“That great Cathedral space which was childhood”
Virginia Woolf

“Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them.”
Dr. Seuss

“Grown ups are complicated creatures, full of quirks and secrets.”
Roald Dahl

“Grown up, and that is a terribly hard thing to do. It is much easier to skip it and go from one childhood to another.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Childhood

I wanted to send out some poetry around childhood. What I soon realised was that it was not about childhood itself but about our reminiscences and personal interpretations of childhood and an age gone by. For some of us childhood evokes pleasant memories of a time when we had no stresses and worries. A time when we were free and unincumbered by the weight of the world. To others however it was a time that shaped our present persona and in some cases the memories are best left alone and hidden away. Forgive me but I have been carried away somewhat with sentimentality and self-indulgence.
Poets reminisce also and I hope you will enjoy this short selection

Henry Vaughan (1622-95)
Henry Vaughan was a Welsh Metaphysical Poet author, translator and physician, who wrote in English. He is chiefly known for religious poetry contained in Silex Scintillans, published in 1650
‘The Retreat’ focuses on the double meaning of that word, ‘retreat’: both a place of refuge and the act of withdrawal. Childhood is viewed by Vaughan as a happy place, a world of innocence and bliss which the adult Vaughan has lost sight of. Vaughan talks of his mortal life as his ‘second race’, suggesting that our life on Earth follow on from a previous, heavenly existence which we enjoyed before our birth.

The Retreat

Happy those early days! when I
Shined in my angel infancy.
Before I understood this place
Appointed for my second race,
Or taught my soul to fancy aught
But a white, celestial thought;
When yet I had not walked above
A mile or two from my first love,
And looking back, at that short space,
Could see a glimpse of His bright face;
When on some gilded cloud or flower
My gazing soul would dwell an hour,
And in those weaker glories spy
Some shadows of eternity;
Before I taught my tongue to wound
My conscience with a sinful sound,
Or had the black art to dispense
A several sin to every sense,
But felt through all this fleshly dress
Bright shoots of everlastingness.
O, how I long to travel back,
And tread again that ancient track!
That I might once more reach that plain
Where first I left my glorious train,
From whence th’ enlightened spirit sees
That shady city of palm trees.
But, ah! my soul with too much stay
Is drunk, and staggers in the way.
Some men a forward motion love;
But I by backward steps would move,
And when this dust falls to the urn,
In that state I came, return.

Henry Vaughn: The Retreat

Thomas Hood (1799-1845)
Thomas Hood was an English poet, journalist, and humorist whose humanitarian verses, such as “The Song of the Shirt” (1843), served as models for a whole school of social-protest poets, not only in Britain and the United States but in Germany and Russia, where he was widely translated. He also is notable as a writer of comic verse, having originated several durable forms for that genre.
In the poem he wistfully reflects on his childhood with fondness and longing.

I Remember, I Remember

I remember, I remember,
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
He never came a wink too soon,
Nor brought too long a day,
But now, I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away!

I remember, I remember,
The roses, red and white,
The vi’lets, and the lily-cups,
Those flowers made of light!
The lilacs where the robin built,
And where my brother set
The laburnum on his birthday,—
The tree is living yet!

I remember, I remember,
Where I was used to swing,
And thought the air must rush as fresh
To swallows on the wing;
My spirit flew in feathers then,
That is so heavy now,
And summer pools could hardly cool
The fever on my brow!

I remember, I remember,
The fir trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky:
It was a childish ignorance,
But now ’tis little joy
To know I’m farther off from heav’n
Than when I was a boy.

“I Remember, I Remember” by Thomas Hood (read by Tom O’Bedlam)

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was an American poet. Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, into a prominent family with strong ties to its community.
I return to her once more. In this poem “The Child’s Faith is New”
This poem explores the wide-eyed innocence that a child has when they first look out on the world, which eventually gives way to a more jaded cynicism involving a lowering of expectations, especially towards our fellow human beings. When we’re young, we are filled with faith in the world – ‘faith’ in the sense of ‘belief’ (or credulity even) but also in the sense of ‘trust’ and optimism.

The Child’s faith is new

The Child’s faith is new –
Whole – like His Principle –
Wide – like the Sunrise
On fresh Eyes –
Never had a Doubt –
Laughs – at a Scruple –
Believes all sham
But Paradise –

Credits the World –
Deems His Dominion
Broadest of Sovereignties –
And Caesar – mean –
In the Comparison –
Baseless Emperor –
Ruler of Nought –
Yet swaying all –

Grown bye and bye
To hold mistaken
His pretty estimates
Of Prickly Things
He gains the skill
Sorrowful – as certain –
Men – to anticipate
Instead of Kings –

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)
Dylan Thomas was a Welsh poet and writer whose works include the poems “Do not go gentle into that good night” and “And death shall have no dominion” both of which we have already featured in past posts.
This is one of his best loved poems where he revisits his childhood, describing his visits to his aunt’s farm as the focus. It was written in 1945, just after the end of WWII. ‘Fern Hill’ contains some of the most splendid images in all of his poetry. Look at the ‘fire green as grass’, for instance. The poem paints a viual picture which unfolds in front of ones eyes.

Fern Hill

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways,
My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace,

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

“Fern Hill” by Dylan Thomas (read by Sir Anthony Hopkins)

Roger McGough (1937)
Roger Joseph McGough is an English poet, performance poet, broadcaster, children’s author and playwright. He is one of the Mersey poets who we explored in an earlier edition. After meeting Mike McGear and John Gorman, the trio formed the group, “The Scaffold”. The group scored several hit records such as “Lily The Pink”. McGough wrote the lyrics for many of the group’s songs.
McGough was also responsible for much of the humorous dialogue in The Beatles’ animated film, Yellow Submarine, although he did not receive an on-screen credit. At about the same time a selection of his poems was published, along with work from Adrian Henri and Brian Patten, in a best-selling paperback volume of verse entitled The Mersey Sound, first published in 1967, revised in 1983 and again in 2007.
The first day at school is a day that most of us will remember well. We can recall being confused and not knowing what to do. The sight of all those big confident older children was quite daunting and scarry.

First Day at School
A millionbillionwillion miles from home
Waiting for the bell to go. (To go where?)
Why are they all so big, other children?
So noisy? So much at home they
Must have been born in uniform
Lived all their lives in playgrounds
Spent the years inventing games
That don’t let me in. Games
That are rough, that swallow you up.

And the railings.
All around, the railings.
Are they to keep out wolves and monsters?
Things that carry off and eat children?
Things you don’t take sweets from?
Perhaps they’re to stop us getting out
Running away from the lessins. Lessin.
What does a lessin look like?
Sounds small and slimy.
They keep them in the glassrooms.
Whole rooms made out of glass. Imagine.

I wish I could remember my name
Mummy said it would come in useful.
Like wellies. When there’s puddles.
Yellowwellies. I wish she was here.
I think my name is sewn on somewhere
Perhaps the teacher will read it for me.
Tea-cher. The one who makes the tea.
My First Day At School

The Scaffold – Lily The Pink

Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)
Seamus Justin Heaney MRIA was an Irish poet, playwright and translator. He received the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature. Heaney was recognised as one of the principal contributors to poetry during his lifetime. We have encountered him before in previous editions.
Reading the poem, many of us will remember the joy of picking blackberries in the hedgerows as a child (a joy that never goes away) Even now, a big juicy berry is impossible to ignore. The passage of time makes the memory more and more vivid. In the second verse he tells us how disappointing and sad it was to see the fruit rotting and fermenting. When we are young, we expect things to last for ever.

