"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 22nd Jul 2020

Isolation Tips
NC leaders support symptom-based strategy for ending COVID-19 isolation
North Carolina leaders are hoping new guidance released by the CDC will make it easier for residents to return to work after testing positive for COVID-19. The CDC is now supporting a symptom-based strategy rather than a test-based strategy for ending isolation of people infected with COVID-19. The CDC says accumulating evidence supports ending isolation using the symptom-based strategy, “while limiting unnecessary prolonged isolation and unnecessary use of laboratory testing resources.”
Melbourne stage 3 coronavirus lockdown rules and restrictions explained
When can I leave my house? As during the previous stage three lockdown, the four reasons to leave the house are: shopping for food and essential items, care and caregiving, daily exercise, work and study. But if you can work or study from home, you must. Employers must support you to work from home. Caregiving includes managing shared custody arrangements, using a babysitter, leaving home to care for animals housed elsewhere, visiting someone in an aged care home, and visiting someone in hospital. Specific directions apply. You can leave your house if you are at risk of family violence or to apply for an intervention order, and to attend court or a police station.
Hygiene Helpers
People Are More Likely to Contract COVID-19 at Home, Study Finds
South Korean epidemiologists have found that people were more likely to contract the new coronavirus from members of their own households than from contacts outside the home. A study published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on July 16 looked in detail at 5,706 "index patients" who had tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 59,000 people who came into contact with them. The findings showed just two out of 100 infected people had caught the virus from non-household contacts, while one in 10 had contracted the disease from their own families. By age group, the infection rate within the household was higher when the first confirmed cases were teenagers or people in their 60s and 70s. "This is probably because these age groups are more likely to be in close contact with family members as the group is in more need of protection or support," Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) and one of the authors of the study, told a briefing.
How tiny Uruguay, wedged between Brazil and Argentina, has avoided the worst of the coronavirus
After watching the novel coronavirus emerge in China and spread to Europe, the country confirmed its first four cases on Friday the 13th — an apparently ominous opening for a disease that would soon burn a wide path through Latin America. But in the weeks and months that followed the March 13 diagnoses of four recent travelers from Europe, the nation of 3.4 million would keep the virus in check. Wedged between Brazil, suffering the second-worst outbreak in the world, and Argentina, where infections are now surging, Uruguay has reported just 1,064 cases and 33 deaths — unusually low numbers for a Latin American nation testing widely.
US lab giant warns of new Covid-19 testing crunch in autumn
Long delays in processing test results — which are taking more than a week to return — are exacerbating the situation and the time lag is expected to worsen in the autumn, when millions of Americans catch common colds and the flu. “There is no way that PCR capacity is going to double in the next three months,” said James Davis, an executive vice-president at Quest Diagnostics, in an interview with the Financial Times, referring to nasal swab tests that use polymerase chain reaction technology. Mr Davis said “other solutions need to be found” to detect positive patients in addition to nasal swab tests.
Leicester could have avoided coronavirus lockdown, mayor says
A lockdown in Leicester could have been avoided if local powers had been available sooner, the mayor has said. A spike in coronavirus cases in the city saw restrictions tightened again on 29 June. On Friday, Boris Johnson unveiled powers for councils to use targeted lockdowns in response to local spikes. But Sir Peter Soulsby said these were needed "three or four weeks ago", and could have saved the city from the government's "sledgehammer" approach. Mr Johnson said local authorities would be able to close shops, cancel events and shut outdoor public spaces in certain postcodes, if there was a spike in cases.
Mask-wearing plays big in Europe's post-lockdown protocol
France on Monday joined the ranks of European countries which have mandated the use of face masks in all indoor public places, in another sign that the face mask is playing big in Europe's post-lockdown measures to limit COVID-19 transmission. Before France, multiple governments - from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Greece, and Romania to Slovenia, Albania, and Serbia - have already obliged their citizens to cover their mouth and nose in indoor public spaces. A dozen other European countries such as Britain, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland and Malta have mandated the use of face masks on public transport.
Are Spaniards the most willing adopters of face masks in Europe?
