"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 31st Aug 2022

Isolation Tips
China's big cities, from Dalian to Shenzhen, ramp up COVID curbs
Several of China's biggest cities imposed tougher COVID-19 curbs on Tuesday, further crimping the activities of tens of millions, and sparking fresh concerns for the health of a barely growing economy. Metropolises from the southern tech hub of Shenzhen to southwestern Chengdu and the northeastern port of Dalian ordered measures such as lockdowns in big districts and business closures aimed at stamping out fresh outbreaks
Hygiene Helpers
Goldman Sachs to lift COVID protocols - memo
Goldman Sachs Group Inc will lift pandemic-era protocols at its offices effective Sept. 6, according to an internal memo reviewed by Reuters. The Wall Street investment bank had already called its employees back to the office full time in June last year, although it relaxed those requirements during periods when coronavirus cases surged, sources familiar with the matter said. The new guidelines will allow employees to enter the company's Americas offices regardless of vaccination status, except in New York City and Lima.
Coronavirus vaccine: 90% student third-jab rate needed for Hong Kong secondary schools to resume full-day, in-person classes
Article reports that Hong Kong secondary schools will only be allowed to conduct full-day classes on campus if 90 per cent of their students have been triple-vaccinated against Covid-19, with education authorities tightening the existing two-jab requirement. The same threshold also applies to secondary and primary school students from October if they hope to take part in extracurricular and mask-off activities such as music and sports, according to a letter from the Education Bureau to the sector on Tuesday. “We encourage staff and students to get vaccinated as far as possible to protect themselves and others, if they are suitable for vaccination,” it wrote. “[We] also demand that schools actively reach out to those who have yet to get vaccinated to understand their concerns and difficulties, and encourage them to get the jabs.”
Low vaccine booster rates are now a key factor in COVID-19 deaths – and racial disparities in booster rates persist
Article reports that more than 450 people are dying of COVID-19 in the U.S. each day as of late August 2022. When COVID-19 vaccines first became available, public officials, community organizations and policymakers mobilized to get shots into arms. These efforts included significant investments in making vaccines accessible to Black, Hispanic, American Indian and Alaska Native populations. These groups experienced exceptionally high COVID-19 death rates early in the pandemic and had low initial vaccine rates. The efforts worked. As of August 2022, vaccination rates for the primary series – or required initial doses of COVID-19 vaccines – for Black and Hispanic people exceeded those of white Americans.
COVAX to send Mexico 10 mln COVID shots by Sept. 30, says official
The COVAX vaccine program will send 10 million doses of PfizerBioNTech COVID-19 shots for children to Mexico by the end of September, a senior Mexican official announced Tuesday. The confirmed dates for the shots' delivery comes a week after President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he would complain to the United Nations about the delayed shipment of vaccines the government had requested
U.S. to suspend free COVID-19 test orders next week
Starting next week, Americans will no longer be able to order free at-home COVID-19 tests from a website set up by the U.S. government due to limited supply arising from a lack of congressional funding. The COVIDTests.gov website, set up during the Omicron variant record surge in cases, helped U.S. households secure COVID-19 tests at no cost. President Joe Biden in January pledged to procure 1 billion free tests for Americans, including 500 million available through the website. However, ordering through the program will be suspended on Sept. 2.
Can You Trust That Covid Test Result? What Five Tests in 24 Hours Taught Me
Testing discrepancies appear to be increasingly common with Omicron and its subvariants, so some common sense comes in handy. If you’re living with people with Covid-19 and feel symptoms develop, you’re likely developing Covid-19. So even if your tests say otherwise, stay home. For rapid antigen tests, serial testing is the name of the game. Test every day or every other day for up to a week if you can. Once you get a positive you can be confident in it, even if it’s a faint line.
How Quickly Can You Get Infected With Omicron After An Exposure?
