"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 28th Apr 2021

Isolation Tips
I am Covid positive in home-isolation. What to eat? Dietitians answer
If you are suffering from Covid-19 and are in home-isolation, it is imperative that you follow a balanced diet apart from consuming prescribed medicines in order to recover soon. Weakness is one of the major side-effects of battling the deadly virus and the loss of taste and smell often forces patients to refrain from eating. However, that can hinder the recovery process as proper nutrition is an absolute must in order to defeat the virus if you contract it. IndiaToday spoke to two dietitians, who prescribed several dos and don'ts that caregivers must keep in mind while looking after Covid-19 patients at home.
Hygiene Helpers
UK survey finds rising unease about AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
British enthusiasm for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has faded in the past month, reflecting rising unease about its possible links to rare adverse side effects, though overall UK confidence in vaccines is high, an updated survey has found. The survey of almost 5,000 people showed a significant increase in the proportion who said they want to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible, but also found that almost a quarter of those asked now believe the AstraZeneca vaccine causes blood clots – up from 13% last month.
West Virginia Will Pay Young People $100 To Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19
Young people who get the COVID-19 vaccine in West Virginia won't just gain protection against a deadly virus — they'll also make money. The state will offer a $100 savings bond to everyone between the ages of 16 and 35 who gets vaccinated, Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, announced at a Monday briefing. It's part of an ongoing push to get shots into the arms of younger residents, who have been largely slow to roll up their sleeves so far. The initiative will apply retroactively to people in this age group who have already gotten their shots. It is funded with money from the CARES Act, with Justice adding that officials have "vetted this in every way that we possibly can."
U of Portland, Willamette U to require COVID-19 vaccinations
University of Portland officials announced on Tuesday that the school will require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations for all students, faculty and staff when the fall semester starts. The Catholic university said in a news release that employees must provide proof of vaccination by Aug. 1 and students must provide proof by Sept. 1. The news release says more than 100 colleges and universities nationally have announced vaccination requirements for students and/or employees, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. “As we have stated from the start of the pandemic, the health and well-being of (University of Portland) community members must be our collective priority,” wrote University President Rev. Mark L. Poorman, C.S.C., in a memo also signed by other University leaders. “The vaccination requirement we announce today is just the latest step we must take on our journey to keep one another safe and return to the cherished in-person campus community that is so essential to our mission.”
CDC: Fully vaccinated Americans can go maskless outdoors
Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks during bike rides, runs, small outdoor gatherings with friends, or dining outdoors at restaurants. Though the agency still recommends mask wearing in large outdoor gatherings, such as sports games and concerts, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said data are clear that being outside poses little threat to fully vaccinated people, meaning those who are 14 days out from their Johnson & Johnson vaccine or received their second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine 14 or more days ago. "Most of transmission is happening indoors than outdoors," Walensky said, explaining that less than 10% of documented COVID-19 transmission has occurred outside. Unvaccinated Americans may also now safely resume exercising outdoors without a mask, the CDC said, and socialize with fully vaccinated friends and family members in small outdoor gatherings. "Today is another day we can take a step back to [the] normalcy of before," Walensky said during a White House press briefing on the guidance change.
Community Activities
Harry and Meghan to lead ‘Vax Live’ fundraising concert
Prince Harry and Meghan will serve as the campaign chairs of Global Citizen’s effort to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to medical workers in the world’s poorest countries. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will appear at “Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World,” to be taped Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and air on ABC, CBS, FOX, YouTube and iHeartMedia broadcast radio stations on May 8, Global Citizen, the anti-poverty nonprofit, announced Tuesday. Harry and Meghan are also leading an effort to raise money for the vaccine-sharing program COVAX, which hopes to produce $19 billion to pay for the vaccines for medical workers.
New Consumer Research on COVID-19 Vaccination Reveals Barriers in Reaching Herd Immunity
New DISQO research asking COVID-19 unvaccinated U.S. adults about their intentions to get vaccinated raises concerns over the country’s ability to reach the threshold widely believed necessary for herd immunity (70% of the population being vaccinated). DISQO found that 23% of unvaccinated people were “unsure” about whether they will get a vaccine when available to them, and 22% said they “would not.” DISQO fielded the new study, “ Moving the Needle, Persuading the Vaccine Unsure,” to understand COVID-19 vaccine attitudes, trust about information sources, and willingness to be vaccinated at pharmacy retailers. 22,000 U.S. adults answered survey questions and more than 30,000 opted in to share their online browsing, enabling DISQO to understand attitudes and actual behaviors.