The sight of people without masks sitting at tightly packed outdoor tables in the Basque city of Hondarribia came as a shock to Santiago Moreno, the head of infectious diseases at Madrid’s Ramón y Cajal hospital, who went there on a recent trip. “I thought, if someone is infected, they will infect 25 others. The only ones with masks were the people from Madrid,” he remembers. Moreno believes that making face masks mandatory, even if social distancing can be respected, is a conceptual necessity. “By being so strict, those who don’t meet [the rules] will feel like they are breaking the law,” he explains. “It’s better for us to do too much than too little.” The spokesperson of the Spanish Association of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology, María del Mar Tomás, agrees: “The only preventive measures we have at the moment are masks, distance and having outdoor meetings and contact.”
Austria reintroducing face mask requirement in supermarkets, banks
Austria is reintroducing a requirement that face masks be worn in supermarkets, banks and post offices because of an increase in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Tuesday. Austria went into lockdown early in its outbreak in mid-March and began loosening its restrictions a month later, even scrapping the requirement to wear face masks in shops and schools on June 15. Face masks are still required on public transport, in hospitals and pharmacies and at hairdressers. While the number of daily infections here was regularly well under 50 in May and June, it has increased in the past three weeks it was over 100 almost every other day this month. “There are areas of daily life where one cannot choose whether one goes or not - the supermarket, the bank, the post office,” Kurz told a news conference. “We have therefore decided that we will make face masks compulsory again in supermarkets, in banks, in post offices.”
Philippines to ramp up coronavirus testing as Duterte warns of arrests
The Philippines said on Tuesday it would ramp up testing for the novel coronavirus amid a sharp rise in infections and deaths since a lockdown was eased in June, while President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to arrest anyone not wearing a mask. The government aimed to test 32,000 to 40,000 people a day compared with the current 20,000 to 23,000, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said in a televised meeeting with Duterte. The Philippines has tested nearly 1.1 million people so far, but Duque said the aim was for 10 million people - or nearly a tenth of the population - to be tested by the second quarter of next year. “We cannot test every citizen as no country has done it even the richest, the United States,” Duque said.
Six Victorian prisons in Covid-19 lockdown as lawyers call for low-risk inmates to be released
Six Victorian prisons have been placed in lockdown after an officer working at a men’s jail in Melbourne tested positive for Covid-19, prompting calls from legal groups to release low-risk prisoners during the pandemic. The officer, who the Guardian understands is male, is employed by GEO, the private correctional services provider which operates the Ravenhall Correctional Centre in Melbourne’s west. While he had been in self-isolation since 16 July after learning he was a close contact of a confirmed Covid-19 case, five further facilities - Hopkins Correctional Centre, Langi Kal Kal Prison, Barwon Prison, Fulham and Loddon - have been placed in lockdown while Corrections Victoria investigates which other staff and prisoners he may have had contact with.
Coronavirus cases in California soar past 400,000, poised to surpass New York
California soared past 400,000 total coronavirus cases on Tuesday, as public health officials once again pleaded with residents to take shelter-in-place measures seriously. At midday, the case count in California jumped to 407,344 cases and 7,868 deaths, with the average number of daily cases in July more than double the average from June. “I don’t overread into the significance of that number,” said Mark Ghaly, California’s health and human services secretary, during a media briefing Tuesday. “I look at every day as an opportunity to do better and do more with our response to COVID-19.”
Why is there a coin shortage in the U.S.?
The coronavirus outbreak has created a new nationwide shortage: coins. A growing number of businesses, including Kroger, Walmart, and CVS have had to stop giving change in coins. Many are asking customers to use cards or exact change whenever possible, while some smaller businesses and franchises have stopped accepting cash all together. The shortage is especially troubling for people who are unbanked and rely on cash for everyday purchases. Cash-only businesses are also suffering. Cary Whaley, vice president at Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), a trade group for small banks, views the issue as a circulation problem rather than a shortage. “A lot of folks shifted the way they paid” after the coronavirus outbreak, he said. “They weren’t paying in cash, so they weren’t taking it to restaurants and banks and getting it into circulation.”
