Married to the Job: How a Long-Hours Working Culture Keeps People Single and Lonely

illustration of person with head on their desk at work, unable to think clearly

Laura Hancock started practising yoga when she worked for a charity. It was a job that involved long hours and caused a lot of anxiety. Yoga was her counterbalance. “It saved my life, in a way,” she says.

Yoga brought her a sense of peace and started her journey of self-inquiry; eventually, she decided to bring those benefits to others by becoming a yoga teacher. She studied for more than eight years before qualifying. That was about 10 years ago; since then, she has been teaching in Oxford, her home town.

At first, the work felt like a privilege, even though she was working a lot and not earning much. “There was a sense that, if you gave it your all and you did it with integrity and love and all those things, then it would eventually work out for you.”

But recently she had a moment of realisation. “I can’t afford my rent, I have no savings, I have no partner, I have no family. I’m 38 and most of my friends have families; they’re buying houses,” she says. “There is a lot of grief around that. I feel like I’ve just landed on Earth, like a hard crash on to the ground, and am looking around and feeling quite lonely.”

Hancock is one of the many people in recent years to recognise that they have devoted themselves to their work and neglected everything else that might give their life meaning. For workers across many sectors, long, irregular hours, emotional demands and sometimes low rates of pay mean it is increasingly hard to have a life outside of work – and particularly hard to sustain relationships.

Long before Covid locked us all in our homes, alone or otherwise, the evidence was pointing out repeatedly that loneliness and singledom are endemic in this phase of capitalism. Fewer people are marrying and those who are are doing so later; we are having less sex. A 2018 study found that 2.4 million adults in Britain “suffer from chronic loneliness”. Another projection found that nearly one in seven people in the UK could be living alone by 2039 and that those living alone are less financially secure.

For Hancock, turning her yoga practice into her career meant giving up much of her social life. She was “knackered” at the end of a long day of practice and teaching – and the expectation that she would continue her education through pricey retreats meant, at times, that she was spending more than she was making. It was at the end of a four-hour workshop in a local church in 2018 that the penny dropped. A student came up to her and said: “You are not well. We need to go to the doctor.”

Her GP found infections in her ear and her chest. She spent seven weeks recovering in bed, which gave her a lot of time, alone at home, to reconsider her career and face the reality of exactly how vulnerable she was.

Lauren Smith*, 34, a teacher in the west of England, was given a warning by a colleague before she applied for her postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE). “It’s going to be the most intense year of your life,” they said. At the time, she thought she was ready for it, but it took its toll on her relationship. “I remember coming home and just … not even being able to talk to him.”

Things did not improve when she started working as a teacher. “There’s this culture in education where it’s almost competitive about how much you work,” she says. The social relationships at school become almost a substitute for a personal life; she briefly dated another teacher. However, apart from “the odd fling here or there”, she says, “in terms of actually dating, I find that my enthusiasm or my energy for it …” She trails off.

The strain on their personal lives has made Smith and Hancock look much more closely at the sustainability of their working lives. Hancock is one of the founding members of the new yoga teachers’ union, a branch of the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB), the union representing gig economy workers and those in traditionally non-unionised workplaces. Smith is active in the National Education Union, but is considering a career change. “The demands on teachers have just increased so much and, with the funding cuts, I’m now doing the job of three people,” she says.

“Everything else you love about your job has been pushed to the wayside and it’s all about those exam results,” says Smith. The number one thing she would like “would be more planning time in my job. Maybe I could have one less class, which is 30 kids’ worth of data that I don’t have to do and it means I can put my mental energy into the students themselves and have the time and the headspace to do other things.”

It is not that she is hanging everything on the hope of a romantic relationship – and she does not want children – but nevertheless Smith longs for time and energy to devote to the people she cares about, rather than her job. “In the nine years that I have been a teacher, it has got harder and harder. If things don’t change, I can’t see myself staying in this job beyond two years from now.”

If work is getting in the way of our relationships, it is not an equally distributed problem. The decline in marriage rates “is a class-based affair”, say the law professors Naomi Cahn and June Carbone, the authors of the book Marriage Markets: How Inequality Is Remaking the American Family. The well-off are more likely to marry and have more stable families – and the advantages of this family structure are conferred on their offspring. For those in a more precarious financial situation, it can often be easier to stay single.

Economic stability provides “a better foundation for loyalty, one based on relationship satisfaction and happiness rather than economic dependency or need”, found the academics Pilar Gonalons-Pons and David Calnitsky when they studied the impact of an experiment with universal basic income in Canada. If we were not so worried about paying the bills, perhaps we would have the time and mental space for better relationships.

In an increasingly atomised world, being in a couple is how most people have access to care and love. The status of being partnerless, or, as the writer Caleb Luna has put it, being “singled” – an active process that means single people are denied affection or care because they are reserved for people in couples – can leave many people without life-sustaining care. As Luna writes, the culture of “self-love”, in which we are encouraged to love, support and sustain ourselves, leaves out those for whom this is not a choice.