Blackberry-Picking

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.

We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.

Seamus Heaney – Blackberry Picking

John Betjeman (906-1984)
Sir John Betjeman CBE was an English poet, writer, and broadcaster. He was Poet Laureate from 1972 until his death. He was a founding member of the Victorian Society and a passionate defender of Victorian architecture, helping to save Victorian buildings from demolition.
Indoor Games Near Newbury is one of my very favourite poems by Betjeman. It is full of such evocative images of a world long gone away. Please listen to the recording below, recited by Betjman himself. This could be a poem about childhood, adolescence or even adulthood, but to me it is about that magical time of childhood. Again, we remember those parties, with parents watch over us, tables full of cakes and non-alcoholic soft drinks galore. Oh, what a memory of Wendy!

Indoor Games Near Newbury

In among the silver birches,
Winding ways of tarmac wander
And the signs to Bussock Bottom,
Tussock Wood and Windy Break.
Gabled lodges, tile-hung churches
Catch the lights of our Lagonda
As we drive to Wendy’s party,
Lemon curd and Christmas cake

Rich the makes of motor whirring
Past the pine plantation purring
Come up Hupmobile Delage.
Short the way our chauffeurs travel
Crunching over private gravel,
Each from out his warm garage.

O but Wendy, when the carpet
Yielded to my indoor pumps.
There you stood, your gold hair streaming,
Handsome in the hall light gleaming
There you looked and there you led me
Off into the game of Clumps.

Then the new Victrola playing;
And your funny uncle saying
“Choose your partners for a foxtrot.
Dance until it’s tea o’clock
Come on young ‘uns, foot it feetly.”
Was it chance that paired us neatly?
I who loved you so completely.
You who pressed me closely to you,
Hard against your party frock.

“Meet me when you’ve finished eating.”
So we met and no one found us.
O that dark and furry cupboard,
While the rest played hide-and-seek.
Holding hands our two hearts beating.
In the bedroom silence round us
Holding hands and hardly hearing
Sudden footstep, thud and shriek

Love that lay too deep for kissing.
“Where is Wendy? Wendy’s missing.”
Love so pure it had to end.
Love so strong that I was frightened
When you gripped my fingers tight.
And hugging, whispered “I’m your friend.”

Goodbye Wendy. Send the fairies,
Pinewood elf and larch tree gnome.
Spingle-spangled stars are peeping
At the lush Lagonda creeping
Down the winding ways of tarmac
To the leaded lights of home.

There among the silver birches,
All the bells of all the churches
Sounded in the bath-waste running
Out into the frosty air.
Wendy speeded my undressing.
Wendy is the sheet’s caressing
Wendy bending gives a blessing.
Holds me as I drift to dreamland
Safe inside my slumber wear

Sir John Betjeman – Indoor Games Near Newbury

Finally, I give you a link to Dylan Thomas reading his “Child’s Christmas in Wales”
The ultimate childhood memory read by Dylan with is great voice and diction.