Community Activities
California using virus-closed classrooms for child care
In Glendale, education officials opted last week to move to online instruction due to a rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. They also started a program for families in need of child care where students will be dropped off at local schools and placed in small groups. They will complete their online lessons with support from a staff member or substitute teacher during what would normally be school hours.
One of the original 'Rosie the Riveters' is now making masks to help defeat coronavirus
One of the original "Rosie the Riveters" is serving her country once more. Mae Krier, 94, worked in a Boeing factory during World War II, where she helped make warplanes. Now, she's helping fight a different battle -- coronavirus. "I always made (them) for Rosie travel," she told CNN's Chris Cuomo. "We go to Washington and places and whenever we do, they love the bandanas. And I was making a lot of them when the virus started, and I just switched over from bandanas to face masks." Rosie the Riveter is famously depicted wearing a red polka dot bandana around her head, but now, Krier is stitching face masks from the same cloth. "People are starting to send me material and elastic and everything that I need from all over the country," she said, wearing one of the bandanas around her neck. "It's absolutely amazing. I'm just stunned."
SCS parents & teachers hold sit-in to support virtual learning until COVID-19 cases decrease
Memphis/Shelby County United, a group of SCS teachers and parents, held a socially distanced sit-in outside the SCS Board of Education Tuesday. They urged the school board, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, the Tennessee Department of Education and the state education commissioner to move schools to a virtual platform until there aren’t any new cases of COVID-19 for 14 days.
Spain to give 1.7 billion euros in coronavirus aid to developing countries
Spain will send 1.7 billion euros (1.5 billion pounds) in aid to developing countries to help them deal with coronavirus pandemic, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said on Tuesday after a cabinet meeting. Spain aims to help save lives and strengthen public health systems and also protect and restore rights and capacities, among other goals, Gonzalez Laya told a news conference.
Middle East mythbusters fight dangerous 'infodemic' | MEO
Arabic pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are brimming with fake news stories on the novel coronavirus, from benign inaccuracies to full-throated conspiracy theories.
Working Remotely
Taking positive steps towards a remote working future - a third sector exemplar
Remote working may have been forced on companies by the pandemic, but for many may now become a permanent part of their work environment. One third sector organization was beginning to make the shift when COVID-19 struck and accelerated its thinking. Positive Steps is a charity operating in both Rochdale and Oldham in the North of England. It specialises in delivering targeted advice, support and services to young people, adults and families on a wide range of issues they face, from help making the transition from school to further education through careers guidance and on.to giving support to individuals and families with drugs, parenting or housing problems.
'Zoom-mania' is here to stay as staff embrace remote work
According to the report, seven in ten UK employees believe that, with the right tech, they can be more productive at home. Further, the Covid-19 experience has made the workforce a lot more comfortable with video calls, suggesting the popularity of Zoom and similar platforms will endure.
Work from home: More companies are letting new hires work anywhere permanently amid COVID-19 pandemic
Rasha Uthman was hunting for a public relations job that let her work from her parents’ South Miami home as they struggled with family health issues, but few, if any, local companies in her field were open to telecommuting. Insivia, a Cleveland-based consulting and marketing firm for the technology industry, was willing to hire a PR and marketing specialist anywhere in the country after shifting to a remote work set-up during the coronavirus pandemic. Since June, Uthman has been working for Insivia full-time from her childhood bedroom, about 1,240 miles from the company’s headquarters. “Insivia has been so understanding of my situation,” says Uthman, 36. “I love the flexibility.”
Covid-19: RBS asks majority of workers to work remotely until 2021
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has told its staff that majority of workers can continue to work remotely until 2021. The move comes despite the government withdrawing an official guidance that encouraged people to work from home. RBS has decided to extend the option to work from home for around 50,000 employees to 2021, Reuters reported citing an internal memo.
Georgia is welcoming long-term visitors who are interested in working remotely from the country - Insider
The country of Georgia recently announced a new visa program targeted at self-employed, remote workers. The program is designed for visitors who are interested in staying in Georgia for longer than six months. Those interested will need to fill out an online application and obtain confirmation documents beforehand. Georgia's Ministry of Economy has yet to launch the online application.
