"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 2nd Mar 2022

Isolation Tips
Here's how to cope with anxiety as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted across Canada
Learning to live with COVID-19 is a message that's been repeated by provincial and territorial leaders across the country. But learning to live with the virus isn't that simple for millions of Canadians whose medical condition or age has increased their risk of developing complications from a COVID-19 infection. As provinces and territories lift pandemic restrictions such as mask mandates and vaccine passport programs, society's most vulnerable are being forced to assess their risk tolerance. "For some people — immunocompromised or the frail elderly, for example — it might be quite dangerous for them to get COVID. We shouldn't be cavalier," Dr. Steven Taylor, a clinical psychologist and professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, told Dr. Brian Goldman, host of CBC podcast The Dose.
Hygiene Helpers
Covid-19: Incomplete lists of vulnerable patients left many unprotected, desperate, and afraid
Up-to-date registers of clinically vulnerable patients must be created to ensure that those who are most at risk during covid-19 and any future pandemics are protected and can access the support they need, a report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Vulnerable Groups to Pandemics has recommended. The report considered vulnerable people’s experiences during the pandemic and makes 16 recommendations on what the government and the health service can do better to plan and prioritise extremely vulnerable patients during further covid-19 outbreaks and future pandemics. These tackle the format and content of information and guidance; access to medical services such as mental health support to help people deal with anxiety, fear, and isolation; provision of practical support such as food and finance when isolating; and the need for more research into how medical conditions make people more vulnerable to a threat and vaccines less protective.
U.S. parents still divided over school COVID masking rules -survey
As public schools around the United States lift COVID-19 mask mandates, parents are divided over the issue, with nearly 43% saying face covering requirements should remain in place to prevent virus transmission, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). Most parents who responded also expressed concern about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines for children under age 5, saying they do not have enough information, according to the KFF survey of 1,502 adults conducted between Feb. 9 and 21.
California, Oregon, Washington to drop school mask mandates
Schoolchildren in California, Oregon and Washington will no longer be required to wear masks as part of new indoor mask policies the Democratic governors of all three states announced jointly on Monday. “With declining case rates and hospitalizations across the West, California, Oregon and Washington are moving together to update their masking guidance,” the governors said in a statement. There are more than 7.5 million school-age children across the three states, which have had some of the strictest coronavirus safety measures during the pandemic. The new guidance will make face coverings strongly recommended rather than a requirement at most indoor places in California starting Tuesday and at schools on March 12, regardless of vaccination status.
Malaysia Will Exempt Some Travelers From Covid Tests
Malaysia will relax coronavirus testing requirements for some travelers starting Thursday, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said in a statement late on Monday. The exemption applies to those arriving in Malaysia via the vaccinated travel lane with Singapore, the Langkawi travel bubble, and short term business travel via one-stop centers, he said.
Community Activities
Dubai entry requirements: Travel restrictions ease in UAE with Covid tests scrapped for fully vaccinated
Fully vaccinated travellers will no longer be required to present a negative PCR test upon arrival in Dubai after the country eased its Covid entry rules over the weekend. Unvaccinated travellers will be able to enter either with a negative PCR test result taken within 48 hours before arrival or with proof of recovery from Covid within the past month.
Italy entry requirements: Travel restrictions ease as Covid tests scrapped for fully vaccinated arrivals
Fully vaccinated travellers arriving in Italy will no longer need to provide proof of a negative Covid test from Tuesday. From 1 March, Italy is easing entry restrictions for all arrivals from non-EU countries, including the UK. The country will accept proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative Covid test result for entry.
Tackling vaccine hesitancy by targeting 'fence-sitters'
A new study, published in the Journal of Community Health, emphasizes the importance of outreach to people who have mixed feelings about getting vaccinated. The study looked at the attitudes of participants aged 55 years and older about vaccines at different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers accessed data from the COVID-19 Coping Study to identify people in the United States who were either receptive, ambivalent, or against getting vaccinated against the disease.
More than £600,000 in Covid-19 fines served to London’s businesses
More than £600,000 in Covid-19 fines have been dished to London’s businesses by local authorities wielding the emergency powers, an Evening Standard investigation has revealed. Police forces have faced the brunt of the scrutiny over coronavirus powers being used to break up illicit parties and enforce the lockdown rules, while Scotland Yard is currently deciding whether to hand out fines for the Partygate scandal at Downing Street. However little attention has been paid to how local authorities – also permitted to issue fines and bring prosecutions under the Covid laws – have used their powers. Freedom of Information requests reveal councils around the capital have handed out at least £600,000 in fines since the pandemic began, while a further £24,000 in fines have been imposed after full criminal prosecutions brought by six councils – Greenwich, Waltham Forest, Ealing, Haringey, Bexley, and Tower Hamlets.
