"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 1st Sep 2022

Isolation Tips
China places millions in new Covid lockdown after fresh outbreaks
Millions of Chinese citizens were placed under a new lockdown on Tuesday following a fresh outbreak of coronavirus as the government remains committed to its “zero- Covid ” policy. The tougher curbs on activities have sparked concerns over the health of the barely-growing economy
COVID-19 isolation period shortened to five days
National Cabinet has agreed to shorten COVID-19 isolation requirements by two days for most workers. The AMA fears the reduced period could worsen workforce shortages. Pandemic payments will be reduced, and mask rules for domestic flights dropped
Hygiene Helpers
Greater regular physical activity reduces risk of adverse COVID-19 outcomes
Greater regular physical activity reduces the risk of infection, hospitalisation, severe illness and death from COVID-19 in comparison to those who are inactive according to the findings of a systematic review and meta-analysis by a team of Spanish researchers. Some degree of physical activity is better than none but greater regular physical activity is best for optimal health outcomes according to a World Health Organisation guideline from 2020. Physical activity has a beneficial impact on the immune system and also appears to have protective associations against infectious disease mortality. Moreover, it also appears that the converse is true, particular in relation to COVID-19. For example, in a study of over 48,440 adult patients with a COVID-19, those who were physically inactive had a higher risk of hospitalisation, admission to intensive care and death compared to those who were consistently meeting physical activity guidelines.
Goldman Sachs to lift vaccination, Covid-19 requirements in most offices next month
Goldman Sachs said Tuesday it will lift all its Covid-19 requirements in most offices beginning Sept. 6, in response to new guidance from federal health officials. According to a memo obtained by CNBC, the bank will no longer require its workers to be vaccinated to enter its offices or to test and wear face coverings, except those in Lima and New York City. Unvaccinated employees in New York City will still need an approved religious or medical exemption to enter the bank’s office spaces, according to the memo.
Cyprus ends mandatory mask wearing as COVID-19 measures eased
Article reports that Cyprus on Wednesday said it would end all restrictions on gatherings and the mandatory use of face masks in most areas after cases of COVID-19 were declining. Effective Wednesday, all restrictions on public or private gatherings would be eased, while wearing face masks would only be compulsory in areas such as hospitals, care homes and on public transport, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela said.
Community Activities
Melbourne launches multimillion-dollar centre for pandemic treatments
Melbourne will bid to become a global centre for the development of new antiviral therapies to deal with future pandemics after receiving the largest donation in Australian medical history. Geoff Cumming, a Canadian who lives in the city, has pledged at least A$250mn ($172mn) towards creating The Cumming Global Centre for Pandemic Therapeutics based in Parkville, adjacent to the University of Melbourne.
COVID-19 vaccine opponents slapped with $214,000 in legal costs after failed lawsuit
In dismissing the case in June, Justice Debra Mortimer said it had many flaws. “Their case is a general attack on the government response across Australia to the COVID-19 pandemic through the use of a vaccination program,” she said. “In a likely complex and resource-intensive case such as this, the court must be able to identify the material facts pleaded to support the allegation, or some probative basis in the primary material for the contentions. “Counsel for the applicants did not even attempt to point the court towards one.”
Working Remotely
Don't Forget The Downsides Of Remote Work
Peter Done is Group Managing Director and founder of business services specialist Peninsula Group. He writes that the benefits of home or hybrid working continue to be well documented, but it’s important to note that it has its downsides, too. There are some issues associated with home working and, nearly three years on from the start of lockdowns, it may not be the golden egg that so many believe it to be.
Virtual Classrooms
NY students with disabilities will have new chance to complete education
Students with disabilities who may have "aged out" of an education program due to the COVID-19 pandemic will have a renewed chance beginning in September to finish their school work under a law approved earlier this year. The law is meant to help students who have lost a year of education when the pandemic closed schools and made it difficult for them to complete their coursework through remote learning or online lessons.
Edtech companies breaking UK data laws, privacy campaigners claim
Edtech companies are breaking UK data laws, leaving children’s data vulnerable to commercial exploitation, privacy campaigners claim, as free remote learning software that was adopted by schools in the pandemic comes under scrutiny. An investigation by children’s digital rights charity 5Rights is being presented to the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Department for Education on Wednesday, highlighting the policies of popular edtech products Google Classroom and ClassDojo.
Manitoba spending $2M on student supports, including boost for remote learning centre
The Manitoba government says it's spending about $2 million to bolster learning and counselling supports for students across the province ahead of their return to school next week. About half that money is going to the province's remote learning support centre for after-school learning help for students from Grade 1 to Grade 8, Education Minister Wayne Ewasko said. Another $390,000 will go toward supporting online resources and video-streaming services, including enhancements to support educators in French, French immersion and French-English programs.
Public Policies
Omicron Booster Shots Cleared by FDA to Fight Latest Covid Variants
Covid-19 boosters from Moderna Inc. and the partnership of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE that are tailored to the latest omicron variants got US regulatory clearance, a move toward additional protection as concern grows about potential new waves in the fall and winter. The emergency use authorization is for use of a dose of Moderna’s shot in adults 18 and older, while Pfizer’s can be used in people 12 and older, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday in a statement. The booster must be given at least two months after recipients’ latest Covid shot.