Virtual Classrooms
Harris County recommends schools stay closed to in-person instruction until October
The message from county Judge Lina Hidalgo and Harris County Public Health Dr. Umair Shah did not issue a mandate, unlike what other county health officials have done, and instead "strongly urged schools to follow new Texas Education Agency provisions allowing an 8-week online instruction waiver." “We continue to urge all in our community to stay home except for essential activities. The faster we bring the virus under control and bring the 'curve down,' the sooner schools will be able to reopen safely and stay open," Hidalgo wrote in a letter to school superintendents, that also acknowledged that schools provide many social services such as "much needed food assistance to many low-income families.
Amid Coronavirus, Parents ‘Pod Up’ to Form At-Home Schools
Wary of sending their children back into classrooms, some families are joining into pods to teach kids; other parents look online to replace or supplement in-person instruction.
COVID-19 has accelerated the digital transformation of higher education
Very few people would have predicted that universities would face such a paradigm shift – with predominant virtual teaching and remote working bursting onto the scene – as a consequence to a global pandemic.
Appleton's public schools could be all-virtual or hybrid come fall, district's letter to parents says
The Appleton Area School District released a proposal for what returning to school could look like in the fall. Two models are outlined in the letter sent to parents Friday. One would send early childhood through fourth-grade students to school in-person five days a week, while grades 5-12 would use a hybrid option, attending in-person two days a week and virtually three days a week. The other model would have all students begin the school year fully virtual. District spokeswoman Kylie Harwell declined to elaborate on the plan until after the school board work session on July 27, at which the board is set to consider the plans as well as review the results of two surveys sent to parents about what they'd prefer to see come fall.
"Online classes are critical for underprivileged children during COVID" |
Shukla Bose, Founder and CEO of the non-profit Parikrma Humanity Foundation, however opposed the government ban on classes, even though her own students come from deprived backgrounds. Parikrma Foundation’s schools cater to over 1800 students from slums across Bengaluru, with the aim of providing quality education and helping the children break out of poverty. At the time the government banned online classes, Parikrma schools were already holding these classes. Shukla even made a strong case for digital classes to the government-appointed expert committee on online education. Why did she lobby for online education even as most of her own students and teachers would find the medium unfamiliar and inaccessible? Because “learning cannot stop”, says Shukla. “As COVID-19 will remain for some time, will we allow learning to get paralysed? Is learning only for affluent classes who can afford online classes in private schools?”
Lockdown 2: The reality of returning to remote teaching
One teacher in Australia explains what it's been like to go back to remote teaching after further coronavirus outbreaks
Public Policies
EU leaders seal deal on spending and €750bn Covid-19 recovery plans
EU leaders have reached a historic agreement on a €750bn coronavirus pandemic recovery fund and their long-term spending plans following days of acrimonious debate at the bloc’s longest summit in nearly two decades. As the meeting reached its fifth day, the 27 exhausted heads of state and government finally gave their seal of approval to a plan for the EU to jointly borrow debt to be disbursed through grants on an unprecedented scale, in the face of an economic downturn not seen since the Great Depression. The end of the tortuous process was announced by the European council president, Charles Michel, who had been chairing the leaders’ long debates, with a single word on Twitter: “Deal!”
The COVID-19 Gender Gap – IMF Blog
It is crucial that policymakers adopt measures to limit the scarring effects of the pandemic on women. This could entail a focus on extending income support to the vulnerable, preserving employment linkages, providing incentives to balance work and family care responsibilities, improving access to health care and family planning, and expanding support for small businesses and the self-employed. Elimination of legal barriers against women’s economic empowerment is also a priority. Some countries have moved quickly to adopt some of these policies. Austria, Italy, Portugal, and Slovenia have introduced a statutory right to (partially) paid leave for parents with children below a certain age, and France has expanded sick leave to parents impacted by school closures if no alternative care or work arrangements can be found.