Hong Kong leader calls for calm, after supermarkets emptied ahead of mass COVID testing
Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam called for calm on Tuesday after residents emptied supermarkets, stocking up on produce ahead of reports of compulsory mass COVID-19 testing and rumours of a city-wide lockdown. Local media reported compulsory COVID testing would start after March 17, sparking concerns many people will be forced to isolate and families with members testing positive would be separated. Lam appealed to the public "not to fall prey to rumours to avoid unnecessary fears being stirred," with the supply of food and goods remaining normal, according to a statement on Tuesday.
Demand for Science Lab Buildings Soars During Covid-19 Pandemic
The rapid growth of life-science research during the pandemic is triggering a record boom in the development of new lab space and offices serving these companies. Development of buildings geared toward biotechnology, pharmaceutical and other laboratory firms was already on the rise before 2020. But demand for this space intensified as billions of dollars poured into research and development of a Covid-19 vaccine and other therapies for the virus. Life-science space has also been enjoying high occupancy rates because—unlike traditional office buildings—much of the lab work requires specialized equipment and building infrastructure that cannot be easily replicated at home.
Working Remotely
Is Remote Work Failing Young Workers?
Research led by associate professor Ashish Malik, head of the management discipline at the University of Newcastle, Australia, concludes the impact of technological disruptions on several workplace innovations in workplace redesign. These include flexible work designs, such as technology-mediated home-based work, remote working, teleworking, co-working, working at third spaces, including Smart Work Hubs, and other flexible work options. Although these designs have helped engage a vast majority of workforce groups, especially in the current times, organizations are finding it hard to engage with the younger workers, who require handholding as they commence their professional lives.
Easing New Job Blues While Working Remotely
New job blues are tough, but not abnormal. These feelings don’t necessarily mean “I hate my new job!” - they simply indicate that we started with big expectations and have some reckoning to do as we hit up against reality. Usually new job blues are mild and peak within two to eight weeks. The feelings recede as we settle in, get to know colleagues, and fully experience the reasons we made the change. That said, as a career coaching I’ve been noticing a new pattern lately: new job blues seem to be more intense and longer lasting for my career coaching clients who move from one remote job to another. This is happening even though they were highly intentional about their choice of job and organization and it’s a “great fit” on paper.
Virtual Classrooms
Ontario's first fully virtual high school hints at the future of public education
Providing students with choice on how they complete their education is a good thing, but only if necessary supports and resources are made available to ensure their success. Last week, Peel District School Board announced the creation of Peel Virtual Secondary School — an entirely online public high school available to the region’s students this coming fall. Establishing a publicly funded virtual school is a huge move for PDSB. As Ontario’s second-largest school board, it could influence other boards to follow suit.
The Future of Higher Education Will Be a Virtual Balancing Act
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, some pundits predicted that it might mark the entrance into a new phase of higher education: a virtual one. It would be the end of the residential college model, they said. Indeed, universities quickly pivoted to online classes in the spring of 2020. It was a grand experiment in a new mode of teaching and learning, one heavily reliant on technology. But, as Northeastern University President Joseph E. Aoun said during a recording of higher education podcast Future U. on Monday, the results emphasized the enduring importance of human interaction.
Public Policies
Bahrain approves Valneva's COVID vaccine for emergency use
Bahrain has granted emergency use authorisation to the COVID-19 vaccine developed by France's Valneva, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. Valneva expects to deliver the first shipments of its VLA2001 vaccine to the kingdom at the end of March, after it signed an advance purchase deal for one million doses in December last year. "As the only dual-adjuvanted, inactivated COVID-19 vaccine approved in Bahrain, VLA2001 will provide a differentiated vaccine option to the Bahraini population and medical community," said CEO Thomas Lingelbach.
Maintaining Services
Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine Protected Kids During Omicron, CDC Study Finds
The Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE was highly effective at reducing the risk of severe disease in children 17 years and younger during the Omicron surge but didn’t work as well at preventing infection, according to a new government study. The two-dose vaccine reduced the risk of Covid-19 hospitalization in children 5 to 11 years by 74% and by 92% or higher in children 12 to 17, according to the study published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the vaccine was 51% effective at reducing the risk of infection among 5- to 11-year-olds, while Omicron was predominant, and between 34% and 45% effective in children 12 to 17 years, depending on the age, for the first five months after the second dose, according to the study. The vaccine was 90.7% effective at preventing symptomatic disease in the pivotal study that led to authorization. That study was conducted before Omicron emerged.
1 million Sputnik coronavirus vaccines expire in Guatemala
Health authorities in Guatemala say over a million doses of the Russian Sputnik coronavirus vaccine have expired, because nobody wanted to take the shot. Francisco Coma, the country’s health minister, said Monday that there was a “rejection” among the population toward the vaccine, even though a lot of Guatemalans remain unvaccinated.
