"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 7th May 2021

Isolation Tips
Children’ Mental Health Took A Massive Hit During Lockdown, Says UK Study
Children’s mental health took a serious hit during lockdown, according to a new Oxford University study. And younger children were particularly affected, with those aged four to 10 experiencing a much greater range of difficulties throughout the pandemic than older children. The highest levels of mental health issues were seen when restrictions were at their most stringent, while reported difficulties have decreased in line with children returning to the real, as opposed to the virtual, classroom. The findings emphasize the need to focus on mental health - rather than catching up on ‘lost learning - as the priority for children re-emerging from lockdown
Precautions to take when you have COVID-19 patient at home
The second wave of coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc in India. And this time the disease is even more contagious than the last wave. It becomes increasingly difficult to protect oneself from the virus when you have someone at home who has tested positive. Most people are advised to isolate themselves at home until they have any serious complications. Apart from taking care of the patient, one has to protect themselves from catching the disease. From wearing a mask inside the home to washing hands frequently, there are some simple things that one must do to stay safe
Hygiene Helpers
Covid-19 vaccine rates lower among ethnic minorities, disabled people and in deprived areas
Take-up of a Covid-19 vaccine has been lower among all ethnic minority groups compared with the White British population, figures show. Lower uptake has also been seen among some religious groups, disabled people and those living in more deprived areas, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. Reasons for lower vaccination rates are likely to be complex but modelling showed could not be fully explained by geography, socio-demographic factors or underlying health conditions, the ONS report concluded. It comes as other figures show vaccine hesitancy in England remains low overall but is higher in younger age groups, people in deprived areas and Black adults. A study exploring the reasons for vaccine refusal and uncertainty in more depth is due to be published soon, the ONS said.
Dollar stores: gateways to equitable Covid-19 vaccine distribution
With the number of Americans receiving Covid-19 vaccines each week starting to decline, it’s time to pull out the stops to reach those who are willing to be vaccinated but haven’t yet been able to do so. Enlisting dollar stores as vaccination sites is one way to make vaccines more widely and equitably available. Every American adult is now officially eligible for to get a Covid-19 vaccine. Although the barriers to vaccination aren’t yet well-studied or surveyed, difficulty scheduling an appointment and distance to a vaccination site are widely considered to be significant obstacles. In mid-April, the Biden administration announced that 90% of Americans now live within 5 miles of a vaccination site, in part because of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. Every week, in addition to allocating vaccine doses to the states to distribute, the federal government also allocates millions of vaccine doses directly to retail pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers this program critical to the success of its efforts to deliver vaccines directly to communities and achieving that 5-mile goal.
Community Activities
Pfizer, BioNTech to provide Covid-19 vaccine to Olympic athletes
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said on Thursday they would donate doses of their Covid-19 vaccine to help vaccinate athletes and their delegations participating in the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. The companies said initial doses are expected to be delivered to participating delegations at the end of May with the goal of ensuring the delegations receive second doses ahead of arrivals in Tokyo. The plan was put into effect after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had a meeting with the Japanese government following Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla’s offer to donate vaccines to athletes and their delegations.
What the government could learn from the community response to covid
As we begin the slow journey along the road map to freedom here in the UK, the picture across the world is very different. It has been impossible to escape the devastating images and statistics flooding from India in recent weeks. There has been a relentless stream of heart-breaking stories and horrendous milestones; a baby girl dying on the steps of the hospital, surpassing 20 million recorded cases, ,more than 3,500 deaths in a single day. So here at Feed The Hungry, we decided to take a leap of faith and turn to the covid-weary British churches and wider communities for support. Trying to keep our expectations realistic, we set up the ‘Oxygen for India’ campaign, calling on people to donate to India. Four hours later we had raised over £9,000
Pleas for help in India as COVID-19 leaves children without carers
When an Indian children's rights group tracked down two boys aged 6 and 8 after it was told that their parents were both severely ill with COVID-19 and unable to care for them, the children had not eaten for days. The case, reported by the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) group which located the boys in a small town in India's rural heartland, was one of a growing number of emergencies involving children affected by India's devastating coronavirus crisis. The exponential rise in infections and deaths has left some children, particularly in poor communities, without a carer because their parents or other relatives are too ill to cope or have died.
