“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

“I think it is all a matter of love; the more you love a memory the stronger and stranger it becomes”
Vladimir Nabokov

“There is no death, daughter. People die only when we forget them,’ my mother explained shortly before she left me. ‘If you can remember me, I will be with you always.”
Isabel Allende

“Friends come into our lives and friends leave our lives. But friends never leave our hearts. And best friends always get to stay in the best places in our hearts.”
John M. Simmons

In Memorium

I was so moved this morning when I read through my Facebook page to see a page filled with the names and pictures of countless Indian doctors who have died while fighting this terrible pandemic. This is sadly not new; we are reminded daily of the deaths of numerous colleagues in every corner of the world. Some are sadly so young while others are respected, eminent professionals who have been beacons of light in their own communities and countries.
I decided to scrap my planned blog for today and prepare a eulogy in poetry for those brave individuals who risked and gave their lives, knowing the risks full well. Many were denied adequate personal protection but still continued to work and expose themselves.
A eulogy is a tradition dating as far back as ancient Greece, it is funeral oration meant to lament one’s passing, extol their virtues and feats, and offer solace to their loved ones.
I want to start with one of the earliest eulogies that we know of which appears in the Iliad. The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem (1260–1180 BC) attributed to the poet Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles.
It is the eulogy for Patroclus, spoken by his friend and soulmate Achilles

“He is gone, but he is not forgotten, as some say. And this is true, though I almost wish it were not. He will never be forgotten to me, but he will always be gone. And such might be even worse than gone and forgotten, for I can never leave him, and he will never leave me, because it is not his way. He is tethered to me as an extension of my own bones, of my own organs, and I know that he has not left me, yet I know that he has been taken away; I can feel him in his place next to me, yet I know that he is not there. My eyes still seek him in the darkness left behind his light, my skin still warms for him in the cold of his absence, my heart still quickens for him though it knows that his can no longer quicken for me. Knowing that I will never touch him again, never see his eyes flicker to me, never hear his voice call my name, never feel his skin against mine, nor his hands, nor his feet. Never again will I trace his collarbone, stroke back his hair, let my hand ghost the strong line of his jaw. For the best of men has been torn from us, torn from me, and with him, my heart, my soul, my blood, all the grisly, bloody, mangled contents of my hollow, hollow chest.
The moment he fell, so did I.”

Anonymous (A Celtic Prayer)
While “Walking with Grief” is a Celtic prayer, its message resonates with a much broader audience, making it a popular funeral reading. It speaks to the community of grieving people, reminding them that grief isn’t something that should be rushed through or pushed aside.

Walking with Grief

Do not hurry
As you walk with grief;
It does not help the journey

Walk slowly,
Pausing often:
Do not hurry
As you walk with grief

Be not disturbed
By memories that come unbidden.
Swiftly forgive;
And let Christ speak for you
Unspoken words.
Unfinished conversation
Will be resolved in Him.
Be not disturbed.

Be gentle with the one
Who walks with grief.
If it is you, be gentle with yourself.
Swiftly forgive;
Walk slowly,
Pausing often.

Take time, be gentle
As you walk with grief.

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”; the “play for voices” Under Milk Wood; and stories and radio broadcasts such as A Child’s Christmas in Wales and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog
He became widely popular in his lifetime and remained so after his premature death at the age of 39 in New York City. By then he had acquired a reputation, which he had encouraged, as a “roistering, drunken and doomed poet”.
Thomas was born in Swansea, Wales, in 1914. An undistinguished pupil, he left school at 16 to become a journalist for a short time. Many of his works appeared in print while he was still a teenager. While living in London, Thomas met Caitlin Macnamara. They married in 1937. In 1938, they settled in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, and brought up their three children.
He was one of the giants of 20th Century Literature and his premature death from a medical error was an irretrievable loss to the world. We have come across this poem before, but it is a giant among poems, and I had to include it

And death shall have no dominion

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

Listen to the Welsh Actor Richard Burton read A Death Shall Have No Dominion

Mary Letts (1882-1972)
Mary Letts was born in England in 1882 who lived most of her time in Ireland. She started her writing career as a playwright and then novelist. She published her first poetry collection in 1913 at the age of 31. She also trained as a masseuse and worked in army camps in Manchester during World War I, inspiring some of her poetry.


Because you live, though out of sight and reach,
I will, so help me God, live bravely too,
Taking the road with laughter and gay speech,
Alert, intent to give life all its due.
I will delight my soul with many things,
The humours of the street and books and plays,
Great rocks and waves winnowed by seagulls’ wings,
Star-jewelled Winter nights, gold harvest days.

I will for your sake praise what I have missed,
The sweet content of long-united lives,
The sunrise joy of lovers who have kissed,
Children with flower-faces, happy wives.
And last I will praise Death who gives anew
Brave life adventurous and love—and you.


Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humourist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. He was lauded as the “greatest humorist [the United States] has produced”, and William Faulkner called him “the father of American literature”
Written in 1896, “Warm Summer Sun” tends to be specifically chosen for a graveside funeral service, as it conveys a sentiment of wishing the best for the gravesite of the deceased and ends with a goodbye.

Warm Summer Sun

Warm summer sun,
Shine kindly here,
Warm southern wind,
Blow softly here.
Green sod above,
Lie light, lie light.
Good night, dear heart,
Good night, good night.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
Christina Georgina Rossetti was an English poet who wrote various romantic, devotional, and children’s poems. “Goblin Market” and “Remember” remain famous.
She was the sister of the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti and was an active member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
The last two lines of the poem, “Better by far you should forget and smile / Than that you should remember and be sad,” are commonly quoted.


Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Emma Fielding reads ‘Remember’ by Christina Rossetti

Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
Walt Whitman was an American poet, essayist, and journalist. A humanist, Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse.
Walt Whitman wrote “O Captain! My Captain!” following Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. The poem uses a metaphor to describe Lincoln leading the U.S. through the Civil War, only to die just as the country begins to celebrate. Unfortunately, many people can relate to the feeling of mourning that comes after losing someone just as things are starting to get better.

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather’d every rack,
the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up- for you the flag is flung- for
you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths- for you the shores
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Oh Captain! My Captain! – Walt Whitman (Powerful Life Poetry)

WH Auden (1907-1993)
Wystan Hugh Auden was born in York, England, in 1907, he moved to Birmingham with his family during his childhood and was later educated at Christ Church, Oxford. As a young man he was influenced by the poetry of Thomas Hardy and Robert Frost, as well as William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Old English verse. At Oxford his gift as a poet was immediately apparent, and he formed lifelong friendships with two fellow writers, Stephen Spender and Christopher Isherwood.
We have had this poem before, but it is so iconic, that I felt obliged to add it once more. Many will remember it from the films “Four Weddings and a Funeral”

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Funeral Blues – W H Auden (Read by Tom Hiddleston)

Joyce Grenfell (1910 –1979)
Joyce Irene Grenfell OBE was an English comedian, singer, actress, monologist, scriptwriter and producer.

