"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 27th Jul 2020

Isolation Tips
Police call-outs to mental health incidents in Edinburgh soar during coronavirus lockdown
An FOI request to Police Scotland has revealed that mental health call-outs during the lockdown soared when compared with last year
Covid-19 news on WeChat and Weibo is stressing out Chinese netizens, study shows
Reading news about the pandemic on social media is leading to depression, anxiety and stress, according a survey of 3,070 social media users in China. The study was a part of the annual Development Report on New Media in China from the Institute of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and the Social Sciences Academic Press (China) released on July 22. It concluded that the more social media users are immersed in stories about the pandemic, the worse they feel.
Hygiene Helpers
Rich country vaccine rush threatens supply security
The resulting patchwork of agreements has raised big questions about global vaccine access and stoked wrangles over pricing, supply security and liability for possible side-effects. “On the positive side, bilateral deals between countries and companies can drive forward the science and clinical development — and expand the world’s manufacturing capacity,” said Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi, a UN-backed alliance that buys and distributes vaccines in more than 50 of the world’s poorest countries. “But . . . you [also] end up with unnecessary competition, shortages of supplies and a failure to optimise a pipeline that should make the best vaccines available at scale as quickly as possible.”
Covid-19, Coronavirus and Virus Risks: How Do People Avoid It?
For the most part, SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, spreads by close personal contact via tiny particles emitted when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks, sings -- or even just breathes normally. These can infect another person by falling into an eye, nose or mouth, by being inhaled or getting stuck on a hand and transferred to one of these entry sites. Here’s an explanation of the established route of contagion and other pathways under investigation.
Man-made noise fell by 50% during worldwide coronavirus lockdowns
Global ground vibrations – generated by human activities such as air and road traffic and industrial work, dropped by an average of 50% between March and May 2020, researchers say. Scientists suggest the ‘drastic’ drop in seismic background noise, brought on by Covid-19 lockdown measures around the world, represents the ‘longest and most prominent global seismic noise reduction in recorded history’. The reduction gave geoscientists the chance to spot natural events such as small earthquakes that may have otherwise remained undetected, especially during daytime when there is more human activity. The researchers believe their findings, published in the journal Science, could help scientists find ways to predict upcoming natural disasters.
US agency vows steps to address COVID-19 inequalities
If Black, Hispanic and Native Americans are hospitalized and killed by the coronavirus at far higher rates than others, shouldn’t the government count them as high risk for serious illness? That seemingly simple question has been mulled by federal health officials for months. And so far the answer is no. But federal public health officials have released a new strategy that vows to improve data collection and take steps to address stark inequalities in how the disease is affecting Americans. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stress that the disproportionately high impact on certain minority groups is not driven by genetics. Rather, it’s social conditions that make people of color more likely to be exposed to the virus and — if they catch it — more likely to get seriously ill.
How Sweden, Uruguay, Japan and Israel Reopened Schools During COVID-19 Pandemic
As American school officials debate when it will be safe for schoolchildren to return to classrooms, looking abroad may offer insights. Nearly every country in the world shuttered their schools early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have since sent students back to class, with varying degrees of success. I am a scholar of comparative international education. For this article, I examined what happened in four countries where K-12 schools either stayed open throughout the pandemic or have resumed in-person instruction, using press reports, national COVID-19 data and academic studies.
Surge in single-use PPE feeds 'toxic' pandemic waste crisis | Free to read
A study published on Thursday forecasts that the flow of plastic into oceans would nearly treble by 2040 to 29m tonnes per year if much greater action was not taken by governments and industry. “We’re getting ourselves deeper and deeper into a plastics hole without knowing where any of it is going,” said Martin Stuchtey, managing partner at SystemIQ, a sustainability group that co-authored the report. Much of the PPE used around the world is single-use by design and can contain a range of different plastics, from polypropylene and polyethylene in face masks and gowns to nitrile, vinyl and latex in gloves.