Care is overwhelmingly still provided by partners in a romantic couple or other family members: in the UK, 6.5 million people – one in eight adults – provide care for a sick or disabled family member or partner. The charity Carers UK estimates that, during the pandemic in 2020, 13.6 million people were carers. What happens to those, however, without partners or family members to provide care? It becomes someone’s job – a job that can end up placing enormous stress on the personal life of whoever is doing it.

Care is often outsourced to paid workers – many of whom are immigrants – some of whom have left their own partners and children behind in order to go elsewhere for work, says Prof Laura Briggs, of the women, gender and sexuality studies department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The harsh crackdowns on migration to the US and the UK have left these workers in a uniquely vulnerable position. They would “work for almost any wage, no matter how low, to support family and household members back home, without the entanglements that come with dependents who are physically present, such as being late to work after a child’s doctor’s appointment, say, or the sick days that children or elders have so many of,” wrote Briggs in her 2017 book How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics. In other words, with their family far away, the worker is free to devote all their time – and their care – to their employer.

It is not just care work that is blending the boundaries between people’s work lives and personal lives. In many sectors, offices have been designed to look, feel and act like a home, to keep employees there for longer – with free food available 24/7, areas to rest and play with Lego, office pets, informal dress codes and even showers to create a feeling that work is a “family”.

When I met Karn Bianco while I was researching my book on how work is increasingly taking over our lives, he was a freelance computer game programmer who had tired of the long hours. “Your life became just work,” he said. “You would go in at 9am and would work through until 10 or 11 at night sometimes – you could get an evening meal there.” It was fine for a while, he said. “When I was an intern, I was single, I knew I was only in that desk for a year. I had no responsibilities, no dependents.”

But as Bianco, who is now 31 and living in Glasgow, got older and entered into a relationship, it became impossible to deal with. “I even tried to start coups of sorts,” he said, trying to convince his colleagues to walk out en masse at 5pm on the dot. But it did not take, so he was stuck trying to improve his own conditions, going home at 5pm on his own – something that was possible, he noted, only because he had worked his way up the ladder. Eventually, Bianco went freelance, then left the industry entirely.

Bianco is one of the founding members of the gaming industry branch of the IWGB, which is fighting the long hours in the sector. Traditionally, there was a crunch time, when, just before a product launch, programmers were expected to put in 100-hour weeks with no extra pay. Now, as games are connected to the internet and consumers expect constant updates, crunch time is pretty much all the time. “They try to instil that feeling of: ‘You have to do this for the family [company],’ rather than: ‘This is a transaction. You pay me and I work,’” said Austin Kelmore, 40, when I met him along with Bianco.

But what happens when the “family” is gone and the workers are left on their own? Layoffs are common in the games industry – so common that one observer created a website to track them. (In 2020, there were an estimated 2,090 job losses as part of mass redundancies in the gaming industry.) When Kelmore was laid off, his partner’s income was a lifesaver, but it made him think: ‘Do I want to do games any more?’ He is still in the industry and active in the union working against what he says is a systematic issue with work-life balance. “Without unions, we had no idea what our rights were,” Bianco says. “We were working illegal hours and didn’t even know it. Most of my time at home during some of those weeks was just sleeping.”

The pandemic, of course, has made many people face up to loneliness in a way they would not have done in the pre-lockdown world. One-third of women and one-fifth of men report feeling lonely or isolated in this period.

Ruth Jones* trained as a librarian in Canada and moved around from job to job – nearly once a year for 14 years. “Finding work, and especially having to take whatever work I can get, has definitely been a factor in why I haven’t dated much at 31,” she says via email. “How do you date someone wholeheartedly knowing that, at some point in a year, max, you’re going to have to make a decision about someone taking or not taking a job, being split up, doing long distance?”

A chronic illness means that, recently, she has been out of the workplace, stuck at home. She has realised the way in which our obsession with work is entangled with our romantic relationships. On dating apps and sites, “most people identify strongly with their jobs”, she says. Where does this leave someone who is unable to work long-term? “At a minimum, I am supposed to feel guilty for being unproductive, useless – and live a frugal, monk-like life,” she says.

She does not mind that she might not be able physically to do the same things as a potential partner, but she often finds that they do, especially as the apps are designed to pass judgment on people immediately. All of this means it feels impossible to find someone with whom to connect. “I feel like I’m not looking for a unicorn, I’m looking for a gold Pegasus.”

The apps often feel like another job to take on, says Smith. She will click on the dating site, flick through some profiles, maybe match with someone and exchange a couple of messages. Then a week of teaching goes by in a blur and, she says: “You have a look and you’ve missed the boat.” She often ends up deciding to spend her spare time with friends, or catching up on rest. “It just feels like another admin task: ‘Ugh, I’ve got to reply to another email now. I’ve got to put some data into a form.’” And, of course, those dating apps are big business, profiting from workers being kept single by their jobs. In 2021, the founder of the dating app Bumble was lauded as the “world’s youngest self-made woman billionaire”.

Hancock, who works in a deeply solitary industry, has found the process of organising with her union enormously helpful. “I remember being in this room and hearing so many different people from different industries talking and realising that we shared so much,” she says. “I wasn’t alone.”

