Coronavirus Vaccine Passports — See The Full List Here
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed an executive order Monday to ban state and local governments from mandating vaccine passports, making Arizona the sixth state to denounce the passes that allow holders to prove they’ve been vaccinated against coronavirus as Republicans continue to ramp up a political culture war issue.
Vaccine-busting Covid variant a matter of ‘when, not if’, WHO expert warns
A deadly Covid variant that can beat the current vaccines is a matter of “when, not if”, a leading scientist from the World Health Organisation warned today. With India and Brazil and other countries gripped by surges caused by new mutations, Dr David Nabarro said the disease was proving to be “ferocious” and Britain must not relax social distancing measures. “I want to be clear with you that I personally expect that variants will appear in different parts of the world that are capable of beating the protection offered by the vaccines,” he said on Sky News. “It’s not the case of if, but when. So I’m saying to everybody that I work with, we do have to maintain our respect for this virus. We can beat it, but it means maintaining the physical distance and wearing masks, and also being really good about isolating.
COVID-19: Michael Gove visits Israel to study country's 'green pass' as he mulls vaccine passport options
Michael Gove is visiting Israel to study a COVID "green pass" smartphone app that could soon be the model for vaccine passports in the UK. The Cabinet Office minister, in charge of a Whitehall study into how coronavirus certification might work in the UK, has been a big fan of the Israeli scheme for weeks. He is being accompanied on his visit by Jonathan Van-Tam, England's deputy chief medical officer, who is hugely influential in the government's COVID strategy. Their visit involves meetings with Israel's health minister, Yuli Edelstein and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Covid-19: India red list add 'may be too late', Prof Mark Walport says
India's addition to the UK's "red list" of banned countries due to rising Covid cases and concerns over a new variant may have come too late, the UK's former chief scientific adviser has said. Prof Mark Walport told the BBC he believed the new variant was "more transmissible" and there were "good reasons" for keeping it out of the UK. Health officials say it is too early to know whether it is more transmissible. India has been reporting more than 200,000 cases daily since 15 April. Its capital Delhi announced a week-long lockdown after a record spike in cases overwhelmed the city's healthcare system.
Report: HHS put repatriated US citizens at risk for COVID-19
In a new report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that coordination and safety problems among Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) staff during repatriation efforts early in the COVID-19 pandemic put themselves, the recalled US citizens, and surrounding communities at risk of infection. According to the report, released yesterday, HHS agencies didn't perform in the roles identified for the emergency return of US citizens during a pandemic when bringing the roughly 1,100 US citizens home, where they were quarantined.
Community Activities
There is a real danger that covid-19 will become entrenched as a disease of poverty
Since reaching a height of around 70 000 confirmed covid-19 cases a day in England at the start of the year, the third lockdown has brought cases down to around 2500 a day (at the time of writing). Hospital admissions are back to levels last seen in September 2020, and over half of the adult population has received at least one dose of covid-19 vaccine. We’ve experienced almost six months of national lockdown in the past year and are just emerging from what has been promised to be the last one. But while we have all experienced this pandemic together, we have not all had the same experience. Deprived and minority ethnic communities have borne the brunt of the pandemic so far and there is now a very real danger that covid-19 will become entrenched as a disease of poverty.
Australia’s stolen generations survivors experienced ‘retriggered’ trauma during Covid lockdown
Australia’s stolen generations survivors felt more disconnected from their communities, lonely and isolated during Covid lockdowns, with many finding the experience re-triggered their trauma, new research suggests. Survivors also experienced an increased decline in both physical and mental health, the Healing Foundation found after examining the impact of the coronavirus and the public health response. The research found the necessary and swift public health response to protect First Australians also created “unprecedented disruption to cultural practices and normal relational and collective practices” of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, leaving people feeling vulnerable and disconnected from their community.
Norwich children help to tackle loneliness through pen friend scheme
Primary school children in Norwich have been helping to tackle loneliness amongst older people as they pen regular letters to bring a smile to faces. The Norwich Together Alliance has teamed up with Age UK Norwich and Drayton CofE Junior School for the scheme which sees 50 isolated people receive a handwritten postcard throughout April, asking if they would like to be pen pals. The children, who are aged from 7-11, will then continue writing to the lonely people with messages and pictures about what they have been up to.