Today’s posts

1. South Africa: Daily Maverick: Zweli Mkhize plays down discrepancy in reported deaths
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has downplayed the possible under-reporting of Covid-19 deaths after a study showed thousands of excess natural deaths.
Being a politically astute politician – this savviness goes back to his days as premier of a fractious KwaZulu-Natal – it was unlikely that Health Minister Zweli Mkhize would not respond to the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) reporting a 59% rise in excess natural deaths between May and July compared to historical data.
The possibility of Covid-19 deaths not being accurately recorded would raise yet another spectre in a flailing health system already dealing with crises over a lack of beds, oxygen supplies and personal protective equipment. In addition, there are questions over delays of up to nine days in coronavirus test results and the tracing of contacts of Covid-19 patients.
https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-07-24-zweli-mkhize-plays-down-discrepancy-in-reported-deaths/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=First%20Thing%20TGIF%2024%20July%20Goodleaf&utm_content=First%20Thing%20TGIF%2024%20July%20Goodleaf+CID_3bbd1d2e437f4d966739bda5a7bcc15b&utm_source=TouchBasePro&utm_term=Zweli%20Mkhize%20plays%20down%20discrepancy%20in%20reported%20deaths#gsc.tab=0
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2. The Lancet: In preparation for a COVID-19-influenza double epidemic
WHO reports the worldwide circulation of influenza virus to be much lower than expected for this time of the year. With over 22 million cases and nearly 800 000 deaths due to COVID-19 reported globally at the time of writing and the northern hemisphere entering the influenza season, this low circulation of influenza virus could be matters of both reassurance and concern, warns WHO. The decreased circulation of the virus is likely largely attributable to the mandatory physical distancing and hygiene protocols implemented to curb the spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. However, the potential impact of altered infection testing priorities, health-care personnel capacity, and health seeking behaviours during the pandemic should not be ignored.
“We need to bear in mind that the measures we’re putting in place to control COVID-19 may have some benefits for the flu as well but with the resurgence of COVID-19 there may also be a double epidemic of flu and COVID-19 during the [northern hemisphere] winter,” said Richard Pebody (WHO Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen, Denmark). “All what we can do about it is to be ready and prepared with a range of measures we’ve got in our community ammunition box,” he added.
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanmic/article/PIIS2666-5247(20)30130-0/fulltext
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India: The Lancet: Is India missing COVID-19 deaths?
Experts have questioned shortcomings and lack of clarity in vital registration, testing practices, and classification of COVID-19 deaths. Patralekha Chatterjee reports from New Delhi. India has had 3·6 million cases of COVID-19, the third most in the world after the USA and Brazil, with 65 288 officially confirmed deaths from the disease as of Sept 1, 2020. The Indian Government says that the national recovery rate has reached 77% and the case fatality rate is down to 1·8%, due to “timely and effective clinical management of the patients in critical care” according to an official statement on Aug 30. However, experts who spoke with The Lancet have pointed to several sources of uncertainty in India’s COVID-19 mortality data.
It is unclear how suspected or probable COVID-19-attributable deaths are being included in mortality estimates. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines stipulate that deaths of people with suspected or probable COVID-19 should be included in mortality data, based on WHO ICD-10 codes for COVID-19-related deaths. However, the guidelines are advisory. Information about whether state data on deaths include suspected and probable cases is not in the public domain and the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare did not respond to The Lancet’s requests for clarification.
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31857-2/fulltext
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3. The Lancet: Editorial: COVID-19: a new lens for non-communicable diseases
On Sept 19, 2011, global leaders met at the UN in New York, USA, to set an international agenda on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which cause three-quarters of global deaths. This was only the second time in history that the UN General Assembly had met to discuss a health issue (the first was for HIV/AIDS in 2016). In 2015, Sustainable Development Goal 3.4 set the ambitious target for countries to reduce their risk of premature mortality from NCDs by a third relative to 2015 levels by 2030. The Lancet NCD Countdown 2030, published on Sept 3, reveals that, among high-income countries, only Denmark, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, and South Korea are on track to meet this target for both men and women if they maintain or surpass their 2010–16 average rates of decline. We know how to reduce the risk of NCDs—for the most part through a combination of effective tobacco and alcohol control, and well understood health interventions for hypertension, diabetes, and cancer. But addressing the broader determinants of NCDs is difficult without more robust fiscal measures. Although NCDs have received plenty of political attention, action has clearly been inadequate.
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31856-0/fulltext
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4. Yemen: Global Citizen: Yemen Was Already Reaching Famine-Like Conditions. Then Came COVID-19.
One of the worst humanitarian crises in the world now faces the pandemic.
The threat posed by the coronavirus isn’t enough to keep people in Yemen from social distancing at all times. That’s because every day is a struggle to get food and water.
More than 20 million people in the country, roughly 80% of its population, have a hard time getting enough food and water to survive, while 40% of the population could face an acute food crisis by the end of the year, exposing them to the dire complications of malnutrition, according to the humanitarian nonprofit CARE.
The years-long war engulfing Yemen had already created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. Now, Yemen has a higher death rate from COVID-19 than the rest of the world because of a lack of health care facilities, workers, and supplies. This vicious cycle of the pandemic exacerbating existing humanitarian problems could intensify in the months ahead.
https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/yemen-covid-19-hunger-crisis/
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5. India: Alarabiya: Coronavirus: India records world’s highest number of new daily COVID-19 cases.
India saw another record surge of 90,632 cases in the past 24 hours, as infections spread to smaller cities and parts of rural India.
According to the Health Ministry, India’s caseload reached 4,113,811, slightly short of Brazil’s confirmed 4,123,000 infections.
Brazil is the second worst-hit country after the United States with 6,245,112 cases.
The ministry on Sunday also reported 1,065 deaths for a total of 70,626.
More than 1 million cases have been detected in India in less than two weeks. Authorities say India’s daily testing exceeds 1 million now.
Dr. Randeep Guleria, a government health expert, said India is seeing a resurgence with over 70 percent of its nearly 1.4 billion people still susceptible to infections. “We could say that we are seeing some sort of a second wave in certain parts of the country.”
India’s recovery rate was 77.23 percent, leading to a decline in fatality rate to around 1.73 percent , the ministry said.
With the economy contracting by a record 23.9 percent in the April-June quarter, leaving millions jobless, the government is continuing to relax restrictions except in high-risk areas. It announced that subway will resume service on Monday after more than five months with restrictions on the number of people on board.
Guleria also noted the country is experiencing a COVID behavior fatigue with many people crowding public places without masks and the streets back to traffic jams.
Six of India’s 28 states — Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi — remain the worst-hit, accounting for 75 percent of fatalities and nearly 65 percent of total cases.
https://english.alarabiya.net/en/coronavirus/2020/09/06/Coronavirus-India-records-world-s-highest-number-of-new-daily-COVID-19-cases
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6. Nature: The coronavirus is mutating — does it matter?
Different SARS-CoV-2 strains haven’t yet had a major impact on the course of the pandemic, but they might in future.
When COVID-19 spread around the globe this year, David Montefiori wondered how the deadly virus behind the pandemic might be changing as it passed from person to person. Montefiori is a virologist who has spent much of his career studying how chance mutations in HIV help it to evade the immune system. The same thing might happen with SARS-CoV-2, he thought.
In March, Montefiori, who directs an AIDS-vaccine research laboratory at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, contacted Bette Korber, an expert in HIV evolution and a long-time collaborator. Korber, a computational biologist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in Sante Fe, New Mexico, had already started scouring thousands of coronavirus genetic sequences for mutations that might have changed the virus’s properties as it made its way around the world.
Compared with HIV, SARS-CoV-2 is changing much more slowly as it spreads. But one mutation stood out to Korber. It was in the gene encoding the spike protein, which helps virus particles to penetrate cells. Korber saw the mutation appearing again and again in samples from people with COVID-19. At the 614th amino-acid position of the spike protein, the amino acid aspartate (D, in biochemical shorthand) was regularly being replaced by glycine (G) because of a copying fault that altered a single nucleotide in the virus’s 29,903-letter RNA code. Virologists were calling it the D614G mutation.
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02544-6?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=af64422080-briefing-dy-20200908&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-af64422080-45238390
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7. Senegal: USA Today: Senegal’s quiet COVID success: Test results in 24 hours, temperature checks at every store, no fights over masks
COVID-19 test results come back within 24 hours – or even faster. Hotels have been transformed into quarantine units. Scientists are racing to develop a cutting-edge, low-cost ventilator.
This isn’t the pandemic response in South Korea, New Zealand or another country held up as a model of coronavirus containment success.
It’s Senegal, a west African country with a fragile health care system, a scarcity of hospital beds and about seven doctors for every 100,000 people. And yet Senegal, with a population of 16 million, has tackled COVID-19 aggressively and, so far, effectively. More than six months into the pandemic, the country has about 14,000 cases and 284 deaths. “You see Senegal moving out on all fronts: following science, acting quickly, working the communication side of the equation, and then thinking about innovation,” said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan foreign policy think tank.
Senegal deserves “to be in the pantheon of countries that have … responded well to this crisis, even given its low resource base,” Devermont said.
https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2020/09/06/covid-19-why-senegal-outpacing-us-tackling-pandemic/5659696002/?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=af64422080-briefing-dy-20200908&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-af64422080-45238390
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8. USA: Time Magazine: Rural America Needs Help From the Rest of the Country to Face COVID-19
