"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 21st Sep 2021

Isolation Tips
New Zealand eases coronavirus curbs in Auckland amid hope Delta variant outbreak now under control
New Zealand eased coronavirus curbs slightly in Auckland on Monday, as the government expressed confidence that there was no widespread regional transmission of the Delta variant of the coronavirus. But tough restrictions will continue even after midnight on Tuesday, when the alert level drops to 3 from 4 in the city of about 1.7 million at the centre of the latest Delta outbreak. Schools and offices must still keep closed, for instance, with businesses limited to offering only contactless services.
Vietnam capital Hanoi to ease coronavirus curbs this week
Vietnam's capital Hanoi will further ease its coronavirus restrictions from this week, the government said, with new cases on the decline and the majority of its adult population partially vaccinated. Most construction projects can resume from Wednesday, authorities said late on Sunday, adding further easing would follow, with average new daily cases down to just 20.
Hygiene Helpers
Slow but steady has seen the EU win out in the vaccine race
In March, WHO compared Europe’s Covid vaccine rollout unfavourably with the UK’s, calling it “unacceptably slow”. As late as April, only 11% of the bloc’s population had received at least one shot, compared with 29% in the US and 46% in Britain. But last week, according to Our World in Data, the picture looked different. Nine EU countries, including Portugal, Spain, Ireland, France, Belgium and Italy, have now administered one or both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine to a larger share of their populations than the UK, with a further five having overtaken the US.
Gordon Brown calls for urgent action to avert ‘Covid vaccine waste disaster’
More than 100m Covid vaccine doses are due to expire and be “thrown away” unless global leaders urgently share surplus supplies with the world’s poorest countries, Gordon Brown has warned. The “staggering” number of stockpiled “use now” jabs will be of no use to anyone by December, according to a new report from the research group Airfinity. The former prime minister said the failure of Boris Johnson, Joe Biden and EU leaders to agree on a plan to distribute the spare doses meant the world was facing a “vaccine waste disaster”. Brown has sent Airfinity’s research to leading politicians, including the US president, the UK prime minister, and senior figures in Brussels, before a global vaccine summit on Wednesday.
COVID-19: Booster jab invitations to 'strengthen wall of defence' will be sent out across England this week
More than a million people in England will receive an invitation to book their COVID-19 booster jab. Texts will be sent out on Monday, while letters will be posted to those who are eligible for a third coronavirus vaccine dose later in the week, NHS England said. Around 1.5 million people will be contacted and encouraged to use the National Booking Service. Those eligible for booster jabs include those aged 50 and over, people living and working in care homes for the elderly and frontline health and social care workers.
Qatar wants mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for all World Cup footballers
World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar are pushing to make it mandatory for all players who compete at next year’s tournament to have had both Covid-19 vaccinations. The Qatari government has already announced that any fans who attend the tournament next November will need to be fully vaccinated, and now that ruling could also extend to the players – and coaching staffs – taking part too. According to The Athletic, Qatari medical authorities have been in talks with FIFA and other stakeholders in an effort to ensure all participating players are double jabbed.
Community Activities
COVID has killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 flu
COVID-19 has now killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic did — approximately 675,000. The U.S. population a century ago was just one-third of what it is today, meaning the flu cut a much bigger, more lethal swath through the country. But the COVID-19 crisis is by any measure a colossal tragedy in its own right, especially given the incredible advances in scientific knowledge since then and the failure to take maximum advantage of the vaccines available this time. “Big pockets of American society — and, worse, their leaders — have thrown this away,” medical historian Dr. Howard Markel of the University of Michigan said of the opportunity to vaccinate everyone eligible by now.
Melbourne construction sites shut down after anti-vaccine mandate protest
Australian authorities shut down construction sites in Melbourne for two weeks from Tuesday after an anti-vaccine mandate protest in the city turned violent and COVID-19 infections in the state of Victoria surged. Hundreds of people clashed with union officials with bottles and a crate thrown at them, footage on social media showed, after the Victorian government required all construction workers to have at least one vaccine dose by Friday.
Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout Falters in Bulgaria Amid ‘Perfect Storm’ of Mistrust, Fake News
As a European Union member state, Bulgaria has access to Western-approved Covid-19 vaccines and enough doses for its population. But a mix of misinformation, low trust in authorities and conflicting messaging means less than a fifth of Bulgarians are fully vaccinated. With few takers at home and some shots soon expiring, the government recently donated 172,500 doses to the Kingdom of Bhutan, nearly 4,000 miles away. Some expired shots are being thrown away. Bulgaria, a country of some seven million people, has fully vaccinated far less of its population than the EU average of 61% and the U.S. rate of 54%, according to Our World in Data, a project based at Oxford University. It has emerged as an extreme case study of the challenge to convince vaccine holdouts to get the shot.