Early in the pandemic, an exposure to COVID meant waiting anxiously for many days to see if you were infected. Now, the window is getting smaller and smaller, according to a new review published in the journal JAMA Network Open. Researchers analyzed 141 studies to determine how COVID’s incubation period ― the time from when you get infected to when you start showing symptoms ― has changed since March 2020. The study, which was conducted by scientists in Beijing, found that with every new variant, COVID’s incubation time has decreased significantly. Omicron, which is the current dominant variant in the United States, has the shortest time between infection and symptoms. “The incubation periods of COVID-19 caused by the Alpha, Beta, Delta and Omicron variants were 5.00, 4.50, 4.41, and 3.42 days, respectively,” the study stated.
Community Activities
‘American rebellion’: the lockdown protests that paved the way for the Capitol riots
It started in Michigan. On 15 April 2020, thousands of vehicles convoyed to Lansing and clogged the streets surrounding the state capitol for a protest that had been advertised as “Operation Gridlock”. Drivers leaned on their horns, men with guns got out and walked. Signs warned of revolt. Someone waved an upside-down American flag. Already – nine months before 6 January, seven months before the election, six weeks before a national uprising for police accountability and racial justice – there were a lot of them, and they were angry.
Why Some Americans Are Still Isolating From Covid-19
Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are in decline. People are traveling, socializing and returning to workplaces in greater numbers. But a group of people are still keeping mostly to themselves and taking other measures to minimize infection risks. Compromised immune systems and the risks of long Covid are among reasons they say they are maintaining caution. Two-and-a-half years into the pandemic, their relative isolation speaks to divides that remain over how to live with the virus. With imperfect insight into the risks of infection as the virus mutates and immunity shifts, people are setting their own boundaries for safe behavior. While about one-quarter of 1,243 people surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation recently said they had resumed all activities they were pursuing before the pandemic, 17% said they were doing very few of those things.
The growing evidence that Covid-19 is leaving people sicker
A Financial Times analysis of data from the UK’s NHS, one of the world’s richest health data sets, showed significant rises in deaths from heart disease since the start of the pandemic in all but the very oldest age groups. In the 40-64 age group, heart attack deaths increased 15 per cent in 2021 compared with 2019. In February, meanwhile, an analysis of more than 150,000 records from the national healthcare databases at the US Department of Veterans Affairs suggested that even some people who had not been seriously ill with Covid had an increased risk of cardiovascular problems for at least a year afterwards. Researchers found that rates of many conditions, such as heart failure and stroke, were substantially higher in people who had recovered from Covid than in similar people who had not been infected. A separate analysis of VA data, published in March, suggested that in the “post-acute phase” of the disease, people with Covid “exhibit increased risk and burden of diabetes”.
Working Remotely
Remote Work: Benefits for Employees, Employers and the Economy
The back-and-forth over remote work versus going to the office, and versus a hybrid system, isn’t going anyway anytime soon, but this ongoing debate’s noise is definitely getting louder. More companies are using more sophisticated technologies to gauge whether their employees are being productive or not. Meanwhile, companies that have gone 100 percent virtual report that they are doing just fine; other companies are drawing a line in the sand, and that line isn’t including the option to work from home. For many companies that are based or have a presence in America’s mid-sized or small cities, the discussion is largely over.
Remote work vs. in-office: How the pandemic has changed work — possibly forever
The pandemic irrevocably changed how we look at the world around us. As millions of Americans lost their jobs, traditional employment evolved into remote and hybrid models. Over two years into the pandemic, we can start to analyze the results of this shift in work models. While some changed careers, left major cities, and navigated a new normal, others learned how to work their long-term jobs remotely. As a result, freelance and remote work thrived, creating new possibilities for a healthier work/life balance.
Virtual Classrooms
Roughly 1/3 of nation’s largest school districts to keep remote learning option from COVID
Roughly a third of big city school districts in the US are keeping virtual programs created during the COVID-19 pandemic in place this school year, according to new research released Monday. Another third of large districts are ditching remote learning altogether, researchers from the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a non-profit research center at Arizona State University.
