"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 29th Jul 2021

Isolation Tips
Covid-19: Quarantine risk grows for British tourists as Spain infections soar
A sustained surge in Covid-19 cases in Spain, driven by a big increase in Delta-variant infections, is threatening its tourist industry. Although the rate shows signs of stabilising, with the total standing at 702 cases per 100,000 over a 14-day period — up from 700 on Monday — it remains well over the “very high” threshold rate of 500 per 100,000. The latest figures will do little to ease fears that Spain could soon be on the amber-plus list for the UK, which would mean British holidaymakers having to quarantine on their return.
Norway again postpones end to COVID lockdown
Norway postponed for a second time on Wednesday a planned final step in the reopening of its economy from pandemic lockdown, due to the continued spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, the government said. “A new assessment will be made in mid-August,” Health Minister Bent Hoeie told a news conference. Measures that will be kept in place to halt the spread of COVID-19 include bars and restaurants being limited to table service and limits of 20 people on gatherings in private homes.
Mental illness tied to higher risk of COVID hospital care, death
The first study, published yesterday, was led by researchers from the CEReSS-Health Service Research and Quality of Life Center in Marseille, France. It consisted of 16 observational studies from seven countries involving 19,086 patients with COVID-19 and mental illness from December 2019 to July 2020. The countries were Denmark (1 study), France (2), Israel (1), South Korea (3), Spain (1), the United Kingdom (1), and the United States (7). Regardless of the primary medical risk factors for severe COVID-19, patients with mental illnesses (eg, addiction, depression) were more likely to die of COVID-19 than their peers in pooled crude and adjusted analysis (crude odds ratio [OR], 1.75; adjusted OR [aOR], 1.38). Patients with the severe mental illnesses included in the study—schizophrenia and bipolar disorder—had the highest ORs for death, with a crude OR of 2.26 and an aOR of 1.67.
Hygiene Helpers
New US mask guidance prompted by evidence vaccinated can spread Delta
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Protection spoke on Wednesday about evidence that vaccinated people can spread the Covid-19 Delta variant to others, after the nation’s top health agency expanded on its new guidance that fully vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors in certain places. Rochelle Walensky said “new science” observed in recent days demonstrated that new variants of the coronavirus were transmissible by people who have been fully vaccinated in some cases.
COVID-19: Fully vaccinated travellers from amber list EU and US countries won't have to quarantine on arrival in England from Monday
Fully vaccinated travellers from the EU and the US will not have to quarantine when arriving in England, Scotland and Wales from an amber list country. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the change regarding US and EU arrivals will come into force from 4am on 2 August. Applicable passengers must have received two jabs with vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), or in the US with vaccines authorised by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Masks and vaccine mandate show CDC and Biden taking emergency action amid Covid-19 surge
The steps President Joe Biden's administration is adopting this week to re-recommend masks and require vaccines for federal workers amount to emergency actions designed to contain a new surge of Covid-19 that has quickly become the top issue confronting the White House. The moves reflect a dramatic shift from earlier messaging about the pandemic waning and signal the fight of Biden's presidency is far from over. Biden on Tuesday explicitly laid blame for the current situation on unvaccinated people -- an escalation of his use of the bully pulpit as he furiously searches with his team for ways to curb the spread of the virus.
SNP to snub Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine passport plan for gatherings
John Swinney has signalled that Scotland will reject Boris Johnson’s vaccine passport plan that is likely to see refuseniks barred from theatres, football matches and nightclubs. In a new divergence from England’s Covid-19 strategy, the deputy first minister said remarks by Michael Gove, in which he branded antivaxers “selfish” and warned that they would be prohibited from attending large gatherings, was the wrong approach. Johnson’s government is considering vaccine passports for events such as football matches, having already announced they will be required for entering nightclubs in England from the end of September.
Google delays return to office, mandates vaccines
Google is postponing a return to the office for most workers until mid-October and rolling out a policy that will eventually require everyone to be vaccinated once its sprawling campuses are fully reopened. The more highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus is driving a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Google’s Wednesday announcement was shortly followed by Facebook, which also said it will make vaccines mandatory for U.S. employees who work in offices. Exceptions will be made for medical and other reasons.
Governments, businesses race to reimpose mask mandates
New guidance from the federal government set off a cascade of mask rules across the nation Wednesday as cities, states, schools and businesses raced to restore mandates and others pushed back against the guidelines at a time when Americans are exhausted and confused over constantly shifting pandemic measures. Nevada and Kansas City, Missouri, were among the locations that moved swiftly to re-impose indoor mask requirements following Tuesday’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But governors in Arizona, Pennsylvania and South Carolina said they would resist reversing course.