Community raises £7k in memory of retired GP who died with Covid
A local community has embarked on a significant fundraising challenge in memory of its ‘much-loved’ GP who died with Covid. Dr Om Prakash Chawla died on 2 January after testing positive for the virus. He had spent more than 25 years at Wingerworth Surgery in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, until retiring in 2018. Paying tribute, more than 70 relatives and friends, including practice colleagues, have surpassed their target fundraising for the town’s Ashgate Hospicecare. With one participant alone racking up 700 miles, the current total stands at approximately £7,000.
COVID vaccine shortfall: The Abu Dhabi art dealer peddling jabs
From a small office in an Abu Dhabi skyscraper, Ukrainian national Natalya Muzaleva and her Hungarian husband Istvan Perger run an art gallery, a real estate agency and an oilfield services company. They have also pursued another venture: selling COVID-19 vaccines into Europe. Muzaleva wrote a proposal to the Czech ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, reviewed by Reuters and dated February 24, offering to procure and sell at least one million doses to the Czech Republic of Covishield, the shot from Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca. She said the vaccines would be supplied by an unnamed partner from AstraZeneca’s “UK and India plant” and delivery would follow within 45 days of payment being received. While the Czech government did not take up the offer, it came to light on March 3 when Prime Minister Andrej Babis, singling Muzaleva out by name, told a news conference he would not support the “black market”.
Working Remotely
Remote Work Creating Barriers to Inclusion and Belonging as Pandemic Continues
Feelings of isolation and alienation are plaguing workforces across the world as remote work spurred by the global pandemic continues. Results of a recent research study revealed a multitude of employee concerns in regards to working from home. The research was led and released by Canadian-based partners, inclusive workplace learning company Dialectic and intranet software platform Jostle. Overarching results from the study, which sought to understand how remote work affects employee inclusion and connection, reveal social isolation, communication obstacles, technological challenges and work/life balance implications. These new barriers intersect with and may further compound existing barriers to inclusion, such as discrimination, underrepresentation and stereotypes.
Generation Z Law Students Want Remote Work Option, Survey Says
Sixty percent of the students born between 1995 and 2000 want total say over whether they work in or out of the office, according to a survey released Tuesday by legal recruiter Major, Lindsey & Africa. Fifty-two percent of the 240 students surveyed would take a pay cut if it meant that their employer would be flexible about their geographic work location. “Whether remote work is here to stay is kind of still unanswered,” said Jacqueline Bokser LeFebvre, managing director at Major, Lindsey. “What the data clearly shows us is that this is something that this generation wants.” The survey, called “Post Covid Attitudes of Gen-Z,” aims to give Big Law firms clues as to what they need to do attract the generation as it begins to enter the workforce
When workers want to stay remote, companies will have to rethink culture
Prudential Financial vice chair Rob Falzon cautions against companies bringing everyone back to the office full-time. Instead, he tells CNBC Make It that leaders should be thinking about how to reimagine company culture and connection for remote workers. For example, workers could spend half of their time working on individual tasks remotely, and gather in an office for collaboration and meeting times. Simply put, “if you’re an employer and you’re not being accommodating, you’ll lose talent,” Falzon says. Managers and senior leaders, whom employees say are responsible for connecting individuals to the company culture, should take a worker-centered approach to charting their path forward, says Derek Avery, a researcher and University of Houston professor in industrial/organizational psychology
Virtual Classrooms
What the Future of Learning Should Look Like
We know that the abrupt shift to online learning last spring took many teachers, districts, parents and students by surprise. A recent report revealed that during the past year, only 22% of teachers used commercial materials designed for remote instruction, which tend to cater to asynchronous learning, and only 16% of teachers report using online learning "a lot" before the pandemic. The next school year is just around the corner, which means it's time for school districts to identify the programs and methods that foster student success in an online environment. In my experience, that means finding a personalized, adaptive curriculum. When used appropriately, all of these ingredients work together to help students grow and learn.
Public Policies
Israel to buy Moderna's booster shot against COVID-19 variants
Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) said on Tuesday it had secured a new COVID-19 vaccine supply agreement with Israel for 2022, under which the country has the option to buy doses of one of the company's variant-specific vaccine candidates. The announcement follows two earlier agreements between Israel and Moderna to supply a total of 10 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna's COVID-19 booster vaccine is in early-stage trials. The company in April said it should be able to provide a booster shot for protection against variants of the novel coronavirus by the end of this year.
