"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 9th Jun 2022

Isolation Tips
After lockdown, Shanghai tries to mend fences with foreign firms
Shanghai officials are seeking to revive confidence among multinational companies bruised and frustrated by the city's COVID-19 lockdown by holding multiple meetings with foreign firms and easing a key border requirement for overseas workers. The image of China's most cosmopolitan city and its biggest business hub was badly damaged by the two-month lockdown, with countless expatriates relocating and foreign businesses warning that they are reconsidering investment plans.
Hygiene Helpers
Moderna says updated Covid-19 vaccine booster shows stronger antibody response against Omicron
Moderna said on Wednesday its bivalent Covid-19 vaccine booster that contained a vaccine targeting the Omicron variant showed a stronger immune response against the variant.
COVID-19 information on Victorian government websites was often inaccessible, study finds
An education level of year 10 or above would have been required to understand much of the material, the study found. About half of the Australian population reads at an education level of year 10 or below. The state government defended its public health messages, which it said had been critical in reaching high levels of vaccination coverage
Community Activities
Vietnam’s health minister arrested over COVID test gouging
Vietnam’s health minister and the mayor of the capital Hanoi have been arrested as part of an expanding investigation into massive price gouging of COVID-19 tests, state media reported. Nguyen Thanh Long was dismissed from his ministry post and Chu Ngoc Anh, who previously was the science minister, was fired as Hanoi mayor, Tuoi Tre online news outlet reported Tuesday. They are being investigated for abuse of power, according to the Ministry of Public Security, and have been expelled from the ruling Communist Party. An investigation concluded earlier that mismanagement in the science and health ministries had allowed Viet A Technology Corporation to inflate prices for test kits supplied to hospitals and health centers in Vietnam.
Working Remotely
Government reveals free 'hot desks' for remote workers
The Irish Government has announced a series of new initiatives to support remote working including a voucher scheme that will give workers free access to local digital hubs. Under the plan, at least 10,000 hot desk facilities will be provided free of charge to existing hub users and those availing of the facilities for the first time.
How Marginalized Workers Can Make the Most of Remote Work
The pandemic threw a wrench into office cultures around the world, and some companies have permanently given up their office space. Others have used this moment to drastically rethink remote and hybrid work possibilities. The bright spot of this tragedy may be that there is a little more empathy for the worker. Or at least a little more flexibility.
Time and money: why Londoners refuse to drop working from home
Londoners are working from home mainly to avoid the time and cost of travelling to the office, according to a study that shows most believe they are unlikely to return to five days in the office again.
Virtual Classrooms
The 'Homework Gap' Persists. Tech Equity Is One Big Reason Why
Nearly a third of U.S. teenagers report facing at least one academic challenge related to lack of access to technology at home, the so-called “homework gap,” according to new survey from the Pew Research Center.
Virtual school evolves, even as the pandemic wanes
Prior to the pandemic, virtual education was kind of a niche product. It’s existed for decades, but it wasn’t an option that many public schools in the U.S. provided. During the pandemic, school districts had to offer it. And some of their students — or, to put them in Marketplace parlance, their “customers” — got a taste for it, which means public schools have had to rethink how to keep those customers happy.
Public Policies
FDA AdCom strongly backs EUA of Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) yesterday voted 21 to 0, with one abstention, to recommend that the FDA grant Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine (NVX-CoV2373) for individuals aged 18 years and over. The vaccine was developed by US biotech firm Novavax (Nasdaq: NVAX), whose shares leapt 22% to $58.05 in after-hours trading on Tuesday.
COVID vaccine rights waiver within reach, WTO chief says ahead of meeting
Director-General Ngosi Okonjo-Iweala has called COVID-19 vaccine inequity "unconscionable" and given top priority to a deal to facilitate the flow of vaccines more widely. Even though demand for COVID-19 shots has tapered off, India, South Africa and some 100 other backers are seeking a potential waiver of intellectual property rights for vaccines and treatments. However, WTO members remain divided over a draft deal for vaccines negotiated between the four main parties (India, South Africa, the European Union and the United States) that was forged to break an 18-month deadlock. Protest groups are urging members to reject it and China has lodged an objection.
Maintaining Services
What are the entry requirements for France?
On 31 March 2022, the French government relaxed Covid border restrictions to allow unvaccinated travellers entry to the country for leisure and work purposes. Previously, only vaccinated travellers were permitted entry for leisure and work, while unjabbed travellers could only visit the country if they had a compelling reason. Unvaccinated travellers should provide proof of a negative PCR test, taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in France, or an antigen test taken no more than 48 hours before arrival. They will no longer need to quarantine for seven days on entering the country. Rules for vaccinated travellers were also relaxed. They no longer need to submit a sworn declaration form stating that they show no Covid symptoms. They are only required to present proof of vaccination.
Healthcare Innovations
A new coronavirus found in Swedish bank voles
The current study discusses the discovery of a novel beta-CoV in Swedish bank voles and presents its full sequence for the first time. The failure to detect this virus using a published pan-CoV PCR test is traceable to the highly divergent RNA sequence of the Grimso virus. The use of specific spike gene primers in the customized PCR used in the present study yielded several samples over the three-year study period. The two complete sequences obtained in this study showed almost 3.5% non-identity, which amounted to about 1,340 differences at the nucleotide level. This exceeds the expected rate of nucleotide substitution over three years. Either several strains of the Grimso virus are co-circulating in this rodent species, or the true reservoir of this virus includes other species that regularly transmit it to bank voles. The prevalence of the Grimso virus in this rodent species was about 3.4%, thus suggesting that this animal is a suitable host for the virus. As a result, the Grimso virus presents a potential zoonotic host for spillover events between bank voles and human beings.
Revised Moderna Vaccine Works Better Against Omicron, Trial Suggests
Moderna released preliminary results on Wednesday on an updated coronavirus vaccine that targets the Omicron variant, calling it “our lead candidate” to serve as a U.S. booster shot in the fall. The firm’s researchers tested a booster dose combining the original vaccine with one that specifically targeted Omicron, the variant that became dominant last winter. They found that among those with no evidence of prior coronavirus infection, the combination produced 1.75 times the level of neutralizing antibodies against Omicron as the existing Moderna vaccine did alone. While those results may seem encouraging on their face, many experts worry that the virus is evolving so quickly that it is outpacing the ability to modify vaccines, at least as long as the United States relies on human clinical trials for results.
Study: Many children who contracted COVID-19 did not develop antibodies to ward off Omicron
A new study from researchers at Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shows that fewer than 10 percent of kids who contracted COVID-19 in 2020 or early 2021 developed antibodies capable of warding off the Omicron variant of the virus, according to a statement posted to the medical school’s website. The statement said the study findings, published May 27 in the journal Nature Communications, track with prior studies of adults that showed getting COVID-19 once sadly doesn’t guarantee antibody protection against repeat infection at a later date. “I hear parents say, ‘oh, my kid had COVID last year,’” said Dr. Adrienne G. Randolph, a co-senior investigator on the HMS/Children’s study and HMS professor of anesthesia and of pediatrics at Boston Children’s, in the statement. “But we found that antibodies children produced during prior infections don’t neutralize Omicron.