It is through the union that she hopes to be able to change not just her own situation, but also the industry. After all, as the games workers learned, going home early by yourself – or leaving the industry – might be a temporary solution, but the real challenge is ending the culture of overwork. Perhaps it is time to revisit the original wants of International Workers’ Day, which called for the day to be split into eight-hour chunks: for work, for rest and time for “what we will”, whether that is romance, family, friends or otherwise.

By: Sarah Jaffe

Source: Married to the Job: How a Long-Hours Working Culture Keeps People Single and Lonely

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References

Kivimäki, Mika; Virtanen, Marianna; Kawachi, Ichiro; Nyberg, Solja T; Alfredsson, Lars; Batty, G David; Bjorner, Jakob B; Borritz, Marianne; Brunner, Eric J; Burr, Hermann; Dragano, Nico; Ferrie, Jane E; Fransson, Eleonor I; Hamer, Mark; Heikkilä, Katriina; Knutsson, Anders; Koskenvuo, Markku; Madsen, Ida E H; Nielsen, Martin L; Nordin, Maria; Oksanen, Tuula; Pejtersen, Jan H; Pentti, Jaana; Rugulies, Reiner; Salo, Paula; Siegrist, Johannes; Steptoe, Andrew; Suominen, Sakari; Theorell, Töres; Vahtera, Jussi; Westerholm, Peter J M; Westerlund, Hugo; Singh-Manoux, Archana; Jokela, Markus (January 2015). “Long working hours, socioeconomic status, and the risk of incident type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis of published and unpublished data from 222 120 individuals”. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. 3 (1): 27–34. doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(14)70178-0. PMC 4286814. PMID 25262544.

5 Key Variables That Will Impact Our Return To “Normal”

An illustration of a needle and rode - The road back to normalcy

As vaccines roll out around the world, the question on everybody’s mind, is what does the journey back to “normal” look like? A new normal won’t return at the flip of a switch. We need to understand what’s happening, and we need trusted data to do that. So what should we be tracking? What metrics do we need to make effective, data-driven decisions? And, how do we know if we’re on the path to normalcy?

We recently spoke with Dr. Sam Scarpino, complex systems scientist, and assistant professor at the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University. With his help, we’ve identified five key variables that can help us measure our progress to a state resembling normalcy. In other words, when data will tell us when and how we can return to a simpler—if not quite normal—life.

1. Vaccine effectiveness

The first variable is, of course, the vaccines themselves. In our conversation, Scarpino shared two important variables regarding vaccine rollout:

  1. Transmission: The amount that vaccines reduce transmission
  2. Deployment: How quickly we can roll out vaccines across the country and internationally

Public and private healthcare organizations will need to track these data at a granular level.

Scarpino also emphasized the need for passive, always-on surveillance for COVID-19 and for genomic variants, like the B.1.1.7 variant in the United Kingdom. “Without these surveillance systems, we’re going to be continually caught off-guard by this disease and the “new normal” will feel a lot less normal,” said Scarpino.

2. Vaccine distribution

Next, we have to consider the huge task of distributing and administering the vaccines. This of course brings production and logistical challenges from mass shipping of perishable products, to scaling delivery to patients within myriad healthcare systems. And most critical of all, prioritizing what groups should be vaccinated first, and managing follow-up to ensure second doses are administered on schedule.

“At this stage, the biggest obstacle is delivery of the vaccines,” shared Scarpino. “Given the lack of a uniform national plan, states and localities are creating their own distribution and vaccination plans. Every state has a different approach, with varying levels of success. As a result, we’re already seeing dreadfully slow uptake. What this means is that we need more federal support for community health organizations administering the vaccine and public health agencies monitoring and coordinating our responses.”

There are also concerns around equal access to vaccinations.

Communities of color and Native American populations have experienced an increased burden of COVID-19, as a direct result of generations of systemic racism that have impacted health and access to healthcare. As a country, and internationally, we need to engage with individuals in these communities to ensure they have a voice and vote in how vaccines are prioritized.”

3. Vaccine acceptance and uptake

The third key variable is vaccine acceptance and uptake, which is difficult to predict. Vaccine acceptance is about building trust within local communities, especially where vaccine hesitancy is the norm. Uptake, on the other hand, is about vaccinations itself. Is it fast, easy, and accessible? The story of COVID-19 is fundamentally a local story, so what we really need are data insights at the postal code level.

“The first step is a critical and realistic assessment of our failures and successes, which requires data,” shared Scarpino. “If we don’t have detailed enough data around uptake, we can’t see which communities are close to herd-immunity and which are further away. We’ll be in the dark trying to respond to COVID-19 flare-ups.”

4. Testing speed and availability

It’s going to take time to roll out the vaccine. But with focus shifting to the vaccine itself, we can’t forget the importance of testing. We need to address questions like:

  • How available is on-demand testing?
  • What are the barriers that prevent people from being tested?
  • How long do the results take? Hours or days?

With this data, communities can identify hot spots and businesses gain insights they need to reopen, getting us one step closer to normalcy.