Life Goes On

If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower
Nor inscribe a stone
Nor when I am gone
Speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves
That I have known

Weep if you must
Parting is hell
But life goes on
So …. sing as well

John McCrae (1872-1918)
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD was a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I, and a surgeon during the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium. He is best known for writing the famous war memorial poem “In Flanders Fields”. McCrae died of pneumonia near the end of the war.
So many poems of remembrance were written during and after the terrible conflict of World War One. I picked out one by John McCrae. I will return at some stage to explore the powerful poetry of the likes of Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves and many more.
Its also worth remembering that the Spanish Flu which started in 1918 killed more people than in the whole preceding conflict.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders’ fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders’ Fields.

Leonard Cohen recites “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae | Legion Magazine

Many people find the poem, “To Those Whom I Love & Those Who Love Me” comforting at funerals. It combines messages relating to the acceptance of death with the notions that the person is never really gone and that you will see them again. And while it encourages the reader to not be sad, it also acknowledges that it’s okay to grieve.

To Those Whom I Love & Those Who Love Me

When I am gone, release me, let me go.
I have so many things to see and do,
You mustn’t tie yourself to me with too many tears,
But be thankful we had so many good years.

I gave you my love, and you can only guess
How much you’ve given me in happiness.
I thank you for the love that you have shown,
But now it is time I traveled on alone.

So grieve for me a while, if grieve you must,
Then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It is only for a while that we must part,
So treasure the memories within your heart.

I won’t be far away for life goes on.
And if you need me, call and I will come.

Though you can’t see or touch me, I will be near.
And if you listen with your heart, you’ll hear,
All my love around you soft and clear.

And then, when you come this way alone,
I’ll greet you with a smile and a ‘Welcome Home’.

Songs “ In Memoriam”

Tears in Heaven: Eric Clapton

Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You

Elton John – Candle In The Wind

Imagine – John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band

Today’s Posts

1. Russia: Reuters: Russian scientist behind COVID-19 vaccine defends ‘wartime’ roll-out
Russia plans to share preliminary results of its COVID-19 vaccine trial based on the first six weeks of monitoring participants, raising the tempo in an already frenzied global race to end the pandemic.
Alexander Gintsburg, head of the Gamaleya Institute that produced the Sputnik V vaccine, told Reuters that the pace of its development was necessary under the “wartime” conditions of a pandemic but no corners were being cut.
Russia has pushed ahead with its potential COVID-19 vaccine at top speed with mass public vaccinations alongside the main human trial, raising concerns among some observers that it was prioritising national prestige over solid science and safety.
“People are dying just like during a war,” said Gintsburg, holding a crystal model of a coronavirus in his hand. “But this fast-tracked pace is not synonymous, as some media have suggested, with corners being cut. No way.”
Sitting in his wood-panelled office at the institute in Moscow, Gintsburg said his team had been set a tight deadline to produce a vaccine but all the guidelines for testing Sputnik V’s safety and efficacy had been followed.

2. India: Bloomberg: Coronavirus Super-Spreaders Drove Explosive Outbreak in India
Coronavirus super-spreaders were behind the explosion of Covid-19 in India, the country with the most cases after the U.S., researchers said.
A group of patients that included about 8% of India’s confirmed cases later led to almost two-thirds of its total infections, scientists said Wednesday in a study published in the journal Science. The research, based on tracing more than 3 million contacts in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu through Aug. 1, is the first major study of transmission in a developingcountry.
While most research on the pandemic has come from China, Europe and North America, cases are now burgeoning in India and other developing countries, according to researchers led by Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy who wrote the study. Barriers to health care are greater in these nations, and the risk of getting severely ill and dying from Covid is higher, they said.
“We’ve never had this degree of information to say, hey, some people are really transmitting the virus in a massive way,” Laxminarayan said in an interview. In contrast with the super-spreader minority, 71% of confirmed cases whose contacts were traced weren’t found to have spread the virus to anyone.

3. Jama: Risk of COVID-19 During Air Travel
How Is COVID-19 Transmitted?: The virus that causes COVID-19 is emitted when someone talks, coughs, sneezes, or sings, mainly in droplets that can be propelled a short distance, and sometimes in smaller aerosol particles that can remain suspended and travel further. Another person can be infected if these particles reach their mouth or nose, directly or via hands. Transmission via surface contact is also important in some cases.
How Clean Is the Air in Passenger Aircraft?: Air enters the cabin from overhead inlets and flows downwards toward floor-level outlets. Air enters and leaves the cabin at the same seat row or nearby rows. There is relatively little airflow forward and backward between rows, making it less likely to spread respiratory particles between rows. The airflow in current jet airliners is much faster than normal indoor buildings. Half of it is fresh air from outside, the other half is recycled through HEPA filters of the same type used in operating rooms. Any remaining risk to be managed is from contact with other passengers who might be infectious. Seat backs provide a partial physical barrier, and most people remain relatively still, with little face-to-face contact. Despite substantial numbers of travelers, the number of suspected and confirmed cases of in-flight COVID-19 transmission between passengers around the world appears small (approximately 42 in total). In comparison, a study of COVID-19 transmission aboard high-speed trains in China among contacts of more than 2300 known cases showed an overall rate of 0.3% among all passengers. Onboard risk can be further reduced with face coverings, as in other settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

4. Nature: The major genetic risk factor for severe COVID-19 is inherited from Neanderthals
A recent genetic association study1 identified a gene cluster on chromosome 3 as a risk locus for respiratory failure upon SARS-CoV-2 infection. A new study2 comprising 3,199 hospitalized COVID-19 patients and controls finds that this is the major genetic risk factor for severe SARS-CoV-2 infection and hospitalization (COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative). Here, we show that the risk is conferred by a genomic segment of ~50 kb that is inherited from Neanderthals and is carried by ~50% of people in South Asia and ~16% of people in Europe today.

5. Yemen: Norwegian Refugee Council: Is it safe to go back to school in Yemen?
This month, parents around the world are asking whether it’s safe for their children to return to school. This same dilemma is playing out in Yemen, where schools have been closed since March because of the virus.
Yemeni parents may have lived through five years of bombings, or had to flee their homes, but they still care deeply about their children.
Here are six questions that parents and children are asking themselves.

