"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 20th May 2022

Isolation Tips
Shanghai Finds First Covid Cases Outside Quarantine in Six Days
Shanghai found the first cases of Covid-19 outside of quarantine in six days, raising questions about whether the easing of the city’s lockdown will be impacted. Total infections in Shanghai rose to 858 on Thursday from 719 on Wednesday, with three of the cases found outside of government quarantine. Authorities started to ease the lockdown -- which had confined residents to their homes and curtailed business activity -- earlier this week after the city hit a milestone of three days of zero community transmission. However, many restrictions remain in place and swaths of the city’s population are still largely stuck inside their compounds.
Hygiene Helpers
Coronavirus vaccine could have saved 319,000 people in U.S., study says
About a third of the 1 million lives lost to COVID-19 could have been saved with vaccines, a new analysis shows. Researchers at the Brown School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Microsoft AI for Health analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The New York Times and came up with not only 319,000 needless deaths but also a state-by-state breakdown of where they could have been prevented. Between January 2021 and April 2022, about every second person who died from COVID-19 since vaccines became available might have lived if they had gotten the shots, the researchers found. Nationwide, about half of the 641,000 people who have died since vaccines became available could have lived if every single eligible adult had gotten jabbed.
It's happening again: COVID-19 cases are back on the rise. There are 3 main reasons why.
COVID-19 infections continue to rise, driven by new and more infectious omicron subvariants, waning immunity from both vaccines and previous infections and fewer people masking up, health officials said at a White House briefing Wednesday. About a third of Americans now live in an area with medium or high COVID-19 rates, with reported cases up 26% from last week, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control an Prevention. On average, about 3,000 Americans are being hospitalized per day and 275 are dying. Walensky urged people in communities with higher infection and hospitalization rates to protect themselves by masking in indoor public places and to get a booster shot if vaccinated and to get vaccinated if they're not.
China removes some COVID test rules on travellers from U.S.
China has removed some COVID-19 test requirements for people flying in from countries such as the United States and shortened the pre-departure quarantine for some inbound travellers, as it fine-tunes measures to cope with the Omicron variant. From Friday, travellers from the United States will no longer need an RT-PCR test seven days before flying, according to notices from the Chinese embassy and consulates in the United States. Requirements for antibody tests have also been scrapped. Those travellers will still need to do two RT-PCR tests within 48 or 24 hours of their flights - depending on which airport they are flying out of - plus another pre-flight antigen test, the notices said.
A third of US should be considering masks, officials say
COVID-19 cases are increasing in the United States — and could get even worse over the coming months, federal health officials warned Wednesday in urging areas hardest hit to consider reissuing calls for indoor masking. Increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are putting more of the country under guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that call for masking and other infection precautions. Right now, about a third of the U.S. population lives in areas that are considered at higher risk — mostly in the Northeast and Midwest. Those are areas where people should already be considering wearing masks indoors — but Americans elsewhere should also take notice, officials said.
Community Activities
African J&J COVID vaccine orders mark a 'financial failure'
Late last year, Johnson & Johnson’s COVID production partner Aspen Pharmacare touted the game-changing potential of its “monumental” licensing deal to make and sell J&J’s single-dose shot in Africa. Five months later, and two months after Aspen started production, the effort has encountered a problem currently familiar to all pandemic vaccine manufacturers. Owing to a lack of demand—even in Africa where just 15.9% of the continent’s 1.2 billion population has completed a coronavirus vaccination course—Aspen hasn’t received a single order for its branded version of the J&J shot, Bloomberg reports. “There were a lot of calls both from the West and from Africa that the best way to try and solve the problem was to establish our own local vaccine production capacity,” Stavros Nicolaou, Aspen’s head of strategic trade, told the news outlet. The subsequent dearth of business “sends an incredibly bad message,” he added.
Taiwan firms resuming production in China as COVID curbs ease -minister
Roughly half of Taiwanese companies that had previously suspended work in China due to COVID-19 control measures have resumed production as curbs ease, the island's economy minister said on Thursday. Shanghai and neighbouring Kunshan, a hub for Taiwanese electronics makers including Apple supplier Quanta Computer, last month imposed stringent lockdowns to control the country's biggest COVID outbreak.
