"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 25th Nov 2021
Slovakia's COVID cases rise by record as government prepares lockdown
Slovakia's government followed the example of neighbouring Austria on Wednesday and ordered a two-week lockdown to quell the world's fastest rise in COVID-19 cases as the number of people sick in hospital reached a critical level and vaccination levels remain low. Restaurants and non-essential shops will close as part of the measures and movement will be limited to trips for essential shopping, work, school or medical visits, along with walks in nature, government officials said.
Austria's lockdown is looking infectious
Austria’s lockdown may spread as quickly as Covid-19. On Friday, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced a national lockdown beginning on Monday and introduced Europe’s first vaccine mandate. Austria and its neighbours had been hoping that a targeted lockdown for vaccine holdouts might avert blanket restrictions, however soaring infection rates have already stretched intensive care facilities to the brink.
Cyprus to screen children for COVID-19 to 'save Christmas'
Cyprus will include children as young as six in its COVID-19 screening programme and introduce mandatory masks in schools to ward off a surge in the virus, authorities said on Wednesday. Cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus have been ticking up on the eastern Mediterranean island, like elsewhere in Europe, over the past month. By late Tuesday, authorities had recorded 131,028 cases since the pandemic broke out in March 2020, along with 590 deaths.
Biden Administration Asks Appeals Court to Reinstate Vaccine-or-Test Mandate for Big Companies
The Biden administration on Tuesday filed an emergency court motion that seeks the immediate reinstatement of its rules requiring many employers to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly for Covid-19. The Justice Department filed the request with the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which last week was designated as the court that would decide legal challenges filed around the country to the vaccine-or-testing rules. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration earlier this month formally issued the requirements, which apply to businesses with 100 or more employees. The rules cover roughly 84 million workers and are scheduled to take effect Jan. 4.
Non-profit groups tell WTO to reverse 'vaccine apartheid' before any meeting
More than 130 civil society groups largely from developing countries are calling for the World Trade Organization to cancel a ministerial conference next week and instead concentrate on approving an intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines. The groups, organized under a loose coalition called "Our World is Not For Sale," said in a letter on Wednesday to WTO members that "vaccine apartheid" caused by WTO intellectual property rules must be resolved first. The meeting would otherwise "lack any pretence of legitimacy," especially when some ministers may not be able to travel to Geneva, it said.
What the world could learn from Israel's Covid-19 vaccine booster rollout
When it comes to Covid-19, it seems where Israel leads, the rest of the world follows. For almost a year, the country has offered other nations a glimpse into the pandemic's future. Israel has been at the forefront of vaccination rollouts for adults and teenagers, pioneered a vaccine passport and, in recent months, has spearheaded the use of booster shots. At the end of July, the country began offering boosters to those over the age of 60; since late August, boosters have been available to anyone over the age of 16, five months after their second dose of the vaccine. Now, a person is not considered fully vaccinated in Israel until they have received a third dose of the vaccine, once they are eligible for it.
Here’s what the UK can learn from other countries’ responses to Covid-19
Looking at how health services in different countries have responded to Covid, we can see some common ground. Many countries are increasing funding for health services, expanding the number of frontline clinical staff, providing separate areas to care for patients with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, and using digital technology to deliver virtual rather than face-to-face appointments. But there are some distinctions: peer a bit closer and it is clear that we have something to teach and something to learn from every healthcare system. The UK has its achievements to share, from a nationalised (and devolved) system that can pool surgical resources in local areas and support mass trials to test new treatments, to a historically strong primary care model that played a key role in delivering the largest vaccination programme in British history while continuing to deliver daily care to patients.
New Zealand to stay closed to visitors until April 2022
New Zealand will keep its borders closed to most international travellers for a further five months, the government said on Wednesday, outlining a cautious easing of border curbs that have been in place since COVID-19 hit in March 2020. Along with its geographic isolation, the South Pacific country enforced some of the tightest pandemic restrictions among OECD nations, limiting the spread of COVID-19 and helping its economy bounce back faster than many of its peers. But an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant earlier this year has forced a shift in strategy, with the main city of Auckland now only gradually opening up as vaccination rates climb. Fully vaccinated international travellers will be allowed to enter the country from April 30, 2022, onwards with the re-opening staged over time, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told a news conference. Fully vaccinated New Zealanders and residence visa holders in neighbouring Australia can travel to New Zealand from January 16, while vaccinated New Zealanders and residence visa holders from most other countries will be allowed in from February 13.
Wall Street Grudgingly Allows Remote Work as Bankers Dig In
Wall Street is in revolt. Across the financial industry, at firms big and small, workers are slow-walking their return to the office. Bankers for whom working from home was once unfathomable now can’t imagine going back to the office full-time. Parents remain worried about transmitting the coronavirus to their children. Suburban dwellers are chafing at the thought of resuming long commutes. And many younger employees prefer to work remotely. The reluctance to return to office cubicles is hardly unique to the financial industry. All across America, companies are wrestling with their employees’ demands for flexibility as the pandemic reshapes the future of work. But on Wall Street — known for its hard-charging culture that values face time and long hours, and where toughness is celebrated — it is remarkable.
Hybrid work is here to stay. The new challenge is making sure it's not the worst of both worlds
The debate over all in-person vs. all remote work is mostly over and neither side won. Hybrid it is, according to two new surveys. New research from both Google Workspace and Kaspersky finds a lot of contradictions in how people are feeling about hybrid work. A significant group of workers like remote work but another chunk worries about how to network in that setting. "Remote work does seem to result in better physical, social and mental well-being for me as an individual, but it does seem to come at the cost of connection to the organization," said Prasad Setty, vice president of digital work experience at Google Workspace.