Dougherty County, Georgia, about 40 miles from where I live in Plains, is a cautionary tale. As of April 21, the County (population 88,000) reported more than 1,440 positive COVID tests and 103 deaths from the virus or its complications, according to state tracking, rivaling case counts in large, densely populated cities and making Dougherty’s largest city, Albany (population 57,000), a COVID-19 hotspot. Understanding what is happening in Albany is all the more urgent, as Georgia sets to reopen in the coming days. What are the rural realities that risk more Dougherty Counties, and how do we prevent it?
First, rural Americans are self-sufficient because they have to be: many live far from supermarkets, pharmacies, and health clinics or hospitals, and have fewer choices when it comes to where to go. Where I live we have one convenience store. In normal times, its narrow aisles and few checkouts are packed. There is no curbside pick-up; and no home delivery. That limits the practicality of social distancing or stay at home orders, when the only option is forced contact, or going without. The closest option for a shopping strip , about 40 minutes away in Albany. Anything else is over an hour’s drive. More than half the counties in America have no intensive care beds.
https://time.com/5825708/rural-america-covid-19-pandemic/
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9. India: Financial Times: Video: Why India is struggling to cope with Covid-19
The FT’s South Asia correspondent Stephanie Findlay looks at how the coronavirus spread from India’s biggest cities to rural areas and why the country is finding it harder than its peers to bounce back from the pandemic
https://www.ft.com/video/083db8c2-cdf7-48a8-b2fb-1609fb30e33c
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10. UK: BBC: Coronavirus: Tests ‘could be picking up dead virus’
The main test used to diagnose coronavirus is so sensitive it could be picking up fragments of dead virus from old infections, scientists say.
Most people are infectious only for about a week, but could test positive weeks afterwards. Researchers say this could be leading to an over-estimate of the current scale of the pandemic. But some experts say it is uncertain how a reliable test can be produced that doesn’t risk missing cases. Prof Carl Heneghan, one of the study’s authors, said instead of giving a “yes/no” result based on whether any virus is detected, tests should have a cut-off point so that very small amounts of virus do not trigger a positive result. He believes the detection of traces of old virus could partly explain why the number of cases is rising while hospital admissions remain stable.
The University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine reviewed the evidence from 25 studies where virus specimens from positive tests were put in a petri dish to see whether they would grow.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54000629
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11. India: News Click: Concerns Mount over COVID-19 spread into rural India as cases cross 40 Lak
About 65% of India’s 1.3 billion population lives in rural areas. And, according to website, How India Lives, 714 districts have coronavirus cases, putting 94.76% of the population at risk.
As COVID-19 cases surge, so do worries about how to contain the spread of the disease that is spreading inexorably through India, initially in urban centres and now increasingly into the hinterland where medical infrastructure is scarce.
Though there are no exact numbers about the spread of the virus into rural areas, there is enough evidence to suggest it has reached most corners of India and there is community transmission, say experts.
Just two figures could tell the story: an estimated 65% of India’s 1.3 billion population lives in rural areas. And, according to the website, How India Lives, 714 districts have coronavirus cases, putting 94.76% of the population at risk.
“Increasingly, COVID-19 positive persons are being reported from small-sized towns, as well as from rural areas. Sero-surveys have revealed that the disease has spread to most parts of the country indicating community transmission of COVID-19,” a group of public health experts said in a statement earlier this week.
The experts, from the Indian Public Health Association, Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine and the Indian Association of Epidemiologists, also expressed concern that reports of stigma, fear and discrimination continue even after six months.
https://www.newsclick.in/concerns-mount-over-COVID-19-spread-rural-india-cases-cross-40-lakh
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12. Brazil: BBC: Amazon: In the cross-hairs of coronavirus and forest fires
It is dry season in the Amazon and, once again, the forest is on fire.
Last year, Brazil’s biggest city, São Paulo, went dark because of the smoke. But while the smoke travelled far, the outrage travelled even further with European leaders criticising President Jair Bolsonaro for not doing enough to protect the rainforest. The Brazilian government this year brought in some early measures to curb the number of fires. It imposed a 120-day ban on fires and deployed the army to badly-hit areas.
But, at the same time, President Bolsonaro has declared the fires a lie. His vice-president also told the BBC that the forest was not burning.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-54071411
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13. Nature: Coronavirus research updates: Powerful new evidence links steroid treatment to lower deaths
Nature wades through the literature on the new coronavirus — and summarizes key papers as they appear.
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00502-w?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=d10b419dd6-briefing-dy-20200907&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-d10b419dd6-45238390
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14. UK: BBC: Long Covid: Doctor calls for more research
A doctor who has been ill since contracting Covid-19 six months ago has called for more research into the prolonged effects of the virus.
Dr Jake Suett, 31, has been unable to work since March, when he first had suspected Covid-19 symptoms. He said data about so-called “long Covid” was essential to help the NHS make “good public health decisions”. A government spokesperson said it was “constantly learning” about the long-term impact of the virus. Dr Suett was working as an anaesthetist and intensive care doctor at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, when he became ill with suspected Covid but tests were not available at the time.
He said he was still unable to walk for more than 30 minutes without feeling breathless, adding he “almost feels ashamed as a 31-year-old to still be feeling so unwell”.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-54016357
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15. Ukraine: NBC News: Ukrainian church leader who blamed COVID-19 on gay marriage tests positive for virus
Patriarch Filaret, a prominent Ukrainian Orthodox leader, blamed same-sex unions for the global coronavirus pandemic, which has killed thousands in Ukraine.
A prominent religious leader in Ukraine who earlier this year blamed the coronavirus pandemic on same-sex marriage has tested positive for the virus, his church announced.
Patriarch Filaret, 91, who leads the large Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate, contracted COVID-19 and was subsequently hospitalized, the church confirmed Friday in a statement shared on its website and on Facebook. In a follow-up statement shared Tuesday, the church said its leader’s health is “stable” as “treatment continues.”
“We ask you to continue to pray for His Holiness Patriarch Filaret, so that the All-Merciful and Almighty Lord God will heal the Patriarch,” the statement continued.
https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/ukrainian-church-leader-who-blamed-covid-19-gay-marriage-tests-n1239528
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16. UK: Mental Health Foundation: Returning to school after the coronavirus lockdown
The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown is an unprecedented situation in modern times. It is hard to gauge the full impact that the situation is having on children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
Pupils’ experiences of the lockdown period will have been very varied. For some, it will mostly have been a safe and enjoyable time. For others, it will have been challenging or traumatic. Schools and teachers are used to supporting their pupils through challenges that they face in life – the current situation will amplify those situations many times over.
This short guide aims to:
• Outline the scale of the challenge that schools and pupils are facing.
• Provide practical advice, activities and support.
https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/returning-school-after-lockdown
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17. Sweden: Reuters: Positive Covid tests in no-lockdown Sweden hit lowest rate since pandemic began
Sweden carried out a record number of new coronavirus tests last week with only 1.2% coming back positive, the health agency said on Tuesday, the lowest rate since the pandemic began at a time when countries across Europe are seeing surges in infections.
Sweden avoided a lockdown and instead emphasized personal responsibility, social distancing and good hygiene in a bid to slow rather than eradicate a disease deemed here to stay.
The strategy drew fierce criticism home and abroad as deaths shot up during the spring but has also been lauded by WHO officials as a sustainable model.
“The purpose of our approach is for people themselves to understand the need to follow the recommendations and guidelines that exist,” Swedish Health Agency Director-General Johan Carlson told a news conference.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-sweden-strategy-idUSKBN25Z2TM
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18. UK: The Guardian: Coronavirus: 60,000 may have ‘long Covid’ for more than three months – UK study
Researchers say people with prolonged symptoms at risk of being forgotten as they struggle to get help
Up to 60,000 people in the UK may have been suffering from “long Covid” for more than three months, unable to get the care they need to recover from prolonged and debilitating symptoms.
Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London who runs the app-based Covid symptom study, said around 300,000 people had reported symptoms lasting for more than a month.
A minority have been suffering for longer; up to 60,000 people have reported having symptoms for more than three months. Some cases are mild, but others are seriously debilitating, with breathlessness and fatigue. Some people have had to use wheelchairs. Others say attempting to carry out everyday tasks such as shopping or even climbing the stairs can leave them bedridden for days.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/sep/08/60000-may-have-long-covid-for-more-than-three-months-uk-study
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19. USA: Washington Post: One man’s battle shows why covid-19 and obesity are a toxic mix
At 5-foot-9 and 248 pounds before covid-19 struck, John Place knew he needed to work on his health. In the scramble to run a small business and help raise four children, he ate high-calorie restaurant food every day. He never exercised. He was often fatigued and urinated frequently — warning signs of diabetes that he ignored.
When Place, 43, landed in a Florida intensive care unit in June, infected with the coronavirus and unable to breathe on his own, a brutally frank doctor put his survival chances at 20 percent.
“Your husband is morbidly obese, he’s diabetic, he has sleep apnea and the only thing he has going for him is he’s still young,” the physician told Place’s wife, Michelle Zymet.
Place survived 18 days on a ventilator and returned home, but his weight complicated his illness and care, and now is influencing his painful, laborious recovery.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/coronavirus-obesity-risks/2020/09/04/0f370980-e22f-11ea-b69b-64f7b0477ed4_story.html?utm_campaign=wp_to_your_health&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_tyh&wpmk=1&pwapi_token=eyJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJjb29raWVuYW1lIjoid3BfY3J0aWQiLCJpc3MiOiJDYXJ0YSIsImNvb2tpZXZhbHVlIjoiNWU4YWMxZTY5YmJjMGYwYTJlNzk3ODE3IiwidGFnIjoiNWY1N2U1YjI5ZDJmZGEyYzM2OGYxY2U5IiwidXJsIjoiaHR0cHM6Ly93d3cud2FzaGluZ3RvbnBvc3QuY29tL2hlYWx0aC9jb3JvbmF2aXJ1cy1vYmVzaXR5LXJpc2tzLzIwMjAvMDkvMDQvMGYzNzA5ODAtZTIyZi0xMWVhLWI2OWItNjRmN2IwNDc3ZWQ0X3N0b3J5Lmh0bWw_dXRtX2NhbXBhaWduPXdwX3RvX3lvdXJfaGVhbHRoJnV0bV9tZWRpdW09ZW1haWwmdXRtX3NvdXJjZT1uZXdzbGV0dGVyJndwaXNyYz1ubF90eWgmd3Btaz0xIn0.O3WRGEp8JYqrVVRv_yqr3NSa7W30i-f7ITb79_DjKQY