Jharkhand’s ‘no mask’ penalty – up to Rs 1 lakh; here’s how other states are dealing with Covid rule violators
In view of the surge in coronavirus cases, Jharkhand Cabinet Wednesday approved Jharkhand Contagious Disease Ordinance under which penalty up to Rs 1 lakh and a jail term up to 2 years can be imposed against violators.
Why Texas is losing its fight against Coronavirus
Warning signs were there, and some experts were already worried. Face masks were only encouraged — not required — in public places where maintaining physical distance from others wasn’t possible. Because Texas had imposed one of the shortest lockdowns nationwide, it hadn’t had much time to suppress cases and build up testing capacity. And it hadn’t achieved a two-week decline in cases, one of the key benchmarks states were supposed to hit before reopening. Memorial Day weekend didn’t bode any better: Bars in Austin blew past their 25 percent capacity limits; maskless patrons stood shoulder to shoulder. Partygoers crammed into a swimming pool at one club in Houston. City authorities there received more than 200 complaints about social distancing violations in a matter of days. The weekend crowds left public health officials uneasy. They urged Texans to remain vigilant about practicing social distancing and wearing masks for their benefit and that of their neighbors. But the fatigue of the shutdown combined with inconsistent public health messaging at a federal, state, and local level had made people complacent, Umair Shah, executive director of the Harris County health department, said. “Early on, we fought this virus successfully. We did feel like we had made progress,” he said. “But then you started seeing images of people, especially young people, at parties and in pools and not respecting the fact that we were in the midst of a pandemic. ... If you just take your eyes off the ball for just a moment, that’s when it overwhelms the community.”
Torino tests out anti-virus gate for stadium access
Torino tested out an automated anti-virus gate before its match against Hellas Verona in Italy’s top soccer division Wednesday. The device, called Feel Safe, measures match goers’ body temperature and uses facial recognition software to verify that a mask is being worn properly. It also sprays match goers with disinfectant. Capable of being set to three different safety levels, the system sends an alarm to stadium personnel when any parameter is not met. The gate is designed to speed up the entrance of fans to stadiums. Although with fans still not permitted to attend games in Italy, it was tested on journalists and other stadium personnel.
Medics say they are not prepared to tackle Covid
The medics said they have not been properly trained on handling Covid-19, lack the appropriate protective gear and most are now experiencing burnout. Clinical officers’ union chairman Peterson Wachira said medics are at high risk of getting the disease because they don’t have adequate protective gear.
Community Activities
UK campaigners call for action to tackle surge in Covid-19 fly-tipping
“I’ve never seen outrage like it,” said local Scottish Labour councillor Paul Carey, in regards to the community response to this “industrial scale” fly-tipping. “Locals are really concerned about the environmental impact as well as the immediate hazard. It’s in the middle of a residential area and if it went on fire you’d have toxic fumes right across their homes,” he said. But although he described this particular case as extraordinary, he mentioned several other sites in his ward where similar waste piles are building up. “I suspect unscrupulous individuals have seen lockdown as an opportunity to make some money, and perhaps told businesses that they can dispose of waste in a legitimate way but then dumped it,” Carey said.
Working Remotely
Coronavirus turns the City into a ghost town
While the government guidance comes into effect this week, most executives are sticking to their policies of gradually restoring office numbers. Many companies will start bringing back a skeleton-staff in September or October, but others do not plan to return until 2021 at the earliest. Coronavirus is threatening to permanently transform the traditional workplace and with it London’s semi-autonomous financial centre, which traces its roots back to 1376. Many of the executives who spoke to the Financial Times said some staff would not return at all given the success of homeworking during the lockdown.
The Coronavirus Turns Midtown Into a Ghost Town, Causing an Economic Crisis
Editors and account managers at the Time & Life Building in Midtown Manhattan could once walk out through the modernist lobby and into a thriving ecosystem that existed in support of the offices above. They could shop for designer shirts or shoes, slide into a steakhouse corner booth for lunch and then return to their desks without ever crossing the street. To approach this block today is like visiting a relative in the hospital. The building, rebranded a few years ago and renovated to fit 8,000 workers, now has just 500 a day showing up. The steakhouse dining rooms are dark.