Helen Mirren joins Italy's best known comic in light-hearted sketch to promote Covid-19 vaccine
Helen Mirren has starred with one of Italy's best known comics in a light-hearted but eccentric video extolling the benefits of being vaccinated against Covid-19. She stars alongside Checco Zalone, the stage name of Italian comic and actor Luca Pasquale Medici, who has produced and starred in some of Italy's most commercially successful films. In the video he stops to ask her directions on a dusty road in Puglia and promptly falls in love with her after asking if her off-the-shoulder look is because she has just been vaccinated.
Working Remotely
SocGen to Let French Staff Work Remotely Up to Three Days a Week
Societe Generale SA plans to allow its French staff to work from home for up to three days a week, joining peers including Deutsche Bank AG in providing one of the most flexible return-to-office policies among large international banks. The Paris-based lender has signed an agreement with its domestic union representatives on the remote work plans, Chief Executive Officer Frederic Oudea said. Banks around the world are adopting differing approaches to remote work as staff seek greater flexibility and a better balance between their work and personal lives after spending more than a year working from home. In the U.S., several lenders including JPMorgan Chase & Co and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are pushing for a more systematic return to the office in coming weeks.
Remote working has led to managers spying more on staff – here are three ways to curb it
With so many more people working from home during the pandemic, employers have stepped up the extent to which they are monitoring them online. Not so many years ago, employees were having to adjust to having their work emails monitored; but that seems almost quaint compared to the digital surveillance we are seeing today. Employers can use specialist software to track workers’ keystrokes, mouse movements and the websites they visit. They can take screenshots of employees to check whether they are at their screens and looking attentive, or even use webcam monitoring software that measures things like eye movements, facial expressions and body language. All this can be checked against a worker’s output to draw conclusions about their productivity.
How will the new world of work actually work for you?
The way we work may have changed forever. Almost 50 of the UK’s biggest employers are planning a hybrid model of working, with staff spending only part of their week in the office – and working from home for the rest. Most of them say staff would be encouraged to work from home two to three days a week once all the lockdown restrictions are lifted
The remote work revolution isn't coming to the factory floor.
Last month, Ford announced it would allow staff who have been working remotely to remain remote — at least some of the time — long after the pandemic is over. "Must be nice for them," thought Marcie Pedraza, an electrician at a Ford plant in Chicago. Like many workers across the U.S., from factories to grocery stores, working from home has never been an option for her. And that presents a challenge for companies frantically rewriting their remote work policies: How do you make the change feel fair, when not all employees can benefit? This divide — between those who have to show up to work, and those who can log in to Zoom — didn't used to be so stark. Before the pandemic only 3% of workers logged in from home full-time.
Virtual Classrooms
Remote learning is helping some Black students affirm their identities, excel in school
The pandemic is having an undeniable impact on education, as the remote classroom has caused students and teachers to alter their learning methods and philosophy. But for some Black students, the distance-learning environment has brought an unexpected benefit: They can evade the biases and institutionalized racism often found in a traditional classroom setting. In addition, parents of Black students are finding opportunities to observe more and advocate when necessary. Students are also dodging negative race-based interpersonal interactions that may have harmed them emotionally and hindered academic performance.
New report provides reality check on virtual schools
Online education has been at the center of the national education discussion since the coronavirus pandemic forced schools last year to close and teachers to find ways to teach virtually — often online. While some students thrived learning virtually, educators and parents around the country have said that most did not. But online learning has been with us for years before the coronavirus pandemic in the form of virtual schools, many of them operated by for-profit organizations. The growth of these schools has been tracked since 2013 by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a nonprofit education policy research center located in the School of Education at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Public Policies
U.S. backs giving poorer countries access to COVID-19 vaccine patents, reversing stance
President Joe Biden on Wednesday threw his support behind waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, bowing to mounting pressure from Democratic lawmakers and more than 100 other countries, but angering pharmaceutical companies. Biden voiced his support for a waiver - a sharp reversal of the previous U.S. position - in remarks to reporters, followed swiftly by a statement from his top trade negotiator, Katherine Tai, who backed negotiations at the World Trade Organization. “This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” Tai said in a statement, amid growing concern that big outbreaks in India could allow the rise of vaccine-resistant strains of the deadly virus, undermining a global recovery.