Vivid language: teaching online students to assess writing
Teaching students how to self-assess their writing for focus, organisation and development is a big, yet incredibly important, challenge. Thankfully, the online classroom offers a chance to use word processing tools to refresh writing instruction and create a practical skill for student-writers to use in their academic lives. In the writing classroom, students use self-assessment to correct themselves as thinkers and composers of ideas. The online, video-based classroom supplies faculty and students with tools that make self-assessment visual, engaging, immediate and comprehensible.
Ecuador to administer COVID-19 booster shots to general population in 2022
Ecuador will administer booster shots against COVID-19 to the general population starting January 2022, the government said on Wednesday, acknowledging a rise in cases in the Amazon region due to difficulties in carrying out vaccinations.
France to announce COVID-19 booster shots for all adults - media
France is expected to announce that COVID-19 booster shots will be made available to all adults as well as stricter rules on wearing face masks and more stringent health pass checks to curb a new wave of infections, French media reported. Health Minister Olivier Veran is due to hold a press conference at midday on Thursday. President Emmanuel Macron's government on Wednesday said it would focus on tougher social distancing rules and a faster booster shot programme and that it wanted to avoid the lockdowns being imposed once more by some other European countries.
Canada gives full approval to J&J's single-shot COVID-19 vaccine
Johnson & Johnson said Canada gave full approval to its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 18 years and older, making it the first full approval for the vaccine globally. The vaccine was previously authorised by the country under an interim order. Canada, which is reporting 2,563 infections on average each day and has administered at least 60,101,058 doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far, gave full approval to Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc's coronavirus vaccines in September. The country authorised the use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 and a booster dose for people aged 18 years and older this month
In major shift, EU says vaccine boosters should be considered for all adults
The head of the European Union's public health agency Andrea Ammon said on Wednesday that COVID-19 vaccine boosters should be considered for all adults, with priority for those above 40 years, in a major change to the agency's guidance. Recommendations issued by the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC) are not binding on EU governments but are used to make health policy decisions.
US to require vaccines for all border crossers in January
President Joe Biden will require essential, nonresident travelers crossing U.S. land borders, such as truck drivers, government and emergency response officials, to be fully vaccinated beginning on Jan. 22, the administration planned to announce. A senior administration official said the requirement, which the White House previewed in October, brings the rules for essential travelers in line with those that took effect earlier this month for leisure travelers, when the U.S. reopened its borders to fully vaccinated individuals. Essential travelers entering by ferry will also be required to be fully vaccinated by the same date, the official said. The official spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement.
Sweden says it will extend COVID-19 boosters to all adults
Sweden will begin gradually rolling out COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to all adult Swedes following the surge in cases elsewhere in Europe, government and health officials said on Wednesday. Booster shots of mRNA vaccine have been offered to people aged 65 or above in Sweden, with an eye to eventually extending the shots to other groups and trying to persuade a still sizable group of uninoculated people to get the vaccine.
Children at lower risk from COVID, vaccines should go to poor - WHO
As children and adolescents are at lower risk of severe COVID-19 disease, countries should prioritise adults and sharing vaccine doses with the COVAX programme to bring supplies to poorer countries, the World Health Organisation said on Wednesday. Some rare cases of heart inflammation called myocarditis have been reported in younger men who received vaccines based on mRNA technoloy - Pfizer BioNtech and Moderna - but these were generally mild and responded to treatment, it said. Although that risk had not been fully determined, it was less than the risk of myocarditis linked to SARS-CoV-2 infection, it said.
South Korea's Enzychem to make Indian drugmaker Cadila's COVID-19 shot
South Korea's Enzychem Lifesciences would make at least 80 million doses of India's homegrown DNA COVID-19 vaccine from Cadila Healthcare, the Indian drugmaker said on Wednesday. As part of the deal, Cadila will transfer the DNA vaccine technology to Enzychem, which will make and sell the vaccine, ZyCoV-D, within its territory under the Cadila trademark. Cadila will get license fees and royalty payments, the company said in a filing to stock exchanges.
South Africa delays COVID vaccine deliveries as inoculations slow
South Africa has asked Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer to delay delivery of COVID-19 vaccines because it now has too much stock, health ministry officials said, as vaccine hesitancy slows an inoculation campaign. About 35% of South Africans are fully vaccinated, higher than in most other African nations, but half the government's year-end target. It has averaged 106,000 doses a day in the past 15 days in a nation of 60 million people. Earlier this year the programme was slowed by insufficient doses. Now deliveries have been delayed due to oversupply, making the country an outlier in the continent where most are still starved of vaccines. Nicholas Crisp, deputy director-general of the Health Department, told Reuters that South Africa had 16.8 million doses in stock and said deliveries had been deferred.
African company works to replicate Moderna's COVID vaccine, without permission, to address unequal access
There are huge gaps in the availability of COVID-19 vaccines between different countries. Just 10% of people in Africa have received a single dose, compared to 63% across North America or 62% in Europe. CBS News correspondent Debora Patta found a start-up in South Africa that hopes to redress that imbalance by reverse engineering one of the major U.S.-made vaccines, making it easier to store, and then producing it independently. A pair of nondescript warehouses in a dusty part of Cape Town is the unlikely home of a medical revolution. Inside the airlocked, sterile rooms, Patta found a band of rebels in white lab coats who are passionate about using science to change the world.
Bharat's COVID-19 shot 50% effective at height of India infections - small study
Bharat Biotech's vaccine was only 50% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in a high-risk population during a devastating second wave of infections in India this year, data gleaned from hospital workers showed. The real world study for Covaxin, conducted April 15-May 15, compares with a 77.8% effectiveness rate in a late-stage trial of more than 25,000 participants that was conducted November 2020 to January 2021. The new data analysed just over 1,000 COVID-19 cases with a test-negative control case group, matching by age and gender, according to the study which was published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.