Risk of ‘unrest’ if civil servants are forced into hasty return to office
Boris Johnson’s hopes of getting people to return to work from 1 August are in serious doubt as the UK’s biggest civil service union warns of “serious industrial unrest” if public servants across the country are pushed to return to their offices too early. The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which has 200,000 members, has reacted furiously after being told at a private meeting in Downing Street on Thursday that the Cabinet Office’s permanent secretary, Alex Chisholm, has written to all Whitehall departments, asking them to report back on how they could get more people to return as early as next month.
Coronavirus: What would working from home in Barbados really be like?
That could be a real prospect under a new scheme launched by the government of Barbados. The Barbados Welcome Stamp, which has just started taking applications, gives international visitors the opportunity to work remotely on the island for up to a year. Palm trees, sun, and blue skies sound like a dream to many, but even stunning locations have their pros and cons, especially during a pandemic. So what can remote workers expect if they take up the tempting offer?
With Coronavirus Still Prevalent, How Will People Return To The Office?
The prominent consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) published the results of a recent survey of more than 1000 American workers. According to the results, “Fewer than half (47%) of employees who were forced to stop working or work remotely say safety measures like wearing masks or reconfiguring layouts to promote physical distancing will make them more comfortable returning to the office. Only 45% say requiring customers to follow safety and hygiene practices will make them more comfortable. Even mandatory testing, like temperature checks before allowing people on-site, doesn’t inspire confidence.” These results indicate an already prevalent sentiment across the country (and likely across the world): workers are significantly worried about their safety, especially when exploring the idea of venturing back into the office.
Op-ed: More companies will offer remote work at price of staff position. Take the deal
With the sudden, massive shift to remote work to stop the spread of the pandemic over the past few months, companies have found that working from home actually works: A recent study concluded that up to 40% of all jobs can be performed at home, while before the pandemic, it’s estimated that only 3% actually could be done remotely.
Virtual Classrooms
School heads and teachers in Croatia satisfied with online classes
At the start of this month the Ministry of Science and Education conducted two surveys on the efficiency of online classes during the coronavirus outbreak, which showed a generally high level of satisfaction with remote classes, the ministry said earlier this week. One survey covered school heads and the other teachers and expert assistants, and both returned positive results. The survey for school heads was carried out after the school year was over, in late June and early July, with 1,106 primary and secondary schools responding to it, which is about 85% of all schools in the country. The survey for teachers and expert assistants was conducted in virtual classrooms. It covered 3,791 respondents, whose participation was voluntary and anonymous.
Tennessee teachers call for schools to start online amid ongoing coronavirus spikes
Tennessee teachers are calling for schools to reopen for online instruction only next month amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis across the state. Nashville's teachers union, the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association, is hosting a mock funeral procession, or "die-in," Monday evening "mourning the loss of effective leadership," according to the group's Facebook page. The group is demanding that students and teachers not go physically back into classrooms until each county has gone at least 14 days without new confirmed COVID-19 cases.
‘Home-Schooling Won’t Kill Us. Covid-19 Might.’
“Of all the American institutions the pandemic has shut down, none face pressure to reopen quite like schools do,” Sarah Darville writes in this week’s Sunday Review. In the past few weeks we’ve heard from multiple contributors, columnists and the editorial board about whether or not schools should reopen for in-person classes this fall. And in the thousands of comments on these pieces, parents and teachers weighed the dangers and the repercussions of continued virtual learning.
Virtual Summer School gets New Zealand's perspective of Covid-19
The deputy director for general data and digital at New Zealand’s Ministry of Health has said the coronavirus pandemic in the country has been a “wild ride” but there is “still a lot more to do”. Speaking on day two of the Digital Health Virtual Summer School, Shayne Hunter spoke to attendees in an early morning session about New Zealand’s digital response to Covid-19. Hunter said that though the country has seen “very few deaths” and that social distancing was very limited, it could not become complacent. “It has been a wild ride but there is still a lot more to do,” he said. Hunter explained how early emphasis was placed on having a data platform which could help make sure the country had an “early warning for potential outbreaks” as well as digital inclusion which saw free internet being provided in homes and free mobile data for medical use. New Zealand also developed a contact-tracing platform which they created by taking “an existing platform for bowel screening and re-platforming it”.
