"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 23rd Aug 2022

Isolation Tips
Marshall Islands Face First COVID-19 Outbreak
Covid-19 infection numbers have recently surged in the Marshall Islands, days after the first detected local spread of the virus. In the capital city of Majuro, total cases have nearly doubled since Friday. Reportedly, approximately 75% of the islands’ rests were returning as positive. Previous stringent COVID-19 restrictions meant that several Pacific islands were able to keep COVID-19 at bay. On Monday, the first local spread was confirmed. The government declared a “state of health disaster”, closing schools and introducing a variety of public health measures.
Hygiene Helpers
Free Covid-19 booster dose campaign picks up pace in Maharashtra: Officials
The ongoing 75-day Amrut Mahotsav campaign across Maharashtra has picked up pace, with the state seeing more than 35 lakh precautionary doses for Covid-19 being administered. In Maharashtra, over 5 crore citizens are due for precautionary doses while 1.7 crore beneficiaries are yet to take the second shot of the Covid-19 vaccine. The campaign to administer the free precautionary (booster) dose was launched across the country on July 15 to encourage citizens to get vaccinated and ensure protection against Covid-19. State health authorities said they have been conducting special drives to create awareness about the importance of booster doses and encourage citizens above 18 to get the shot.
Omicron-specific Covid booster shots are just weeks away. Here's who will—and won't—be eligible
Newly updated Covid booster shots designed to target omicron’s BA.5 subvariant should be available within in the next three weeks. That begs an important question: Who’s going to be eligible to get them? The short answer: anyone ages 12 and up who has completed a primary vaccination series, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesperson tells CNBC Make It. It’s unlikely to matter whether you’ve received any other booster doses or not before, the spokesperson says — but if you’re unvaccinated, you won’t eligible for the updated formula until you complete a primary series with the existing Covid vaccines.
Brussels warns of Covid vaccination fatigue as it urges fresh drive for jabs
Brussels is warning of a vaccination “plateau” in the EU despite surging Covid-19 cases as it calls for member states to intensify campaigns ahead of the autumn and winter. EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said there was a risk that people were letting their guard down in the summer months and that health ministries need to do more to prepare for wider outbreaks despite understandable “fatigue” in populations about the pandemic.
Paraguayans skipping booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine
Paraguayan health authorities have expressed their concern over a slowdown in vaccination against COVID-19, with very few booster doses applied. According to official data released Saturday, 47% of the population still lacked the first doses since the start of the campaign in March 2021, while 53% were yet to take the third injection, although they have been available since October last year. “We have a record of 1,766,882 people who have completed the six-month period since the second dose of the basic scheme and have not been vaccinated again against COVID-19,” said Héctor Castro, head of the Expanded Program of Immunization, who also pointed out that most people in that condition were aged below 40.
UK Covid-19 Infections at Lowest Level for Two Months
Covid-19 infections in the UK have fallen to their lowest level for two months, in fresh evidence the current wave of the virus is receding, figures show. The number of patients in hospital with the virus is also continuing to drop, though health experts warned infections are likely to rise again in the autumn and winter. A new booster jab will be offered to everyone in the UK aged 50 and over from next month, as well as those with underlying health conditions, to increase protection ahead of the future waves of the virus.
Roche launches COVID-19 test to detect emerging variant of interest
Roche and its subsidiary TIB Molbiol have developed a COVID-19 test for researchers that detects and differentiates the latest sub-variant of interest BA.2.75. The test specifically targets two of the known unique mutations in BA.2.75, which allows clear differentiation against other notable subvariants. Roche is pleased to have developed a test for researchers that provides insights into the epidemiology of BA.2.75, helping to understand its impact on public health,” said Cindy Perettie, head of molecular labs at Roche Diagnostics Solutions.
Scientists hope nasal vaccines will help halt Covid transmission
People who receive a Covid booster dose in the UK next month will be among the first in the world to receive Moderna’s dual-variant vaccine, which protects against two strains of the virus. But scientists say there is a misconception that this latest vaccine is an upgrade on what has come before. The evolution of the Covid virus to be more transmissible and better evade immunity is outpacing even innovative mRNA vaccines such as Moderna’s. The current generation of vaccines remain essential to protect us against severe illness and death. But when it comes to controlling infection, we are in a situation equivalent to running at a steady speed on a treadmill that is accelerating. Now leading scientists are calling for a renewed focus on nasal vaccines, delivered through a spray up the nose rather than an injection. They say nasal vaccines have the best chance of being able to halt Covid transmission and bring infections down to a manageable level.
Community Activities
How Small Businesses Tapped Billions in Covid Relief
Policy changes to the Paycheck Protection Program, one of the largest in US history, redirected loans to the neediest communities. An analysis of 2020 and 2021 lending data shows what happened.
