"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 10th Jun 2022

Isolation Tips
Covid Flares Again in Shanghai, Putting Areas Back in Lockdown
Shanghai will lock down seven city districts this weekend to mass test millions of people as Covid-19 cases continue to emerge in the community, risking more disruption for residents and businesses that have just exited a grueling two-month shutdown. Authorities said late Thursday they would lock down the Pudong, Huangpu, Jing’an, Xuhui, Hongkou, Baoshan and Minhang districts of Shanghai, with residents to be tested for the virus -- a key tool in China’s Covid Zero arsenal. It comes after infections found in the community rebounded to six on Thursday, from zero the day before.
Another district in Beijing shuts entertainment venues to contain COVID outbreak
China's capital city of Beijing shut down entertainment venues in its Dongcheng district from Thursday in an effort to contain a new outbreak of COVID-19, the state-backed Beijing Daily said late on Thursday. The move came after Beijing's largest district, Chaoyang, also ordered entertainment venues and internet cafes to shut from 2 p.m. (0600 GMT) on Thursday.
Hygiene Helpers
Trials of new Covid vaccine raise hopes of once-a-year booster
The vaccine is the first “bivalent” formulation to combine protection against Omicron and the original strain of coronavirus, and is the company’s leading candidate for upcoming autumn booster programmes. Dr Paul Burton, Moderna’s chief medical officer, said the new vaccine raised antibody levels to such a degree that one booster a year could be enough, unless a substantially different variant calls for the vaccine to be redesigned again. “The data we show today are really important because we get a really strong antibody response against Omicron,” he said. “For the first time, we could really be looking at the potential for just once-yearly boosting, because we can get people to such a high level that they will take longer to decay.” The new vaccine, called mRNA1273.214, combines 25 micrograms of the original Moderna Covid vaccine with 25 micrograms of vaccine specifically targeted at the Omicron variant. In the phase 2/3 trial, the 50mcg shots were given to 437 people who had already received two primary jabs and a booster of the original Moderna vaccine earlier in the pandemic.
Shanghai faces unexpected round of COVID testing for most residents
A round of mass COVID-19 testing for most residents this weekend - just 10 days after a city-wide lockdown was lifted - unsettling residents and raising concerns about the impact on business. Shanghai officials on Thursday said seven of the city's 16 districts would carry out PCR testing for all residents over the weekend due to the discovery of a few cases in the community, saying they wanted to prevent a renewed outbreak
U.S. Orders Millions of COVID-19 Vaccines for Youngest Children
Millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been ordered for small children in anticipation of possible federal authorization next week, White House officials say. The government allowed pharmacies and states to start placing orders last week, with 5 million doses initially available—half of them shots made by Pfizer and the other half the vaccine produced by Moderna, senior administration officials said. As of this week, about 1.45 million of the 2.5 million available doses of Pfizer have been ordered, and about 850,000 of available Moderna shots have been ordered, officials said. More orders are expected in the coming days.
Community Activities
China Markets Spring Back Into Action as Covid Lockdowns Ease
Financial markets across China are buzzing with activity as easing Covid lockdowns boost trading. Yuan-trading volumes in the onshore market bounced off two-year lows while stock turnover topped the key 1 trillion yuan ($149 billion) mark for two straight sessions this week. That’s after Shanghai officially reopened following a two-month lockdown and Beijing further loosened Covid curbs, spurring bets of an economic rebound and a return of foreign inflows into the country. “It appears that the re-pricing of China macro growth risk due to the lockdowns has run its course,” Ken Cheung, strategist at Mizuho Bank Ltd. said. A slew of pro-growth measures and the reopening in Shanghai and Beijing have helped stabilize expectations for China’s economy, he said.
Explainer: Can we still avoid Covid-19 and is there any point trying?
With new Covid-19 case numbers down, many may be asking if there's any point keeping up precautions to avoid the virus, particularly those who haven't caught it yet. Is it still possible to protect ourselves from the illness? Surely we're all going to get it at some stage, and the 'milder' Omicron variants make it less of a threat to our health, so what's the big deal? Here's what you need to know. We are now more than two years into a pandemic that turned many people's lives upside-down.