Rise of the 'Zutors': private Zoom tutors spark controversy as virtual school year looms
As US school districts finalize plans for the fall semester and classes in some districts are set to remain online, some parents have begun teaming up to form “pods” with other families and arrange their own forms of education. The arrangements come in different forms, from Katz’s expensive, boutique service to families considering renting apartment space to serve as a home base for DIY “microschools”, to less formal arrangements that enlist the help of virtual tutors who can supplement online instruction for a couple of hours a week. The rise of these arrangements is a testament to the desperate worry of many parents over their children’s health and academic development amid unprecedented school closures. But it has also raised questions about whether these kinds of arrangements exacerbate longstanding patterns of segregation and inequity in education.
Public Policies
Arrivals to the UK from Spain must quarantine for two weeks
Anyone arriving in the UK from Spain must quarantine for 14 days, it has been announced, after the government reacted to a spike in the country's cases of coronavirus. Spain has been removed from the government’s list of safe countries to travel to, the Department for Transport confirmed, meaning anyone arriving from there must self-isolate for two weeks. Spain is feared to be "already" tackling its second wave of coronavirus, one of the country's leading experts warned, and restrictions have been reimposed there in an attempt to stem a new spike in cases. As such, the Foreign Commonwealth Office is advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain
Grant Shapps: Transport secretary on holiday in Spain mocked for being among Britons forced to quarantine
The Transport Secretary is among the British holidaymakers who will be forced to self-isolate upon their return home from Spain. Grant Shapps is currently on holiday with his family in the country which was removed from the Government’s coronavirus travel corridor this weekend. Mr Shapps is believed to have flown out on Saturday morning when the so-called air bridge with Spain remained open. However, just hours later, his own department announced the decision to alter its advice to British tourists, meaning they will now have to quarantine for two weeks when they arrive back in the UK.
Same individuals getting MTA funds for summer parties, amid health concerns
While much of the public is angry that mass events continue to be held in Malta, despite the risk of the spread of coronavirus, those individuals under scrutiny by the Public Accounts Committee continue to profit from large events planned for this summer, regardless of public health concerns. Hotel Takeover, a recently held weekend pool party, has turned into a nationwide wakeup call. Following a number of days without reporting any new COVID-19 cases, health authorities issued a worrying statement confirming that at least six new cases were diagnosed among those attending the pool party. This was the highest number of infections in July. The pool party left many people angry because of the lack of proper guidelines for those hosting these events, with many arguing on social media that mass events should be banned to avoid a surge in COVID-19 cases in Malta. Members of the public were already concerned about the influx of tourists from countries where the number of infected people was significant.
Obesity: Unhealthy 'buy one get one free' deals targeted
The plan will also include restrictions on where foods high in fat and sugar can be promoted in store and new rules for displaying calories on menus. A ban on junk food adverts before 21:00 has been confirmed - for the whole UK. Boris Johnson said the plans would help "reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against coronavirus". The prime minister will unveil the strategy later amid growing evidence of a link between obesity and an increased risk from Covid-19. Government statistics showed nearly 8% of critically ill patients in intensive care units with the virus have been morbidly obese, compared with 2.9% of the general population.
Anti-obesity campaign: PM plans 'on yer bike' crusade to help overweight Britons get fit
Boris Johnson is to tell millions of overweight Britons to get on a bike to shed the pounds and survive COVID-19. Launching a massive anti-obesity campaign, the prime minister will order GPs to prescribe cycling to lose weight as he attempts to put the nation on a diet. Some patients will be able to gain access to a bike through their doctor's surgery and the government will provide more cycle lanes, traffic curbs and parking for bicycles.