Working Remotely
Flexible, remote working an opportunity to improve work-life balance: Survey
According to Deloitte’s 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, these generations are deeply concerned about unemployment, education, and mental health issues. Additionally, good work/life balance, positive work culture, and access to learning opportunities are the top priorities for these generations when choosing a new workplace. The survey also indicates a growing demand for hybrid/remote work arrangements as it helps them save money and allows them to spend more time on a hobby and with their families.
What In-Home Daycare Educators Know About Making Remote Work Better
Nichelle Wardell is a family childcare (FCC) educator, a licensed childcare provider who cares for children in her own home in Stamford, Connecticut. She opened her FCC business in 2020, joining thousands of providers across the country who have supported families throughout the pandemic. And these workers, who teach countless children colors, shapes, and letters, also have lessons for an older age group: remote and hybrid workers. For many remote workers, especially those at the beginning of their careers, one of the greatest challenges of not being in an office has been finding opportunities to learn from older mentors.
Virtual Classrooms
Education secretary refuses to stop plans for more online learning in the Western Isles
In Scotland, Western Isles Council is planning to to make some specialist subjects available remotely across the islands’ four secondary schools at the same time. Pupils learning remotely would be supervised at school by an adult, but not necessarily a teacher. Donald Cameron, Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands, wants the education secretary to step in. He says it could hold back children’s progress and “undermine the role of professional teachers”.
Public Policies
Why schools have returned to remote learning in Victoria
Several schools in Victoria have been forced to return to remote learning due to Covid-induced staffing shortages. The dreaded backflip comes as tens of thousands of Covid cases are recorded each day across the country just before the arrival of the flu season. Victoria’s Deputy Premier James Merlino confirmed a private school in regional Shepparton was among the first to temporarily revert to remote learning.
Germany's top court OKs vaccine mandate for health workers
The coronavirus pandemic is not over yet, Germany’s health minister warned Thursday as the country’s highest court approved rules requiring health workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach noted the sharp rise in cases currently happening in some Asian countries, such as North Korea, but also parts of Europe. “In Germany, too, an average of 130 to 150 people are dying every day due to the pandemic,” Lauterbach told reporters in Berlin. “So the impression that the pandemic has been defeated is wrong.” Lauterbach was holding a two-day meeting with his counterparts from the Group of Seven leading democracies on Thursday and Friday.
UK vaccine advisers eye autumn COVID boosters for over-65s
Britain's vaccine advisers on Thursday said that an anticipated autumn COVID booster campaign would be aimed at people aged over 65, care home residents, frontline health and social care workers and all adults in a clinical risk group. Britain is offering a spring booster to the over-75s, care home residents and immunosuppressed people, and ministers have spoken openly of plans for a further booster campaign in the autumn.
U.S. expert panel backs COVID boosters for children 5 to 11
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday recommended the COVID-19 vaccine booster for children ages 5 to 11 after an advisory panel voted to back them, at least five months after completing their primary vaccination course. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement that she "endorsed" the vote by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices "to expand eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine booster doses. Children 5 through 11 should receive a booster dose at least 5 months after their primary series."
White House warns the US can't buy updated Covid-19 vaccines 'for every American who wants one' without more funding
White House Covid-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha warned Wednesday that without more funding from Congress the US will not be able to buy enough Covid-19 vaccines for every American who wants an updated shot later this year. Scientists are working to develop new vaccines that would offer additional protection from infection and severe illness from new variants, including the possibility of a bivalent vaccine, a vaccine that would combine a currently approved vaccine with an Omicron-specific vaccine, for example. The US Food and Drug Administration could make a decision as soon as next month based on data from manufacturers Moderna and Pfizer for distribution in the fall.
Covid-19: Government failed to protect doctors during pandemic, BMA inquiry finds
The UK government failed in its duty of care to protect doctors and other healthcare staff from avoidable harm and suffering in its management of the covid-19 pandemic, a major review by the BMA has concluded. Two reports published on 19 May document the experiences of thousands of UK doctors throughout the pandemic, drawing on real time surveys carried out over the past two years, formal testimonies, data, and evidence sessions. The reports will form part of a wider review by the BMA into the government’s handling of the pandemic, with three further instalments to come. The evidence lays bare the devastating impact of the pandemic on doctors and the NHS, with repeated mistakes, errors of judgment, and failures of government policy amounting to a failure of a duty of care to the workforce, the BMA said.
India has supplied COVID vaccines under Quad umbrella
India has supplied COVID-19 vaccines to Cambodia and Thailand under an initiative of the Quad group of countries, New Delhi said on Thursday, though not the Johnson & Johnson shot as originally planned. The leaders of the Quad countries - India, the United States, Japan and Australia - could discuss the vaccine supply plan when they meet in Japan on Tuesday, Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a news conference.
