The federal department charged with inspecting farms that hire temporary foreign workers failed to keep tabs on how well employers were protecting their staff during the pandemic, Canada's auditor general reported today.
Auditor General Karen Hogan said inspectors working for Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) did not properly enforce new pandemic regulations designed to protect workers from COVID-19 — frequently skipping checks on whether employers offered drinking water, cleaning products, separate accommodations for infected workers and dedicated quarantine spaces for workers who were supposed to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Canada.
Foreign farm workers — who come to Canada on a seasonal basis to fill labour shortages in the agricultural sector — are uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19 because they often live in tight quarters in shared employer-provided accommodations.
Their findings, published in the International Journal of Health Geographics, show that following lockdown two (November 2020), there was a peak in people travelling and mixing – whether for work, shopping, schooling or socialising.
WorldPop Director, Professor Andy Tatem comments: “These fully anonymised data from Facebook shows us trends of how people were moving around their local area, or indeed further afield, during and between the three UK lockdowns and how users were clustered during these periods.
“Our analysis of the weeks approaching and after last Christmas shows there was a sudden surge in activity immediately after the November lockdown ended and then a dramatic drop in the ten days from around 18th-20th December. With levels of infection currently still high ahead of this Christmas and concern about the new Omicron variant, our study gives useful insights into people’s response to the tightening and relaxation of measures, as well as into mixing patterns during the festive season.”
Keen to study the scale of this issue, but unable to travel far from our locked-down homes, we decided to use data gathered through a citizen science app called Litterati. This app asks people around the world to record any litter they find.
In our new study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability, we analysed data on mask and glove litter from September 2019 (before the pandemic) up to October 2020. We looked at 11 countries, including the UK, and compared the litter trends with each country’s approach to dealing with COVID-19.
While we expected to see a rise in mask litter, we were surprised by how much it rose. Across the 11 countries in our study there was an almost 9,000% increase in masks as a proportion of all litter from September 2019 to October 2020 (over 80 fold).
We also found strong links between mask litter and national laws or policies requiring mask wearing.
Our findings can perhaps be best understood if we consider three key periods.
Researchers from Aarhus University have shown that the medicine Atovaquone has a protective effect both before and after infection with the coronavirus in human cells in the laboratory. This means that it can in all probability be used both for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19.
"There are competing arguments about whether lockdowns should be implemented," Dr. Guojun He explains. "On the one hand, some argue that lockdowns could bring about very significant health damages to normal people. For example, human mobility restrictions reduced access to healthcare services and business restrictions could lead to sharp economic disruption and massive layoffs, both of which may lead to higher overall mortality. On the other hand, virus containment policies could also cause unintended health benefits because they encourage health-protecting behaviors (like wearing face masks and washing hands frequently), diminish risks associated with business activities (like improving air quality and reducing work and traffic accidents), and reduce transmission of other infectious diseases (like seasonal influenza). Thus, whether lockdowns bring about additional health gains or losses is ultimately an empirical question."
Using death registry data that covers one quarter of the Chinese population, the research team compared non-COVID mortality before, during, and after the "lockdowns" between two groups of cities: those with strict anti-contagion policies and those without. They found that lockdown measures reduced the number of deaths from other causes by 4.6 percent, preventing 54,000 deaths from other causes during the initial 50 days of strict "lockdown." Surprisingly, the health benefits became even greater after the lockdown policies loosened. Mortality from other causes decreased 12.5 percent in the 115 days after the lockdown, leading to 293,000 lives saved across the country from non-COVID deaths.
To understand why, Dr. Guojun He and his co-authors found that less traffic and industrial activities led to less air pollution, in turn leading to large drop in cardiovascular disease deaths. Areas that were initially very polluted saw the greatest improvement, suggesting better air quality can be vital in preventing premature deaths. Social distancing and an increase in sanitizing surfaces, hand washing and mask wearing also contributed to fewer deaths from infectious diseases.