Scarpino emphasized that “high-rates of testing, paired with isolation, quarantine, and contact tracing can control COVID-19 even without a vaccine,” based on models and data from countries like Vietnam and Australia. “With the proper non-pharmaceutical interventions, we could potentially reach normalcy in months instead of years,” shared Scarpino.

5. Contact tracing

Finally, even with testing, vaccines, and wide scale public health measures, nothing beats good old fashioned contact tracing.

“Contact tracing—and its vital partner, case investigation to determine the source of infections—remains our best tool for fighting this disease,” shared Scarpino.

Closely monitoring where, when, and by whom one was exposed will help people understand if they are at risk, and take the right precautions, especially if they are asymptomatic. Contact tracing is foundational to the path to normalcy, by making sure that exposed individuals are aware, they can take actions to limit further transmission.

“We’ve seen myriad countries, like Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Mongolia, China, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, to name only a few, control this disease with testing, tracing, and isolation,” said Scarpino.

The vaccine also requires multiple doses, so Scarpino noted that “we need effective, and accurate systems, for monitoring uptake and ensuring individuals receive all the necessary rounds of inoculation. If our contact tracing systems aren’t working, we can’t control the disease and we can’t ensure individuals are being vaccinated properly.”

Getting back to “normal” takes all of us

Over the next few months, these factors will drive how quickly or how well things will return to normal for citizens, communities, and the economy.

“What we’ve seen over the past year is that society’s deepest challenges—from racism and its lasting effects, to chronically underfunding public health, or access to affordable healthcare and housing—largely dictated the course of this pandemic,” shared Scarpino.

“We can build a brighter, safer, and more productive future. One that will help us return to normal faster and prevent this from happening again. But it’s going to take all of us, working together and it has to start now.”

For more information, check out the Tableau COVID-19 Data Hub, where you can explore dashboards, find actionable insights, and visualize your own analyses.

From connection through collaboration, Tableau is the most powerful, secure, and flexible end-to-end analytics platform for your data. Elevate people with the power of data. Designed for the individual, but scaled for the enterprise, Tableau is the only business intelligence platform that turns your data into insights that drive action

Source: 5 Key Variables That Will Impact Our Return To “Normal”

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References

Nigerian Filmmaker, Teniola Olatoni Premieres “The New Normal” to Rave Reviews, AP, November 18, 2020

Histamine Intolerance: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Histamine intolerance is not a sensitivity to histamine, but an indication that you’ve developed too much of it. Histamine is a chemical responsible for a few major functions:

  • communicates messages to your brain
  • triggers release of stomach acid to help digestion
  • releases after injury or allergic reaction as part of your immune response

When histamine levels get too high or when it can’t break down properly, it can affect your normal bodily functions. Histamine is associated with common allergic responses and symptoms. Many of these are similar to those from a histamine intolerance.

While they may vary, some common reactions associated with this intolerance include:

In more severe cases of histamine intolerance, you may experience:

What causes high histamine levels?

You naturally produce histamine along with the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO). DAO is responsible for breaking down histamine that you take in from foods.

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SEVEN Causes of Histamine Intolerance For access to blog, article, podcast, shareable quotes: advancednaturopathic.com/SEVEN-Causes-of-Histamine-Intolerance/ Get Dr. Roberts’ new book: http://advancednaturopathic.com/build… Join Us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AdvancedNatu… Follow Us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/drmelinaroberts ——————– ABOUT DR. MELINA ROBERTS ——————-
Dr. Melina Roberts is a Naturopathic Doctor, Author of Building a Healthy Child, Founder and Clinic Director of Advanced Naturopathic Medical Centre in Calgary. She is a leading authority in the field of naturopathic medicine specializing in European Biological Medicine effectively treating digestive issues, chronic disease and cancer.
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If you develop a DAO deficiency and are unable to break down histamine, you could develop an intolerance. Some reasons your DAO enzyme levels could be affected include:

  • medications that block DAO functions or prevent production
  • gastrointestinal disorders, such as leaky gut syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease
  • histamine-rich foods that cause DAO enzymes to function improperly
  • foods that block DAO enzymes or trigger histamine release

Bacterial overgrowth is another contributing factor for developing a histamine intolerance. Bacteria grows when food isn’t digested properly, causing histamine overproduction. Normal levels of DAO enzymes can’t break down the increased levels of histamine in your body, causing a reaction.

Controlling histamine levels with diet

Foods to avoid

A healthy diet contains moderate levels of histamine. However, there are some foods high in histamine that can trigger inflammatory reactions and other negative symptoms.

Histamine-rich foods are:

There are also a number of foods that trigger histamine release in the body, such as:

Foods that block DAO production include:

Foods to eat

If you have a histamine intolerance, incorporating low-histamine foods into your diet can help reduce symptoms. There’s no such thing as a histamine-free diet. Consult with a dietician before you eliminate foods from your diet.

Some foods low in histamine include:

Diagnosing histamine intolerance

Before reaching a diagnosis, your doctor will eliminate other possible disorders or allergies that cause similar symptoms. Doctors may also suggest following an elimination diet for 14 to 30 days. This diet requires you to remove any foods high in histamine or histamine triggers, and slowly reintroduce them to watch for new reactions.