Covid-19 inquiry to examine NI Executive's response to pandemic
Article reports that the UK Covid-19 Inquiry has begun examining the Northern Ireland Executive's decision-making in response to the Covid-19 pandemic between early January 2020 and May 2022. It will examine the decision-making of key groups and individuals within the government in Northern Ireland. This will include the first and deputy first ministers and other ministers. Particular attention will be paid to early January 2020 and the start of the first national lockdown in March A preliminary hearing will be held in the autumn.
Hungary must act to get EU COVID-19 funds, says Czech minister
Hungary must take action on changing its rule of law before it can receive any European Union recovery funds, the EU affairs chief of the Czech government, which holds the bloc's rotating presidency, said in an interview on Tuesday. Hungary and Poland both have yet to receive billions of euros of post-COVID EU recovery funds as the governments have not met Brussels' demands on respecting the rule of law.
Maintaining Services
S.Korea to end pre-departure COVID test requirement for overseas travellers
South Korea will from Saturday no longer require travellers to the country to test for COVID-19 before departure, although they will still need to take a PCR test within 24 hours of arrival. The latest relaxing of rules comes amid an easing in case numbers with daily COVID infections hovering around 100,000 in recent weeks compared with more than 180,000 in mid-August. "The weekly number of infections have declined for the first time in nine weeks and the virus is showing signs of slowing down," Lee Ki-il, the country's second vice health minister, told reporters.
Covid Vaccines Are Free in the US Now, by Jan 2023 You May Have to Pay
The US government anticipates that it will stop purchasing and providing Covid-19 shots as soon as January due to a lack of funds, leaving Americans to obtain vaccines through insurers or pay for them out-of-pocket. US health officials convened a meeting of more than 100 representatives from drugmakers, state and local health departments, health providers and insurers on Tuesday to discuss the government’s plans to transition sales of Covid vaccines and therapeutics to the commercial market, according to Dawn O’Connell, who heads the Health and Human Services Department’s Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response.
Autumn Covid-19 booster jabs available in Jersey from September
Islanders in Jersey who are eligible for a Covid-19 booster jab will be able to book another vaccination from tomorrow (Thursday 1 September). The extra dose of the vaccine is intended to protect the most vulnerable islanders during the autumn and winter months. The government's Autumn Booster programme is open to: Care home residents and staff; Health and social workers; All adults over the age of 50; Anyone aged under 50 who is clinically 'at risk', lives in the same home as someone who's immunosuppressed, or is a carer
Healthcare Innovations
There’s some good news in the battle against long Covid
There is also some indication we may be getting closer to more precisely defining and treating long Covid. Many studies around the world have been set up to recruit groups with long Covid to compare them with “rapid recovery” cases – people who recovered quickly and fully from Covid – to try to find differences in levels of antibodies, hormones, immune cells or other things that can be measured with a blood test. These so-called “defining biomarkers” can be gamechangers. They can help health services define and refer cases, provide more extensive evidence for employers and tribunals, and also point towards identification of therapies and treatments. One of the first such studies was reported this month in a preprint from Akiko Iwasaki, David Putrino and colleagues at Yale. They report a clear biomarker delineating differences in the long Covid group, with signals including low serum cortisol (a hormone involved in control of the stress response) and evidence of reactivation of latent Epstein-Barr virus.
Study explores differences in the efficiency of COVID-19 vaccine boosters
In the present study, researchers performed a meta-analysis using currently available data on neutralization titers obtained from clinical studies that compared the booster COVID-19 vaccination with the currently available SARS-CoV-2 ancestral strain- or variant-based vaccines. The team compared the average extent of boosting between vaccines based on the ancestral strain and those modified as per the variant by comparing the increase in neutralization titers noted before and after booster dose administration. Furthermore, the study compared the magnitude of boosting against the homologous strains, wherein the variants used in the vaccine and the neutralization assay are the same, versus non-homologous strains, wherein the variants used in the vaccine and the neutralization assay are different.
Scientists Boost Immune Response to COVID-19 Vaccine by 25 Times
Ironically, some vaccines need their own “boosters.” An ingredient called an adjuvant can be added to vaccines to help elicit a more robust immune response, better training the body to fight a pathogen. Scientists report a substance that boosted the immune response to an experimental COVID-19 shot in mice by 25 times, compared to injection with the vaccine alone. Details of the research are described in a new paper published today (August 31, 2022) in the journal ACS Infectious Diseases.
What you need to know about fall booster shots of coronavirus vaccine
New coronavirus boosters are just around the corner following authorization Wednesday by federal regulators. The updated shots are designed to provide a stronger shield against the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants still causing tens of thousands of infections and hundreds of deaths every day in the United States. The boosters will be part of a campaign by the federal government, to be kicked off within days, to persuade Americans to bolster their immune defenses before a potential surge in covid-19 cases as cooler weather arrives in the fall.
Vitamin D mediates crosstalk between COVID-19 and osteoporosis
The global outbreak of the highly infectious severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS–COV-2) resulted in the pandemic of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which has claimed over 6.4 million lives worldwide to date. Several types of COVID-19 vaccines have been developed, many of which have received approval from global regulatory bodies. However, genomic mutations have led to the emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants, which have reduced the effectiveness of these vaccines.