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20. International: Norweigian Refugee Council: 7 ways we are helping children get through the pandemic
Children and young people who have been forced to flee their homes have often missed out on years of education already because of war and conflict. Recent school closures caused by the pandemic will make them fall behind even further unless they get help.
Even before the Covid-19 school closures, more than 75 million children across the world’s crisis and conflict-affected countries urgently required support to access a good quality education.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has been working around the clock in more than 30 countries, to ensure that children and youth can exercise their right to a good education.
“Our colleagues and teachers in the field, often in full lockdown themselves, have proved to be incredibly resourceful and creative in helping children and young people to continue their learning,” says Constantijn Wouters, Global Education Adviser with NRC.
https://www.nrc.no/perspectives/2020/7-ways-we-are-helping-children-get-through-the-pandemic/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=paid&utm_campaign=brand&utm_content=school-start
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21. Mexico: El Financiero: México, primer lugar mundial en personal de salud fallecido por COVID-19: Amnistía Internacional: Un informe de Amnistía Internacional detalla que hasta el momento se han confirmado mil 320 decesos por COVID-19 entre personal de salud en México.
Mexico, first place in the world in health personnel deceased by COVID-19: Amnesty International: An Amnesty International report details that 1,320 deaths from COVID-19 have been confirmed so far among health personnel in Mexico.
México registra la mayor cantidad a nivel mundial de muertes por coronavirus entre los trabajadores de salud, de acuerdo con un informe de Amnistía Internacional publicado este miércoles.
El estudio señala que el país ha reportado hasta el momento mil 320 decesos confirmados por COVID-19 entre personal de salud, por encima de los mil 77 de Estados Unidos, 649 del Reino Unido y 634 en Brasil.
Es posible que el informe reactive el debate sobre la cantidad extremadamente baja de pruebas de diagnóstico que se realizan en México, menos de una por cada 100 habitantes. A pesar de que las autoridades mexicanas se jactan de que todos los trabajadores de salud han sido analizados al menos una vez, eso parece insuficiente para personas que se han expuesto diariamente al virus durante varios meses.
https://elfinanciero.com.mx/salud/mexico-primer-lugar-mundial-en-personal-de-salud-fallecido-por-covid-19-amnistia-internacional
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22. Nature: Coronavirus reinfections: three questions scientists are asking
Second infections raise questions about long-term immunity to COVID-19 and the prospects for a vaccine.
When news broke last week that a man living in Hong Kong had been infected with the coronavirus again, months after recovering from a previous bout of COVID-19, immunologist Akiko Iwasaki had an unusual reaction. “I was really kind of happy,” she says. “It’s a nice textbook example of how the immune response should work.”
For Iwasaki, who has been studying immune responses to the SARS-CoV-2 virus at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, the case was encouraging because the second infection did not cause symptoms. This, she says, suggested that the man’s immune system might have remembered its previous encounter with the virus and roared into action, fending off the repeat infection before it could do much damage.
But less than a week later, her mood shifted. Public-health workers in Nevada reported another reinfection — this time with more severe symptoms. Was it possible that the immune system had not only failed to protect against the virus, but also made things worse? “The Nevada case did not make me happy,” Iwasaki says.
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02506-y?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=d10b419dd6-briefing-dy-20200907&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-d10b419dd6-45238390
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23. Gates Notes: Bill Gates Blog: We’re finally learning why countries excel at saving lives
A new program is spreading the word about the most successful approaches to health.
Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve tackled every big new problem the same way: by starting off with two questions. I used this technique at Microsoft, and I still use it today. I ask these questions literally every week about COVID-19.
Here they are: Who has dealt with this problem well? And what can we learn from them?
They seem like obvious questions, but sometimes it’s surprisingly hard to find the answers—especially when it comes to global health. There are low- and middle-income countries that have made huge leaps in, for example, delivering vaccines or ending malnutrition. But anyone who wants to identify those countries, find out how they did it, and apply the lessons in their own country would have their work cut out for them.
In sports, every coach is able to study the most successful teams and figure out what they’re doing well. There’s no reason that things should be any different when the goal is preventing childhood deaths instead of scoring touchdowns.
That’s why I was eager to be part of a global effort to fill the gap. Over the past three years, health experts and organizations from countries at every income level (including the Gates Foundation) have come together to find out who has made the most progress on certain health problems, identify what made them so successful, and help others put these lessons into action.
The result of all this effort—the Exemplars in Global Health program—launched earlier this year. If you want to know which countries have made the most progress with limited resources, Exemplars is a great place to start.
https://www.gatesnotes.com/Health/Exemplars-in-Global-Health?WT.mc_id=20200904000000_EGH-launch_BG-PDM-PF-CoGlHeInUSA-EGH2_pl-Facebook_Mobile_Feed_ag_id6205903744559_ad_id6205917581359&WT.tsrc=BGPDM-PF
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24. USA: AP News: Kansas counties with mask mandate show steep COVID-19 drop
Kansas counties that have mask mandates in place have seen a rapid drop in cases, while counties that only recommend their use have seen no decrease in cases, the state’s top health official said Wednesday.
Dr. Lee Norman, the state health department’s top administrator, said Wednesday that overall statewide the numbers of new cases is favorable, but that the reduction of new cases is entirely in the counties that require masks be worn in public spaces.
After Gov. Laura Kelly put a mask mandate in place last month, 15 counties stayed with the mandate while 90 counties abandoned it, Norman said at a news conference Wednesday.
https://apnews.com/f218e1a38cce6b2af63c1cd23f1d234e
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25. USA: Nature: US university workers fight a return to campus as COVID-19 cases grow
Faculty members, graduate students and other campus staff file lawsuits and protest against unsafe conditions as institutions reopen.
A wave of activism is sweeping US campuses that have reopened after their summer break amid the COVID-19 crisis. Across the country, university workers — including faculty members and staff who teach in classrooms and laboratories, and housekeeping staff who clean dormitories — are pushing back against requirements that they show up on campus alongside undergraduates, thereby, they say, risking their own health.
One group has filed a lawsuit against the University of North Carolina (UNC) system, which includes 16 institutions across the state, claiming that the system has not provided a safe workplace for its staff. Others have staged protests — including ‘die-ins’, in which demonstrators have simulated coronavirus deaths — to demand remote classes and more COVID-19 testing. In one case, university faculty members passed a ‘no confidence’ vote to indicate that their chancellor had neglected their concerns and botched the institution’s reopening.
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02557-1?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=d10b419dd6-briefing-dy-20200907&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-d10b419dd6-45238390
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26. Argentina: Left Voice: Professor Dies of Coronavirus During Zoom Lecture
Paola Di Simone, an Argentinian professor, reported on August 28 that she had tested positive for the coronavirus and had been showing symptoms for four weeks. This week, she collapsed in the middle of a live virtual lecture. Her employer, the Universidad Argentina de la Empresa (UADE), has not yet explained why Paola was working while ill.
Paola Di Simone, 45, taught political science at UADE, the University of Buenos Aires, and Torcuato Di Tella University. She died this Wednesday while giving a virtual class, which she was still teaching despite being positive for the coronavirus. Her students noticed that she was having trouble breathing and asked her to share her address so they could call an ambulance. She was only able to say “I can’t” before passing out.
Her death occurred on Wednesday and was made public a day later via social media posts by her colleagues and students. The UADE released a condolences statement; however, the university said nothing about why Paola was still being asked to teach despite having been suffering from the coronavirus for four weeks. Her colleagues and students remembered her as professional, tireless, and above all as a wonderful, warm person.
https://www.leftvoice.org/professor-dies-of-coronavirus-during-zoom-lecture
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27. UK: Coronavirus: Five reasons why rise in cases is not all it seems
Officials are clearly alarmed by the latest rise in coronavirus cases. Newly diagnosed cases have topped 2,000 for the past three days.
The average rate of new infections is now four times higher than it was in mid-July. But is the rise in cases quite as sharp as it looks? Here are five things to consider before hitting the panic button.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54064347
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28. International: CBS News: Drugmakers vow to hold off on COVID-19 vaccine until it’s shown to be safe
The chief executives of nine drugmakers working to develop coronavirus vaccines vowed on Tuesday to hold off on seeking regulatory approval until advanced clinical trials show the products are safe and effective. The unusual pledge comes as the Trump administration is pushing to release a vaccine this fall.
The CEOs — who lead drugmakers AstraZeneca, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer and Sanofi — said in joint statement that the safety and efficacy of vaccines are determined by government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration. That requires data from “large, high quality clinical trials that are randomized and observer-blinded,” the executives wrote.
The vow comes as President Donald Trump has touted the possibility that a coronavirus vaccine may become available as early as this fall, possibly before the November 3 general election.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-vaccine-phase-3-trials-safety-drugmakers/
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29. UK: Sky News: Coronavirus: GPs recorded three times more suspected cases of COVID-19 than official figures
Suspected cases were studied because test results were not sent to GPs during the research period.
Suspected cases of COVID-19 recorded by GPs at the height of the pandemic were three times higher than officially confirmed infections, according to new research.
The study suggests that coronavirus was more prevalent among the population than previously thought.
Many people who contracted COVID-19, including those with mild symptoms, will not have been tested, lead author Dr Sally Hull said.
Others may not have been able to access test centres.