Coronavirus: Latin America struggles to contain the pandemic
The novel coronavirus continues its march across Latin America. More than 3.5 million people in the region are infected with SARS-CoV-2. With more than 150,000 deaths, Latin America has the second highest mortality rate. The consequences of the pandemic are a strain on the region's fragile health care systems and they have revealed serious shortcomings despite early and drastic government restrictions. The flattening of the curve still seems a distant prospect. Four of the 10 worst-affected countries worldwide are in Latin America, according to Johns Hopkins University: Brazil has more than 2 million confirmed cases, Peru and Mexico both have around 350,000, and Chile with 330,000. Smaller countries are also seriously affected, including Ecuador with more than 70,000 people infected and more than 5,000 deaths. Quito, the country's capital, is currently in crisis mode because intensive care beds are no longer available. Many people wonder whether the strict curfew imposed more than three months ago hasn't worked.
Argentine capital begins timid reopening after virus lockdown
Argentina began a timid reopening of economic activity in the capital Buenos Aires on Monday, relaxing coronavirus containment measures despite continued high infection rates. "We need to learn to live with the virus because if we don't, the economic damage will be worse than the damage done by the virus," Daniel Bailo, a vendor at a hiking and fishing store that opened on Monday, told AFP. The reopening of the greater Buenos Aires area, where 90 percent of Argentina's coronavirus cases have been concentrated, comes despite the country reporting more than 3,000 new infections a day.
Major airlines ask EU, White House to adopt new COVID-19 testing program
Major US and European Union airlines asked the EU and White House on Tuesday to consider a joint US-EU program to test airline passengers for COVID-19 as a way to allow people to travel once again between the United States and Europe. In a letter to US Vice President Mike Pence and Ylva Johansson, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, the chief executives of American Airlines, United Airlines, Lufthansa and International Airlines Group requested "the safe and swift restoration of air travel between the United States and Europe."
Coronavirus in Scotland: Quarantine rules lifted for travel to Spain
People who travel to Scotland from Spain will no longer have to go into quarantine for 14 days on arrival. The change, coming in later this week, was sanctioned after a review of infection rates in mainland Spain and the Spanish islands. The move opens the path for Scots to go on holiday in Spain, and for Spaniards to travel to Scotland. Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said further countries could yet be added to the list of "air bridge" destinations. But he warned that Covid-19 was "still active and still deadly" and added that further changes would only be made when it was "safe to do so".
Mike Pompeo attacks WHO in private meeting during UK visit
The US secretary of state Mike Pompeo launched an extraordinary attack on the World Health Organization during a private meeting in the UK, accusing it of being in the pocket of China and responsible for “dead Britons” who passed away during the pandemic. Pompeo told those present that he believed the WHO was “political not a science-based organisation” and accused its current director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of being too close to Beijing. Those present at the meeting on Tuesday said that Pompeo told his audience of 20 MPs and peers that he was saying “on a firm intelligence foundation, a deal was made” with China to allow Tedros to win election in 2017.
Russia, hit by coronavirus crisis, considers military spending cuts
President Vladimir Putin has called for better living standards and investment in healthcare and education. Some government officials have called for lower military spending to free up funds for such initiatives. Military expenditures have increased under Putin, but the Kremlin said in 2018 that Russia would cut its defence budget to less than 3% of GDP within the next five years. Exact figures for military funding are considered a state secret in Russia, but in 2018 the defence ministry said 20 trillion roubles ($282 billion) had been earmarked for the construction of military infrastructure under a new armament programme for 2018-2027. The World Bank expects the Russian economy to contract by 6% this year.
Australia extends support amid COVID-19 outbreak [Video]
Australia will spend nearly $12 billion U.S. dollars to extend support for jobs by another six months helping to prop up businesses hit by the global health crisis. In an annoucement on Tuesday (July 21), leader Scott Morrison warned the support payments would continue, but be scaled down: "So our plan for those who aren't in a job is to help them get into a job or train them for a job. Our plan for those who are on JobKeeper in a business that is still eligible for that, is to maintain that support." The reduced payments for fulltime workers will be just over $1,000 dollars, a fortnight.