Cambodia ends blanket COVID-19 lockdown despite more infections
Cambodia ended on Thursday a blanket coronavirus lockdown in Phnom Penh after three weeks, as busy traffic returned to some streets of the capital, though authorities retained tighter curbs in some districts where infections have surged. The Southeast Asian nation has recorded one of the world's smallest COVID-19 caseloads, but infections have climbed from about 500 in late February to 17,621 now, with 114 deaths. Authorities recorded 650 new cases and 4 deaths on Thursday. While health experts have warned about lifting curbs too quickly, the lockdown had triggered anger from some residents who called the distribution of food aid inadequate.
More support easing vaccine patent rules, but hurdles remain
Several world leaders Thursday praised the U.S. call to remove patent protections on COVID-19 vaccines to help poor countries obtain shots. But the proposal faces a multitude of hurdles, including resistance from the pharmaceutical industry. Nor is it clear what effect such a step might have on the campaign to vanquish the outbreak. Activists and humanitarian institutions cheered after the U.S. reversed course Wednesday and called for a waiver of intellectual property protections on the vaccine. The decision ultimately is up to the 164-member World Trade Organization, and if just one country votes against a waiver, the proposal will fail.
Macron backs waiving IP rights for COVID-19 vaccines
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed support on Thursday for waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, hours after U.S. President Joe Biden threw his support behind the idea
Waiver of patent rights on Covid-19 vaccines, in near term, may be more symbolic than substantive
The U.S.’s stunning endorsement of a proposal to waive Covid-19 vaccine patents has won plaudits for President Biden and roiled the global pharmaceutical industry. But, at least in the short term, it’s likely to be more of a symbolic milestone than a turning point in the pandemic. For months, proponents of the proposal have argued that the need to waive intellectual property protections was urgent given the growth of Covid cases in low- and middle-income countries, which have been largely left without the huge shipments of vaccine already purchased by wealthy countries. But patents alone don’t magically produce vaccines. Experts suggested the earliest the world could expect to see additional capacity flowing from the waiver — if it’s approved at the World Trade Organization — would be in 2022.
COVID-19: Leaked reports show B.C. health authorities withholding data from the public
A pair of internal reports leaked from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control highlights that health authorities in B.C. are only releasing a fraction of their available COVID-19 information to the public. The internal reports — each of which runs over 45 pages — are four times longer than the weekly reports published by the Centre. They delve into the details of COVID-19 case counts and vaccinations at the neighbourhood level, breakdowns about variants of concern, and more.
Russia authorises single-dose Sputnik Light COVID vaccine for use -RDIF
Russia has authorised the one-shot Sputnik Light version of its COVID-19 vaccine for use, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said on Thursday, a move that could help vaccine supplies go further in countries with high infection rates. Developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, the slimmed-down vaccine, which the RDIF said is 79.4% effective against COVID-19 and costs under $10 a dose, has been earmarked for export and could increase the number of people with partial immunity.
New analysis finds global Covid death toll is double official estimates
A new analysis of the toll of the Covid-19 pandemic suggests 6.9 million people worldwide have died from the disease, more than twice as many people as has been officially reported. In the United States, the analysis estimates, 905,000 people have died of Covid since the start of the pandemic. That is about 38% higher than the current death estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 561,594. The new figure also surpasses the estimated number of U.S. deaths in the 1918 flu pandemic, which was estimated to have killed approximately 675,000 Americans. The analysis was conducted by scientists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Angela Merkel rejects US move to waive patents on vaccines
Angela Merkel has expressed opposition to the Biden administration’s proposal to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines, saying it would have “serious implications” for vaccine production worldwide. The German chancellor said the limiting factors in vaccine supply were “production capacities and the high quality standards, not the patents”. “The protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and it must remain so in the future,” she added. Merkel was responding to President Joe Biden’s top trade adviser, Katherine Tai, who said that while the US “believes strongly” in IP protections, it would support a waiver of those rules for Covid-19 vaccines.
Global Fund fast-tracks $75 million for India's COVID battle
Against the backdrop of the world's second most populous country in the grips of a catastrophic COVID-19 surge, the Global Fund today said it approved $75 million to help India buy oxygen concentrators and oxygen plants. In other developments, several groups and leaders praised the United States' statement yesterday supporting a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, but others warned that the step could hamstring vaccine production.