Between 14 February and 30 April, GPs recorded 8,985 suspected cases, triple the number of people found positive at test centres over the same period.
https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-gps-recorded-three-times-more-suspected-cases-of-covid-19-than-official-figures-12066280
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30. The Lancet: COVID-19 exacerbates violence against health workers
Hundreds of incidents of violence and harassment have been recorded, but these are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg. Sharmila Devi reports.
More than 600 incidents of violence, harassment, or stigmatisation took place against health-care workers, patients, and medical infrastructure in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement on Aug 18.
These incidents were probably only the “tip of the iceberg”, with many others unrecorded, Maciej Polkowski, the head of the ICRC’s Health Care in Danger initiative, told The Lancet. “Unfortunately, these figures were not a surprise because violence is often exacerbated by emergencies”, he said. “We know from cross-sectional studies that the majority of health workers have experienced violence in the workplace that varies from country to country and their thresholds of violence.”
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31858-4/fulltext
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31. USA: CDC: The Kindness of Strangers
A sense of dread gnawed at Dr. Rachael Zacks for the first time in her career.
She had deployed to many international crisis regions for CDC, but in March, as the United States began grappling with COVID-19, Rachael went out for the first time in her own country to track the disease’s spread. Social media disinformation and public discontent had stoked her worries that some residents might greet CDC teams with suspicion when they knocked, asking to draw blood.
“I’ve gone to very remote places in this world and worn CDC garb and never been nervous about the reaction I would get because I feel if people see that we’re here to help, they usually trust us,” says Rachael, a physician and officer in CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS).
Five days after returning to Atlanta from Ebola vaccine work in South Sudan, Rachael faced her fears and flew to Seattle with her colleague Jon Dyal, a physician and public health professional who also specializes in particularly dangerous viruses, like Ebola. The two went to test people who had close contact with one of the US’s first-known COVID-19 patients to see whether they had produced antibodies against the disease, indicating the virus that causes it had spread to them, too.
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/communication/responder-stories/contact-tracing-kindness-strangers.html
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32. Middle East: Norwegian Refugee Council: Stressed
Special report: An NRC investigation finds that the fear of Covid-19 is leading to an alarming rise in stress levels amongst refugee and displaced children in the Middle East.
In late June, we at the Norwegian Refugee Council set out on an eight-week investigation to assess the psychological impact of Covid-19 on refugee and displaced children in the Middle East.
Through a regional survey, qualitative research, expert testimony, and on-the-ground reporting, we have unearthed that children who were once forced to flee hunger, bombs, and bullets, now face an epidemic of fear caused by the global coronavirus. With no end to the outbreak in sight, toxic stress poses a major health threat to the Middle East’s most vulnerable children.
https://www.nrc.no/shorthand/stories/stressed/index.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=paid&utm_campaign=brand&utm_content=stressed
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33. USA: Washington Post: The pandemic is ruining our sleep. Experts say ‘coronasomnia’ could imperil public health.
Sara Tibebu tried bubble baths. She curated playlists of low-fi beats, followed guided meditation videos and paid for virtual therapy. In desperation, she even plucked and dried lavender to make sachets to place inside her pillowcase.
But every night, she still found herself staring at the ceiling — wide-awake. For five months, all Tibebu has wanted is a decent night of shut-eye.
“The lack of sleep is just driving me crazy,” said Tibebu, 36, a technical writer who lives in Takoma Park, Md., where most nights her eyes snap open around 2 a.m., and she begins to obsess over everything from the dismal U.S. response to the pandemic to the sorry state of her love life.
As if the novel coronavirus has not already wrought devastation aplenty on the world, physicians and researchers are seeing signs it is doing deep damage to people’s sleep. “Coronasomnia,” as some experts now call it, could prove to have profound public-health ramifications — creating a massive new population of chronic insomniacs grappling with declines in productivity, shorter fuses and increased risks of hypertension, depressionand other health problems.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/09/03/coronavirus-sleep-insomnia/?fbclid=IwAR3NB3xk24sDDsHhc-UFxtAN1H78ac2Kv07DWt8odf5WCp30n6aCfhUkk78&utm_campaign=wp_to_your_health&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_tyh&wpmk=1&pwapi_token=eyJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJjb29raWVuYW1lIjoid3BfY3J0aWQiLCJpc3MiOiJDYXJ0YSIsImNvb2tpZXZhbHVlIjoiNWU4YWMxZTY5YmJjMGYwYTJlNzk3ODE3IiwidGFnIjoid3BfdG9feW91cl9oZWFsdGgiLCJ1cmwiOiJodHRwczovL3d3dy53YXNoaW5ndG9ucG9zdC5jb20vaGVhbHRoLzIwMjAvMDkvMDMvY29yb25hdmlydXMtc2xlZXAtaW5zb21uaWEvP2ZiY2xpZD1Jd0FSM05CM3hrMjRzRERzSGhjLVVGeHRBTjFINzhhYzJLdjA3RFd0OG9kZjVXQ3AzMG42YUNmaFVrazc4JnV0bV9jYW1wYWlnbj13cF90b195b3VyX2hlYWx0aCZ1dG1fbWVkaXVtPWVtYWlsJnV0bV9zb3VyY2U9bmV3c2xldHRlciZ3cGlzcmM9bmxfdHloJndwbWs9MSJ9.GcTUcUTKMpRYEjl-HBsPICc5zY8jqfMiBmXTw84-d8Y
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34. Africa: The Lancet: COVID-19 vaccine trials in Africa in Africa
On Aug 17, 2020, screening began for participants to enrol in the mid-stage study of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine by Novavax, a US drug developer of next-generation vaccines for serious infectious diseases, at Witwatersrand University (Wits) in Johannesburg, South Africa. A US$15 million grant towards the trial was awarded to Novavax by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 2665 healthy adults and nearly 240 medically stable, HIV-positive adults will be enrolled.
“The major motivation for COVID-19 vaccines being evaluated at an early stage in South Africa is to generate evidence in the African context on how well these vaccines work in settings such as our own”, says principle investigator of the Novavax clinical trial Shabir Madhi, Wits Professor of Vaccinology.
“The clinical trial will enable informed decision making when advocating for the adoption of this NVX-CoV2373 vaccine candidate or other COVID-19 vaccines in African countries, once they are shown to be safe and effective”, says Madhi, also executive director of the South African Medical Research Council Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics (VIDA) research unit at Wits.
The trial is the second one in South Africa, with a third trial for Ad26.COV2-S, a Johnson & Johnson product, set for September, 2020. The first trial, also led by Madhi, of a COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa commenced on June 23, which was the first vaccine candidate to be tested in Africa. This trial (Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA trial) is in collaboration with Oxford University and the Jenner Institute.
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30401-X/fulltext
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35. Turkey: The Lancet: Interference in scientific research on COVID-19 in Turkey
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), as it was later named, was first identified in Wuhan, China, on Jan 7, 2020.
Over the following months, the virus rapidly spread throughout the world. The disease, COVID-19, was characterised as a pandemic by WHO on March 11, 2020. On the same day, the Turkish Ministry of Health reported the first case in Turkey.
According to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data platform, which analyses the genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2, the disease reached Turkey mainly through Iran, with whom Turkey has strong commercial and touristic ties, and Saudi Arabia, where thousands of Turkish citizens travelled to visit the holy places until mid-March, 2020.
2 months after the first case, on May 11, 2020, the Turkish Ministry of Health declared that the number of COVID-19 cases had reached 139 771, with 3841 deaths.
However, the excess mortality for Istanbul alone during this period was 4209 deaths. From 2016–19, the average number of deaths that occurred in Istanbul was 23 232 for the period of March 11 to July 5.
In 2020, this figure went up to 27 955 deaths. The excess mortality found between March 11 and July 5, 2020, in Istanbul was 4723 deaths.
There were at least 1952 unexplained deaths. However, the officially reported COVID-19 mortality in the same period was 2771 deaths.
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31691-3/fulltext
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36. Iceland: NEJM: Humoral Immune Response to SARS-CoV-2 in Iceland
Little is known about the nature and durability of the humoral immune response to infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
Of the 1797 persons who had recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection, 1107 of the 1215 who were tested (91.1%) were seropositive; antiviral antibody titers assayed by two pan-Ig assays increased during 2 months after diagnosis by qPCR and remained on a plateau for the remainder of the study. Of quarantined persons, 2.3% were seropositive; of those with unknown exposure, 0.3% were positive. We estimate that 0.9% of Icelanders were infected with SARS-CoV-2 and that the infection was fatal in 0.3%. We also estimate that 56% of all SARS-CoV-2 infections in Iceland had been diagnosed with qPCR, 14% had occurred in quarantined persons who had not been tested with qPCR (or who had not received a positive result, if tested), and 30% had occurred in persons outside quarantine and not tested with qPCR.
Our results indicate that antiviral antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 did not decline within 4 months after diagnosis. We estimate that the risk of death from infection was 0.3% and that 44% of persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 in Iceland were not diagnosed by qPCR.
https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa2026116
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37. UK: The Guardian: At 31, I have just weeks to live. Here’s what I want to pass on
Now that there’s no longer any way to treat my cancer, I’ve been reflecting on what I want others to know about life and death
At the beginning of April I wrote a piece for the Guardian. If you haven’t read it, the headline pretty much sums it up: “Terminal cancer means I won’t see the other side of lockdown”. Given the pandemic and the announcement of shielding for vulnerable people, I thought I wouldn’t be able to live out my last few months in the way I’d imagined. It seemed like I would be stuck alone, with no light at the end of the tunnel, and without the comfort of friends or family.
Five months on, I’m still here, but much has changed. Thankfully, the experience wasn’t as bleak as you might think. During the first few weeks of lockdown I found I was floating nicely through the time by staying occupied and upbeat. In many ways, you can’t beat the liberation of being able to wake up when you feel like it, having few plans set in stone and being able to do whatever you want with the time you have.
Over the past couple of months, though, my energy levels have dropped, and I have started doing less. I look drastically different. I have lost a lot of weight. A 20-minute coughing fit is now part of my morning routine while my chest tries to settle itself. It’s nothing that some steroids, morphine, an iced drink to settle my throat and time spent dry-heaving in front of a bucket won’t eventually sort out, but it can get really distressing – like an intrinsic panic response.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/07/terminal-cancer-live-cancer-life-death
S ED Humanities