One Year Later, America’s Mask Supply Chain Is Still Vulnerable
Even as the delta variant fuels a new wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the U.S., some domestic manufacturers of N95s and surgical masks are struggling to stay in business. Several companies have stopped production of masks because of declining sales as people got vaccinated, state mask mandates ended, and the flow of cheaper foreign-made masks resumed. The American Mask Manufacturers Association (AMMA), a trade group that represents more than 20 smaller manufacturers, estimates that 5,000 workers have been laid off across its member companies. DemeTech Corp., based in Miami Lakes, Fla., has alone laid off about 1,500 people, according to Luis Arguello Jr., the company’s vice president. The mask makers’ plight is part of a larger problem that the U.S. government faces: ensuring a reliable domestic supply of protective gear for the next crisis
Community Activities
Tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan vaccinates 90% of its population, becoming a beacon of hope for a region struggling with Covid
Bhutan has fully vaccinated 90% of its eligible adult population in a week with Covid-19 shots, a feat that has been described as a "success story" and a "beacon of hope" for other countries in the region, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said Tuesday. The tiny South Asian kingdom of 770,00 people is nestled in high in the Himalayas between India and China, and its high altitude, remote mountain villages, nomadic herders and extreme weather posed unique challenges to health workers delivering the vaccines safely across the country.
Relaxing Covid-19 restrictions could pave way for vaccine resistance – experts
Relaxing coronavirus restrictions could pave the way for new virus mutations that are resistant to vaccines, researchers have suggested. A new article warns against relaxing measures prematurely, and describes an “arms race” against Covid-19. Experts at the University of East Anglia and the Earlham Institute argue that rising cases could provide opportunities for the virus to evolve into even more transmissible variants.
Here Are The Republicans Most Likely To Refuse The Covid-19 Vaccine, Poll Finds
Nearly 40% of Republicans are still hesitant about getting the Covid-19 vaccine or refuse to get it, a new Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)/Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) poll finds, though certain subsets of the GOP appear notably more likely to accept or refuse the shot based on their religion, media consumption and whether or not they believe in the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Working Remotely
How to Negotiate a Remote Work Arrangement
According to a survey conducted by Morning Consult, 87% of respondents want the flexibility to continue some form of remote work, 33% of workers don’t want to work for an employer that requires them to be onsite full-time, and almost 50% will consider leaving a role without access to partial virtual work. The new work-life integration is having a significant impact on the future of the workplace. Not only do many employees prefer a hybrid schedule, but a recent survey from Harvard Business School Online showed that 27% hope to work remotely full time. How exactly should you ask for a work-from-anywhere arrangement when negotiating a job offer, or when you’ve been working virtually and don’t want to return in-person to the office?
Virtual Classrooms
COVID-19 Learning Online for Undergraduate Medical Students
During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, medical colleges in China had to use online teaching. This study explored the effect of COVID-19 knowledge learning online in a flipped classroom based on micro-learning combined with case-based learning (CBL). A flipped classroom based on micro-learning combined with CBL showed greater effectiveness in COVID-19 knowledge gain in undergraduate medical students and made their attitude toward clinical practice more positive.
Parents reveal the good study habits their kids picked up from remote learning during the pandemic
Almost seven in 10 parents think their kid focuses better while learning remotely, new research indicates. According to a recent survey of 2,000 American parents with school-aged children, which also gathered responses from the children of those polled, found one in three kids are excited by a remote system of learning. And 72% of parents think virtual learning is a game changer that will be around long after the COVID-19 pandemic. Learning remotely has given rise to good study habits; in addition to focusing better, parents said their child has started asking more questions (46%) and multitasking more effectively (43%).
Public Policies
Kazakhstan donates 25000 doses of its QazVac coronavirus vaccine to Kyrgyzstan
The batch of 25,000 doses of QazVac coronavirus vaccine today has arrived in Kyrgyzstan. This vaccine was donated by Kazakhstan. The handover ceremony was held in the Ministry of Health in presence of Health Minister Alymkadyr Beishenaliev, Ambassador of Kazakhstan Rapil Joshybaev, representatives of the Biological Safety Research Institute, developer of the vaccine.
UK announces global rollout of coronavirus vaccine doses
The UK will start its global coronavirus vaccine distribution this week, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Wednesday. It is part of a pledge to donate 100 million shots worldwide by next June. Where are the UK vaccine donations going? Raab revealed that Commonwealth countries like Kenya and Jamaica will benefit from the initial delivery of 9 million doses. He said that "vulnerable places like Laos and Cambodia, partners like Indonesia, Malaysia," would also be sent vaccine doses. He said he hopes the whole world will be vaccinated by 2022.
In breakthrough, Tanzania kicks off COVID-19 vaccinations
In a major breakthrough for one of the world's last countries to embrace COVID-19 vaccines, Tanzania’s president kicked off the nation’s vaccination campaign Wednesday by publicly receiving a dose and urging others to do the same. The East African country’s government under former President John Magufuli had long worried African health officials by denying the pandemic. Magufuli, who insisted the coronavirus could be defeated with prayer, died in March. The presidency went to his deputy, Samia Suluhu Hassan, who has since changed Tanzania s course on COVID-19.