Hunger in Times of Covid-19: Help Rio’s Favelas by Donating to Community Campaigns
With over 4000 people just in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas dead from Covid-19, we have now entered the most critical phase where threats from food insecurity are competing with those from the pandemic. Families are struggling due to a combination of high rates of unemployment, lack of government support and skyrocketing food prices. Now more than ever, Rio’s favelas require attention from the international community. Favela-based community organizations have provided us with links to their virtual fundraising platforms and bank accounts in order to purchase foodstuffs and hygiene products. The number of campaigns has surged in recent weeks, in response to the third and most deadly wave of Covid-19 to hit Rio de Janeiro.
Lockdowns, quarantines, restrictions: British Muslims forge digital pathways to family during a lonely, Covid Ramadan
Muslims across the UK are observing the month of Ramadan in the absence of familial traditions due to Covid-19 restrictions, but they're using technology to bridge the gap. Ramadan generally is known to be a time for community. Prior to the pandemic, centres, mosques, and universities organised iftar dinners, and invited the local community to join in and eat together. But that too came to an end as Covid lockdown restrictions came into effect, and with that real life gatherings were replaced by digital communication.
Mayor of Hartlepool honours town Covid heroes for outstanding efforts during pandemic
The Ceremonial Mayor of Hartlepool, Councillor Brenda Loynes, launched a new awards scheme to recognise those who have helped others during the pandemic. Cllr Loynes said: “I have always said that the community spirit in Hartlepool is second-to-none and these accolades are once again testament to that. “People rose to the challenge and gave unstintingly of their time and energy to help and support other local people in need during the darkest of times.”
Vaccinations are plateauing. Don’t blame it on ‘resistance’
The U.S. vaccine rollout is plateauing. A remarkable 230 million shots have been given in a few short months, fully vaccinating about 95 million Americans as I write this. The next 100 million shots will be harder. News reports are chronicling a slowdown in appointments across the nation. The number of daily doses administered is down from the peak of 4.6 million on April 10 to about 3 million today. By now, this historic effort has captured the vaccine-hungry individuals who are eager, well-resourced, technologically savvy, and excited to get vaccinated. But as fewer people sign up to get their shots, a dominant narrative is emerging: It’s because of hesitancy — too many people don’t want to get the vaccine. Some even call this vaccine resistance. Those are convenient narratives. But they are false, and can have harmful consequences. Instead of talking up hesitancy, it’s time to talk about what motivates people to get vaccinated and identify the ongoing barriers to vaccination.
In Africa, vaccine hesitancy adds to slow rollout of doses
Some Africans are hesitating to get COVID-19 vaccines amid concerns about their safety, alarming public health officials as some countries start to destroy thousands of doses that expired before use. Malawi and South Sudan in recent days have said they will destroy some of their doses, a concerning development on a continent where health officials have been outspoken about the need for vaccine equity as the world’s rich nations hold the bulk of shots. Africa, whose 1.3 billion people represent 16% of the world’s population, has received less than 2% of the COVID-19 vaccine doses administered around the world, according to the World Health 0rganization.
Working Remotely
How To Be(come) And Stay Visible In A Remote Work Environment
Now with more people working from home, there is one concern I hear more often, and that is: How do I get noticed by my manager? When you don't see each other every day, you have to put more effort into connecting and sharing your wins. For some, this comes naturally, but there's also a fear that you might come across as bragging. I get it, but since a lack of self-promotion has bitten me in my backside before, I cannot help but stress the importance of this: If you’re not your biggest cheerleader, no one else will be either. Still, there is a right and wrong way to do it. The following strategies will help you in your quest to become more visible and stay top of mind
The Evening Read: Working from home just as effective, but it may hurt pay and promotion, HR execs warn
As the City is gradually coming out of lockdown, a range of large companies and financial institutions announced in recent weeks that hybrid working is here to stay. HSBC became the latest big financial services firm to confirm it is making some sweeping structural changes to its working pattern as it adjusts to the post-pandemic reality. The financial giant announced plans last week to scale its office space back by nearly 40 per cent as part of cost-cutting measures. CEO Noel Quinn said it is “not necessary” for staff to be in the office five days a week.