38. International: The Guardian: Let’s get real. No vaccine will work as if by magic, returning us to ‘normal’
To dream of imminent solutions is only human. But progress will come from controlled expectations. If large parts of the world remain shut down because of the selfish hoarding of initial supplies by richer nations, we all suffer for it. At the end of any summer we brace ourselves – for back to school, returning to work and even for Christmas plans. But this year, the reality bump is like no other.
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to reverberate globally, there is no doubt that we must be ready to face a long road ahead, certainly beyond the end of this year. The fact that a vaccine, alongside effective treatments, is our only true exit strategy remains unchanged. The speed and scale of vaccine development have been remarkable but it’s important to avoid false hope.
I am optimistic that we will soon see results from the first vaccines coming through late-stage clinical trials. However, we must temper this optimism, this talk of the perfect vaccine “just around the corner” or the idea that it will be a complete and immediate solution.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/06/lets-get-real-no-vaccine-will-work-as-if-by-magic-returning-us-to-normal?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=d10b419dd6-briefing-dy-20200907&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-d10b419dd6-45238390
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39. USA:Elemental: A Supercomputer Analyzed Covid-19 — and an Interesting New Theory Has Emerged: A closer look at the Bradykinin hypothesis
Earlier this summer, the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee set about crunching data on more than 40,000 genes from 17,000 genetic samples in an effort to better understand Covid-19. Summit is the second-fastest computer in the world, but the process — which involved analyzing 2.5 billion genetic combinations — still took more than a week.
When Summit was done, researchers analyzed the results. It was, in the words of Dr. Daniel Jacobson, lead researcher and chief scientist for computational systems biology at Oak Ridge, a “eureka moment.” The computer had revealed a new theory about how Covid-19 impacts the body: the bradykinin hypothesis. The hypothesis provides a model that explains many aspects of Covid-19, including some of its most bizarre symptoms. It also suggests 10-plus potential treatments, many of which are already FDA approved. Jacobson’s group published their results in a paper in the journal eLife in early July.
According to the team’s findings, a Covid-19 infection generally begins when the virus enters the body through ACE2 receptors in the nose, (The receptors, which the virus is known to target, are abundant there.) The virus then proceeds through the body, entering cells in other places where ACE2 is also present: the intestines, kidneys, and heart. This likely accounts for at least some of the disease’s cardiac and GI symptoms.
https://elemental.medium.com/a-supercomputer-analyzed-covid-19-and-an-interesting-new-theory-has-emerged-31cb8eba9d63
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40. USA: CDC: Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Among Frontline Health Care Personnel in a Multistate Hospital Network — 13 Academic Medical Centers
What is already known about this topic?: Little is known about the prevalence and features of SARS-CoV-2 infection among frontline U.S. health care personnel.
What is added by this report?: Among 3,248 personnel observed, 6% had antibody evidence of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection; 29% of personnel with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were asymptomatic in the preceding months, and 69% had not previously received a diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was lower among personnel who reported always wearing a face covering while caring for patients (6%), compared with those who did not (9%).
What are the implications for public health practice?: A high proportion of SARS-CoV-2 infections among health care personnel appear to go undetected. Universal use of face coverings and lowering clinical thresholds for testing could be important strategies for reducing hospital transmission.
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6935e2.htm
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41. USA: CNN: How we can contain Covid-19 without a vaccine
While the world is waiting for a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine, there is a strategy that can potentially bring an end to the pandemic in the United States without the development of pharmaceutical drugs. The strategy, which is cost-effective and compatible with American values like personal freedom, could feasibly bring the epidemic to a halt within two to three months.
This strategy would revolve around the distribution of rapid, saliva-based tests that can be administered at home, so that those who are contagious can be quickly identified and isolated. This would also eliminate the need for contact tracing, which has become a nearly impossible task given the number of those potentially exposed in the US today.
https://us.cnn.com/2020/09/04/opinions/how-we-can-contain-covid-19-without-a-vaccine-hasletine/index.html
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42. UK: University of Plymouth: eHealth: saviour or Trojan Horse?: Part of ‘The Old Normal: Our Future Health’ series
eHealth – the use of technologies in support of health – has long offered the tantalising opportunity of revolutionising how people manage their health.
On an individual level, it enables greater insights into our daily practices through smart technologies; for medical and health practitioners, access to a wider body of information to inform diagnostic decisions; for organisations, the ability to create data processing and management efficiencies; and for researchers, the ability to process and aggregate data at a previously unimaginable scale to analyse and identify relationships and obtain new insights.
The pervasive nature of technology at the personal-level combined with the opportunities afforded by Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and High-Performance Computing provide a connected ecosystem of sensor-rich environments able to process data at population-level scale.
https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/news/pr-opinion/ehealth-saviour-or-trojan-horse
S ED Telemed