Working Remotely
Think Working From Home Won’t Hurt Your Career? Don’t Be So Sure
Office hard-liners like Tesla CEO Elon Musk have made clear that “a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week” is the only way to thrive, or even survive, at his company. The leaders of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase also don’t hide their disdain for remote work. While telecommuting may be fine in certain roles, people in the upper ranks “cannot lead from behind a desk or in front of a screen,” JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon wrote in his annual shareholder letter this spring. Yet other businesses are promising “hybrid equity,” insisting some employees can enjoy the conveniences of working from home without compromising their ambitions.
Hybrid working post-COVID: how young professionals can optimise their time in the office (and why they should)
As we move on from pandemic restrictions, we’ve seen a strong, global demand for more flexible forms of working, particularly to retain an element of remote work. While some employees want to work from home permanently, most want what’s coming to be regarded as the best of both worlds: hybrid working. Only a minority of workers now want to return to the office full time. One group which may be particularly keen on hybrid working is young professionals. And for this group, time spent in the office could be especially valuable.
Asynchronous remote work: 5 tips for success
In 2022, we’re turning off Slack and Zoom and shifting to an asynchronous work model, in which people work when it best suits them and teams no longer need to be simultaneously present. Perched alongside hybrid work, asynchronous remote work leads to better resource management, reduces waste, and boosts employee satisfaction – all of which improve overall productivity and efficiency.
Virtual Classrooms
Remote learning was even tougher for migrant parents. Here’s what they want schools to know in case lockdowns return
When COVID forced school closures, many parents found themselves more involved than ever with their children’s learning. For some parents, it was hard work but broadly achievable. Many migrant parents, however, found themselves at a distinct disadvantage. Parental engagement is strongly linked to student learning outcomes. With learn-from-home likely to return the next time there is a pandemic or other emergency, it’s important we understand why many migrant families found this mode of education delivery so incredibly challenging – and how the system can be improved.
Biden administration lays out its plan for Covid-19 vaccinations for children under 5
The White House has announced a highly anticipated Covid-19 vaccine rollout plan for children under 5. The administration "has made 10 million vaccine doses available for states, Tribes, territories, community health centers, federal pharmacy partners, and others to pre-order," according to a White House fact sheet shared with CNN Wednesday. It is partnering with those entities to ship and distribute vaccines across the country following next week's meeting of the US Food and Drug Administration's vaccine advisers -- who will review data on these vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna -- and expected authorization from the full FDA. The first vaccinations could start "as early as the week of June 20 —with the program ramping up over time as more doses are delivered and more appointments become available," according to the fact sheet. CNN previously reported Covid-19 vaccination shots for the youngest Americans could begin as soon as June 21.
COVID vaccine rights waiver within reach, WTO chief says ahead of meeting
Ministers from across the globe are convening for a conference at the World Trade Organization in Geneva for the first time in more than four years from June 12-15. It comes at a critical juncture for the body and for global trade. The meeting, delayed twice by COVID-19, is a chance for the 27-year-old body to prove it can respond to what Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has described as a "polycrisis" of economic, health, environmental and security challenges.
Maintaining Services
New vaccine may be option for troops with religious concerns
A COVID-19 vaccine that could soon win federal authorization may offer a boost for the U.S. military: an opportunity to get shots into some of the thousands of service members who have refused other coronavirus vaccines for religious reasons. At least 175 active duty and reserve service members have already received the Novavax vaccine, some even traveling overseas at their own expense to get it. The vaccine meets Defense Department requirements because it has the World Health Organization’s emergency use approval and is used in Europe and other regions. The Food and Drug Administration is considering giving it emergency use authorization in the U.S.
BioNTech to soon start mRNA vaccine factory construction in Rwanda
COVID-19 vaccine maker BioNTech said construction of an mRNA vaccine factory to enable African nations to jump-start their own manufacturing network would start on June 23 in Rwanda. The groundbreaking ceremony in the capital city of Kigali is to be attended by Rwanda's President Paul Kagame, further heads of African states, as well as representatives from the European Union and the World Health Organization, the biotech firm said in a statement on Thursday. The German company's modular factory elements, to be assembled in Africa to so-called BioNTainers, would be delivered to the Kigali construction site by the end of 2022, it added. The company, which developed the western world's most widely used COVID-19 shot with U.S. partner Pfizer, earlier this year mapped out a plan to enable African countries to produce its Comirnaty-branded shot under BioNTech's supervision
Black and Asian frontline staff faced racial harassment during Covid-19 pandemic, watchdog finds
Lower-paid health and social care workers, who played a pivotal front-line role during the Covid-19 pandemic, experienced bullying, racism and harassment at work according to their evidence to an inquiry conducted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Poor data collection by their employers could also be masking the extent of discrimination against them, the watchdog also found. Job insecurity in the health and adult social care sectors caused fear of victimisation among low-paid ethnic minority staff, particularly if they were to raise concerns, according to the inquiry which was launched in November 2020.