6. Nature: COVID has killed more than one million people. How many more will die?
Researchers warn that official figures underestimate the pandemic’s real death toll, which could more than triple if the virus is allowed to spread unchecked.
Nine months into the coronavirus pandemic, the official global death toll has now exceeded one million people. But researchers warn that this figure probably vastly underestimates the actual number of people who have died from COVID-19. And, in a worst-case scenario, one group of modellers suggests that the number of deaths could exceed 3 million people by January.
The one-million milestone was hit on 28 September, according to the COVID case tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
In reality, it is likely that this number “was exceeded some time ago”, says Andrea Gómez Ayora, an epidemiologist at the University of Chile in Santiago. Many deaths related to the coronavirus have gone unreported, she says, particularly in countries where testing isn’t widespread. The death toll will continue to rise as diagnostic capacity increases around the globe.
Nevertheless, this is a significant moment, says Naomi Rogers, a historian of medicine at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. “It’s an even more powerful example of the devastation of this particular pandemic, which, as we live through it, has been very easy to normalize.”

7. International: Reuters: Neanderthal genes linked to severe COVID-19; Mosquitoes cannot transmit the coronavirus
A group of genes passed down from extinct human cousins is linked with a higher risk for severe COVID-19, researchers say. When they compared the genetic profiles of about 3,200 hospitalized COVID-19 patients and nearly 900,000 people from the general population, they found that a cluster of genes on chromosome 3 inherited from Neanderthals who lived more than 50,000 years ago is linked with 60% higher odds of needing hospitalization. People with COVID-19 who inherited this gene cluster are also more likely to need artificial breathing assistance, coauthor Hugo Zeberg of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology said in a news release. The prevalence of these genes varies widely, according to a report published on Wednesday in Nature. In South Asia, roughly 30% of people have them, compared to roughly one in six Europeans. They are almost non-existent in Africa and East Asia. While the study cannot explain why these particular genes confer a higher risk, the authors conclude, “with respect to the current pandemic, it is clear that gene flow from Neanderthals has tragic consequences.” (go.nature.com/36lHwnC)
A mosquito that bites a person with COVID-19 cannot pass the coronavirus infection to its next victim, according to a study by researchers from U.S. Department of Agriculture and Kansas State University. Mosquitoes are notorious disease carriers, transmitting West Nile virus, Zika, and many other viruses from person to person and among animals. In laboratory experiments, researchers allowed several species of disease-carrying mosquitoes, plus some other biting insects, to feed on blood spiked with the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The virus was unable to survive and replicate itself in any of the insects, they reported in a paper posted on Wednesday on bioRxiv ahead of peer review. “Biting insects do not pose a risk for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans or animals,” the researchers said. (bit.ly/3jgeLMw)

8. Uganda: Norwegian Refugee Council: “When I teach, I am free”
He fled South Sudan with nothing, but as soon as he arrived in Uganda, he began teaching. Dugale believes in the next generation, and he will stop at nothing until every child can return to their community ready to face the future.
“I have lost a lot of things,” he says, “but when I enter the classroom, I leave all that behind me. I teach like I would normally, and I am free.”
Dugale Severy is 38 years old. He began his teaching career in his hometown in South Sudan straight after leaving university. Throughout his own schooling he benefitted from teachers who made things clear, and this gave him the courage to learn more. Teaching, he says, is his way of serving others.
“I love teaching,” Dugale says with a smile. “When you are a teacher, you can help everybody without borders. I want to inspire my students to become teachers themselves so that they can help other refugee children.”
Dugale now teaches on the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Accelerated Education Programme in Nyumanzi Settlement, Uganda. Many of his students have lost loved ones and missed out on many years of school. All have been forced to flee their homes.This is something Dugale understands, as he too was forced to flee.

9. International: Politico: 25 years wiped out in 25 weeks: Pandemic sets the world back decades
Progress on global health and the worldwide economy has regressed, Gates Foundation report finds. In only half a year, the coronavirus pandemic has wiped out decades of global development in everything from health to the economy.
Progress has not only stopped, but has regressed in areas like getting people out of poverty and improving conditions for women and children around the world, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation finds in its 2020 Goalkeepers report published Monday. Vaccination coverage, seen as a good indicator for how health systems are functioning, is dropping to levels last seen in the 1990s, it says.
“In other words, we’ve been set back about 25 years in about 25 weeks,” the report says. “What the world does in the next months matters a great deal.”
Global action to stop the pandemic would prevent illness and deaths caused by Covid-19, but there’s more at stake: The crisis sets back strides made in global poverty, HIV transmission, malnutrition, gender equality, education and many more areas. Even if the world manages to get the coronavirus under control soon, it could take years to claw back lost progress.

10. The Telegraph: A global pandemic requires a world effort to end it – none of us will be safe until everyone is safe
Access to vaccines, tests and treatments for everyone who needs them is the only way out – this is a historic test for global cooperation
Let us make no mistake: our fight against coronavirus is far from over.
Worldwide, trends are worrying. Close to a million lives have been directly lost to the disease and essential health services are disrupted for millions. With jobs at risk, governments have pumped more than $10 trillion into economies to safeguard livelihoods. And people around the world have made personal sacrifices to their daily lives for the greater good. A global pandemic requires no less than a world effort to end it. None of us will be safe until everyone is safe. Global access to coronavirus vaccines, tests and treatments for everyone who needs them, anywhere, is the only way out. This is a historical stress test for global cooperation. But we are ready to meet this challenge. This is why we have launched the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT)-Accelerator. This global collaborative framework brings together governments, scientists, businesses, philanthropists and global health organisations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CEPI, FIND, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, The Global Fund, Unitaid, Wellcome, WHO and the World Bank.
The ACT-Accelerator drives the research, development and delivery of tests, treatments and vaccines across the world. And it has already achieved impressive results; 1,700 clinical trials, as well as 100 countries surveyed to identify capacity gaps. It did this in only five months and on a 3 billion US dollars budget. If we manage to reach the ACT-Accelerator’s investment needs, estimated at 38 billion US dollars, just imagine what we could achieve and how fast we could achieve it.
The ACT-Accelerator partners’ calculations show that fully financing the ACT-Accelerator would pay back the investment very quickly, once the crisis is ended and global trade and travel are restored. Simply put: we will recover much faster from this crisis with investment in the ACT-Accelerator.

11. USA: Washington Post: At least 207,000 people have died from coronavirus in the U.S. At least 7,245,000 cases have been reported.
The average daily death toll had declined from more than 2,000 per day in April to a low of 463 per day in early July. But as people began to resume more normal activities, new covid-19 cases soared, and deaths soon followed.
By August the virus was killing an average of more than 1,000 people each day.
Health officials anticipated the rise in deaths because the disease had been accelerating through populous Sun Belt states such as Texas, Florida and California for weeks. In late August and September, the nation’s most severe hot spots sprung up across the Midwest.
“We just have to assume the monster is everywhere,” said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine
Localities reported not only a surge in new cases but also large increases in hospitalizations, crowded ICUs, and a jump in the percentage of positive tests.