Hong Kong lockdown warning as Covid-19 cases spike, with 73 new infections
Hong Kong will have to impose a lockdown if the resurging number of coronavirus infections keeps rising, health authorities have warned, after 73 cases emerged on Monday following a record high at the weekend. In a sign of the toll the escalating health crisis is taking on medical workers, authorities admitted overworked staff at a laboratory had wrongly entered data that resulted in a woman mistakenly testing positive for the virus and sent to an isolation ward in hospital, while another patient with Covid-19 tested negative, although she was already being treated in seclusion. The government is ramping up its strategy to contain the spread of the disease, including requiring people to wear masks indoors at public venues and ordering civil servants to work from home. With isolation beds at public hospitals now approaching capacity, authorities are prepared to impose a lockdown.
Maintaining Services
Peru Restaurants Resume Operations as COVID Lockdown Lifts
Restaurants in Peru are accepting diners for the first time since closing four months ago at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March. Under new guidelines, businesses on Monday resumed operations at 40% capacity. Tables were required to be at least two meters apart. Ruben Espinoza, chef and manager of the Punto Marisko restaurant, said he is excited about the reopening even if it's only at 40% of restaurant capacity because it's a start. The reopening of restaurants in the upscale Miraflores tourist district in the capital, Lima, attracted few diners as businesses begin to recover from the economic crisis created by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
British ministers hold first face-to-face cabinet in months
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held his first face-to-face cabinet meeting of top ministers in more than four months on Tuesday, seeking to lead by example as he encourages Britons to return to work and revive the coronavirus-hit economy. The weekly meeting inside Johnson’s Downing Street office was replaced with video conference calls when the COVID-19 crisis threatened to run out of control. But in recent weeks Johnson has called on people to return to their workplaces, concerned that the economy, poised for recession, could be crushed over the long term by a lockdown that has kept millions at home for several months. Supplied with hand sanitizer and individual bottles of water, ministers were asked to attend a socially-distanced meeting, spaced out around a vast rectangle of tables inside a grand chamber in the foreign office. “Welcome to the Locarno Suite, which is the foreign office’s idea of a modest seminar room,” Johnson joked at the start of the meeting.
Botched U.K. Lockdown Exit Risks Making Disabled ‘Shielders’ Second-Class Citizens
A leading pan-disability charity is warning that U.K. government plans to restart public life and the economy after lockdown could represent the genesis of a segregated society, in which disabled people are shut away and unable to participate. On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke of the potential for a “significant return to normality from November at the earliest - possibly in time for Christmas.” Though, as a result of lockdown, the U.K. Covid-19 daily death figure has decreased steadily over the past few weeks, globally, the number of new infections over a 24-hour period broke all previous records over the weekend, soaring to almost 260,000.
Local lockdowns will likely happen soon, says Belgian expert
As Belgium’s coronavirus figures are still rising, local lockdowns are likely to be implemented very quickly, said biostatistics professor Geert Molenberghs on Tuesday. It is advisable that some regions go into lockdown again soon, Molenberghs said on MNM radio. If that does not happen, the country is heading for a second, more drastic total lockdown, according to him.
Coronavirus: 200 outbreaks hit Spain as more tourists go on holiday
Spain has been hit with at least 200 coronavirus outbreaks since it lifted its lockdown a month ago. The spike in cases since measures were eased on June 21 has fuelled fears there may be a second wave of the disease, MailOnline reports. And it comes as more tourists – including from the UK – are starting to fly out to its beaches for a holiday. Prime minister Pedro Sanchez has warned repeatedly of the dangers of a second wave, saying last month that ‘we must avoid it at all costs’.
Healthcare Innovations
Coronavirus: Scientists call for caution after study suggests warm weather reduces severity of Covid-19
Scientists have called for caution over a new study that suggests the severity of Covid-19 may be reduced during the warmer months of the year, and that dry indoor air may encourage its spread. Researchers from King’s College London analysed data from 6,914 patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in Croatia, Spain, Italy, Finland, Poland, Germany, the UK and China. They mapped this against local temperature and estimated indoor humidity and found that severe outcomes – being taken to hospital, admittance to ICU or the need for ventilation – dropped in most European countries over the course of the pandemic, covering the transition from winter to early summer.