Covid-19: US to advise against travel to 80% of countries
The US state department is to advise Americans to avoid 80% of countries worldwide because of the coronavirus pandemic. In a note to the media about its updated travel guidance, it said the pandemic continued to "pose unprecedented risks to travellers". The current US "Do Not Travel" advisory covers 34 out of 200 countries. Covid-19 has now claimed more than three million lives worldwide - more than half a million of them in the US. The World Health Organization (WHO) warned the world was "approaching the highest rate of infection" so far, despite the global rollout of vaccination programmes.
India's Maharashtra to impose stringent lockdown this week- state minister
India's western state of Maharashtra, home to the financial capital Mumbai, plans to impose a stringent lockdown this week to try to halt the rising cases of coronavirus, two senior ministers from the state cabinet told reporters. Maharashtra, one of India's largest states, is the worst-hit state in a new surge of cases in India. Infections have been rising even after restrictions were imposed this month, and that made a stringent lockdown necessary, Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope told reporters.
Hope and caution as Portugal further eases COVID-19 lockdown
Three months after Joao Correia was forced to shut his cafe in one of Lisbon's shopping malls, he welcomed customers back on Monday, feeling both cautious and hopeful about the future. Portugal imposed a second national lockdown in January to stem what was then the world's worst COVID-19 surge. A nation of just over 10 million, it has recorded over 830,000 cases and close to 17,000 deaths from the virus. Strict rules have been gradually relaxed since mid-March when hair salons, bookshops and some schools reopened.
French health minister says would favour regional easing of lockdowns
French health minister Olivier Veran would favour a region-by-region easing of lockdown measures set up to tackle the COVID-19 virus, he told regional paper Le Telegramme in an interview published on Tuesday. Veran added that while there were signs that the latest surge in COVID-19 in France was starting to ease off a little, the virus was still circulating at a high level. The health ministry said on Monday that 5,970 people were in intensive care units with COVID-19, up from 5,893 a day earlier, in a sign that hospitals remain under pressure.
Dutch set to ease lockdown despite high COVID-19 infection rates
Lockdown measures in the Netherlands will be eased from next week as pressure to reopen society mounts despite high coronavirus infection rates, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday. A nationwide night-time curfew that has been in place for three months will be lifted on April 28, while bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve small groups on outdoor terraces between noon and 6 P.M. Universities and colleges will gradually reopen and stores will be allowed to admit more customers. "It won't happen without taking risks, but the risks must be responsible. That is and will remain a balancing act for now," Rutte told a news conference. "We have to be very careful and cautious."
India waives import duty on COVID-19 drug Remdesivir
India has waived import duty on COVID-19 drug Remdesivir until Oct. 31, the finance ministry said in a statement on Tuesday, as infections surge to record highs and lead to a shortage of the anti-viral medicine. The government has also waived import duties on Beta Cyclodextrin (SBEBCD) used in the manufacture of Remdesivir as well as Remdesivir injections. India on Tuesday reported its worst daily death toll of the pandemic and has large parts of the country under lockdown in an effort to counter an accelerating second wave of infections.
EU regulator finds link between J&J shot and blood clots
The European Union’s drug regulatory agency said Tuesday that it found a “possible link” between Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and extremely rare blood clots and recommended a warning be added to the label. But experts at the agency reiterated that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks. The European Medicines Agency made its determination after examining a small number of clot cases in people vaccinated in the U.S. It said these problems should be considered “very rare side effects of the vaccine.” J&J immediately announced it will revise its label as requested and resume vaccine shipments to the EU, Norway and Iceland. In a statement, it said: “The safety and well-being of the people who use our products is our number one priority.” Following the EMA’s decision, EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides tweeted that vaccinations save lives and added: “I urge Member States to follow the opinion of our experts.”
