"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 1st Jul 2021

Isolation Tips
'The effects will linger': US kids’ long-term health in jeopardy after pandemic schooling
After more than a year of isolation, widespread financial insecurity and the loss of an unprecedented amount of classroom time, experts say many of the youngest Americans have fallen behind socially, academically and emotionally in ways that could harm their physical and mental health for years or even decades. “This could affect a whole generation for the rest of their lives,” said Dr. Jack Shonkoff, a pediatrician and director of the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University. “All kids will be affected. Some will get through this and be fine. They will learn from it and grow. But lots of kids are going to be in big trouble.”
Hygiene Helpers
Delta Variant’s Spread Prompts Reconsideration of Mask Guidance
Throughout the pandemic, masks have ranked among the most contentious public health measures in the United States, symbolizing a bitter partisan divide over the role of government and individual liberties. Now, with a new variant of the coronavirus rapidly spreading across the globe, masks are again the focus of conflicting views, and fears, about the course of pandemic and the restrictions required to manage it.
UK offers Covid vaccine to Glasgow climate summit delegates
The UK will offer the coronavirus vaccine to thousands of delegates from nearly 200 countries ahead of the UN climate summit in Glasgow in November. The UK and UN has launched registration for the COP26 climate summit earlier than previous years, to allow time for vaccines to reach delegates who would not otherwise have access to the jabs. Under normal circumstances the UN climate summit would draw more than 20,000 attendees from governments, charities and media. Prominent climate action campaigners including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg have said they are concerned the uneven rollout of coronavirus vaccines around the world could undermine negotiations on climate change at the UN summit. Thunberg told the BBC she did not plan to attend the COP26 meeting unless delegates from all countries could take part on the same terms, and also donated €100,000 from her personal foundation to support the World Health Organization’s Covax initiative.
Covid-19 passports to go live in Northern Ireland 'from next week'
Covid-19 vaccination passports could be available in Northern Ireland from as early as next week. Northern Ireland’s Department of Health announced the passes could be live by Monday, July 5 – ahead of the previously expected July 19 date. The Covid passport allows people to prove they’ve had both jabs when travelling abroad. The passports are planned to go live by next week “providing cyber security checks are cleared successfully”, according to a statement from the NI government.
Vaccine Mandates Are Coming. Good
Today, vaccination rates are stalling in many areas of the United States, and now nearly all Covid-19 deaths are among the unvaccinated. In Indiana, where I live, only half of people 18 or older are fully vaccinated. Some states, including neighboring Ohio, have engaged in lotteries or prize giveaways in an attempt to entice people to get vaccinated. Those are carrots, or positive behavioral nudges. When it comes to incentives, most people like carrots. Sometimes, though, people need sticks.
Community Activities
Thailand bets on 'Phuket sandbox' program to save tourism
Since Thailand’s pandemic restrictions on travel were imposed in early 2020, tourism has fallen off a cliff, and nowhere has it been felt more than the resort island off the country’s southern coast, where nearly 95% of the economy is related to the industry. So, despite spiking coronavirus numbers elsewhere in the country, the government is forging ahead with a program known as the “Phuket sandbox” to reopen the island to fully vaccinated visitors. It hopes it will revive tourism — a sector that accounted for 20% of the country’s economy before the pandemic.
Tuskegee relatives promote COVID-19 vaccines in ad campaign
Tuskegee is the one-word answer some people give as a reason they’re avoiding COVID-19 vaccines. A new ad campaign launched Wednesday with relatives of men who unwittingly became part of the infamous experiment wants to change minds. Omar Neal, 63, a former mayor of the Alabama town, said he was hesitant at first about the shots. Neal is a nephew of Freddie Lee Tyson, a family man who was among several hundred Black men who decades ago became involved without their consent in the federally backed syphilis study. Neal said he agreed to appear in the national campaign after doing research to gain confidence in the vaccines.
Covid: Vaccine refuser regrets turning down jab after catching virus
A Covid-19 vaccine refuser "stared death in the eyes" as he lay gasping for breath in hospital after catching the virus. Abderrahmane Fadil, 60, was taken to Bradford Royal Infirmary earlier this month struggling to breathe. The father of two said declining his vaccination invite in February was "the biggest mistake" of his life. He has thanked NHS staff for saving his life and urged others to get vaccinated. "I will never forget when the paramedics were taking me down the stairs and my kids were crying and looking at me," Mr Fadil said.