12. Nature: Efficacy of masks and face coverings in controlling outward aerosol particle emission from expiratory activities
The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a surge in demand for facemasks to protect against disease transmission. In response to shortages, many public health authorities have recommended homemade masks as acceptable alternatives to surgical masks and N95 respirators. Although mask wearing is intended, in part, to protect others from exhaled, virus-containing particles, few studies have examined particle emission by mask-wearers into the surrounding air. Here, we measured outward emissions of micron-scale aerosol particles by healthy humans performing various expiratory activities while wearing different types of medical-grade or homemade masks. Both surgical masks and unvented KN95 respirators, even without fit-testing, reduce the outward particle emission rates by 90% and 74% on average during speaking and coughing, respectively, compared to wearing no mask, corroborating their effectiveness at reducing outward emission. These masks similarly decreased the outward particle emission of a coughing superemitter, who for unclear reasons emitted up to two orders of magnitude more expiratory particles via coughing than average. In contrast, shedding of non-expiratory micron-scale particulates from friable cellulosic fibers in homemade cotton-fabric masks confounded explicit determination of their efficacy at reducing expiratory particle emission. Audio analysis of the speech and coughing intensity confirmed that people speak more loudly, but do not cough more loudly, when wearing a mask. Further work is needed to establish the efficacy of cloth masks at blocking expiratory particles for speech and coughing at varied intensity and to assess whether virus-contaminated fabrics can generate aerosolized fomites, but the results strongly corroborate the efficacy of medical-grade masks and highlight the importance of regular washing of homemade masks.

13. Nature: Alexa, do I have COVID-19?
Researchers are exploring ways to use people’s voices to diagnose coronavirus infections, dementia, depression and much more.
In March, as the staggering scope of the coronavirus pandemic started to become clear, officials around the world began enlisting the public to join in the fight. Hospitals asked local companies to donate face masks. Researchers called on people who had recovered from COVID-19 to donate their blood plasma. And in Israel, the defence ministry and a start-up company called Vocalis Health asked people to donate their voices. Vocalis, a voice-analysis company with offices in Israel and the United States, had previously built a smartphone app that could detect flare-ups of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by listening for signs that users were short of breath when speaking. The firm wanted to do the same thing with COVID-19. People who had tested positive for the coronavirus could participate simply by downloading a Vocalis research app. Once a day, they fired up the app and spoke into their phones, describing an image aloud and counting from 50 to 70. Then Vocalis began processing these recordings with its machine-learning system, alongside the voices of people who had tested negative for the disease, in an attempt to identify a voiceprint for the illness. By mid-summer, the firm had more than 1,500 voice samples and a pilot version of a digital COVID-19 screening tool. The tool, which the company is currently testing around the world, is not intended to provide a definitive diagnosis, but to help clinicians triage potential cases, identifying people who might be most in need of testing, quarantine or in-person medical care. “Can we help with our AI algorithm?” asks Tal Wenderow, the president and chief executive of Vocalis. “This is not invasive, it’s not a drug, we’re not changing anything. All you need to do is speak.”

14. Austria: New York Times: Ski, Party, Seed a Pandemic: The travel rules that let Covid-19 take flight
The World Health Organization said open borders would help fight disease. Experts, and a global treaty, emphatically agreed. But the scientific evidence was never behind them.
They came from across the world to ski in the most famous resorts of the Austrian alps. Jacob Homiller and his college friends flew in from the United States. Jane Witt, a retired lecturer, arrived from London for a family reunion. Annette Garten, the youth director at a tennis club in Hamburg, was celebrating her birthday with her husband and two grown children. They knew in late February and early March that the coronavirus was spreading in nearby northern Italy, and across the other border in Germany, but no one was alarmed. Austrian officials downplayed concerns as tourists crowded into cable cars by day, and après-ski bars at night. “The whole world meets in Ischgl,” said Ms. Garten. Then they all went home, unwittingly taking the virus with them. Infected in Ischgl (pronounced “ISH-gul”) or in surrounding villages, thousands of skiers carried the coronavirus to more than 40 countries on five continents. Many of Iceland’s first known cases were traced to Ischgl. In March, nearly half the cases in Norway were linked to Austrian ski holidays.

15. International: McMaster University: MacTalks: Video: Watch: Infectious disease experts on preventing the next pandemic
The MacTalks series continues with Preventing the next Pandemic, which explores innovative research and what it will take to prevent future pandemics.
The talk featured Gerry Wright, the inaugural lead of McMaster’s new Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats and scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, and author and journalist Maryn McKenna, a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Human Health at Emory University. Both are experts in antimicrobial and antibiotic resistance (AMR), a growing global threat as more and more bacteria become resistant to medications designed to fight infection and speed healing – making a procedure as simple as a tooth pulling potentially deadly. In Canada, AMR is already twice as deadly as traffic accidents and homicides combined.
The next pandemic could be an existing infectious disease that morphs into something more dangerous, a new infectious disease or a virus like the one that’s so seriously impacting the world now. Wright and McKenna are immersed in this latest pandemic, both from the perspective of increasing understanding of it, and working across boundaries to help resolve its devastating impacts.

16. India: Nature: India pushes bold ‘one nation, one subscription’ journal-access plan
Researchers will also recommend an open-access policy that promotes research being shared in online repositories.
The Indian government is pushing a bold proposal that would make scholarly literature accessible for free to everyone in the country. The government wants to negotiate with the world’s biggest scientific publishers to set up nationwide subscriptions, rather than many agreements with individual institutions that only scholars can use, say researchers consulting for the government.
The proposal is expected to be part of the government’s latest science, technology and innovation policy, which is being developed by the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India and the Department of Science and Technology. A draft is likely to be released in the coming weeks, and will need to be approved by the cabinet, which is likely to happen before the year’s end.
The success of the proposal is also heavily dependent on publishers’ willingness to negotiate nationwide subscriptions. But if successful, India would become the largest country to strike deals that give access to paywalled articles to all citizens — more than 1.3 billion people — say researchers. “If India could do it, and make it cheaper, many countries will be interested,” says Peter Suber, the director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

17. South Africa: Businesstech: Changes to South Africa’s coronavirus advisors
Some members of the MAC on Covid-19 were advised by letter this week that the group is being reconfigured. The ‘disbanding’ follows Mkhize’s announcement on 14 September that he would reconstitute the committee, News24 reported this weekend, citing the letter. However, Mkhize explained that the MAC requires strengthening to ensure that it is able to address gaps and target new challenges.
“As we find ourselves in an extremely fortunate position of achieving effective transmission control, the true test lies in our ability to maintain low transmission rates,” he said. “This requires a more holistic approach to case management, preventive measures and public policy. It, therefore, became necessary to strengthen the MAC on Covid-19 so that it falls in line with its mandate to advise on effective mechanisms for the prevention of onward transmission of Covid-19.”