Healthcare Innovations
Covid During Pregnancy Doubled Babies' Risk of Delays in Study
Babies whose mothers caught Covid-19 during pregnancy faced nearly double the risk of being diagnosed with delayed speech or motor skills by their first birthday, according to a study of medical records. While the risk of developmental delays was low overall, it rose to about 6% among babies who were exposed to Covid in the womb, while unexposed infants’ risk was about 3%, according to findings released Thursday in the journal JAMA Network Open. The lags were seen in behaviors such as rolling over, reaching for objects or babbling -- basic milestones of infancy.
AstraZeneca trots out Evusheld data to expand the COVID preventive drug into the treatment arena
AstraZeneca is back in the COVID-19 game with new data for its antibody cocktail, Evusheld. While it's existing authorizations cover the prophylactic setting, the latest results from the Big Pharma puts the drug in contention as a treatment for patients with mild-to-moderate disease. The company posted data from a phase 3 trial in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine, showing that the medicine reduced the risk of progression to severe COVID or death from any cause by 50% compared to placebo at day 28, which was the trial's primary endpoint. The drug was tested in non-hospitalized adults with mild-to-moderate COVID-19, and 90% of the patients were at risk of progressing to severe COVID. While the study, dubbed Tackle, included patients who had symptoms for seven days or less, it was designed with a pre-specified analyses to assess patients who received the intramuscular injection within three days of symptom onset. In this group, Evusheld reduced the risk of severe COVID or death from any cause by 88% compared to placebo, and the risk reduction was 67% when participants received Evusheld within five days of symptom onset.
HIV may predispose to post-vaccination COVID, requiring extra doses
The risk of COVID-19 infection after primary vaccination was 28% higher in adults diagnosed as having HIV, suggesting they may benefit from two additional doses, according to a US study published yesterday in JAMA Network Open. Johns Hopkins University researchers led a team assessing the risk of COVID-19 infection among 113,994 vaccinated patients—33,029 of whom had HIV and 80,965 who didn't—through Dec 31, 2021. Participants were part of the Corona-Infectious-Virus Epidemiology Team (CIVET)-II cohort and were seen at Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic States, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill HIV Clinic, and the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) sites.
Covid-19 news: Moderna's omicron booster has promising immune response
Moderna’s omicron-tailored booster candidate produces eight times as many virus-neutralising antibodies against the variant as its original booster vaccine An updated version of Moderna’s covid-19 vaccine that targets the BA.1 sublineage of omicron leads to an eight-fold increase in antibody levels against the variant of concern, according to a small, preliminary study. Moderna’s new booster is the first covid-19 vaccine to combine the jab that targeted the original strain of the coronavirus – which emerged in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019 – with a vaccine that specifically targets the omicron variant. In the clinical trial, the updated vaccine was given to 437 people who had already received two full-dose Moderna vaccines and its booster.
Diabetes may increase long COVID risk; COVID while pregnant linked to baby brain development issues
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. Diabetes may increase long COVID risk. Diabetes may increase the risk of long COVID, new analyses of seven previous studies suggest. Researchers reviewed studies that tracked people for at least four weeks after COVID-19 recovery to see which individuals developed persistent symptoms associated with long COVID such as brain fog, skin conditions, depression, and shortness of breath. In three of the studies, people with diabetes were up to four times more likely to develop long COVID compared to people without diabetes, according to a presentation on Sunday at the annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association. The researchers said diabetes appears to be "a potent risk factor" for long COVID but their findings are preliminary because the studies used different methods, definitions of long COVID, and follow-up times, and some looked at hospitalized patients while others focused on people with milder cases of COVID-19.