"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 18th Jul 2022

Isolation Tips
Australia reinstates COVID quarantine pay amid fresh Omicron wave
Australia will reinstate support payments for casual workers who have to quarantine due to COVID-19, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Saturday, as a fresh wave of Omicron-driven infections sweeps the country.
Shanghai Continues to Lock Down Areas Even as Cases Stabilize
Shanghai’s latest Covid-19 outbreak appears to be stabilizing, with most new cases already in government-mandated quarantine, but authorities are taking no chances, still locking down areas of the city and housing compounds as infections arise. The financial center recorded 45 infections for Thursday, down from 47 on Wednesday. While daily cases have jumped from single digits last week, they are no longer rising precipitously, and all the latest cases were already in isolation.
Macau Extends City-Wide Lockdown Amid Struggle to Contain Covid
Macau will extend a city-wide shutdown as the gaming hub struggles to contain its worst ever Covid-19 outbreak, prolonging the plight of casinos which are burning through millions of dollars every day and earning no revenue. All non-essential businesses are required to remain close through July 22, authorities said in a statement Saturday, extending measures that began July 11 and were initially due to last a week. The government will allocate another 10 billion patacas ($1.24 billion) to fund alleviation programs for those affected by the outbreak, it said in a separate statement. Macau reported 31 infections for Saturday, suggesting the lockdown wasn’t enough to stop local transmission.
Hygiene Helpers
COVID-19: Sore throat now the most common coronavirus symptom, data suggests
A sore throat might be the main symptom that suggests someone has developed COVID-19, according to new data. The next most prevalent symptoms are headache and blocked nose, according to the Zoe COVID study. At the start of the pandemic, symptoms such as a fever or loss of smell were considered among the most characteristic signs of the virus. But now they are among the least reported symptoms.
Covid Fuels Worst Decline in Childhood Vaccinations in 30 Years
Global childhood vaccination rates experienced the largest decline in about three decades amid Covid disruptions, putting growing number of children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases. The percentage of children who received three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) was set back to its lowest level since 2008, falling to 81% in 2021, according to official data published by the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund on Friday. The decline means 25 million children missed out on at least one dose of DTP through routine services in 2021 alone, two million more than in 2020 and six million more than in 2019.
Coronavirus sub-variant 'Centaurus' spreads across India and parts of Europe
An Omicron sub-variant that is spreading rapidly in India and has been detected in several European countries may be better than other coronavirus strains at overcoming immunity provided by prior infection and vaccines. BA.2.75, which has been nicknamed Centaurus, appeared to have mutated in a way that could indicate “major immune escape”, said the World Health Organization’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan, adding that it showed a “clear growth advantage” over other variants in India. Global health authorities issued a similar warning when the highly mutated Omicron variant emerged late last year.
Community Activities
Column: The new economic normal - living with COVID
Central banks are jacking up interest rates to tackle the highest inflation in decades, economic growth is slowing, recession looms, and financial markets are in a deep funk. That's the bleak backdrop against which consumers, workers, and businesses are coming round to the realization that, despite successful global vaccination programs and 'V-shaped' recoveries across economies and markets, COVID-19 has not gone away.
China's zero-COVID policy blamed as economy contracts by 2.6% in second quarter
China's zero-COVID policy is being blamed for a return to the red for its economy, with experts warning that recovery will be hampered by the darkening outlook for output globally. The authorities said the world's second-largest economy contracted by 2.6% between April and June compared to the previous three months. It meant that Chinese growth stood at just 0.4% on an annual basis. Both figures were far weaker than economists had expected, with those polled by the Reuters news agency having forecast a quarter on quarter decline of 1.5%.
Working Remotely
I'm Black. Remote work has been great for my mental health.
How many racist scenarios, comments, and situations would I have avoided enduring if I didn’t need to come into the office? That psychological toll is why many African American employees are opting out of going into the office and embracing remote work. The average Black employee can share tales of daily racial incidents. Black workers already take on a disproportionate amount of stress at work. All of that stress is made worse by racism, which has a tremendous impact on the mental and physical health of the Black community
How to land a totally remote job without any remote work experience
If you’ve read that having no remote experience will prevent you from landing a job, think again! After all, everyone had to have a first remote job at some point. It turns out, there are many ways to position yourself as a qualified remote candidate with only in-office experience in your past. There are ways to highlight the skills and experience you have in a way that will make you a competitive candidate for remote work. While you may not have years of experience working remotely, by being creative, you can demonstrate that you have what it takes to be a successful remote worker.