43. India: Washington Post: India surpasses Brazil to take second spot in total coronavirus cases
India overtook Brazil to become the country with the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world as infections continue to accelerate in this country of more than 1.3 billion people. India added 90,802 cases — a fresh global record in the pandemic — in the last 24 hours, pushing its total past 4.2 million. Only the United States, with 6.2 million cases, has recorded more. Brazil had 4.1 million cases as of Sunday evening. More than 71,000 people in India have died of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, making it the worst-affected nation in Asia.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/india-surpasses-brazil-to-take-second-spot-in-total-coronavirus-cases/2020/09/07/aafefb18-f0c4-11ea-8025-5d3489768ac8_story.html?utm_campaign=wp_to_your_health&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_tyh&wpmk=1&pwapi_token=eyJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.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.F8p5g7q3qh14c4Tcyla4qo0n_QnhR44EHFrzNpR6oew
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44. India: Nature: India will supply coronavirus vaccines to the world — will its people benefit?
The country will struggle to make and distribute enough doses to control its own massive outbreak, scientists say.
As scientists edge closer to creating a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, Indian pharmaceutical companies are front and centre in the race to supply the world with an effective product. But researchers worry that, even with India’s experience as a vaccine manufacturer, its companies will struggle to produce enough doses sufficiently fast to bring its own huge outbreak under control. On top of that, it will be an immense logistical challenge to distribute the doses to people in rural and remote regions.
Indian drug companies are major manufacturers of vaccines distributed worldwide, particularly those for low-income countries, supplying more than 60% of vaccines supplied to the developing world. Because of this, they are likely to gain early access to any COVID-19 vaccine that works, says Sahil Deo, co-founder of India’s CPC Analytics in Pune, which is studying vaccine distribution in the country.
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02507-x?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=d10b419dd6-briefing-dy-20200907&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-d10b419dd6-45238390
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45. International: Norweigian Refugee Council: 7 ways we are helping children get through the pandemic
Children and young people who have been forced to flee their homes have often missed out on years of education already because of war and conflict. Recent school closures caused by the pandemic will make them fall behind even further unless they get help. Even before the Covid-19 school closures, more than 75 million children across the world’s crisis and conflict-affected countries urgently required support to access a good quality education.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has been working around the clock in more than 30 countries, to ensure that children and youth can exercise their right to a good education.
“Our colleagues and teachers in the field, often in full lockdown themselves, have proved to be incredibly resourceful and creative in helping children and young people to continue their learning,” says Constantijn Wouters, Global Education Adviser with NRC. Here are 7 ways we are helping children get through the pandemic:
https://www.nrc.no/perspectives/2020/7-ways-we-are-helping-children-get-through-the-pandemic/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=paid&utm_campaign=brand&utm_content=school-start
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Take care and stay safe
John Wynn-Jones

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