South Africa Schools to Close for 4 Weeks to Curb Coronavirus
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said schools were closing for four weeks to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, which he described as a storm hitting the country. The school closing order comes a week after teachers unions urged authorities to close schools through August, citing the increase in coronavirus cases. South Africa currently has the fifth-highest total of COVID-19 infections in the world, with more than 400,000. Ramaphosa said the school closures begin Monday and classes will resume on August 24 for most students. However, Ramaphosa said Grade 12 teachers and students will take only a one-week break, while students in Grade 7 will resume classes after two weeks.
Coronavirus: PM to set out strategy to tackle obesity in UK
Boris Johnson will set out his strategy to tackle obesity on Monday - including a 12-week plan for people to lose weight and GPs prescribing cycling. It comes after Public Health England research found that being overweight or obese puts people at greater risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19. Ministers estimate that about two-thirds of adults in the UK are above a healthy weight. Labour said "radical action" on obesity was long overdue. It is not yet clear how much new money will be allocated to the anti-obesity drive.
Crematorium fees for COVID-19 victims in Bengaluru waived: Karnataka govt
The Karnataka government on Saturday announced waiver of crematorium fees for those who succumb to the COVID-19 infection in Bengaluru and said the city civic body would bear the cost. It said that from now on, families of the COVID deceased need not pay any fees fixed by the city civic body- Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP)- across 12 electric crematoriums in the city. "There were reports in the media about difficulties faced in performing the last rites of those who died due to COVID-19 infections. Aimed at resolving those difficulties, certain decisions have been taken," Revenue Minister R Ashoka said. He told reporters here that BBMP had fixed Rs 250 as the cremation fee, Rs 100 for the ash collection pot and Rs 900 for the bier (bamboo stretcher on which the body is carried), all of which have been waived for COVID-19 deaths.
Dining at restaurants banned entirely as Hong Kong tightens Covid-19 rules
Dining at Hong Kong restaurants will be banned entirely starting from Wednesday as part of a new round of social-distancing measures amid a sustained run of daily triple-digit infections. The news comes as the city recorded its 19th Covid-19 death on Monday. The Executive Council, city leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s de fact cabinet, endorsed the tightened social-distancing measures at a morning meeting, including a complete ban on dining at restaurants and a further expansion of compulsory mask wearing to cover outdoor areas. Health officials are expected to announce details of how the new rules will be enforced in the afternoon.
Vietnam bans wildlife imports, markets amid new health fears
Vietnam announced Friday that it was banning wildlife imports and would close wildlife markets in response to renewed concerns about the threat from diseases that can jump from animals to humans, such as the virus that causes COVID-19. An order signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Thursday bans all imports of wildlife dead or alive and includes eggs and larvae. It also merits tougher penalties for crimes involving the trade in wildlife. Vietnam has been a popular destination for wildlife products — often from endangered species — that are used in traditional medicine or in preparing exotic cuisine. The move comes amid increased scrutiny of the health risks of the wildlife trade as the world deals with the new coronavirus, which is thought to have jumped from animals to humans.
UK could eliminate the coronavirus but it might do more harm than good
Becoming a covid-19-free zone sounds like the ultimate goal for any nation. Several countries around the world have come pretty close and, according to a group of independent scientists, the UK could join them. The group says that, as an island nation, the UK could introduce specific measures over the next year and follow in the footsteps of other island success stories, such as Iceland, Taiwan and New Zealand. But closer scrutiny reveals that no country has truly eliminated the coronavirus from its shores and that doing so would mean making such large sacrifices in other areas of public well-being that it might not be worth it. Earlier this month, Independent SAGE – a self-appointed group of scientists that provides advice with the intention of guiding UK government policy on the coronavirus – published a report recommending that the UK aims for zero reported cases, known as elimination, within the next 12 months.
How tiny Uruguay, wedged between Brazil and Argentina, has avoided the worst of the coronavirus
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. In June, it became the first country in the region to reopen virtually all public schools. It’s the only country in Latin America from which the European Union will accept visitors.
Maintaining Services
Coronavirus: Will lockdown easing see more of us using rivers?