Virtual Classrooms
Survey reveals positive outlook on online instruction post-pandemic
When colleges switched to emergency remote instruction last year, some online learning advocates feared the hasty transition would leave students with a negative impression of online learning. While more pre-pandemic online courses resulted from months of careful planning and significant financial investment, few instructors enjoyed these luxuries last spring. Despite the challenges and shortcomings of this emergency transition to remote instruction, a majority of students want the option to keep studying online, according to new survey results.
How Covid has reshaped the way we learn and why online classes are here to stay
While online learning is by no means a new concept, Covid-19 acted as a catalyst in its growth, leading to a widespread adaptation by schools and universities across the world. Students and teachers alike have adapted to the mass migration of classrooms to the digital medium. Today, online classes are the norm, not an option. It’s not just K-12 education that has seen this shift. Many competitive exam aspirants have now entirely switched to digital learning.
Public Policies
Coronavirus vaccine offered to 42-year-olds in England
In England, everyone aged over 42 can now book a coronavirus vaccine, with the health secretary urging people to make appointments. Matt Hancock, 42, said that he was “very excited” to be able to get vaccinated himself and was standing by his phone waiting for an invitation. People can also book online at the NHS national vaccination booking service. Ministers have launched a campaign to encourage younger people to get the vaccine, amid concern that take-up is dropping as immunisation moves down the age range. Hancock insisted that take-up was “astonishingly high”, reaching 95 per cent in people over 75. However, that drops to 82 per cent in people aged 50 to 55, the youngest of the groups where everyone has so far been offered an appointment.
Egypt approves China's Sinovac coronavirus vaccine for emergency use
Egypt's drug authority said it had granted approval to China's Sinovac coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. Egypt has so far approved and received shipments of the Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines, and has said it is preparing to produce up to 80 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine locally. It has also granted approval to Russia's Sputnik vaccine.
Australia And France Are The Latest Countries To Prioritize Olympic Athletes For Covid-19 Vaccine
Olympic athletes in Australia and France will be part of a higher priority group for getting the Covid-19 vaccine, the countries’ governments said Tuesday, part of a growing collection of nations that are trying to ensure athletes are inoculated by the Tokyo Olympics as the Summer Games are marred by public health concerns. Other countries who have said they will be prioritizing athletes for vaccines include Belgium, Iran, Mexico, India, New Zealand, Malaysia, Hungary, Serbia, Lithuania, Israel, the Philippines and Denmark, and Great Britain said its athletes are expected to be inoculated before the games.
Republic of Ireland approves rollout of further Covid-19 jabs
The Irish government has accepted new recommendations which will see the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccinations made available to people over 50. The AstraZeneca jab is currently only available to over 60s in the country. Recommendations from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) were accepted by the government on Tuesday. It is hoped doses will be distributed as quickly as possible. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available to people under 50, if there is no option of another vaccine.
China offers S.Asian countries help with accessing COVID-19 shots
China said on Tuesday it had offered help to South Asian countries in accessing COVID-19 vaccines but India did not attend a regional video-conference on the matter, although it is currently suffering the world's worst wave of the pandemic. China's State Councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi hosted the conference attended by Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, to which China's neighbour and regional rival India was also invited, the Chinese foreign ministry said. There was no immediate comment from the Indian government. Wang told his conference counterparts Beijing was willing to set up emergency supply reserves with South Asian countries in the fight against COVID-19, a ministry statement said.
COVID-19: Number of weekly coronavirus deaths in England and Wales at lowest level in six months, ONS data shows
The number of COVID-related deaths in England and Wales in a week has fallen to the lowest level in six months, new figures show. A total of 362 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 16 April mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This is the lowest number since the week ending 2 October 2020.
Pakistan deploys army in 16 cities to enforce COVID-19 precautions
Pakistani troops have been deployed in 16 major cities to assist civilian authorities in enforcing measures meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including the wearing of masks in public and the closing of non-essential businesses after 6pm. "Starting at 6am this morning, troops have been sent to aid the civilian administration in each district," military spokesperson Major General Babar Iftikhar said on Monday. The announcement came as the country recorded its highest daily death toll in recent days since the start of the pandemic, and officials said the health care system was nearing its breaking point.