18. International: BBC: Coronavirus: New global test will give results ‘in minutes’
A test that can diagnose Covid-19 in minutes will dramatically expand the capacity to detect cases in low- and middle-income countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. $5 (£3.80) test could transform tracking of Covid-19 in less wealthy countries, which have shortages of healthcare workers and laboratories.
A deal with manufacturers will provide 120 million tests over six months. The WHO’s head called it a major milestone.
Lengthy gaps between taking a test and receiving a result have hampered many countries’ attempts to control the spread of coronavirus. In some countries with high infection rates, including India and Mexico, experts have said that low testing rates are disguising the true spread of their outbreaks.
The “new, highly portable and easy-to-use test” will provide results in 15-30 minutes instead of hours or days, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference on Monday.
Drugs manufacturers Abbott and SD Biosensor have agreed with the charitable Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to produce 120 million of the tests, Dr Tedros explained. The deal covers 133 countries, including many in Latin America which is currently the region hardest-hit by the pandemic in terms of fatality and infection rates.

19. India; Reuters: India’s coronavirus infections surge to 6.23 million
India’s coronavirus case tally surged to 6.23 million after it reported 80,472 new infections in the last 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed on Wednesday.
Deaths from coronavirus infections rose by 1,179 in the last 24 hours to 97,497, the ministry said.
The south Asian nation, which is second only to the United States in terms of total cases, has a scope for higher infections with a large chunk of the population still unexposed to the virus, a survey showed on Tuesday.

20. International: Reuters: Explainer: Why the coronavirus death rate still eludes scientists
Global deaths from COVID-19 have reached 1 million, but experts are still struggling to figure out a crucial metric in the pandemic: the fatality rate – the percentage of people infected with the pathogen who die.
Here is a look at issues surrounding better understanding the COVID-19 death rate.
How is a death rate calculated?
A true mortality rate would compare deaths against the total number of infections, a denominator that remains unknown because the full scope of asymptomatic cases is difficult to measure. Many people who become infected simply do not experience symptoms.
Scientists have said the total number of infections is exponentially higher than the current number of confirmed cases, now at 33 million globally. Many experts believe the coronavirus likely kills 0.5% to 1% of people infected, making it a very dangerous virus globally until a vaccine is identified.
Researchers have begun to break down that risk by age group, as evidence mounts that younger people and children are far less likely to experience severe disease.

21. USA: Washington Post: The secret to Australia’s success in beating the coronavirus? Being an island helps.
When it comes to defeating the coronavirus pandemic, Australia has a lesson for the world: It pays to be an island.
On its present trajectory, Australia could eliminate the virus by Christmas, some epidemiologists say, and join New Zealand, Vietnam, Brunei and some Caribbean islands that have claimed, and in some cases lost, the coveted “zero covid-19” status.
On Thursday morning, Australian health authorities reported 17 new cases and two deaths in the previous 24 hours — meanwhile, in Britain there were 7,108 cases and 71 deaths — continuing an eight-week decline. It has prompted policymakers to begin loosening strict rules and allowed normal life to resume for most Australians — except that their island is still largely cut off from the rest of the world.

22. USA: New York Times: Study Finds ‘Single Largest Driver’ of Coronavirus Misinformation: Trump
Cornell University researchers analyzing 38 million English-language articles about the pandemic found that President Trump was the largest driver of the “infodemic.”
Of the flood of misinformation, conspiracy theories and falsehoods seeding the internet on the coronavirus, one common thread stands out: President Trump.
That is the conclusion of researchers at Cornell University who analyzed 38 million articles about the pandemic in English-language media around the world. Mentions of Mr. Trump made up nearly 38 percent of the overall “misinformation conversation,” making the president the largest driver of the “infodemic” — falsehoods involving the pandemic. The study, to be released Thursday, is the first comprehensive examination of coronavirus misinformation in traditional and online media.
“The biggest surprise was that the president of the United States was the single largest driver of misinformation around Covid,” said Sarah Evanega, the director of the Cornell Alliance for Science and the study’s lead author. “That’s concerning in that there are real-world dire health implications.”
Of the flood of misinformation, conspiracy theories and falsehoods seeding the internet on the coronavirus, one common thread stands out: President Trump.
That is the conclusion of researchers at Cornell University who analyzed 38 million articles about the pandemic in English-language media around the world. Mentions of Mr. Trump made up nearly 38 percent of the overall “misinformation conversation,” making the president the largest driver of the “infodemic” — falsehoods involving the pandemic. The study, to be released Thursday, is the first comprehensive examination of coronavirus misinformation in traditional and online media.
“The biggest surprise was that the president of the United States was the single largest driver of misinformation around Covid,” said Sarah Evanega, the director of the Cornell Alliance for Science and the study’s lead author. “That’s concerning in that there are real-world dire health implications.”

23. International: The Strategist: How to Travel and Commute Amid the Coronavirus Outbreak, According to Experts
With lockdown orders relaxing and expiring across the country, more and more people are beginning to travel — both for work and leisure. As of July 24, face masks are now mandatory in a number of public spaces, including shops and supermarkets, post offices, and indoor shopping centers (they have been mandatory on public transport and taxis since June).
To find out the safest way to commute during the pandemic, we checked in with a handful of experts — including Dr. Waleed Javaid, the director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai Downtown; Dr. David Hirschwerk, an infectious-disease specialist at North Shore University Hospital; Dr. Aaron Glatt, the chair of medicine at Mount Sinai South Nassau and a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America; and Dr. Syra Madad, an American pathogen preparedness expert and epidemiologist — many of whom we also spoke to in early March, around the time the coronavirus epidemic became a global pandemic.
Much of the advice they gave us back then — like maintaining social distance and keeping hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and tissues close at hand — remains in place. But now, more than three months into the pandemic, the doctors shared some new best practices for travel and commuting. Arguably the most important: Wearing a mask in transit is essential to minimize the chance of spreading and contracting COVID-19.

24. UK: Oxford Academic: Age and Aging: Probable delirium is a presenting symptom of COVID-19 in frail, older adults: a cohort study of 322 hospitalised and 535 community-based older adults
Frailty, increased vulnerability to physiological stressors, is associated with adverse outcomes. COVID-19 exhibits a more severe disease course in older, co-morbid adults. Awareness of atypical presentations is critical to facilitate early identification.
Hospital cohort: significantly higher prevalence of probable delirium in the frail sample, with no difference in fever or cough. Community-based cohort: significantly higher prevalence of possible delirium in frailer, older adults, and fatigue and shortness of breath.
This is the first study demonstrating higher prevalence of probable delirium as a COVID-19 symptom in older adults with frailty compared to other older adults. This emphasises need for systematic frailty assessment and screening for delirium in acutely ill older patients in hospital and community settings. Clinicians should suspect COVID-19 in frail adults with delirium.