New body launched to self-regulate Covid testing amid No10's crackdown on 'exploitative' firms
New body promises to put a stop to unfair, late, and overpriced Covid travel tests. It comes after the Government promised to crackdown on 'Covid cowboys.' However one member of the new group appears to be in breach of its own rules
Perspective | Doubters' push for religious exemptions from coronavirus vaccination may not work
Compulsory coronavirus vaccination has been a specter hovering over vaccine skeptics throughout the pandemic, but the issue is coming to a head, after President Biden announced federal mandates affecting up to 100 million Americans and such enormous institutions as the Los Angeles Unified School District mandated vaccinations, too. Opponents of vaccination mandates are ready to fight and are aiming to use religious, philosophical and personal-belief exemptions to abstain from required vaccinations. The history behind the process for gaining such an exemption suggests that those seeking religious exemptions to the coronavirus vaccination mandates will not be widely successful. In recent years, many states, including California, Connecticut, New York, Maine and Vermont, rolled back personal-belief exemptions from mandatory vaccination, making it nearly impossible to claim that individual convictions prevent you from being vaccinated.
Can we live with COVID-19? Singapore tries to blaze a path
Only 60 people in Singapore have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic first emerged, and some 82 percent of its population is now fully vaccinated against the disease. In June, the government announced it would move towards a “living with COVID-19” strategy, focusing on tracking and treating outbreak clusters with vaccinations and hospital admissions – but without the strict lockdowns, border closures, and work-from-home orders that have been the defining feature of much of the pandemic across the world.
Working Remotely
Remote working is an opportunity for disadvantaged areas says new study
Remote working is here to stay and it will bring with it new development opportunities for disadvantaged areas, but also the risk of greater socio-economic and regional inequality, according to a new study. According to the researchers, these changes will continue to shape the way people live and work because remote working offers greater flexibility and autonomy, a better balance between work and private life and less time spent commuting. This could be an advantage for peripheral areas, leading to a better balanced distribution of employment and of the population. There is evidence to suggest this is the case.
Working remotely and not commuting saving Irish workers an average of one hour per day
Working remotely and not having to commute is saving Irish office workers 58 minutes per day on average, according to new research. The survey, conducted by Censuswide on behalf of IT services provider Auxillion, found that the majority of the 500 people who took part (59%) said they were using this additional time to relax or to be with their families. The research found that more than a third of Irish office workers (35%) believe working remotely has improved their mental health.
How companies can make their remote working inclusive for the deaf and blind
As remote working takes a greater hold amid the coronavirus pandemic, a wealth of opportunities can open up for people that may not have existed before. For example, less of a focus on the office can draw more people with disabilities into the workforce. But for companies, there are still a great deal of considerations to take into account when creating an inclusive remote environment for blind and deaf people. Organizations like RNIB and the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Center at University College London have issued guidance to employers on best practices for remote working with people that are visually impaired or hard of hearing. But these guidelines are ever-evolving with the rapidly changing future of work.
End of working from home 'fuelled England's third Covid wave': Government figures show infection rates were highest among white-collar workers after No10 dropped WFH guidance
There were some 235 cases per 100,000 person-weeks among white people during third Covid wave. Meanwhile, the figure was as low as 98 in other ethnic groups suggesting white people drove cases up. And cases were higher among office-based jobs during, Office for National Statistics data shows
Virtual Classrooms
What will Covid-19 mean for Technology Enhanced Learning in our beloved FE sector?
Jamie Heywood, Academic Developer, Anglia Ruskin University, writes about digital pedagogy. "As an FE teacher educator, I am particularly curious on what digital pedagogy will look like when our Colleges reopen, our staff rooms are full, and our students are back in the F2F classroom (however long that may be). Digital pedagogy can be defined as the approach and method of digital elements to change ways of delivering teaching and learning. It is more than just the use of digital technologies and rather a more encompassing approach in how teaching practice is shaped, influenced and approached using digital elements."
Public Policies
India to Resume Covid-19 Vaccine Exports to Developing Nations
India will resume exports of Covid-19 vaccines starting next month, government officials said Monday, in a move likely to aid developing nations that have struggled to vaccinate their populations after New Delhi restricted shipments amid resurgence of cases at home. The exports would be a mix of donations and commercial deals, and would include shipments to Covax, a World Health Organization-supported facility aimed at getting vaccines to developing countries. India has been a major supplier to Covax. When it resumes exporting, India will accord priority to neighboring countries, Africa, and Latin America, according to an Indian government official familiar with the plan. The official declined to detail how many vaccines India plans to export. India exported 66 million doses to 95 countries before temporarily restricting the shipments in early April to help ease supply shortages as Covid-19 cases rose rapidly in the country last spring.
U.S. to Require Most Foreign Travelers Be Vaccinated for Entry
The U.S. will soon allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they’re fully vaccinated against Covid-19 -- while adding a testing requirement for unvaccinated Americans and barring entry for foreigners who haven’t gotten shots. The measures announced Monday by the White House are the most sweeping change to U.S. travel policies in months, and widen the gap in rules between vaccinated people -- who will see restrictions relaxed -- and the unvaccinated. The new rules will replace existing bans on foreigners’ travel to the U.S. from certain regions, including Europe.