Maintaining Services
Nurses report 'not feeling safe to share concerns or needs' during Covid-19
Almost a third of female nurses have not felt safe sharing their personal concerns or needs around the impact of Covid-19 with their manager since the crisis began, a new survey has shown. In addition, the majority of female nurses feel working during the pandemic has had a negative impact on both their mental and physical wellbeing. The results come as part of a report published by the NHS Confederation’s Health and Care Women Leaders Network earlier this week, which explored the impact of the pandemic on female health and care workers.
Thailand says foreigners to get COVID-19 vaccines amid access concern
Thailand confirmed that it plans to include 3 million foreigners living in the country in its mass vaccination programme to protect the entire population, amid concerns over the scope of vaccine access. "Anybody living in Thailand, whether they be Thai or foreign, if they want they vaccine, they can get it," head of the disease control department, Opas Kankawinpong told a briefing. The government has repeatedly said foreigners would be offered vaccines. But concerns among expatriates have been raised in recent weeks, with some venting frustrations on social media about a lack of public information, problems registering or confusion over private vaccine availability.
Covid-19 booster could be given with flu jab in Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, public health officials are hopeful a campaign for Covid-19 booster vaccines will be combined with the regular winter flu jab programme. A Stormont committee was told combining the two campaigns would be more effective. The head of NI's vaccination campaign, Patricia Donnelly, said guidance would come from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
TUI lures UK holidaymakers with cheap COVID-19 tests ahead of travel restart
Holiday company TUI launched a 20 pound ($28) testing package for its UK customers on Thursday, as Britain prepares to allow travel again from May 17 but with strict testing requirements. Airlines and travel companies have complained that Britain's requirement for arrivals from low-risk countries to have two COVID-19 tests, one before arriving in the UK and one after arriving, will make holidays too expensive for many people. TUI hopes to attract bookings from customers wary about testing costs by offering testing packages starting at 20 pounds, much cheaper than the current cost for a single test which can be up to 100 pounds.
UK diners return as more restaurants reopen
British restaurants saw more diners on May 1 than the week before as hospitality businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland partly reopened after months of coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Britain's Office for National Statistics said seated diner reservations on May 1 were 71% of their level on the equivalent Saturday two years ago, up from 62% a week ago when restaurants in England were open. Spending on credit and debit cards in the week to April 29 was 99% of its level in February 2020, little changed from the week before, according to CHAPS payment data provided by the Bank of England.
Serbians queue to get COVID-19 vaccine and with it a shopping voucher
Dozens of people gathered at a major mall in Belgrade on Thursday hoping to be among the first to get a COVID-19 vaccine and with it a shopping voucher, in the latest initiative by authorities to encourage more Serbians to get inoculated. Since last December, Serbia has vaccinated 29.81% of its population of around 7 million with at least one dose. The government now wants to accelerate the programme, including drop-in vaccination centres and facilities in shopping malls. "People should be responsible ... and seize the opportunity (to have a vaccine) ... as we reach out to them," said doctor Zoran Vekic, who coordinated Thursday's event.
India’s gov’t eases hospital oxygen shortage as demand jumps
Under order by the Supreme Court, India’s government on Thursday agreed to provide more medical oxygen to hospitals in the capital city of New Delhi, potentially easing a 2-week-old shortage that worsened the country’s exploding coronavirus crisis. Government officials also denied reports that they have been slow in distributing life-saving medical supplies donated from abroad. The government raised the oxygen supply to 730 tons from 490 tons per day in New Delhi as ordered by the Supreme Court. The court intervened after 12 COVID-19 patients, including a doctor, died last week at New Delhi’s Batra Hospital when it ran out of medical oxygen for 80 minutes. On Wednesday night, 11 other COVID-19 patients died when pressure in an oxygen supply line stopped working at a government medical college hospital in Chengalpet in southern India, possibly because of a faulty valve, The Times of India newspaper reported.
Healthcare Innovations
Moderna vaccine booster 'effective against Covid variants in trials'
Moderna's tweaked coronavirus vaccine has been found to neutralise both the Brazil and South Africa variants in laboratory trials. The company behind the jab announced that a single dose of one of its vaccines given as a booster to previously vaccinated people increased neutralising antibody titer responses against SARS-CoV-2 and both the South Africa and Brazil variants. The currently authorised Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is mRNA-1273 which was developed to protect against the ancestral strain of the virus first identified in Wuhan, China, while mRNA-1273.351 was developed to protect against the B.1.351 virus first identified in South Africa. Moderna said a booster dose of mRNA-1273.351 achieved higher neutralising antibody titers against the South Africa variant than a booster dose of mRNA-1273. The initial data is from a study involving 40 people.