Figures suggest that more people than ever are heading to Britain's rivers with the easing of lockdown - renewing calls for better public rights of access. It comes as MPs are to consider proposals aimed at opening up the waterways to all. But after recent incidences of littering and overcrowding, there are fears more people on rivers could "cause chaos". Caroline Radford, who began wild swimming in lockdown, says it has helped her mental health.
The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
Scientists have learned to project such changes around the world with surprising precision, but — until recently — little has been known about the human consequences of those changes. As their land fails them, hundreds of millions of people from Central America to Sudan to the Mekong Delta will be forced to choose between flight or death. The result will almost certainly be the greatest wave of global migration the world has seen.
Coronavirus has made the season ticket obsolete
The mаjority of workers who аre returning to the office аre going bаck pаrt time, аnd аre stuck between а seаson ticket thаt they don’t need, or expensive single dаy tickets thаt they cаn’t reаlly аfford. A letter from 16 MPs to the Depаrtment for Trаnsport lаst week showed the wаy the wind is blowing. Trаin compаnies need to offer а trаvel cаrd thаt is аdаpted to the wаy people live аnd work now, they аrgued, becаuse quite а substаntiаl number of their constituents will be “flexi-working”.
Covid-19: Cook Islands to New Zealand air-bridge delayed again
The Cook Islands and New Zealand governments have again delayed announcing details of an air-bridge between the two countries. The New Zealand Cabinet was understood to be discussing plans today for the first relaxation of the borders of New Zealand and Cook Islands, expected in a matter of weeks. But hopes Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would announce details at her post-Cabinet press conference this evening, have been dashed - for the third week in a row. Cook Islands' Tourism Industry Council acting president and Muri Beach Club Hotel general manager, Liana Scott, said the delay was a "shame" and renewed calls for a firm date to reopen the borders.
Students back at uni - but with masks and no bars
The first students are beginning to return for face-to-face teaching on UK university campuses - with a new term of compulsory masks and closed bars. Most students won't begin until the autumn, but veterinary students are now back at the University of Nottingham. They are the pioneers for how campuses across the UK could look as they reopen after the Covid-19 lockdown. "The social experience will be more limited, but these are unprecedented times," says registrar Paul Greatrix. The first cohort going back in Nottingham are 150 trainee vets, some of whom will see a great deal of each other - as the university adopts the "bubble" system in which small groups will live as well as study together. The university is calling it "households" rather than "bubbles", but it is the same principle of restricting the spread of infection by keeping people in small groups which are kept separate from each other.
Pittsburgh's virus success fizzles in crowded bars, eateries
Pittsburgh’s story may be inevitable for every part of the United States. It may be a victim of other places that were complacent about containing the virus. In a sharp critique last week, Wolf attacked “a lack of national coordination” that resulted in other states eschewing tough containment measures and spreading the virus back to Pennsylvania: “We don’t want to become Florida. We don’t want to become Texas. We don’t want to become Arizona.”
Beaches, bars, boredom: Why infections are climbing again in D.C., Maryland and Virginia
Washington-area officials are concerned and taking action: The District expanded its mask mandate and ordered people coming from hot spots to quarantine themselves for 14 days, Virginia stepped up enforcement, Maryland’s largest city, Baltimore, suspended indoor dining, and Anne Arundel County, also in Maryland, reimposed size caps for social gatherings. Experts agree that the numbers are alarming, and they say governments would be wise to shut down bars, stop indoor dining and require face coverings in most parts of the region. But they say it is too early to tell whether the three jurisdictions are heading toward a deadly resurgence of the virus — driven mostly by localities outside the immediate Washington area — that would warrant more-drastic measures.
Healthcare Innovations
US ‘failures’ are holding back search for coronavirus drugs
The failure of the US medical system to match this output has meant that other promising treatments that could have been cleared for widespread use have still to be evaluated. In particular, convalescent plasma (blood plasma that is taken from Covid-19 patients and which contains antibodies that could protect others against the disease) has still to be properly tested on a large-scale randomised trial. “Tens of thousands of people have already been given convalescent plasma in the US but these treatments were not randomised,” said Professor Martin Landray, one of the founders of the Recovery programme. “They just give individuals convalescent plasma in the hope it will work. Vast quantities have been given and they still have no idea whether it helps or harms or has no impact,” added Landray, an expert in the setting up of large-scale drug trials.