WHO clears COVID vaccine by China's CanSino Biologics for emergency use
The World Health Organization on Thursday issued an emergency use listing for the single-dose COVID-19 vaccine from China-based CanSino Biologics. The vaccine, Convidecia, is the eleventh shot against the coronavirus to get clearance from the global health agency, whose advisory group recommended its use in people of age 18 years and above. The vaccine was found to have 64% efficacy against symptomatic disease and 92% against severe COVID-19, the agencysaid.
Maintaining Services
China's zero-COVID policy dashes global hopes for quick economic return to normal
A sharp slowdown in China's economy caused by its strict zero-COVID rules and Beijing's shift away from a traditional reliance on external demand have cast doubts over how much the country will contribute to future global trade and investment. While China staged a remarkably quick recovery from its initial pandemic slump, thanks to bumper exports and factory production, analysts expect the current downturn will be harder to shake off than the one seen in early 2020
Tea and infomercials: N. Korea fights COVID with few tools
“North Koreans know so many people around the world have died because of COVID-19, so they have fear that some of them could die, too,” said Kang Mi-jin, a North Korean defector, citing her phone calls with contacts in the northern North Korean city of Hyesan. She said people who can afford it are buying traditional medicine to deal with their anxieties. Since admitting what it called its first domestic COVID-19 outbreak one week ago, North Korea has been fighting to handle a soaring health crisis that has intensified public anxiety over a virus it previously claimed to have kept at bay.
China's international schools hit by exodus of teachers dejected by COVID curbs
After teaching for three years at an international school in Shanghai, Michael is preparing to break his contract and leave, worn down by stringent measures against the coronavirus. Following two years of nearly-shut borders, onerous health checks and quarantine norms, a decision at the beginning of April to lock down China’s commercial centre proved the last straw for the 35-year-old. "It has reached a point where the economic benefits of working here don’t make up for the lack of freedom to come and go," the science teacher said, declining to give his full name for reasons of privacy.
Uzbekistan produces over 6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine
Uzbekistan has produced 6.172 million doses of ZF-UZ-VAC 2001 coronavirus vaccine. Since start of coronavirus pandemic, Uzbekistan received 69.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including: - 2.6 million doses of AstraZeneca; - 48.1 million doses of ZF-UZ-VAC 2001; - 1.34 million doses of Sputnik V; - 10.68 million doses of Moderna; - 4.62 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech; - 1.97 million doses of Sinovac; - 343,000 doses of Sputnik Light. More than 53 million doses of coronavirus vaccines were administered in Uzbekistan in total so far. 16.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines remain available.
On-campus COVID-19 measures couldn't contain Omicron
A study assessing Cornell University's COVID-19 surveillance and vaccination programs during the Omicron variant surge suggests that vaccination protected against severe infection, but it and other mitigation measures—including mass testing—didn't prevent rapid viral transmission. The study, published today in JAMA Network Open, describes the outcomes of the university's SARS-CoV-2 transmission-prevention programs implemented after the campus reopened for in-person instruction in fall 2021. Steps included mandatory vaccination for students, urging of vaccination for employees, and an on-campus mask requirement. In addition, isolation and contact tracing took place within hours of all COVID-19–positive tests.
Healthcare Innovations
Why isn't there a nasal vaccine for Covid-19 yet?
Covid-19 vaccines have rapidly altered our relationship with SARS-CoV-2, turning a dangerous infection into something akin to the common cold for many vaccinated people who contract it. But while these vaccines are great at protecting against severe illness and death, they cannot stop vaccinated people from contracting the virus and experiencing mild symptoms. If we want to prevent mild Covid infections, we’re going to need vaccines that protect us where infections start: in the mucus membranes of the nose, mouth, and throat. And for that, we’re likely going to need intranasal vaccines. A number of research groups and companies are working on Covid-19 vaccines that would be delivered intranasally, but the development process is tricky. Watch the explainer above to learn more.
Trajectory of long covid symptoms after covid-19 vaccination: community based cohort study
The likelihood of long covid symptoms was observed to decrease after covid-19 vaccination and evidence suggested sustained improvement after a second dose, at least over the median follow-up of 67 days. Vaccination may contribute to a reduction in the population health burden of long covid, although longer follow-up is needed.