Your doctor might also take a blood sample to analyze if you have a DAO deficiency. Another way to diagnose histamine intolerance is through a prick test. A 2011 studyTrusted Source examined the effectiveness of a prick test to diagnose histamine intolerance. Researchers pricked the skin of 156 people and applied a 1 percent histamine solution.

For those with suspected histamine intolerance, the prick test was positive for 79 percent, revealing a small red, itchy bump on the tested area that didn’t resolve within 50 minutes. Histamine intolerance can cause uncomfortable symptoms, but it can be treated with a low-histamine diet.

Histamine intolerance shouldn’t be self-diagnosed since symptoms are similar to other allergens, disorders, or infections. If you think you might have an intolerance or are experiencing irregular symptoms, talk with your doctor.

Medically reviewed by Daniel Murrell, M.D. — Written by Kiara Anthony

Source: Histamine Intolerance: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

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Medically reviewed by Daniel Murrell, M.D. — Written by Kiara Anthony — Updated on March 7, 2019

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New Covid Strain: How Many Variants of Coronavirus Are There

The emergence of variants is linked to ongoing surges since infections give viruses the chance to mutate and spread.

Many variants of the coronavirus are circulating around the world, but scientists are primarily concerned about three. How many variants of the coronavirus are there?

There are many circulating around the world, but health experts are primarily concerned with the emergence of three. As a virus infects people, it can mutate as it makes copies of itself. Some mutations can be harmful to a virus, causing it to die out. Others can offer an advantage and help it spread.

“Not every mutation is created equal,” said Dr. Mary Petrone, who studies infectious diseases at Yale University. “The virus is going to get lucky now and again.”Monitoring variants is important because of the possibility that they could make vaccines and treatments less effective, or change the way they infect people.

A mutation early in the pandemic fueled the spread of the virus around the world, but there had been no notable changes since — until recently, said Ohio State University biologist Daniel Jones.

One of the three main variants experts are watching was discovered in the United Kingdom late last year and has been detected in dozens of countries since. Health officials initially said it didn’t seem to cause worse disease, but some newer information suggests it might — that remains unknown at the moment. It does appear to spread more easily, which could lead to more hospitalisations and deaths.

The variant might become dominant in the US by March, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other variants first detected in South Africa and in Brazil also appear more contagious, experts say.

Data so far suggests current vaccines should still protect against these variants, though there’s some concern their effectiveness may be slightly diminished. There is some evidence that some antibody treatments may be less effective against certain variants.

There are ways to adjust vaccines and treatments to maintain their effectiveness, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert.The emergence of variants is linked to ongoing surges since infections give viruses the chance to mutate and spread. It’s another reason experts stress the importance of mask wearing and social distancing.

“The fewer humans carrying the virus, the fewer opportunities it has to mutate,” Jones said.The announcement that the coronavirus strain sweeping Britain could be more deadly as well as more transmissible has raised fresh concerns about the variant that has spread to dozens of countries.

Initially British experts said that their evidence suggested the new strain circulating in the UK — one of several to have emerged internationally in recent months — was between 50 per cent and 70 per cent more transmissible.On Friday, however, the government said the new variant could also be 30-40 percent more deadly, although it stressed the assessment relied on sparse data.

What has changed?

In mid-January, two separate studies by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Imperial College London were presented to Britain’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG).They linked data from people who tested positive for the virus in the community — rather than in hospital — with death data and found a roughly 30 percent increase in the risk of death associated with the new strain.

The groups used slightly different methods, but both matched people with the new variant to those with the older variants, taking into account other variables like age and location and controlling for hospitals being under pressure.Other studies by Exeter University and Public Health England also found higher deaths and both came up with even higher figures.

Based on these analyses, NERVTAG said there was “a realistic possibility” that infection with the new variant is associated with an increased risk of death compared with previously circulating variants.The increase in transmissibility associated to the variant was already causing alarm, because the more people the virus infects the more people will suffer serious illness and the risk of death.

“Unfortunately, it looks as if this virus might be both” more infectious and potentially more deadly, John Edmunds, a professor in LSHTM’s Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases, told a press briefing Monday”So it’s really a serious turn for the worse unfortunately,” he said.

How reliable are the findings?

Researchers said there were still uncertainties in the data and said the picture would become clearer in the next few weeks.Edmunds said the findings were “statistically significant”.But he said while the studies used information from those tested in the community, most people who die of Covid-19 go straight to hospital and are tested there.

Researchers do not yet have that hospital information.NERVTAG said this lag in data could be why the studies did not find evidence of an increase in hospitalisations of people with the new variant, which seems at odds with the findings of increased severity of disease.

It also said the mortality data used in the research only covers eight percent of the total deaths during the study period and said the results “may therefore not be representative of the total population”.

Why more deadly?

Researchers think it could be the same set of mutations that has made it more infectious — although all stress more study is needed.One mutation in particular increases the virus’ ability to latch on more strongly to human cells and NERVTAG head Peter Horby, an emerging infectious disease professor at Oxford University, said evidence suggests this means it could make it easier to become infected.