Virtual Classrooms
Could students attend uni as avatars on a virtual campus?
Imagine a world a decade from now where universities are delivering degrees via co-located virtual shopfronts. It’s tertiary education, not in competition, but delivered through a shared digital platform for students around the world. A shared national virtual campus, if you like.
Mobile phones can enable learning during school disruptions. Here’s how
Reducing learning loss when schooling is disrupted requires outside-school interventions that can effectively deliver instruction to children at scale. But little evidence exists on cost-effective learning interventions during school disruptions. It’s estimated that globally 70%–90% of households own at least one mobile phone. This suggests that the use of mobile phones has the potential to provide educational instruction in resource-constrained contexts and at scale. But this “low-tech” solution is less commonly used in education relative to “high-tech” approaches that rely on internet-based instruction. This is despite the fact that only 15%–60% of households in low- and middle-income countries have internet access.
Public Policies
Czechs to start offering second COVID booster shots
The Czech Republic will begin offering a second COVID-19 boosters from July 18, recommending the shot for people over 60 and those in risk groups, the Health Ministry said on Friday. Boosters will however be available to anyone over 18 and are voluntary, the ministry said. "I want everyone who is interested to have access to vaccination," Health Minister Vlastimil Valek said.
COVID-19: Autumn booster and flu jab to be extended to over 50s to reduce hospital admissions
A COVID-19 booster will be offered to all over 50s in the autumn as part of plans to increase protection from respiratory illnesses and "keep greater numbers of people out of hospital". Scientific advisers on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended the extra dose is offered ahead of the winter, in guidance published on Friday. Care home residents and staff and front-line health and social care workers are also eligible. The jabs are also being recommended for people aged between five and 49 who are in clinical risk groups, including pregnant women, and household contacts of people with immunosuppression.
Pfizer, Biontech seek Japan regulatory approval of COVID shot for young children
Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE have sought approval from Japan's health ministry for use of their COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged six months to four years, the companies said in a statement on Thursday. The filing follows approval last month by U.S. regulators for Moderna Inc's two-dose vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech three-shot regimen for children in the same age group.
Canada clears Moderna's COVID vaccine for children under 5
Canada on Thursday authorized Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine for babies as young as 6 months old, making it the country's first vaccine against coronavirus for children under 5, Health Canada said. Canada had been offering Moderna's Spikevax vaccine to children above 5 since March, and the latest authorization means some 1.7 million more children are now eligible for inoculation against COVID, according to Health Canada.
EU adds severe allergies as side effect of Novavax COVID vaccine
The European Medicines Agency on Thursday identified severe allergic reactions as potential side effects of Novavax Inc's (NVAX.O) COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine was authorized by U.S. regulators on Wednesday, and its product label in the United States warns against administering the shot to people with a history of allergic reactions to any components of the shot. Shares of Novavax fell 20.3% to $55.72 in morning trading, along with the broader market and other COVID-19 vaccine makers. Novavax shares are usually volatile.
UK to Offer Covid Boosters to Everyone 50 and Over This Autumn
The UK will offer Covid-19 boosters to a wider number of people in the fall as a new wave of infections increases pressure on the health system. Everyone 50 and over will be eligible for a booster shot this autumn under plans to increase protection ahead of winter, the government said on Friday.
SINOVAC COVID-19 Vaccine Is Authorized for Emergency Use in Kids Aged 3-5 In Brazil
Sinovac Biotech Ltd., a leading provider of biopharmaceutical products in China, announced that its COVID-19 vaccine (CoronaVac) has been approved by the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) for emergency use in children from 3 to 5 years old on 13 July. These children will receive the same dose that is already applied to minors aged 6 to 17 years and adults and there is no restriction on the application for immunosuppressed children aged 3 to 5 years. This authorization was given under comprehensive evaluations based on analysis results from all available data on the vaccine and its use in children. Analysis relied on information submitted by the Butantan Institute, with research data from Chile, where the vaccine is already used in this age group, research results on Covid-19 vaccination in Brazil, opinions from invited medical societies, real-life evidence, and published scientific literature data.