Antibody study finds coronavirus infections may have been 10 times higher in Bay Area
Nearly ten times as many Bay Area residents had been infected with the coronavirus by the end of April than the official tally at the time, according to a new federal study that analyzed antibody tests to determine how widespread the virus was across a handful of United States hot spots. The study underscores just how deficient testing for the virus was in the early weeks of the pandemic, when the vast majority of cases were never identified. At the same time, it provides further evidence that aggressive shelter-in-place orders protected much of the Bay Area, where researchers estimate only about 1% of all residents had been infected by the time the study was done. That number is surely higher now with the outbreak surging again
India coronavirus: Nearly one in four in Delhi had Covid-19, study says
Nearly one in four residents in India's capital, Delhi, has been exposed to coronavirus infection, antibody tests on a random sample of people suggest. The government survey said 23.48% of the 21,387 people whose blood samples were tested had Covid-19 antibodies. It suggests that infections in the city are much more widespread than the number of confirmed cases indicates. Delhi has so far recorded 123,747 cases, equivalent to less than 1% of its population of 19.8 million. At 23.44%, the number of infections would be 4.65 million in a city that size. A government press release says the difference shows that "a large number of infected persons remain asymptomatic". It even says the figure of 23.48% may be too low because Delhi has several pockets of dense population. But it adds that "a significant proportion of the population is still vulnerable" and all safety measures must be strictly followed.
Controversial 'human challenge' trials for COVID-19 vaccines gain support
The volunteers come from an advocacy group, 1Day Sooner, that has signed up more than 30,000 people from 140 countries. The group, co-founded by a 22-year-old, organized an open letter that was signed by 15 Nobel laureates and 100 other prominent researchers, ethicists, and philosophers, which it sent to U.S. National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins on 15 July. The letter urged the U.S. government “to undertake immediate preparations for human challenge trials” in young, healthy people, who are less likely to suffer severe disease from COVID-19. Among the signatories was Adrian Hill of the University of Oxford, whose lab developed one of the leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates and plans to produce virus strains that could be used in the trials.
Coronavirus: 'Infection here for many years to come'
The UK will be living with coronavirus for many years to come and even a vaccine is unlikely to eliminate it for good, experts are warning. Wellcome Trust director Prof Sir Jeremy Farrar told the House of Commons' Health Committee "things will not be done by Christmas". He went on to say humanity would be living with the virus for "decades". It comes after the prime minister said last week he hoped for a return to normality by Christmas. Boris Johnson made the comments as he set out plans to further ease restrictions, including the opening of leisure centres and indoor swimming pools later this month and the prospect of mass gatherings being allowed from the autumn. But experts giving evidence to the cross-party group of MPs said it was important to be realistic that the virus would still be here. Sir Jeremy, a member of Sage, the government advisory body, said the world would be living with Covid-19 for "very many, many years to come". "Things will not be done by Christmas. This infection is not going away, it's now a human endemic infection.
Oxford academic dismisses idea of deliberately infecting volunteers with Covid-19 to test vaccine
Professor Sarah Gilbert said it would not be safe for them to do a 'challenge trial.' No drug has been proven to stop the disease progressing, only to reduce death. The trial will need to rely on seeing whether vaccinated people catch the coronavirus in the community, which scientists fear will take too long. But Professor Gilbert is still confident in the end of year target
Genes May Influence COVID-19 Risk, New Studies Hint
As COVID-19 continues its fateful march around the globe, researchers have seen patterns of characteristics tied to bad cases of the disease. Increased age, diabetes, heart disease and lifelong experiences of systemic racism have come into focus as risk factors. Now some connections to certain genes are also emerging, although the links are fuzzier. Combing through the genome, researchers have tied COVID-19 severity and susceptibility to some genes associated with the immune system’s response, as well as a protein that allows the disease-causing SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus into our cells. They have also turned up links between risk and a person’s blood type—A, B, AB or O. The findings are not cut-and-dried, however. Scientists caution that even valid effects may be small, although knowledge about genes involved in serious disease outcomes may help to identify therapeutic drugs. Complicating the work are the effects of social and economic inequalities that also increase risk and tend to be concentrated in populations with specific ethnic backgrounds and ancestries