“If it’s then able to spread between cells much quicker within the lungs, that may increase the rate of disease and the rate of inflammation, which may then progress quicker than your body can respond to, so it could explain both characteristics of the virus,” he said.Bjorn Meyer, virologist at France’s Institut Pasteur, told AFP that the issue could be viral load.

“The virus might not have evolved to be more deadly as such, but it might have evolved to grow more or better, which could cause more damage in a patient overall,” he said.

Does this affect treatments?

Horby, who also leads the Recovery trial — which identified the steroid dexamethasone as effective for severely ill hospital patients — said there was “no evidence” that treatments would work less well. Anti inflammatories such as dexamethasone “should work equally as well because it’s not related to the virus, it is related to the host response”, he said.

Horby said overall improvements in therapies and treatments — including things like better strategies for hospital respiratory support — have brought down case fatality rates since the first wave and could even “offset any difference with this new variant”.

As for the vaccines, a preliminary study this month from Britain and the Netherlands found the variant would not be able to evade the protective effect of current vaccines. Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have also released early research suggesting their vaccines would still be effective against the strain.

Don’t viruses weaken as they spread?

Scientists have sought to challenge the belief that the virus will become get less virulent as it evolves to become more infectious. The virus that causes Covid-19 is already “very good at its job of getting transmitted” said Emma Hocroft, an epidemiologist at the University of Bern.

“So I don’t think that we can make this assumption that it wants to be less severe. I don’t want to downplay that it is severe for many people, but for the majority of people, it’s not severe,” she told AFP. She said the ability to transmit before it kills was “a really low bar”, citing diseases like measles and HIV that have remained as dangerous.

Graham Medley, a professor of Infectious Disease Modelling at the LSHTM, told the Monday press briefing that despite uncertainties in the new studies on the new variant in the UK, they should dispel the idea that it would become less virulent. “It’s certainly not the case that this is a more benign virus,” he said.

By: https://www.khaleejtimes.com/

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MedCram – Medical Lectures Explained CLEARLY

Professor Shane Crotty, Ph.D. explains recent coronavirus mutations and how they might impact COVID 19 vaccines and transmission. COVID-19 research of Prof. Crotty and his team was published Jan. 6, 2021, in the prestigious Journal Science: https://science.sciencemag.org/conten… Prof. Shane Crotty is a Professor at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccine Research, Crotty Lab. Prof. Crotty also has an academic appointment with the University of California San Diago. See his full bio here: https://www.lji.org/labs/crotty/#over… Prof. Crotty on Twitter: https://twitter.com/profshanecrotty Interviewer: Kyle Allred, Physician Assistant, Producer and Co-Founder of MedCram.com TOPICS DISCUSSED IN THIS VIDEO INCLUDE: 0:00 Intro 0:08 SARS-CoV-2 / COVID 19 mutations (UK variant etc.) and implications for COVID-19 vaccines 10:58 How to test if coronavirus variants can escape immunity 12:28 How have mutations made this virus more transmissible? 17:44 Could mutations make vaccines less than 50% effective? 24:15 Possible changes to vaccine schedules (one dose, half dose)? 35:34 Could alternate COVID-19 vaccine schedule make mutations more likely? 38:29 What is next for Prof. Crotty and his team? (This video was recorded on January 5, 2021) PREVIOUS DISCUSSION WITH PROF. CROTTY (Dec 16, 2020): https://youtu.be/eK0C5tFHze8 REFERENCES: Viral mutations may cause another ‘very, very bad’ COVID-19 wave, scientists warn (Science) | https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/… Vaccine Tracker (Bloomberg) | https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/co… FDA Statement on Following the Auth. Dosing Schedules for COVID-19 Vaccines | https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press… S-variant SARS-CoV-2 is assoc. with sig. higher viral loads in samples tested by ThermoFisher TaqPath RT-QPCR (MedRxiv) | https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.11… Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) System | https://www.merckmanuals.com/professi… UK reports new variant, termed VUI 202012/01 (GISAID) https://www.gisaid.org/references/gis… Covid-19 in South Africa: Scientists seek to understand new variant (BBC) | https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa… Mutation Allows Coronavirus to Infect More Cells. Scientists Urge Caution (NY Times) | https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/12/sc… The UK is delaying second vaccine shots and it’s proving controversial (CNBC) https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/05/the-u… The receptor binding domain of the SARS-CoV-2 (News Medical Life Sciences) | https://www.news-medical.net/news/202… NY Times article highlighting Prof. Shane Crotty’s research: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/he… THE MEDCRAM WEBSITE: Visit us for videos on over 60 medical topics and CME / CEs for medical professionals: https://www.medcram.com SUBSCRIBE TO THE MEDCRAM YOUTUBE CHANNEL: https://www.youtube.com/user/MEDCRAMv… Get notified of new videos by hitting the bell icon! PREVIOUS / RECENT MEDCRAM COVID-19 INTERVIEWS: Vitamin D and COVID 19: The Evidence for Prevention and Treatment of Coronavirus (SARS CoV 2) with Professor Roger Seheult, MD https://youtu.be/ha2mLz-Xdpg At Home COVID 19 Antigen Testing and Vaccine Update with Professor Michael Mina, MD https://youtu.be/CjphzlV5DYo All coronavirus updates are at MedCram.com ad-free (including more videos on RNA vaccines, BioNTech vaccine, vaccine side effects, AstraZeneca Oxford coronavirus vaccine, new strain of coronavirus, and more): https://www.medcram.com/courses/coron… We offer over 60 medical topics (ECG Interpretation, DKA, influenza, measles, mechanical ventilation, etc.) on our website and CME for clinicians. MEDCRAM WORKS WITH MEDICAL PROGRAMS AND HOSPITALS: MedCram offers group discounts for students and a variety of medical programs, hospitals, and other institutions. Contact us at customers@medcram.com if you are interested. MEDIA CONTACT: Media Contact: customers@medcram.com Media contact info: https://www.medcram.com/pages/media-c… Video Produced by Kyle Allred FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA: https://www.facebook.com/MedCramhttps://twitter.com/MedCramVideoshttps://www.instagram.com/medcram DISCLAIMER: MedCram medical videos are for medical education and exam preparation, and NOT intended to replace recommendations from your doctor. #COVID19#SARSCoV2#Coronavaccine