Changi Terminal 5: Pandemic-Proof Airport Closer to Reality in Singapore
Singapore will start work on a fifth terminal at Changi Airport -- regularly voted among the world’s best -- with a revised design that allows it to adjust capacity during a pandemic. The move comes as the city-state works to cement its place as Asia’s primary aviation hub, with rival Hong Kong still imposing Covid quarantines and other border restrictions. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong detailed the plans in his National Day Rally address Sunday. “In the longer term, air travel will keep growing because of the fast expanding middle-class in our region,” Lee said.
Neurological and psychotic disorders remain 2 years after infection with COVID-19
Both neurological and psychotic disorders have been found to persist in some patients 2 years after first becoming infected with COVID-19. The risk of some neurological and psychotic disorders remain elevated two years after infection with COVID-19 compared to other respiratory viruses according to the findings of a retrospective analysis by researchers from Oxford and Cambridge universities, UK. Whilst it has become widely recognised that infection with COVID-19 leads to substantial neurological and psychiatric morbidity in the 6 months after infection, it remains uncertain whether these risks decrease over time. Clearly, it is important to fulfil this evidence gap to provide reassurance to patients experiencing such adverse effects and to inform on future health policy service provision. It is also necessary to understand if there are differences in the risk profile among adults and children and finally if these risk profiles differ between COVID-19 variants.
Philippine children back in school as pandemic restrictions ease
Millions of Philippine students returned to classrooms for the first time in more than two years on Monday, after the country lifted most remaining COVID-19 curbs to try and reverse learning losses. Students, all wearing face masks, queued to enter their classrooms and attended flag raising ceremonies in their schoolyards across the Southeast Asian country as the government phases out remote learning.
Working Remotely
13 Handy Essentials That'll Help You Work From Absolutely Anywhere
The thing about working remotely though, is that while it opens up a lot of opportunities, it’s not always easy to do it well. But, the good news is that there are lots of handy tools that can help to make working effectively from anywhere (and we mean anywhere) far simpler. From noise-canceling headphones ideal for those of us who get easily distracted to super powerful charging banks, we’ve rounded up all of the essentials you’ll need.
Increased health warning for Australians working from home
More than 40 per cent of Australians working from home do not have a suitable workstation or the correct equipment, a new study has found. The research from the Australian Chiropractors Association (ACA) has prompted a health warning, urging workers to correct their poorly set up home workspaces to avoid any physical injuries. It comes as chiropractors across Australia reported a huge spike in people presenting with work-related injuries.
Keeping Hybrid Workers In Sync, Digitally And In-Person
Working in an office full-time can be a downer, but full-time remote work has its issues as well — such as social isolation and invisibility. The best approach is hybrid work, in which workplaces function more like college campuses, offering flexibility, along with places to collaborate and learn. At least that’s the ideal. The reality is hybrid work can be more complicated. Consider the stress of hunting down information. For more than three in four managers and employees, it means daily stress, a recent survey of 27,000 managers and workers across the globe, released by OpenText, finds.
Virtual Classrooms
How Students Can Improve Back, Neck Health Following Extended Time Virtual Learning
During the pandemic, students spent a lot of time on their phones or computers learning. Orthopedic surgeons said they have had an increase in children with back pain over the past two years. Now, with a fresh start to a new school year, there are tips for keeping your kids back and neck strong.
Public Policies
Pfizer, BioNTech Seek FDA Authorization for Updated Covid-19 Vaccine
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have asked U.S. health regulators to clear use of a Covid-19 shot modified to target the newest versions of the Omicron variant. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to clear the shots for use in the coming weeks, in time for a planned fall booster campaign. The Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot targets the original coronavirus plus the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron, which have become predominant in the U.S. Pfizer and BioNTech said they have begun producing doses of the vaccines, and could begin supplying them to the U.S. government upon FDA clearance for a vaccination campaign that could start as soon as September.
U.S. CDC recommends use of Novavax's COVID shot for adolescents
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday signed off on the use of Novavax Inc's COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents aged 12 through 17. The recommendation follows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's authorization for the vaccine for the age group last week.
WHO recommends Valneva’s COVID-19 vaccine for those aged between 18 to 50 years old
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) has recommended Valneva's COVID-19 vaccine – VLA2001 for all individuals aged 18 to 50 years old. The vaccine is not recommended for people aged 50 years and avoid, due to limited data on the immunogenicity of the vaccine in this age group. Similarly, there is no data on efficacy or safety for people below the age of 18 years, and vaccination of this age group is therefore not currently recommended. VLA2001 is a purified, inactivated and adjuvanted whole virus SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, employing a similar approach to the flu vaccine.