New study shows importance of second dose of coronavirus vaccine
The second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine can reduce the risk of both hospitalisation and death by more than 95% from seven days after vaccination, a nationwide study by Israel’s Ministry of Health and the pharmaceutical giant found. The real-world research found a significant increase in effectiveness from the first dose, which offers 58% protection against infection, 76% against hospitalisation and is 77% effective at preventing death as a result of the virus. “Two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are highly effective across all age groups in preventing symptomatic and asymptomatic coronavirus infection and coronavirus-related hospitalisations, severe disease, and death, including those caused by the British variant,” the report, published in The Lancet journal, stated.
Early data shows Moderna coronavirus vaccine 96% effective in teens
The efficacy rate of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine in adolescents aged 12 to 17 years proved to be 96%, according to early data from the trial on this age group. The follow-up after 35 days found the vaccine was generally well-tolerated in teens, and no serious safety concerns were identified, a press release from Moderna on Thursday stated. “An initial analysis of 3,235 participants showed a vaccine efficacy rate of 96% in participants who received at least one injection. The analysis included 12 cases starting 14 days after the first dose and based on the United States’ Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition of the coronavirus,” the statement read. It added that, because the incidence rate of Covid-19 is lower in adolescents, the case definition is less strict than that for the trials of adults, resulting in vaccine efficacy against milder cases of the virus.
Novavax's COVID-19 Vaccine Was Shown to be 51% Efficacious in South Africa, Where More Infectious Variants Are Spreading
In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from the Maryland-based biotech firm Novavax report that the company’s COVID-19 vaccine is 51% efficacious in protecting people from disease.
Covid-19 herd immunity is a difficult target, experts warn, but vaccinating teens could be key to protecting us this fall
The United States is offering up freebies, expanding the pool of those eligible and shifting access to local pharmacies in its attempts to encourage vaccine holdouts to get inoculated against Covid-19. In the last six months, nearly 150 million people in the US have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in what is the fastest and largest mass vaccination effort in world history. Still, the US vaccination rate has declined from its peak last month, pushing officials to offer new incentives, known as carrots, to further encourage the wary, hesitant and inaccessible to get vaccinated. Some of those carrots are access to cultural events.
Giving 2 Doses Of Different COVID-19 Vaccines Could Boost Immune Response
Typically, if you get a COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses, you should get two of the same vaccine. Two Pfizer shots, or two Moderna shots. Not one and then the other. But in the future, that could change, either by necessity or by design. This idea of using two types of vaccines isn't a new concept. It's known as heterologous vaccination, although there's a more colloquial term. "In the U.K. at the moment, we're sort of calling it 'mix and match,' " says Helen Fletcher, a professor of immunology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. She says shortages of a vaccine or concerns about side effects may induce health officials to adopt a mix-and-match strategy.
COVID-19: First nationwide data from Israel shows 95% protection from infection after two doses of Pfizer jab
Two doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine can provide more than 95% protection against infection, severe illness, and death, according to the first nationwide data from Israel. A single dose of the jab, meanwhile, is associated with 58% protection against infection, 76% against hospital admission, and 77% against death, research published in The Lancet suggests.
WHO says Sinovac COVID vaccine effective but some data lacking
The COVID-19 vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac Biotech is efficacious in preventing COVID-19 in adults under 60 but some quality data on the risk of serious adverse effects is lacking, World Health Organization experts have found. The independent experts on the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) reviewed Sinovac’s CoronaVac jab from phase 3 clinical trials in China, Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey and Chile.
Three vaccines show promise against COVID variants
Data from three trials posted yesterday show efficacy of the Novavax and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines and good immune response of the Moderna vaccine against different SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. Novavax versus B1351 Two of the studies appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the first of which describes a phase 2a-b clinical trial at 16 sites in South Africa from Aug 17 to Nov 25, 2020, on the efficacy of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine against the B1351 variant first identified in South Africa, where virus transmission is ongoing. Led by scientists from Novavax, the study involved randomly assigning HIV-negative participants aged 18 to 84 years and medically stable HIV-positive participants aged 18 to 64 years in a 1:1 ratio to receive two doses of either the Novavax vaccine or a placebo 21 days apart.