25. Puerto Rico: NBC News: Coronavirus worsens food insecurity in Puerto Rico—amid a looming loss of federal funds
Nearly half of the island’s population, including 300,000 children, stand to lose nutrition assistance aid as families grapple with drastic unemployment rates.
Six months into the coronavirus pandemic, Modesta Irizarry has seen the growing toll of food insecurity across communities in Puerto Rico.
From homeless people and families living in middle-class neighborhoods to those who are unemployed or on food stamps, over 2,000 families from different walks of life are showing up at the town of Loíza every other Saturday to pick up grocery boxes.
“The food situation is real and very serious,” said Irizarry, who partners with a nonprofit, Cáritas de Puerto Rico, who helps distribute the donated foods.
“Maybe it doesn’t affect all communities in the same way,” Irizarry told NBC News in Spanish, “but it’s not normal for people to just go hungry.”
Food insecurity in Puerto Rico has been a longstanding problem since the island embarked on the largest municipal bankruptcy proceeding in U.S. history less than a decade ago. About one-third of adults reported facing difficulties affording adequate nutrition in 2015, according to the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics. The devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017, recent earthquakes and the coronavirus pandemic have only worsened living conditions on the island—making people more likely to skip meals or eat smaller portions to make food last longer.

26. USA: CNBC News: 1 in 4 women are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce due to the coronavirus
The coronavirus crisis is continuing to impact the way we all live and work, but new data from Lean In and McKinsey & Company shows that women are being disproportionately affected by today’s pandemic.
In its newly released “Women in the Workplace” report, Lean In and McKinsey & Company found that one in four women are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce due to the impact of Covid-19.
“This is the most alarming report we’ve ever seen,” Facebook’s chief operating officer and Lean In founder Sheryl Sandberg tells CNBC Make It. “I think what’s happening is this report confirms what people have suspected, but we haven’t really had the data, which is that the coronavirus is hitting women incredibly hard and really risks undoing the progress we’ve made for women in the workforce.”

27. USA: CBS News: Video: Scientists warn of airborne coronavirus spread
Scientists have been debating how the coronavirus spreads since the pandemic began. Those conversations have deepened recently as some experts argue that aerosols may play a bigger role in the virus’ transmission than previously thought. CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook spoke with aerosol scientists Linsey Marr and Kim Prather about how the virus travels through the air and how to best protect yourself against it.
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28. International: New York Times: Coronavirus Deaths Pass One Million Worldwide
Over the past 10 months, the virus has taken more lives than H.I.V., malaria, influenza and cholera. And as it sows destruction in daily life around the globe, it is still growing quickly.
More than H.I.V. More than dysentery. More than malaria, influenza, cholera and measles — combined.
In the 10 months since a mysterious pneumonia began striking residents of Wuhan, China, Covid-19 has killed more than one million people worldwide as of Monday — an agonizing toll compiled from official counts, yet one that far understates how many have really died. It may already have overtaken tuberculosis and hepatitis as the world’s deadliest infectious disease, and unlike all the other contenders, it is still growing fast.
Like nothing seen in more than a century, the coronavirus has infiltrated every populated patch of the globe, sowing terror and poverty, infecting millions of people in some nations and paralyzing entire economies. But as attention focuses on the devastation caused by halting a large part of the world’s commercial, educational and social life, it is all too easy to lose sight of the most direct human cost.
More than a million people — parents, children, siblings, friends, neighbors, colleagues, teachers, classmates — all gone, suddenly, prematurely. Those who survive Covid-19 are laid low for weeks or even months before recovering, and many have lingering ill effectswhose severity and duration remain unclear.

29. Lebanon: Norwegian Refugee Council: “Discrimination is part of our everyday lives”
“Disasters like this can bring out the worst in people,” says Neji, a 25-year-old Syrian refugee in Beirut. He has been living as a refugee for the past six years and has faced discrimination. As the situation in Lebanon deteriorates, he is feeling increasingly unsafe in the country where he once sought refuge.
On 4 August 2020 Beirut was hit by a massive explosion that devastated thousands of lives. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has been repairing homes and providing cash-for-rent support to enable people to live in safe and dignified conditions.It was while we were assessing the needs of those living in the most affected areas that we met 25-year-old Neji*. His life has been characterised by chaos and conflict for several years. Today, he lives in a two-room apartment with seven other Syrian men.
On the day of the explosion, Neji was at home when he heard what he thought were fireworks. He stepped out into the courtyard around the corner and saw smoke rising from the port, less than 1 km away from where he lives. People in his neighbourhood started to gather outside wondering what might be on fire. Little did they know that just few minutes later, they would be in the middle of the worst explosion in the history of Lebanon.

30. USA: USA Today: Colleges are exploding with COVID and have lax testing. One school is keeping cases down.
Tiny Colby College is running one of the nation’s most rigorous COVID testing programs. So far, it’s working to keep coronavirus cases at bay.
Colby College students stick out here in this New England town. They’re young, often wearing the school’s blue and white, and almost always in a mask, even when common sense or personal convenience would suggest alternative options.
Walking to a car or waiting for a bus in town? Colby students wear masks.
Running laps around a field? Colby students wear masks.
Reading alone in a grassy patch on campus? Colby students wear masks.
Masks are required by the college at almost all times, which surpasses the guidance issued by the state of Maine. It’s all part of Colby’s COVID-19 protocols, including a testing program among the most stringent in the nation, despite Colby’s remote location and its diminutive size. Students, staff and faculty must submit to a nasal-swab test twice a week. That’s a reduction from three times weekly at the beginning of the semester.
Few campuses, especially liberal arts colleges like Colby, have launched such aggressive plans for combating the virus in-person. Most colleges’ plans boil down to: send students home, lock them down on campus or march forward while case counts continue climbing. The rest largely have stuck with digital instruction.
Even Johns Hopkins University, known for its leading work on infectious diseases including COVID-19, abandoned plans to open its campus with a massive testing program, citing the worsening pandemic.
That makes Colby’s multimillion-dollar effort all the more striking. Its leaders bet the institution’s testing, preparation and location in a relative haven from the coronavirus would keep students safe, perhaps even safer than they would be at home. So far, they have been right.