NGOs call on Covid-19 Inquiry chair to probe global impact of UK vaccine buying
A string of NGOs, including Oxfam, have called on the chair of the Government’s Covid-19 Inquiry to probe the impacts of UK pandemic policy on the global stage. In a letter to chair Baroness Hallett today, the NGOs said: “Given the inquiry’s focus on the impact of the pandemic on inequalities, this should include how this has manifested globally and the UK’s role in exacerbating or mitigating these differences.” Of particular interest is the impact of pre-purchasing high volumes of vaccines on global supply, as well as “the UK’s role in weakening the provisions of the Intellectual Property waiver”, they wrote. Signatories also include Global Justice Now, Save the Children UK, People’s Vaccine Alliance, RESULTS UK, Just Treatment, Health Poverty Action, MSF UK and STOPAIDS. Maaza Seyoum, Global South convenor at the People’s Vaccine Alliance, has called pledges to vaccinate the world from leaders of wealthy countries and pharmaceutical firms a “little more than rhetoric”.
Covid-19: Free lateral flow testing ends in Northern Ireland
Free lateral flow tests are no longer available to most people in Northern Ireland. While the scheme ended in the rest of the UK in May, Stormont's Department of Health retained the measure. Health officials announced last week that testing will be more "targeted to protect the most vulnerable".
FDA: Novavax Covid-19 Vaccine Is Now Authorized For Ages 12 To 17
Teenagers will now have another option when it comes to getting vaccinated against Covid-19. And this new option is good because it is in many ways old. On August 19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a letter to Novavax, Inc. This wasn’t a “hi, how you doing’” letter. Instead, this letter indicated that the FDA had agreed to modify the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Novavax Covid-19 adjuvanted vaccine to include those 12 through 17 years of age as well.
Maintaining Services
COVID-19 remains an issue as South Florida students start new school year
Students across South Florida are settling into their second week of school and while this is the most normal start to the school year since the start of the 2019 school year, COVID-19 does remain an issue for students to deal with.
Healthcare Innovations
Serious health events rare in children after COVID-19 vaccine booster, says CDC study
In the present study, researchers used data from the vaccine adverse event reporting system (VAERS) and v-safe, a voluntary smartphone-based safety surveillance system, to analyze the effect of booster doses of BNT162b2 in US children aged five to 11 years between May 17 and July 31, 2022. The v-safe platform allows parents and guardians of all children under 15 years to report receipt of all doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and all other relevant information. The CDC staff at v-safe call centers encourage parents/guardians seeking medical care after COVID-19 vaccination to complete a VAERS report. VAERS, a passive vaccine safety surveillance system in the US, is co-managed by the CDC and FDA. VAERS documents all adverse events after COVID-19 vaccination reported by health care providers, vaccine manufacturers, and the public.
The impact of the Covid vaccine on periods, from increased cramps to pattern disturbances
The UK has become the first country to approve a dual vaccine, which will tackle both the Omicron variant and the original Covid-19 virus, for use in the autumn. Described as “a sharpened tool in our armoury as the virus continues to evolve” by Dr June Raine, chief executive of the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the jab will be offered to the over-50s, health workers, carers over 16, those at clinical risk from the age of five upwards, and those who live with someone with a low immune system. Currently, there has been no announcement of when or if the dual roll-out will be expanded, but if it were, would everyone take another jab? Although we know immunity wanes over time, after 33 million people have had three vaccinations, and millions already had a likely Covid infection (there have been a recorded total of 19 million positive tests), should we anticipate greater apathy, or even hesitancy for those who experienced short-term side effects and think they can avoid them? The NHS says side effects can include a sore arm, feeling tired, headaches, feeling achy, feeling or being sick. You may also get a high temperature. Although these do not impact everyone, and should not last longer than a week. There have also been reports of changes to women’s menstrual cycles: heavy bleeding, increased cramps and disturbance to patterns.
Long COVID-19 study identifies novel blood markers as potential diagnostic and therapeutic targets
World first study utilizing Somalogic SomaScan® assay# to assess up to 7,000 plasma proteins in Long COVID-19 patients has elucidated novel blood markers as potential diagnostic and therapeutic targets. Provisional patent applications have been filed in the United States (US) to seek protection for these new inventions A potential therapeutic marker known to be modulated by ATL1102 in DMD patients has been identified as suggestive of its therapeutic potential as a treatment for Long COVID-19. Collaboration with global leader in the clinical research of neurological aspects of Long COVID-19 Dr Koralnik to continue with application for grant funding
Pfizer told by FDA to test additional Paxlovid course in patients with COVID-19 rebound
Pfizer has been told by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to test the effects of an additional course of Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir tablets) among individuals who experience a rebound in COVID-19 after the first course of treatment. The company must produce the initial results of a randomised controlled trial of a second course of the antiviral by 30 September next year, according to a letter from the regulator. The order follows reports of rebounding COVID-19 symptoms after the first course of treatment, which Pfizer said were rare. The FDA said a protocol for the study is expected to be finalised this month.