Australia's Perth to exit COVID-19 lockdown
The government of Western Australia state said it will lift a three-day COVID-19 lockdown in Perth and neighbouring Peel region as planned from midnight on Monday after no new cases were found in the past two days. Perth and the Peel region were placed into a hard lockdown from Saturday after an infected traveller from overseas, who likely contracted the novel coronavirus during his two-week quarantine in a Perth hotel, visited several venues while unknowingly infectious.
Vienna easing lockdown cautiously, with swipe at government plans
Vienna will cautiously loosen its coronavirus lockdown next week a month after it was introduced, its left-wing mayor said on Tuesday, criticising the conservative-led government's plans for a broad easing of restrictions nationally next month. Austria has had three national lockdowns, the last of which eased in February. Vienna, however, reintroduced a full lockdown on April 1 to help hospitals facing rising cases, particularly of the more dangerous so-called British variant. Infections nationally have eased this month but remain stubbornly high at more than 1,500 a day. Despite that, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz last week said restaurants, hotels and theatres will reopen nationally on May 19, though provinces can have stricter rules locally if needed.
Turkey announces "full lockdown" from April 29 to curb COVID spread
Turks will be required to stay mostly at home under a nationwide "full lockdown" starting on Thursday and lasting until May 17 to curb a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths, President Tayyip Erdogan announced on Monday. Turkey logged 37,312 new COVID-19 infections and 353 deaths in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed, sharply down from mid-April but still the world's fourth highest number of cases and the worst on a per-capita basis among major nations. Announcing the new measures after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan said all intercity travel would require official approval, all schools would shut and move lessons online, and a strict capacity limit would be imposed for users of public transport.
Spain to send 7 tonnes of medical aid to India
Spain will send just over seven tonnes of medical supplies to India, the foreign minister said on Tuesday, to help authorities cope with a rampant COVID-19 wave that is killing thousands there every day. "Nobody will be safe until we are all safe," Arancha Gonzalez Laya told a news conference after the weekly cabinet meeting.
Mexican president thanks Cuban counterpart for COVID support
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has thanked his Cuban counterpart for sending about 1,000 health workers to help Mexico respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Lopez Obrador spoke by phone on Tuesday with Miguel Diaz-Canel, who ascended to the position of first secretary of Cuba’s Communist Party last week.
Indian state ‘cracks down’ on hospitals flagging oxygen shortage
The right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in India’s most populous Uttar Pradesh state has ordered a crackdown on individuals and hospitals reporting a shortage of medical oxygen or beds, according to Indian media reports. Over the weekend, the northern state’s saffron-clad Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu monk known for his hate speech, threatened to invoke the stringent National Security Act (NSA) and the Gangster Act against anyone trying to spread fear and panic during the pandemic, local reports said.
Maintaining Services
Denmark to produce COVID-19 vaccines in 2022, PM says
Denmark aims to start producing coronavirus vaccines in 2022, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said, adding that a tender would be made public in a few weeks. "As everyone can see, read, feel and hear, we need more vaccines," Frederiksen told the business daily Borsen late on Monday. "That is why we need to set up production." The vaccines will be produced by private companies, she said.
Amid green shoots, Chile keeps borders closed but eases capital's lockdowns
Chilean authorities announced that they would extend the closure of the country’s borders for another 30 days as hospitals remain near-full and COVID-19 cases high despite a gradual improvement in recent weeks. Health Minister Enrique Paris said seven and 14-day averages each showed a 7% decrease in confirmed cases and COVID-19 positivity test rates were down. On Monday, 6,078 new infections were identified, compared to a record high of 9,171 cases on April 9. “The health situation is showing some signs of improvement. We are seeing changes but that doesn’t mean we can stop fighting,” Paris said. Chile is running one of the world’s fastest vaccination campaigns, with half of its target population already inoculated with one shot and 38.8% with two
Nestle staff sought to help Lonza production for Moderna vaccine -Swiss TV
Drugmaker Lonza Group under pressure to find workers to help speed production of Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine, is recruiting temporary employees from food giant Nestle to staff Swiss plants making ingredients for the shot, state broadcaster RTS said on Tuesday, citing sources. Moderna last week blamed projected second-quarter delays in shipments of its vaccine to countries including Britain and Canada on production bottlenecks. read more Switzerland's Lonza is the key supplier of ingredients needed to produce the messenger RNA vaccine.