31. Vietnam: BMJ Open: Contamination and washing of cloth masks and risk of infection among hospital health workers in Vietnam: a post hoc analysis of a randomised controlled trial
Background In a previous randomised controlled trial (RCT) in hospital healthcare workers (HCWs), cloth masks resulted in a higher risk of respiratory infections compared with medical masks. This was the only published RCT of cloth masks at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Objective To do a post hoc analysis of unpublished data on mask washing and mask contamination from the original RCT to further understand poor performance of the two-layered cotton cloth mask used by HCWs in that RCT. Setting 14 secondary-level/tertiary-level hospitals in Hanoi, Vietnam. Participants A subgroup of 607 HCWs aged ≥18 years working full time in selected high-risk wards, who used a two-layered cloth mask and were part of a randomised controlled clinical trial comparing medical masks and cloth masks. Intervention Washing method for cloth masks (self-washing or hospital laundry). A substudy of contamination of a sample of 15 cloth and medical masks was also conducted. Outcome measure Infection rate over 4 weeks of follow up and viral contamination of masks tested by multiplex PCR. Results Viral contamination with rhinovirus was identified on both used medical and cloth masks. Most HCW (77% of daily washing) self-washed their masks by hand. The risk of infection was more than double among HCW self-washing their masks compared with the hospital laundry (HR 2.04 (95% CI 1.03 to 4.00); p=0.04). There was no significant difference in infection between HCW who wore cloth masks washed in the hospital laundry compared with medical masks (p=0.5). Conclusions Using self-reported method of washing, we showed double the risk of infection with seasonal respiratory viruses if masks were self-washed by hand by HCWs. The majority of HCWs in the study reported hand-washing their mask themselves. This could explain the poor performance of two layered cloth masks, if the self-washing was inadequate. Cloth masks washed in the hospital laundry were as protective as medical masks. Both cloth and medical masks were contaminated, but only cloth masks were reused in the study, reiterating the importance of daily washing of reusable cloth masks using proper method. A well-washed cloth mask can be as protective as a medical mask.

32. USA: Washington Post: A grim coronavirus benchmark highlights America’s failure to halt the pandemic
Out of 1 million deaths globally, one in five victims was an American.
Out of every 1,600 Americans who was alive at the beginning of 2020, one has since died of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus that’s still spreading around the world. That’s almost certainly a low number; in fact, it’s likely that the death toll from the virus in the United States is closer to 263,000, compared to the 204,000 that The Washington Post has confirmed. That would mean that one out of every 1,250 Americans has now died from the virus.
Globally, the confirmed death toll from the virus has passed 1 million. That, too, is low. It’s low because some cases haven’t been confirmed to have been caused by the virus (though can be inferred, as above, from elevated death tolls). It’s also low because some countries (probably including Iran and China) have underreported even deaths that they’ve confirmed. But it is nonetheless a milestone and a tragic one.
The numbers should serve as a reminder of how badly the United States has fared during the pandemic.

33. USA: Washington Post: New York City records significant uptick in positivity rates
New York City has recorded a significant uptick in its daily rate of positive coronavirus tests, officials announced Tuesday, with nine Zip codes in Brooklyn and Queens driving much of the increase.
At news conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said the citywide daily positivity rate stood at 3.25 percent, exceeding 3 percent for the first time since June. A day earlier, on Monday, that figure was 1.93 percent.
“The fact is, for the first time in quite a while, the daily number is over 3 percent,” de Blasio said. “That is cause for real concern.”
The seven-day average test positivity rate was 1.38 percent, and de Blasio said the city’s 137 other Zip codes were generally “doing well.”
But news about Tuesday’s daily rate came at an important juncture for the city as it welcomes students back for in-person instruction. The mayor previously said he would shutter schools if the citywide test positivity rate went over 3 percent as a seven-day rolling average.
Schools in the nine affected Zip codes have not seen a corresponding increase in cases, he said Tuesday, and health officials will be carefully watching the test positivity rate to see whether there is a trend. The nine Zip codes, which include Jewish Orthodox communities, account for 25 percent of new cases despite making up 7 percent of the city’s population, the New York Times reported.

34. A full access package includes WHO policy guidance on the use of antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests, manufacturer volume guarantees for low and middle-income countries, catalytic funding to assist governments to deploy the tests and an initial US$50 million procurement fund
Several rapid, point-of-care antigen tests are being assessed by WHO for Emergency Use Listing (EUL)
Agreements between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and test manufacturers Abbott and SD Biosensor make available innovative tests priced at a maximum of US$5 for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)
The Global Fund commits an initial US$50 million to enable countries to purchase the new tests, with the first orders expected to be placed this week
Expedited market introduction of these tests in multiple LMICs is being supported through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), Unitaid, FIND, CHAI, and their partners
This is the latest move from the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator to develop, procure and distribute critical new tools to fight the pandemic; new tests are urgently needed to meet the huge unmet needs for testing worldwide

35. USA: New York Times: Studies Begin to Untangle Obesity’s Role in Covid-19
People with extra weight may struggle to mount a robust immune response to the coronavirus — and may respond poorly to a vaccine.
As rates of obesity continue to climb in the United States, its role in Covid-19 is a thorny scientific question. A flurry of recent studieshas shown that people with extra weight are more susceptible than others to severe bouts of disease. And experiments in animals and human cells have demonstrated how excess fat can disrupt the immune system.
But the relationship between obesity and Covid-19 is complex, and many mysteries remain. Excess weight tends to go hand in hand with other medical conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes, which may by themselves make it harder to fight Covid-19. Obesity also disproportionately affects people who identify as Black or Latino — groups at much higher risk than others of contracting and dying from Covid-19, in large part because of exposure at their workplaces, limited access to medical care and other inequities tied to systemic racism. And people with extra weight must grapple with persistent stigma about their appearance and health, even from doctors, further imperiling their prognosis.

36. India: BBC: Coronavirus: The disabled Indians fighting for their livelihoods
As India approaches its ninth month of the coronavirus pandemic, many disabled people continue to struggle to buy food and obtain basic medical care and many are losing their livelihoods, as Arundhati Nath reports.
Twenty-five-year-old Swaminathan used to be the breadwinner for his family-of-five.
“I worked as a steward at Talking Hands Restaurant in Hyderabad until the lockdown was announced,” says Swaminathan, who is deaf and lives in Thanjavur, South India.
When the restaurant where all staff are deaf closed in March, he lost his livelihood.
“Without a job, money was a problem and we had trouble getting provisions for food and refilling gas cylinders,” he says.
While organisations like the Deaf Enabled Foundation support him and other deaf people financially, Swaminathan and his family remain affected by health issues, but are fearful of visiting a hospital because of the scale of the crisis.

37. Germany: CNBC News: Germany looks to tackle coronavirus rise with 3 simple strategies
Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to avoid another full national lockdown as coronavirus infections begin to spike again in Germany.
Like its European neighbors, Germany has not been spared a second wave of the virus after the region’s economies reopened during the summer. Although, so far it has not seen a surge in cases like France, Spain and the U.K.
For instance, while the U.K. reported 7,143 new cases and 71 deaths from the virus Tuesday, Germany’s public health bodyreported 2,089 new cases and 11 fatalities.