Why Even A Small Thanksgiving Is Dangerous

We all thought we knew what kinds of places to avoid: the ballparks, the Sunday services, the packed train cars. If we didn’t want to catch COVID-19, we should stay away from crowds. That was the mantra. So we skipped the summer street parties and we did virtual church. We had a nice little evening at home, ordering takeout and maybe inviting our closest friends and family over.

But now, with COVID-19 rates on the rise basically everywhere in the U.S., those small gatherings are being blamed for spreading the virus, and experts say they don’t want us to have Thanksgiving celebrations with people outside our household bubbles. But experts are always telling us not to do the fun stuff that nourishes our souls — like eating huge meals or festively increasing our drinking — while the darkness of winter encroaches from every side. Having 10 people around a Thanksgiving table can’t be that much of a risk to society, right? Surely you can’t have a superspreader event without, at least, enough people to field a football team?

Unfortunately, the last month has changed the sacrifices we must make to try to avoid the coronavirus. Across the nation, especially in the Midwest, cases have skyrocketed — with some states seeing more cases in the last six or so weeks than they’d previously had all year up to that point. Small gatherings have gotten more risky. And Thanksgiving now represents a very serious threat.

[Related: What We Know About ‘Long COVID’]

That’s because no matter how much we try to pretend otherwise, COVID-19 is a disease you get from being around other people. Technically, the size of the group doesn’t matter, said Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. What matters is the likelihood that one of those people comes to the table infected.

Imagine a Thanksgiving dinner with 10 people. Unless all those people have been in strict quarantine for a couple of weeks, you have no way of knowing they’re COVID-19-free. Even getting a pre-dinner test isn’t a great way to ensure you’re not contagious, experts told me, because the results are only a snapshot of a moment in time. “You could test negative today and be infectious tonight, with no symptoms until tomorrow morning,” said Donald Milton, a professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of Maryland.

How likely is it one of those 10 people is infected? That depends on where you are. Some states are estimated to have as much as an 80 percent chance of having someone with COVID-19 attend a 10-person gathering. But even if there’s a far lower chance at your individual dinner, the risk to the community of a bunch of dinners quickly becomes clear.

That is the thing that really changed in recent months. It was a slow process, said Preeti Malani, chief health officer at the University of Michigan. Over the summer, many stores, restaurants and attractions opened back up, which meant people could get together easily outside. As the weather cooled, it seems those gatherings didn’t stop, they just moved indoors. “Things started increasing, and my colleague calls it the rising water,” Malani said.

The more people who are infected in a community, the higher the likelihood that the everyday workings of a social scene will put one of them at someone’s dinner table, or on the porch at a crowded party. The more frequently that happens, the higher the waterline creeps. You can see it in action at Georgia Tech’s COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool, a website that calculates the likelihood that a gathering of a given size includes at least one person infected with COVID-19.

Hawaii, for example, has largely avoided the worst of this current surge. Even if you assume there are 10 times as many cases circulating in the state as have been formally diagnosed — something the folks behind the Georgia Tech tool recommend because of inconsistent testing and the ability of people to spread the disease without showing symptoms themselves — the risk in Hawaii is still only about 6 percent at a 10-person gathering. North Dakota, on the other hand, is one of the states that’s been hardest-hit by this current wave of outbreaks, with 1 in every 1,000 residents now dead from the virus.

There, the risk of encountering a COVID-19-infected person at your small, intimate gathering was about 82 percent, factoring in the same 10x multiplier. “In February or March, when we had very few cases, there was less of a risk,” said Aditya Shah, a consultant in infectious diseases at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. “Now it’s so widespread … that’s different.”The upcoming holiday season is also different, both in the literal sense and in the way Midwesterners like me use it: as a metaphor for “bad.”

Thanksgiving does not exist in isolation. It’s not a thing one family is doing alone. And it will be followed, over the next month and a half, by a series of gathering-friendly events, including Black Friday, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s. Those two factors together explode a personal risk into a community crisis.