As variants take hold, FDA revokes authorization of Eli Lilly's solo COVID-19 antibody
Eli Lilly’s COVID-19 neutralizing antibody drug was the first of its kind to score FDA authorization against the illness in early November. Emerging coronavirus variants later threatened to mute the treatment’s effectiveness and now, nearly six months later, the FDA has rescinded its endorsement. The federal agency on Friday revoked its emergency authorization for Lilly’s monoclonal antibody therapy bamlanivimab, when administered by itself, to treat adult and certain pediatric COVID-19 patients with mild-to-moderate disease. Lilly itself supports the move and still distributes the antibody in combination with etesevimab. The decision comes after the FDA ordered Lilly and rival drugmaker Regeneron in late February and early March to monitor their treatments against emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Maintaining Services
India suffers worst day for COVID-19 deaths, hospitals overwhelmed
Authorities said hospitals in the Indian capital of Delhi would start running out of medical oxygen by Wednesday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country faced a coronavirus "storm" overwhelming its health system. Major government hospitals in the city of 20 million people had between eight and 24 hours' worth of oxygen while some private ones had enough for just four to five hours, said Delhi's deputy chief minister, Manish Sisodia. "If we don't get enough supplies by tomorrow morning, it will be a disaster," he said, calling for urgent help from the federal government.
UNICEF says AstraZeneca supply problems outside India resolved
Problems that have delayed AstraZeneca (AZN.L) supplies to the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility have been resolved, UNICEF told Reuters on Tuesday, saying it should receive 65 million doses by end-May from manufacturers outside India. The rollout of COVID vaccines has been disrupted by supply shortfalls in many countries, aggravated by a temporary hold on exports of the inoculation made by the Serum Institute of India (SII) as the country battles to contain a surge in infections. "The initial challenges related to release of vaccines due to ramping up a new supply chain and production across different continents have now been resolved," the U.N. agency responsible for distributing vaccines through the programme told Reuters in an email.
Pennsylvania, New Jersey emerge as COVID-19 hot spots
Pennsylvania and New Jersey now trail only Michigan as epicenters of COVID-19 activity as the nation sees a wave of activity in the midst of a major push to vaccinate all citizens ages 16 and older by May 31. If accomplished, the May 31 deadline would see Americans enjoying a somewhat normal Fourth of July, officials say. In Pennsylvania, cases are rising. The state averaged more than 5,000 cases a day over the past week, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Neighboring New Jersey reported a case spike in March, but case counts in that state have since declined. New Jersey averaged more than 3,200 over the past week.
Healthcare Innovations
J&J to resume rollout of COVID-19 vaccine in Europe with safety warning
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) said on Tuesday it will resume rolling out its COVID-19 vaccine in Europe after the region’s medical regulator said the benefits of the shot outweigh the risk of very rare, potentially lethal blood clots. Europe’s health regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), on Tuesday recommended adding a warning about rare blood clots with low blood platelet count to the vaccine’s product label and said the benefits of the one-dose shot outweigh its risks.
J&J to cooperate in study of rare clots linked to COVID-19 vaccine, German scientist says
A German scientist studying extremely rare blood clots linked to AstraZeneca’s (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccine said on Tuesday Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) has agreed to work with him on the research after similar serious side effects emerged in recipients of its shot. Andreas Greinacher, a transfusion medicine expert at Greifswald University, announced the collaboration after the European Medicines Agency said it would add a label to J&J’s vaccine warning of unusual blood clots with low platelet counts. AstraZeneca’s shot has a similar warning.
First Covid-19 vaccination protects blood cancer patients, study suggests
A single dose of a coronavirus vaccine triggers an immune response in around 70% of patients with the blood and bone marrow cancer, myeloma, according to a new study. Researchers say the findings suggest the jab could provide protection against the virus. Experts tested for Covid-19 coronavirus antibodies in 93 people with myeloma. A recent report with a smaller number of patients with the cancer suggested that blood cancer patients might receive limited protection after vaccination. Myeloma is a cancer of the immune cells produced in the bone marrow, and puts patients at greater risk of severe Covid-19 infection.
European Medicines Agency: More than 300 cases of rare blood clot events worldwide
The European Union’s drug regulator said on Tuesday there had been more than 300 cases worldwide of rare blood clotting incidents combined with low platelet counts after use of COVID-19 vaccines. There were 287 occurrences with the AstraZeneca vaccine, eight with Johnson & Johnson’s shot, 25 for Pfizer and five for Moderna, said Peter Arlett, Head of Data Analytics at the European Medicines Agency (EMA).