Aspen to partner with finance institutions to boost vaccine know-how
A group of global finance institutions led by the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) said on Wednesday they would help to facilitate an increase in vaccine manufacturing know-how in Africa by partnering with South African pharmaceutical company Aspen Pharmacare. As a first step, the IFC, French development institution Proparco, German development finance institution DEG and the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation jointly loaned 600 million euros ($712 million) to the company.
Working Remotely
NHS staff to carry on working at home
Tens of thousands of NHS Scotland staff will be allowed to work from home as part of the “new normal” recovery from coronavirus. Guidance published by the health service says employees can stay away from the office for all or part of the week if they can show it will not damage services or negatively affect colleagues. Remote working has been adopted by thousands of NHS backroom staff during the pandemic as part of lockdown efforts. A draft home-working policy, which is due to be introduced formally in August, has been published by NHS Scotland as part of a consultation document.
How to spend a month abroad without missing work
New travel companies are making it easier for remote workers to live and work abroad without the long-term commitment. So-called “workcations” are on the rise, with 74% of Americans who are working from home saying they would consider taking one, according to a report published in March by The Harris Poll. But rather than booking a hotel room at the nearest beach, travel companies are enticing workers to venture farther from home with international itineraries and accommodations that are suited to their work schedules.
Pay Up to Stay Home Is One Company's Approach to Remote Work
Disco Corp., a Japanese maker of semiconductor equipment, has a novel approach to remote work -- those who choose to stay home pay the colleagues who brave the commute to show up in the office. The company is unusual in that for the past decade it has used an internal currency called “Will” to create a micro-economy where sales teams pay factory workers to produce goods, who in turn pay engineers to design products. When the pandemic hit, Disco didn’t have the option of letting all its employees log in from home. Someone had to show up to keep the factories running. So the company set up a system where those working remotely paid a certain amount of Will to be divided among the employees who came in.
Virtual Classrooms
WEA: 69% of students reported that their online course experience was the same when compared to face to face learning
In a new survey by @WEAadulted, the UK’s leading adult education charity, 69% of students reported that their online course experience was the same when compared to face to face learning. Over one in four (28%) felt their virtual course was better compared to face to face learning. These figures supporting virtual learning are impressive considering 61% of these students reported on having none or little experience using virtual learning prior to the pandemic. According to the survey, the top benefit of virtual learning cited by over two-thirds of the students (67%) is the lack of travel, while 64% highlighted the accessibility of courses irrespective of the location and tutor, making it easier to learn than ever before
Public Policies
Zimbabwe imposes dusk to dawn curfew in new COVID-19 restrictions
Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday imposed a dusk to dawn curfew, banned inter-city travel and cut business hours with immediate effect in response to increasing coronavirus infections. The southern Africa nation, which has recorded more than 47,000 cases since the outbreak last year, has seen its 7-day average infection rate increasing five times to 727 compared to two weeks ago.
As Covid Rages, Putin Pushes Russians to Get a (Russian) Vaccine
President Vladimir V. Putin urged Russians to get vaccinated against the coronavirus on Wednesday — his most extensive comments on the matter yet — as his country scrambles to contain a vicious new wave of the illness. Speaking at his annual televised call-in show, Mr. Putin spent the opening half-hour trying to convince Russians to get one of the country’s four domestically produced shots. It was the latest instance of a marked change in tone about the pandemic from Russian officials, who for months did little to push a vaccine-wary public to get immunized but are now starting to make vaccination mandatory for some groups. “It’s dangerous, dangerous to your life,” Mr. Putin said of Covid-19. “The vaccine is not dangerous.”
World Bank says will boost financing for COVID-19 vaccines to $20 billion
The World Bank on Wednesday pledged to boost available funding for COVID-19 vaccine purchases and deployment to $20 billion from a previous target of $12 billion, citing a sharp increase in overall financing demand from developing countries. World Bank President David Malpass said the global development bank had already provided more than $4 billion to 51 developing countries for the purchase and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, and would add billions for 25 more countries soon.
France delays some regional unwinding of COVID restrictions over fourth wave concerns
Warnings of 4th COVID wave in France by September or October. Unwinding of restrictions delayed in Les Landes. Presence of Delta variant growing in France Average number of new cases up for third consecutive day. France has world's 9th highest COVID death toll
U.S. to ship 2.5 million doses of J&J vaccine to Colombia
The U.S. plans to ship 2.5 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine to Colombia, the White House said Wednesday. The Colombian president's office said Monday that U.S. President Joe Biden told President Ivan Duque of the donation in a call during which they also discussed reactivating the economy, jobs, climate change and shared democratic values and human rights.