38. USA: Boston.com: Those struggling with addiction face double risk during COVID-19 pandemic, advocates say
“It’s a lot harder to get people the services they need. And that is absolutely going to have a negative impact on overdose rates.”
Even as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages lives around the world, the opioid epidemic continues to rage in New England and claim its own victims.
Most business may have halted in the path of the novel coronavirus, but Sarah Mackin, director of harm reduction services for Boston’s AHOPE, cautioned that the overdose crisis continues on a daily basis and those struggling still need resources on their paths to recovery from addiction.
She and her colleagues within the Boston Public Health Commission are working to continue to provide support to those struggling with substance use disorder, adjusting programming operations to meet social distancing guidelines and measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

39. USA: Boston.com: Doctor providing addiction care to homeless shares what is needed to address impacts of opioid crisis on Boston’s neighborhoods
“If there’s not housing on the other end, people end up back where they were.”
Residents of the South End and Roxbury are continuing to demonstrate against the conditions they are witnessing on their neighborhood streets, effects of the COVID-19 pandemic’s exacerbation of the opioid epidemic in the city.
Weekly protests have sought to draw attention to the situation that residents say has grown untenable outside their doors — an increase in the number of people living unhoused and struggling with addiction, leaving discarded syringes and human waste in parks, public alleys, and on sidewalks.
In calling for action, neighborhood residents are circulating a petition of demands online aimed at both city and state leaders, asking that services in the area be decentralized, among other steps. On Sunday, some neighborhood activists went as far as Swampscott to gather outside Gov. Charlie Baker’s house, depositing syringes on the sidewalk they said were from the area known as Mass. and Cass, the stretch of city blocks surrounding Mass. Ave. and Melnea Cass Boulevard where shelters and services offer support to those struggling with substance use disorders and homelessness.

40. USA: Reuters: COVID-19 cases among young adults in U.S. rise 55% in August: CDC
Coronavirus cases among young adults rose steadily across the United States in recent weeks as universities reopened, suggesting the need for this group to take more measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a U.S. health agency said.
Universities that want to reopen for in-person learning need to implement mitigation steps such as mask wearing and social distancing to curb the spread of the virus among young adults, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in the report here.
Between Aug. 2 and Sept. 5, weekly cases of COVID-19 among people aged 18 to 22 rose 55.1%. The Northeast region recorded a 144% increase in COVID-19 cases, while Midwest cases rose 123.4%, the report said.
The uptick in cases was not solely attributable to increased testing and could be linked to some universities resuming in-person attendance, the CDC researchers said. They also said transmission could also be among young adults not attending college.
Previous reports identify young adults as being less likely to adhere to prevention measures, the report said. In a separate study published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) on Tuesday, researchers reported bit.ly/33iBtON a rapid rise of COVID-19 cases two weeks after a North Carolina university opened its campus to students.

41. USA: Forbes: Google Maps’ Covid-19 Coronavirus Overlay: Here Are The Issues
The next time you open Google Maps, you may be able to find something else. There might be a “COVID layer” when you pull up the popular mapping app on your smartphone. No, it shouldn’t be an layer of the actual virus, the Covid-19 coronavirus, on your screen. That would not be safe.
Instead, when you open up a map of the area that you are interested in, you may have the option of overlaying seven-day averages of new Covid-19 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people. Alison Durkee described previously for Forbes some of the features of this new layer, including color-coding to show the density of new cases in different areas.
Sujoy Banerjee, a Product Manager for Google Maps, posted a Google blog entitled, “Navigate safely with new Covid data in Google Maps.” According to Banerjee, to get this overlay, you will be able to “tap on the layers button on the top right hand corner of your screen and click on ‘COVID-19 info’.” There will also be labels showing whether cases are trending up or down. The blog portrayed this new feature as “a tool that shows critical information about COVID-19 cases in an area so you can make more informed decisions about where to go and what to do.” Just make sure that you aren’t using the “Beauty supplies” layer and mistaking it for the Covid layer.

42. International: The Guardian: Covid-19 tests that give results in minutes to be rolled out across world
Global initiative will supply 120m rapid antigen tests to low- and middle-income countries
Tests for Covid-19 that show on-the-spot results in 15 to 30 minutes are about to be rolled out across the world, potentially saving many thousands of lives and slowing the pandemic in both poor and rich countries.
In a triumph for a global initiative to get vital drugs and vaccines to fight the virus, 120m rapid antigen tests from two companies will be supplied to low- and middle-income countries for $5 (£3.90) each or even less.
The tests, which look like a pregnancy test, with two blue lines displayed for positive, are read by a health worker. One test has received emergency approval from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the other is expected to get it shortly.

43. China: On Demand: Video: Making Art from a Pandemic: Wuhan, China
Wuhan was the epicenter of the novel coronavirus. Now, it’s home to a new art exhibition depicting the fear of infection and gratitude to those who kept the city safe. Behind the exhibition is young Wuhan artist Yang Qian. When lockdown began on January 23, 2020, she laid down her brushes and spent around 4 months delivering supplies to hospitals and care homes as a volunteer. Aware that she could become infected at any moment, she filmed her daily life and posted on social media. Follow the tireless volunteer work of this artist during Wuhan’s long lockdown.
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44. South Korea: The Hill: 90 percent of coronavirus patients experience side effects after recovery, study finds
An online survey of 965 recovered COVID-19 patients found 9 in 10 reported experiencing symptoms such as fatigue, loss of taste and smell and psychological issues.
Story at a glance
• The survey found fatigue was the most common reported side effect.
• The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said the study will soon be published with detailed analysis.
• The study comes as health officials are raising concerns about the long-term side effects of the virus that has infected more than 33 million people and left more than 1 million dead around the world.
Results from a preliminary study out of South Korea shows 9 out of 10 coronavirus patients reported experiencing at least one side effect of the disease after recovery, Reuters reports.
An online survey of 965 recovered COVID-19 patients conducted by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) found more than 90 percent of respondents reported experiencing side effects associated with the disease, such as fatigue, loss of sense of taste and smell and psychological effects.

45. Europe: CNBC News: 15-minute coronavirus test gets the green light in Europe
A test to detect Covid-19 that can be done at the point of care and gives results in 15 minutes has been given the greenlight in Europe, according to its maker, Becton Dickinson.
The test should be commercially available in Europe by the end of October, the diagnostics specialist said Wednesday, as it announced its antigen test had been granted a “CE mark” in Europe, meaning it conforms with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products sold within the region.
The new test delivers results in 15 minutes on a small, portable instrument, BD said, adding that this is a “critical improvement in turnaround time for Covid-19 diagnostics, because it provides real-time results and enables decision-making while the patient is still onsite.”

Best wishes to you all and stay safe
John Wynn-Jones