Hong Kong mortuaries hit capacity as Covid-19 deaths climb
Facilities for storing dead bodies at hospitals and public mortuaries in Hong Kong are at maximum capacity due to a record number of Covid-19 fatalities, the Hospital Authority said on Monday, as officials battle to control a surge in cases. The global financial hub reported a daily record high of 34,466 new coronavirus infections and 87 deaths on Monday, health authorities said. Separately, the city’s Education Secretary said international schools could maintain their original term dates, after widespread confusion over summer school holidays.
Fears of medical shortages and disease in Ukraine after Russian invasion
Ukraine is running low on critical medical supplies and has had to halt urgent efforts to curb a polio outbreak since Russia invaded the country last week, public health experts say. Medical needs are already acute, with the World Health Organization warning on Sunday that oxygen supplies were running out. read more On Tuesday, WHO told a briefing that some facilities already had no oxygen left. Fears of a wider public health crisis are growing as people flee their homes, health services are interrupted and supplies fail to reach Ukraine, which has also been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic
Indonesia extends AstraZeneca vaccine shelf life as 6 mln doses near expiry
Indonesia has extended the shelf life of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine to nine months, as nearly six million doses it received in donations approached their expiration dates, a health ministry spokesperson told Reuters. The decision underscores the challenges many developing countries face in their slow inoculation campaigns, as vaccines donated by wealthy countries arrive with a relatively short shelf life of just a few months or weeks
Study: 90% of young ECMO-eligible COVID patients at a US hospital died amid rationing
Nearly 90% of adult COVID-19 patients who were eligible for—but didn't receive—extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) during the height of the pandemic died in the hospital owing to a lack of resources, even though they were young and had few underlying health issues, according to a natural experiment published late last week in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Healthcare Innovations
Covid-19: Sanofi and GSK to seek regulatory authorisation for protein based vaccine
Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline’s covid-19 vaccine has 57.9% (95% confidence interval 26.5% to 76.7%) efficacy against any symptomatic disease, the companies have reported. In a phase 3 trial in which more than 10 000 adults were randomised to receive two doses of the vaccine or placebo, 21 days apart, researchers found it to have 100% efficacy against severe disease and hospital admission (0 v 10 cases in placebo group after one dose, 0 v 4 cases after two doses) and 75% efficacy against moderate or severe disease (3 v 11 cases). Early data has also indicated 77% efficacy against any symptomatic disease associated with the delta variant, French drug company Sanofi has said. So far, details of the trial have been released only through press release, although the companies said full study results will be published later this year.
COVID-19: Pfizer vaccine less effective at preventing infection in younger than in older children, study suggests
A study suggests Pfizer jabs in children aged five to 11 were less effective at preventing infection than in children aged 12 to 17. The New York State researchers' study shows that during the recent Omicron surge, efficacy against infection among five to 11 year olds who had received Pfizer fell 56% from 68% to 12% while those aged 12-17 only fell 15%. However the study also shows that during the surge, between mid-December and the end of January, the Pfizer jab was protective against severe disease in children aged five to 11.
Effectiveness of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in preventing severe SARS-CoV-2 infection
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic led to severe infections and deaths of millions of people worldwide. Initially, non-pharmaceutical measures were used extensively to reduce illness and death. Vaccines were introduced to the treatment resources of the European Union in December 2020. Results from phase 3 and phase 4 clinical trials and the impact of vaccines on older individuals in real-world settings showed high effectiveness. The vaccines that have been authorized for administration in the European Union include Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT162b2), Janssen, Oxford-AstraZeneca (hAdOx1-S-AZD1222), and Moderna (mRNA-1273). Spain is known to report the world’s highest rates of illness and death from COVID-19, especially in the Aragon region. Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were widely implemented in Spain and Aragon. Janssen vaccine was added to the vaccination program later
COVID-19 vaccine doesn't affect IVF success rates - Israeli study
The mRNA coronavirus vaccines have no negative effect on frozen-thawed embryo transfer, which is the core practice of IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization), according to a study from Israel's Sheba Medical Center published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Fertility and Sterility on Thursday. Researchers analyzed 672 embryo transfers among a cohort of 428 women up to the age of 38 who had undergone IVF treatment – including 141 that were either vaccinated with two mRNA coronavirus vaccines or recovered from the virus. The researchers ultimately found no difference in the rate of pregnancy between the vaccinated and unvaccinated test groups.
Modified T cells may help those on immunosuppressants; ECMO machines improve COVID survival
The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review. Modified T cells not curbed by immunosuppressants. A technique for modifying virus-attacking T cells might help defend against COVID-19 in patients who must take drugs that suppress the immune system, preliminary findings suggest. Transplant patients, for example, are particularly vulnerable because of the medicines they take to prevent rejection of the new organ