Gates Says Korean Firm Could Make 200 Million Vaccines by June
SK Bioscience, the South Korean pharmaceutical company backed by Bill Gates, may be capable of producing 200 million coronavirus vaccine kits by next June, the Microsoft Corp. co-founder said in a letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Gates is seeking to cooperate closely with South Korea, the presidential office in Seoul said Sunday, citing the July 20 letter, without elaborating on what else it said.
Your Coronavirus Antibodies Are Disappearing. Should You Care?
Declining antibody levels do not mean less immunity, experts say. Besides, two widely used tests may detect the wrong antibodies. Your blood carries the memory of every pathogen you’ve ever encountered. If you’ve been infected with the coronavirus, your body most likely remembers that, too. Antibodies are the legacy of that encounter. Why, then, have so many people stricken by the virus discovered that they don’t seem to have antibodies? Blame the tests. Most commercial antibody tests offer crude yes-no answers. The tests are notorious for delivering false positives — results indicating that someone has antibodies when he or she does not.
When will coronavirus cases peak? It's getting harder for experts to predict
The changing demographics of the latest outbreaks across the country, combined with inconsistent mitigation strategies by states, are making it more challenging for scientists to predict when the worrying new upward curve may start to level out. “The trends that we see across the U.S. don’t look like they’re peaking anytime soon,” said Loren Lipworth, an epidemiologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. “If these trends continue to go up, I think this wave could continue through the winter.”
German scientists to host series of concerts to test how coronavirus spreads in crowds
Scientists are planning to hold a series of concerts to work out whether it's possible to hold large indoor events without spreading coronavirus. Researchers at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany are recruiting 4,000 volunteers for the "coronavirus experiment" at an indoor stadium in Leipzig with singer Tim Bendzko on August 22. The scientists have warned that "the existence of entire sports and cultural forms is endangered" as a result of banning crowds amid the Covid-19 outbreak. "We are trying to find out if there could be a middle way between the old and the new normal that would allow organisers to fit enough people into a concert venue to not make a loss," the university's head of clinical infectious diseases, Stefan Moritz, who is coordinating the experiment, told The Guardian.
From Iceland — Iceland To Participate In Covid-19 Vaccine Project
In a civil defense information meeting yesterday, it was stated by chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason that Iceland is going to take part in a project led by the World Health Organisation to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus. The project is called COVAX and is an international co-operation lead by the WHO, in coordination with different manufacturers. According to a report from Vísir, the project is intended to support the development of a vaccine and establish overall control over its distribution. By participating, Iceland secures its access to vaccines. Fréttablaðið reports that nine manufacturers have been selected for collaboration and are deemed likely to succeed. Six of them are already in the clinical trail phase of testing their vaccine.
COVID-19 recovery can take a few weeks even for young adults
Recovering from even mild coronavirus infections can take at least two to three weeks, according to U.S. research published Friday. Lingering symptoms can even affect otherwise healthy young adults. Among those aged 18 to 34 with no chronic illness, 1 in 5 were still experiencing COVID-19 symptoms after two to three weeks, the study found. Cough, fatigue and body aches were among the most common persistent symptoms. Most previous research on long-lasting COVID-19 symptoms has focused on sicker hospitalized adults. Only 7% of patients in the new study needed hospital treatment.
Preventing the next pandemic will cost $22.2 billion a year, scientists say
As the world grapples with the toll of the coronavirus pandemic, scientists are warning the funding needed to prevent the next zoonotic disease outbreak is severely lacking — leaving everyone vulnerable. The price tag for protecting and monitoring pristine forests and wildlife trade where diseases emerge is an estimated $22.2 billion to $30.7 billion, according to the report in the journal Science. While hefty, it pales in comparison to the minimum of $8.1 trillion in losses globally resulting from the current pandemic, the report said.