Coronavirus digest: Germany to offer vaccines to children in 2022
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said that a vaccine for children under 12 will likely be available from the first quarter of 2022. Spahn also expects approval for a vaccine for youth to go through by the beginning of next year. "I am assuming that the approval for a vaccine for children under 12 years of age will come in the first quarter of 2022," Spahn told Funke media group. "Then we could protect the younger ones even better." "A recommendation from the Standing Committee on Vaccination [STIKO] will also come a little later in this case," he added. BioNTech, for example, announced a few days ago that it would apply for approval of its coronavirus vaccine for children between the ages of five and eleven in the coming weeks.
US Lifts Ban For Fully Vaccinated Travellers From UK And Europe
The White House is to lift the US travel Covid ban and allow fully vaccinated arrivals from the UK and Europe to enter the country from early November. Other countries including Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland and South Africa will also be included in the new policy. Passengers will not need to quarantine upon arrival but will need to prove they were vaccinated before boarding a flight and provide a negative Covid test which was taken within the last three days.
Maintaining Services
Russia Vaccinates Indigenous Yamal Herders Against COVID-19
The Nenets are one of the few Indigenous minorities on the Yamal Peninsula in northwestern Siberia. Their lifestyle is nomadic, following the seasonal migrations of the reindeer they herd. While Covid brought travel to a halt in much of the world, the Nenets of Yamal kept moving. From December to April, the herders deploy their camps and pasture their reindeer in the Nadymski district, a region of some 40,000 square miles at the base of the Yamal Peninsula and centered on the city of Nadym. In mid-April they begin “kaslanie,” a season of nomadism, traveling with their herds some 400 miles up the peninsula and moving camp 30 to 100 times during the year.
Though lagging behind, Israel’s COVID-19 jab hopes to ‘find its place in market’
Nearly two years after the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Israel may soon finally see its own homegrown vaccine become commercially available. The jab will be a very late newcomer — lagging behind the first wave of COVID vaccines by almost a year — but its backers believe that it will find its rightful place in the global vaccine market, and may even prove in the long run to be more effective than existing jabs against coronavirus variants. These beliefs were offered this month by Dr. Jonathan Javitt, chairman of NRx Pharmaceuticals, the American-Israeli clinical-stage pharmaceutical company tapped two months ago by the Israeli Defense Ministry to manufacture and market the country’s vaccine developed by the government-run Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) in Ness Ziona.
Winter is coming, again: What to expect from Covid-19 in the new season
“We’re experiencing a new virus, a newly emerged pathogen, and we’re trying to fight it with new tools that we don’t have a lot of experience with,” he said. “And we’re dealing with unpredictable human behavior … which is a very important factor as well, and environmental factors that may influence the severity of Covid outbreaks and how well it transmits.” “There’s a lot of moving parts,” said Duchin, who is also an infectious diseases professor at the University of Washington. Among them: the questions of when Covid vaccines will be approved for use in children and what percentage of parents will agree to vaccinate their kids. While the crystal ball may be cloudy, who can resist taking a peek? Let’s talk about some things we might face in the months ahead.
Healthcare Innovations
Pfizer Vaccine Safe for 5 to 11 Year Olds, Large Trial Finds
Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE said their Covid-19 vaccine was safe and produced strong antibody responses in children ages 5 to 11 in a large-scale trial, findings that could pave the way to begin vaccinating grade-school kids within months. The long-awaited results offer one of the first looks at how well a Covid vaccine could work for younger children. Pressure to immunize kids has been on the climb in the U.S., where a new school year has started just as the delta variant is fueling a surge in cases.
COVID-19: Coronavirus vaccine rollout reaches 12 to 15-year-olds
Children aged between 12 and 15 have started receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations. Up to three million youngsters are eligible for coronavirus jabs across the UK. Quinn Foakes, 15, was one of the first children in England to get the vaccine. Speaking after receiving his jab at Belfairs Academy secondary school in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, he said: "I was pretty nervous at first but once I'd got it done it was all good and I'm glad that I've done it." His mother Janine Lilleker, a teacher at the school, said: "Their education has been hindered since COVID and by getting their vaccination done it's a way of them protecting themselves and also protecting the wider community of the school."
COVID-19 antibody drug Ronapreve rolled out to vulnerable patients
Thousands of vulnerable NHS patients in hospital due to COVID-19 are set to benefit from a ground-breaking new antibody treatment Ronapreve. The drug is the first neutralising antibody medicine specifically designed to treat COVID-19 to be authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for use in the UK. Ronapreve, a combination of two monoclonal antibodies, will be targeted initially at those in hospital who have not mounted an antibody response against COVID-19. This includes people who are immunocompromised, for example those with certain cancers or autoimmune diseases, and therefore have difficulty building up an antibody response to the virus, either through being exposed to COVID-19 or from vaccination.