"Our research also points to the direction to improve population health after the lockdown measures are lifted," says Dr. He, "if the government can continue its effort to control pollution and the public are willing to keep good personal hygiene, these short-term benefits will become long lasting."
The project team led by Professor Mingxin HUANG at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), in collaboration with Professor Leo Lit Man POON’s research team at the Centre for Immunity and Infection of the LKS Faculty of Medicine of HKU, has made significant breakthroughs in producing the first anti-COVID-19 stainless steel that kills the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov-2) on its surface. The anti-COVID-19 stainless steel can also inactivate the H1N1 virus and E.coli on its surface.
"Biden hasn't achieved his expressed goal of an intellectual property waiver at the WTO [World Trade Organization] and it is looking unlikely he will succeed," Gostin explained. "He also hasn't succeeded in convincing or pressuring Pfizer and Modern to share their technologies with low and middle income countries. Thus everything hinges on donations which are lagging far behind what is needed."
This explains why India and South Africa have aligned with each other in calling for intellectual property rights waivers for COVID-19 vaccines and medical supplies. Intellectual property rights mean that a corporation like a pharmaceutical company can claim sole right to manufacture and profit from a copyrighted product, such as a vaccine. Because this allows a handful of wealthy companies to effectively control access to drugs, poorer nations are often left unable to either incentivize companies to prioritize their interests or make vaccines on their own. Waiving those rights would, at least in theory, liberate nations to make their own shots.
Critics say that this is the same reason why countries like the United Kingdom and Switzerland oppose a full waiver; because doing so would force pharmaceutical companies and other manufacturers to give out their products without maximum profit. Since suspending property rights requires a unanimous vote from WTO members, this means that the necessary waiver is unlikely to happen.
"What we see is scarcity and I think, to some extent, artificial scarcity, like scarcity that is not really a result of scientific or engineering problems but is instead a result of law and policy choices," Christopher Morten, deputy director of the Technology Law and Policy Clinic at NYU School of Law, told Salon in February. Morten said that because pharmaceutical corporations can decide to "make it difficult for companies to share or to gain access to each other's know-how, each other's knowledge," and are supported by our political and legal system while doing so, it is "too easy for companies to hoard all their knowledge or their technology and thwart competitors from manufacturing vaccines on scale."
Even in affluent nations like the United States, vaccines were still not distributed in an equitable manner to all populations, and it was not because the government lacked the productive or distributive capacity to achieve this. As University of Massachusetts Amherst economist emeritus Richard Wolff told Salon last year, the government regularly buys products from the military-industrial complex that it stockpiles for a potential future use. That makes it profitable to invest trillions in military spending.
The businesses that benefit from COVID-19, however, do not view it this way. They are concerned that government involvement in health care will put America on a slippery slope toward socialism.
"The medical profession, therefore, never wants the government anywhere near what they're doing, because it would threaten their monopoly," Wolff told Salon at the time. "If the government were making regular purchases, being the intermediary — as governments are virtually everywhere else on this planet — it would draw the attention of a mass public to the problem of government money being used to sustain a profession. And then there would be no excuse anymore for the lunatic arrangement we now have. The monopoly would be attacked and it would be undermined."
A German man involved in the COVID-19 conspiracy community killed his wife and three daughters after his wife was caught with a fake vaccination card, police say.
German police say they believe a man, who has been referred to as Devid R., committed the quadruple murder-suicide last week. Prosecutor Gernot Bantleon told the German Press Agency on Tuesday that in a suicide note, the man indicated the couple was worried that the government would take their kids away because his wife was found with a fake vaccination certificate he’d provided to her.
Police say they believe Devid shot his daughters—aged 4, 8, and 10—and his wife, before turning the gun on himself. The 40-year-old man did not have a gun license, and police are investigating where the weapon came from. The man was reportedly a part of the anti-vaccine COVID-19 conspiracy group Querdenker, one of the central groups opposing COVID-19 regulations in Germany.