Public Policies
U.S. plans to move COVID vaccines, treatments to private markets in 2023
The U.S. government expects its supply of COVID-19 vaccines and antiviral treatments to run out over the next year and is preparing for them to be sold via the commercial market, the Department of Health and Human Services said on Tuesday. President Joe Biden's administration expects to run out of federal funding for buying and distributing COVID-19 vaccines by January, although it has already bought over 170 million doses for a booster campaign later this year, according to a blog post written by Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O'Connell.
Japan OKs third Pfizer shot for children and AstraZeneca COVID treatment
The health ministry on Tuesday approved a third dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11, after an expert panel gave the plan the green light the day before. It is hoped the move will help prevent children in that age group from getting infected with the coronavirus and developing severe symptoms, as the nation continues to see high levels of cases driven by the highly infectious BA.5 omicron subvariant. The booster shot will be available to such children five months or more after they have received their second dose. The health ministry said the panel has judged that the booster shot is safe enough for children in the age group. Side effects reported in clinical trials include fatigue and soreness around the site of the shot, as well as fever, but most people have recovered having had only minor or moderate reactions, the ministry said.
MHRA Grants Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine Expanded Conditional Marketing Authorization
Novavax announced on Aug. 26, 2022 that the company’s COVID-19 vaccine, Nuvaxovid, was granted expanded conditional marketing authorization by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. This authorization allows for the use of the vaccine in adolescents aged 12 to 17. According to a company press release, the authorization is based on data from the Phase III PREVENT-19 trial of 2,247 adolescents aged 12 through 17 years across 73 sites in the United States. The trial reached its primary effectiveness endpoint and demonstrated 80% clinical effectiveness. "As we start to prepare for a potential fall surge, we are pleased to offer the first protein-based COVID-19 vaccine to adolescents aged 12 through 17 in the UK," said Stanley C. Erck, president and CEO, Novavax, in the release.
AstraZeneca gains first approval for Evusheld as COVID-19 treatment
AstraZeneca's long-acting antibody combination Evusheld has been approved in Japan for both prevention (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and treatment of symptomatic disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection: marking the first global marketing approval of Evusheld as a treatment for COVID-19.
U.S. Supreme Court's Sotomayor keeps New York City COVID vaccine mandate
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Monday declined to block New York City from enforcing its mandate that all municipal workers be vaccinated against COVID-19, rebuffing a police detective who challenged the public health policy. The liberal justice denied Detective Anthony Marciano's request for a stay of the vaccination requirement while an appeal over his claims continue in a lower court. A federal judge threw out Marciano's case in March.
Swiss drugs regulator approves first bivalent Covid-19 booster
Swiss drugs regulator Swissmedic said on Monday that it has approved the first bivalent Covid-19 booster vaccine in the country. Moderna's Spikevax vaccine, which contains mRNA against two coronavirus variants, is authorized for anyone 18 years or older, said Swissmedic.
Maintaining Services
As Americans ditch Covid measures, pandemic worsens for the vulnerable
In the last few months, Dr Jeannina Smith has seen organ transplant recipients who have been very careful throughout the pandemic venture out for one activity, contract Covid-19 and lose their transplant. ‘Most have thrown their hands up’: has the US forgotten about Covid? “I have been at the bedside of a transplant recipient” who “was very ill and in the hospital, and she got Covid the second time in a healthcare setting”, said Smith, medical director of the infectious disease program at University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics. “She was sobbing because she said, ‘It’s so hard for me to see that people care so little about my life that wearing a mask is too much for them.’”
Japan weighs September rollout for omicron-targeting COVID-19 shots
The Japanese government is considering a September start for new COVID-19 vaccines targeting the omicron variant, earlier than the initially planned mid-October rollout, sources said Tuesday. With the country now facing its seventh wave of COVID-19 infections, the government is hoping to introduce more effective vaccines. The improved vaccines developed by U.S. drugmakers Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. are currently being evaluated by Japanese authorities.
Healthcare Innovations
Risk factors among pregnant and postpartum women with COVID-19
In a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers investigated the clinical risk factors associated with adverse outcomes among coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-infected women during pregnancy and postpartum.