Coronavirus Alerts

Kent Bylines - Europe, Environment, Health, Education, Farming, Democracy.

School’s ‘Big Bang’ opening is a bad move
Pete Morgan: There is no caution in sending 10 million people back at once to crowded schools on 8 March, as in Johnson’s ‘Big Bang’ strategy, especially when we see that schools in Wales and Scotland begun a phased return this week. Indeed, Independent Sage stated last week, “the return to school should be phased rather than all at once.”

Covid is now spreading fastest among primary age children and young people according to research, and whilst cases of Covid infection are falling, they are three times higher now than when schools re-opened last September. Reopening all schools at once will again increase infections, could reverse all the gains of lockdown, and prove to be another costly Johnson error. Information from the US also indicates that teachers play a significant part in spreading the infection.

‘It’s a cocktail of dangers’
Pete Morgan: In anticipation of the return of school children the RMT union representing bus drivers are warning of “increased dangers for bus driver safety” and demanding the government enforce safer working conditions for bus workers. The latest Office of National Statistics data shows bus drivers suffer from poor crowding and lack of social distancing placing drivers at greater risk.

“High infection rates, new variants of Covid, combined with a mass return to school and poor enforcement of face mask wearing and social distancing, could represent a cocktail of dangers and greater risks for our drivers,” says the RMT’s General Secretary Mick Cash and he demands greater enforcement of safety measures.

Vaccine support surges ‘massively,’ but Brexit voters less likely to take it – study shows
LBC: A new study from Oxford University suggests over three quarters of people in the UK are now “very likely” to take the Covid vaccine, but Leave voters are seven percentage points less likely to take it than Remainers.

People who wear glasses ‘up to three times less likely to catch Covid’
Metro: People who wear glasses may be two to three times less likely to catch Covid-19, according to a new study. Researchers in India sampled 304 coronavirus patients at a hospital in Kanpur Dehat, Uttar Pradesh, and found 58 of them (19 per cent) consistently wore spectacles during the daytime.

Oxford vaccine ‘cuts hospital admissions by 94% after four weeks’
Metro: One dose of the Oxford vaccine cuts hospitalisations by up to 94%, four weeks after being jabbed, new research from Scotland suggests. The Pfizer vaccine also substantially reduces the risk of being admitted to hospital by up to 85% after the same period, according to the first study on a country-wide effect of vaccines in the community.

EU ‘catching up’ with UK Covid vaccination rollout – Von der Leyen
The Guardian: The EU is “catching up” with the UK’s coronavirus vaccination programme, the European commission president has insisted as Hungary’s government started to administer a Chinese vaccine in the face of shortages. A lack of doses among the EU member states continues to blight national plans, with Belgium the latest to warn of “serious delays” to its schedule, with vaccination of people over 65 postponed to the end of March.

Hungary starts using China’s coronavirus vaccine in EU first
France24: Hungary has become the first EU nation to start using China’s Sinopharm vaccine against the coronavirus, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said.

Why is the EU running into so many difficulties with its Covid vaccine campaign?
The Guardian: Europe has a long and ignoble anti-vaxxer tradition, often fuelled by anti-establishment politics

AstraZeneca says it will have no vaccine supply shortfall in second quarter, EU wary
Reuters: AstraZeneca will deliver 180 million COVID-19 vaccines to Europe in the second quarter, including 20 million to Italy, the head of its Italian unit was quoted as saying on Thursday, but EU officials remained wary about supply.

UK fashion faces challenges from the pandemic and BrexitCGTN: Stylist turned designer Deborah Latouche is not just dealing with the pandemic. She has concerns about how the changes brought about by Brexit will impact her dealings with European Union countries. Like the UK’s fishing, car and music industries, the fashion and textile sector is grappling with big changes in the way trade is done with Britain’s closest international market.

Coronavirus vaccine: Did Pfizer put profit first?
The global pharmaceutical industry was able to develop multiple COVID-19 vaccines in record time. But has profit been put over human lives?

COVID: AstraZeneca vaccine remains unpopular in Germany
In Germany, everyone who wants a coronavirus vaccine should receive one by September. But this plan will only work if millions of people accept the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca.

Damage to the heart found in more than half of COVID-19 patients discharged from hospital
Around 50% of patients who have been hospitalised with severe COVID-19 and who show raised levels of a protein called troponin have damage to their hearts. The injury was detected by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans at least a month after discharge, according to new findings published in the European Heart Journal by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

First COVID-19 lockdown cost UK hospitality and high street £45 billion in turnover, Cambridge University researchers estimate
The UK’s first national lockdown and its immediate aftermath saw a massive shift in consumer habits.A new study from the universities of Cambridge and Newcastle used data from the ONS to compare retail, hospitality and online sales in the UK between March and August 2020 with average figures for the same months for the years 2010-2019.

Simply Speaking While Infected Can Potentially Spread COVID-19
COVID-19 can spread from asymptomatic but infected people through small aerosol droplets in their exhaled breath. Most studies of the flow of exhaled air have focused on coughing or sneezing; however, speaking while near one another is also risky.

Chris Whitty ‘very unhappy’ with PM’s ‘big bang’ schools reopening plan
Chris Whitty has clashed with Boris Johnson over his ‘big bang’ plan to reopen schools in one go, it has been reported. Whitty is said to be unimpressed over a plan for 10 million children and staff to return to school at the same time. Education sources told The Guardian he is reluctant to put his name to a public show of support for the policy – though No 10 has denied this.

Coronavirus Scotland: British variant mutates spontaneously leaving experts worried
Scientists are concerned once again by the UK variant of coronavirus because it appears to have mutated to a new strain. The mutation is already present in both South African and Brazilian coronavirus variants and experts believe it could have an impact on the effectiveness of some Covid-19 vaccines.

New study reveals Pfizer vaccine is 85% effective after one dose
The first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine is 85% effective, a study of Israeli healthcare workers shows.

EU approves 23 further requests to export vaccines
The European Union said it has approved a further 23 requests to ship Covid-19 vaccines to other parts of the world under the bloc’s new export-licencing regime, bringing the total to 27.