U.S. to ship 4 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses to Nigeria, 5.66 mln to South Africa
The U.S. government on Wednesday will ship nearly 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to two of the most populous African countries - Nigeria and South Africa - as the continent battles a third wave of infections, White House officials said. Four million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will go to Nigeria and 5.66 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to South Africa, the officials said
Italian regulator endorses Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for teens
Italian regulators approved the use of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for children 12-17 years old, making it the second shot endorsed for adolescents, alongside that of Pfizer. Italian drug agency AIFA said it had endorsed the vaccine Spikevax for teens, fully accepting the recommendation made by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on July 23.
Maintaining Services
Coronavirus outbreaks have 'significantly reduced' vaccine hesitancy
Coronavirus outbreaks have helped reduce vaccine hesitancy across Australia, with more people willing to get the jab amid surges in case numbers. The outbreaks in New South Wales and Victoria had "significantly reduced" the rate of vaccine hesitancy, a report by the Melbourne Institute found. The 2021 Vaccine Hesitancy Report Card showed Australia's vaccine hesitancy plummeted from 33 per cent at the end of May, to 21.5 per cent of the adult population as of July 23.
Thailand builds COVID-19 hospital in Bangkok airport amid surge in cases
Thai volunteers on Wednesday turned a cargo warehouse at Bangkok's Don Muang Airport into a 1,800-bed field hospital for COVID-19 patients with less severe symptoms, as the country deals with its biggest outbreak to date. The Southeast Asian nation reported a daily record of 16,533 new cases, plus 133 new deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total accumulated cases to 543,361 and 4,397 deaths.
COVID-19: Deaf woman wins court case over lack of sign language at government coronavirus briefings
A deaf woman has won her court case over a lack of sign language interpretation at two government COVID-19 briefings last year in England. Katie Rowley took legal action against Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, arguing that Number 10 was breaching its duty under equality laws to make broadcasts accessible to deaf people.
Kuwait bans unvaccinated citizens from travelling abroad
Kuwait on Tuesday said only citizens who have been vaccinated for the coronavirus will be allowed to travel abroad starting on Aug. 1. A government statement said the rule excepted children under age of 16, those with a health ministry certificate saying they cannot be vaccinated, and pregnant women who have a pregnancy proof certificate from authorities.
Healthcare Innovations
Pfizer data suggest third dose of Covid-19 vaccine 'strongly' boosts protection against Delta variant
A third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine can "strongly" boost protection against the Delta variant -- beyond the protection afforded by the standard two doses, new data released by Pfizer on Wednesday suggests. The data posted online suggest that levels of antibodies that can target the Delta variant grow fivefold in people 18 to 55 who get a third dose of the vaccine.
Dyadic and Rubic to develop Covid-19 vaccines for African markets
Dyadic International has entered a Covid-19 vaccine technology transfer and licencing agreement with South Africa-based company, Rubic Consortium, to discover, develop, analyse and produce cost-efficient vaccines for supply mainly to the African markets. As per the agreement, Dyadic will licence its C1 Platform to Rubic for conducting research, development, regulatory approval and marketing of Covid-19 vaccines that may be produced in South Africa and marketed in various countries on the African continent.
Health care workers who worked in COVID-19 wards more likely to contract virus, but from each other
Health care workers who worked in COVID-19 wards were more likely to contract the virus than their peers, a new study finds. Researchers from Amsterdam University and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam analyzed data from each of their university hospitals. They found that frontline workers interacting with COVID-19 patients were four times more likely to be infected than those in other areas of the medical center. However, instead of primarily contracting the virus from patients, the workers were spreading the virus among each other
Single Covid-19 vaccine dose as effective for clinically vulnerable, study finds
A single dose of the coronavirus vaccine offers as much protection against severe Covid-19 to people who were shielding during the pandemic as it does for the rest of the population, a study has found. Researchers from Public Health Scotland and the University of Edinburgh said there had been concerns that a weakened immune system may reduce the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccines.
Majority in India's big states with COVID-19 antibodies- survey
More than 70% of people in eight of India's large states are estimated to have COVID-19 antibodies, a government survey showed on Wednesday, suggesting that a second surge in infections affected many more people than the reported figures. The survey, which tested a sample of the population for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, was conducted in June and July and showed that two-thirds of India's 1.3 billion people were likely to have been exposed to the virus
Efficacy of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine slips to 84% after six months, data show
The efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech fell from 96% to 84% over six months, according to data released Wednesday, a decline that could fuel Pfizer’s case that a third dose will eventually be required. The data, released in a preprint that has not been reviewed by outside scientists, suggest the vaccine was 91% effective overall at preventing Covid-19 over the course of six months. In the ongoing study, which enrolled more than 44,000 volunteers, the vaccine’s efficacy in preventing any Covid-19 infection that causes even minor symptoms appeared to decline by an average of 6% every two months after administration. It peaked at more than 96% within two months of vaccination and slipped to 84% after six months.