Like much of the rest of the world, Germany is in the midst of tightening up its regulations in light of the latest COVID variant of concern, Omicron. Residents are required to provide proof of vaccination to access some amenities, and some jobs also require their employees to be vaccinated. This was true of Devid’s wife, who was employed at a technical university. Her university noticed the fake vaccination card and asked her about it.
Local media reports that the punishment for faking a vaccination certificate is a year in prison or a fine and that authorities said Devid would have just been fined for providing her with the fake certificate.
A story by German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reported that shortly before the deaths, a man with the name Devid joined a Querdenker (which translates to lateral thinkers) conspiracy group on Telegram focused on COVID-19 conspiracies and rallying against pandemic regulations. His last post came before the night of the violence. After the deaths, one of the members of the Telegram group wrote that the Querdenker had lost “a friend” and a “party member.”
Over 2.58 bln COVID-19 vaccine doses administered on Chinese mainland
CNN aired a report on Friday from a hospital in Michigan that is “overwhelmed with [coronavirus] cases and deaths,” according to New Day anchor Brianna Keilar.
CNN senior national correspondent Miguel Marquez went inside a hospital that is part of the Sparrow Health System.
Covid hospitalizations in Michigan have skyrocketed 88 percent in the last month, according to Marquez.
Marquez noted that flu season has been “another stressor on the health system in Michigan.”
In response to the report, Keilar remarked, “It’s an absolute war zone there for these nurses and for these doctors. And I was just really struck by that woman you were speaking to on supplemental oxygen saying even after this ordeal she won’t get vaccinated.”
“You know, look, one thing that nurses also told us is that not only are they treating these people, but these people come in and ask like it’s Starbucks there. No, I don’t want that treatment. I want ivermectin. I want this, I want that, I want all these other things I’ve heard about,” said Marquez. “And the hospital has to actually fight their own patients to give them the treatment that actually works!”
Ivermectin, which is a veterinary medicine, has, contrary to conspiracy theories, not been proven to treat Covid, according to the FDA.
“It’s madness! Get vaccinated!” said Marquez.
Sen. Ron Johnson, the Wisconsin Republican and Trump loyalist, who has repeatedly promoted debunked medical advice, claimed on Wednesday that mouthwash can help prevent COVID infections.
Johnson, whose YouTube account was suspended earlier this year for violating the company's medical misinformation policies, was called out by medical experts for pushing yet more dubious COVID advice during a virtual town hall.
"Standard gargle, mouthwash, has been proven to kill the coronavirus," Johnson said, according to a recording published by the Wisconsin news outlet Heartland Signal. "If you get it, you may reduce viral replication. Why not try all these things?"
But while it appears true mouthwash can kill off virus particles in the mouth, most people are infected through their nasal passages and sinuses, according to medical experts.
"Even if gargling kills some of the virus, it won't be able to clean the nasal area, nor the viruses that's already penetrated deeper into the body," Kim Woo-Joo, an infectious disease expert at Korea University, told The Washington Post.
While there is no harm in using mouthwash, Raymond Niaura, who chairs the epidemiology department at New York University, told the Post that gargling should be accompanied by vaccination.
"That way, one would be at reduced risk for infection and have good smelling breath," he said.
On the website for Listerine, the best-known U.S. brand of antiseptic mouthwash, the company advises dental professionals that its products are "not intended to prevent or treat COVID-19 and should be used only as directed on the product label."
Johnson & Johnson, which makes Listerine, also notes that despite lab-based reports of mouthwashes "having activity against enveloped viruses, including coronavirus, the available data is insufficient, and no evidence-based clinical conclusions can be drawn with regards to the anti-viral efficacy of LISTERINE Antiseptic mouthwash at this time."
Edited by amor de cosmos, 10 December 2021 - 09:01 AM.