Pharma Gilead, Merck step in to help India's drug manufacturers fight surging COVID-19 outbreak
India is in the midst of one of the world’s grimmest COVID-19 outbreaks so far, but for weeks the country has struggled to meet local demand for life-saving drugs and vaccines. Now, drugmakers reliant on India for their own production needs are stepping in to help. Gilead Sciences on Monday said it would help local manufacturers boost production of its COVID-19 antiviral drug remdesivir, marketed as Veklury. The drug is authorized in India for hospitalized adults and children with severe disease. Seven companies in India already produce the drug, but they're not able to keep up with demand amid the crisis. Gilead plans to donate at least 450,000 vials of remdesivir “to help ease the immediate need for treatment.” Supplies of remdesivir in India have been so tight a thriving black market has cropped up.
Counties with Oregon's biggest cities moved to extreme risk
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Tuesday rising COVID-19 hospitalizations threaten to overwhelm doctors, and she is moving 15 counties into the extreme risk category, which imposes restrictions that include banning indoor restaurant dining. Some of the state’s biggest cities, including Portland, Salem, Bend and Eugene, are in the counties that will be in the most dire category, effective Friday. “If we don’t act now, doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other health care providers in Oregon will be stretched to their limits treating severe cases of COVID-19,” Brown said in a statement. The move comes, ironically, as the supply of vaccines is exceeding demand. “There are appointments available right now all across the state,” Brown said.
‘Cannon fodder’: Medical students in India feel betrayed
Since the beginning of the week, Dr. Siddharth Tara, a postgraduate medical student at New Delhi’s government-run Hindu Rao Hospital, has had a fever and persistent headache. He took a COVID-19 test, but the results have been delayed as the country’s health system implodes. His hospital, overburdened and understaffed, wants him to keep working until the testing laboratory confirms he has COVID-19. On Tuesday, India reported 323,144 new infections for a total of more than 17.6 million cases, behind only the United States. India’s Health Ministry also reported another 2,771 deaths in the past 24 hours, with 115 Indians succumbing to the disease every hour. Experts say those figures are likely an undercount. “I am not able to breathe. In fact, I’m more symptomatic than my patients. So how can they make me work?” asked Tara.
Healthcare Innovations
Call for Scottish volunteers to trial first plant-based Covid-19 vaccine
Canada-based pharmaceutical company Medicago has launched phase three trials of its vaccine candidate, supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), NHS Research Scotland (NRS) and Health and Care Research Wales. In the next month the company will recruit 1,500 volunteers across the UK, with a branch of the study based in Aberdeen. Volunteers between the age of 18 and 39 will be given two doses of the plant-based vaccine, 21 days apart, as well as two doses of a placebo in a separate phase of the programme. Responses will be studied for 12 months after their last vaccination. The study is also taking place in Canada, the US and Latin America, as well as other sites across Europe.
Calls for 4,000 UK volunteers for latest coronavirus vaccine study
Researchers are recruiting 4,000 volunteers to take part in a study trialling a new coronavirus vaccine. Developed by Valneva, the jab is being manufactured at the company’s site in Livingston, West Lothian. It is the only inactivated, adjuvanted (an ingredient to create a stronger immune response) Covid-19 vaccine in clinical development in Europe. Inactivated vaccines have been used over the last 100 years to vaccinate billions of people – including for seasonal flu, hepatitis A, polio and rabies. After positive safety and immunogenicity study results from the first two phases of the trial, which showed the study vaccine dose was “well tolerated with no safety concerns identified”, recruitment to the final phase two/three stage of the study will start in the final week of April. The study will run across 22 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) sites in England, and two devolved administration sites in Scotland. It is open to healthy adults who have not had a previous Covid-19 vaccine.
Research suggests shift workers are three time more likely to test positive for Covid 19 in Hospital
Scientists from Manchester University have discovered that patients are up to three times more likely to test positive for Covid 19 in hospital if they were shift workers during their career. Researchers used data from UK Biobank - the world’s largest biomedical database. It showed that shift work increased the likelihood of testing positive for COVID-19 in hospitalised patients 2-3 fold, depending on the nature of shift work. Though there are several known risk factors for COVID-19, they do not always explain why COVID-19 outbreaks happen in factories or healthcare settings which is why they investigated the role of shift work.