Thailand buys 5 mln doses of Moderna coronavirus vaccine
Thailand said on Wednesday it would import nearly four million doses of Moderna’s mRNA coronavirus vaccine towards the end of this year and a further one million in early 2022, for use by private hospitals. Thailand’s vaccinations strategy so far has relied heavily on the viral vector vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca and Sinovac Biotech’s inactivated COVID-19 vaccine. The Government Pharmaceutical Organization in a statement said 3.9 million doses of the Moderna vaccine would be delivered in the fourth quarter and 1.1 million doses in the first quarter of 2022.
Brazil suspends Covid-19 vaccine deal with Indian firm amid allegations of contract irregularities
Despite a desperate need for Covid-19 vaccines, Brazil is suspending a deal to purchase 20 million doses of the Indian-made Covaxin vaccines, the Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday, after questions were raised about a pricing increase.
S.Korean capital delays relaxation of social distancing as COVID-19 cases surge
South Korea's capital Seoul and its neighbouring regions will delay by a week the relaxation of social distancing rules due to a sudden increase in COVID-19 cases, authorities said. The government had said it would relax social distancing and allow private gatherings of up to six people in the greater Seoul area, from the current four, starting July 1 as the country's inoculation drive has been picking up speed
Bangladesh to deploy army in lockdown to curb COVID-19 surge
Bangladesh is deploying army troops from Thursday to enforce a strict lockdown amid a record spike in coronavirus cases driven by the Delta variant first detected in India, the government said on Wednesday. Most restrictions imposed as part of a strict lockdown introduced in April have since been lifted, but a record spike in cases this week of the highly contagious Delta variant has prompted the government to order a week of tight controls.
Maintaining Services
Covid-19: GP staff have faced threats and abuse during vaccination programme, poll finds
Over half (52%) of GP practice staff have received threats of physical abuse while working on the covid-19 vaccination programme, a survey has found. The poll of 222 GP practice staff by the Medical Protection Society (MPS) also found that over half (53%) of staff said that their surgery or vaccination centre had been defaced by anti-vaccination material. The survey included GPs, nurses, and practice managers at surgeries in the UK. One respondent said, “Staff of all disciplines are leaving the profession in droves because of the behaviour of the public creating unbearable working situations. Morale is the lowest I have ever known, anyone near retirement is retiring early.” Another said, “Abuse—especially written and posted in the prescription box on the gate—has resulted in staff being very concerned for their safety at the surgery.”
England aims to lift restrictions in schools in final stage of lockdown easing, minister says
British education minister Gavin Williamson on Wednesday said he expects to be able to end the restrictions and bubble system in England's schools when other freedoms are regained in the last step out of lockdown, scheduled for July 19. The current system can result in entire classes of pupils being asked to self isolate if one of their classmates tests positive for COVID-19. "What I want to see is these restrictions, including bubbles removed as quickly as possible, along with wider restrictions in society," Williamson told lawmakers.
Healthcare Innovations
CureVac COVID-19 vaccine records only 48% efficacy in final trial readout
CureVac said its COVID-19 vaccine was 48% effective in the final analysis of its pivotal mass trial, only marginally better than the 47% reported after an initial read-out two weeks ago. The German biotech firm said that efficacy, measured by preventing symptomatic disease, was slightly better at 53% when excluding trial participants older than 60 years, an age group that is by far the most severely affected. CureVac said on June 16 its COVID-19 vaccine, known as CVnCoV, proved only 47% effective in an initial trial read-out and that new variants had proved a headwind, denting investor confidence in its ability to take on rival shots.
Britain starts planning for vaccine booster shots from September
Britain is starting to plan for a COVID-19 vaccine booster campaign starting later this year after top vaccine advisers said it might be necessary to give third shots to the elderly and most vulnerable from September. The government said that a final decision on whether a vaccine booster campaign was needed had not been made, but officials had advised that preparations should begin on a precautionary basis.
CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine safe for children as young as three
A clinical trial has proven that the CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine is safe for children and adolescents aged between three to 17. The CoronaVac vaccine, which is manufactured by Sinovac, has recently been approved for emergency use in China for children over the age of three. In a randomised controlled trial of the vaccine, researchers concluded that two doses of the vaccine are safe and generate a strong antibody response. The findings have been published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.
COVID-19: Nearly 2,000 cases linked to Scotland fans watching Euro 2020 games
Nearly 2,000 COVID cases in Scotland have been linked to football fans watching Euro 2020 fixtures. Of the 1,991 cases registered by Public Health Scotland (PHS), two-thirds said they had travelled to London to watch England v Scotland on 18 June. The report states that it is working to ensure "all public health actions are taken in the close contacts of these Euro 2020 cases".