From AstraZeneca to Novavax: Serum Institute wins FDA nod to supply new COVID shot to US from India
With an FDA authorization for Novavax’s Nuvaxovid, Serum Institute of India (SII) has scored the go-ahead to finally supply a COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. Wednesday’s emergency use authorization for Novavax’s recombinant protein-based vaccine means SII is able to supply the shot, also known as Covovax, to the U.S. from India. SII has been producing AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria, but that adenovirus-vectored vaccine isn’t available in the U.S. The Novavax green light now makes SII the first Indian drugmaker to produce a COVID shot for the U.S. market.
FDA green-lights Novavax vaccine as COVID-19 levels rise
The FDA's approval allows distribution of the vaccine to begin, but before health providers can administer it, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must recommend it. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is scheduled to discuss the topic on Jul 19. In its announcement, the FDA said the vaccine is approved for use as a two-dose primary series in adults (ages 18 and older). The vaccine is made on a more traditional platform, which officials hope will sway more people to become immunized. The vaccine contains the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein produced in insect calls and contains the Matrix-M adjuvant as an immune booster. The FDA's announcement yesterday came more than a month after its vaccine advisory board recommended EUA approval. Earlier this week, the Biden administration announced the purchase of 3.2 million Novavax doses.
Maintaining Services
A riskier approach to new vaccines will pay off
The UK has been hit by three consecutive waves of Omicron variants, each one appearing in a matter of weeks. If a future variant proves much more dangerous, we will not have much time to brace for impact. So what can be done? The answer: develop better vaccines. The simplest approach is, as with flu, to try to predict where the virus will be four to six months ahead, and to make booster doses accordingly. That looks feasible. After scaling up to meet demand for vaccines in 2021, the world has “unprecedented production capacity”, says Rasmus Bech Hansen, founder of Airfinity, a health analytics company — enough to produce another 8bn doses this year. But better, if we can figure out how to do it, is to make a vaccine that targets all Sars-Cov-2 variants, or a wider family of coronaviruses including Sars or, even more ambitiously, all coronaviruses.
UK Covid-19 vaccine boosters to be expanded to all over-50s
Uk government said it is offering Covid-19 booster shots to the over 50s this fall in an effort to combat the number of deaths and hospitalisations,
Covid-19: High prevalence and lack of hospital beds putting “intense pressure” on ambulances
All 11 ambulance services in England are working under extreme pressure because of rising rates of covid-19 and a lack of available hospital beds, and leaders are now asking the public to take extra precautions in the hot weather to avoid adding to the already overwhelming workload. In a statement issued on 12 July, Martin Flaherty, managing director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives said that the NHS ambulance sector was “under intense pressure” and was now operating at the highest level of their local resource escalation action plans, which is normally reserved for “major incidents or short term periods of unusual demand.” In their Resource Escalation Action Plan there are four levels used to describe the pressure that ambulance services are under, with level 1 being “steady state” and level 4 “extreme pressure.” Positive tests for SARS-CoV-2 rose 32% at the end of June, with an estimated 2.3 million people infected.2
Healthcare Innovations
More (mostly mild) side effects when flu vaccine given with COVID booster
Self-reported data from nearly 1 million Americans show an 8% to 11% higher rate of mostly mild systemic adverse events after simultaneous seasonal flu vaccine and mRNA COVID-19 booster (third) doses than with the COVID-19 booster alone. In the study, published today in JAMA Network Open, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Response Team and Emory University analyzed rates of systemic adverse events among 981,099 Americans aged 12 years and older in the week after either simultaneous flu and COVID-19 booster doses or the booster alone from Sep 22, 2021, to May 1, 2022. Volunteers responded to at least one health survey through the CDC's smartphone-based v-safe monitoring system during the study period.
High-pressure oxygen shows promise in long COVID; earlier Omicron infection may protect against subvariants
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. High-pressure oxygen treatment may help long COVID. Patients with long COVID may see some improvement after breathing pure oxygen in a high-air-pressure environment, according to data from a small Israeli trial.