“I think about social gatherings and their impact on a community with an analogy to fire,” said Pinar Keskinocak, director of the Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems at Georgia Tech. “If you build a fire in a BBQ or a small brick fire pit, it is contained. That is how we often think about small gatherings. But if you build a fire on the ground in a pine forest which has not seen rain in months, and many other small groups do the same, you can imagine what happens very quickly.”

[Related:What A Summer Of COVID-19 Taught Scientists About Indoor vs. Outdoor Transmission]

Risks are multiplied by dozens of dinner parties across town, and then grow over time as those dinner party attendees interact with other people in stores, waiting rooms and other small gatherings in the following weeks. This is how you get exponential growth, and it’s why experts are warning you against gathering a few loved ones at home now, even though throughout the summer all you heard about was the dangers of parties and rallies and protests and festivals, attended by dozens or hundreds or thousands of people instead of just the handful who might come to your dinner table. When there were fewer cases, it took a big gathering to make it likely that someone there was infected. But the water rose and now it’s threatening to drown us.

Again, the basic principles here aren’t new, Benjamin said. The same thing basically happens with the flu every year, he told me. Kids get exposed at school and spend the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s passing it around from one family gathering to another. As the holidays end, flu season starts to peak.

But COVID-19 is not the flu. It’s far more deadly. It’s far more debilitating in the long term. It’s far easier to spread even if you don’t have symptoms, or don’t have symptoms yet. The virus is common enough now in a lot of places that you can’t really be confident that even a small event doesn’t include someone contagious. And holding many small events on the same day creates an opportunity for COVID-19 to spread exponentially, and disperse from Thanksgiving tables back into the community of each person who sat at them. Which just makes the risk of the next holiday higher.

It might seem unfair to ask people not to see relatives and friends they’ve missed, not to let a college student travel home for Thanksgiving dinner, not to enjoy this small pleasure. It might seem inconsistent to have focused on the dangers of large gatherings all year and begin warning about small gatherings just as they feel the most valuable. But this is a new phase of the pandemic. There’s more virus, in more places, and avoiding it has become harder. Even knowing where you caught it is harder. “The prevalence is so high in the community right now,” Shah said. “You have to see and treat everybody as infected.”

Maggie Koerth is a senior science writer for FiveThirtyEight. @maggiekb1

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CBS News

Emergency care physician Dr. Ron Elfenbein joined CBSN to discuss the latest on the coronavirus pandemic ahead of the 2020 presidential election and upcoming holidays. Subscribe to the CBS News Channel HERE: https://bit.ly/2uz8qYE Watch CBSN live HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1PlLpZ7 Follow CBS News on Instagram HERE: https://www.instagram.com/cbsnews/ Like CBS News on Facebook HERE: http://facebook.com/cbsnews Follow CBS News on Twitter HERE: http://twitter.com/cbsnews Get the latest news and best in original reporting from CBS News delivered to your inbox. Subscribe to newsletters HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1RqHw7T Get your news on the go! Download CBS News mobile apps HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1Xb1WC8 Get new episodes of shows you love across devices the next day, stream CBSN and local news live, and watch full seasons of CBS fan favorites like Star Trek Discovery anytime, anywhere with CBS All Access. Try it free! http://bit.ly/1OQA29B — CBSN is the first digital streaming news network that will allow Internet-connected consumers to watch live, anchored news coverage on their connected TV and other devices. At launch, the network is available 24/7 and makes all of the resources of CBS News available directly on digital platforms with live, anchored coverage 15 hours each weekday. CBSN. Always On.

In Rural America, Resentment Over COVID-19 Shutdowns is Colliding With Rising Case Numbers

As COVID-19 spreads through rural America, new infection numbers are rising to peaks not seen during this pandemic and pushing hospitals to their limits. Many towns are experiencing their first major outbreaks, but that doesn’t mean rural communities had previously been spared the devastating impacts of the pandemic.

Infection rates in rural and frontier communities ebbed and flowed during the first seven months, often showing up in pockets linked to meat packing plants, nursing homes or prisons.

Even if they had no cases, many rural areas were under statewide public health orders that left businesses closed and events canceled. And that has become part of the problem today. The early compassionate and cohesive community responses to COVID-19 quickly gave way to growing anger and compliance fatigue, especially when some isolated towns didn’t see their first positive cases until summer.

That resentment toward public health recommendations, including mask-wearing, is now on a crash course with rising case numbers in the Mountain West, Midwest and Great Plains. For the fifth week in a row, rural counties witnessed a sharp increase in cases, to the point where over 70% of the nation’s nonmetropolitan counties had earned a “red zone” designation, suggesting local viral spread was out of control. The reality, though, is COVID-19 has never been “under control” in the U.S.

As professors of family medicine with experience in rural health policy and medical practice, we have been studying the barriers rural communities are facing during the pandemic and how they can solve COVID-19-related challenges.

Understanding the drivers of increasing COVID-19 cases in rural places is critical to both curtailing the current surge and limiting flareups in the future.

Why rural cases are on the rise

Several factors have contributed to the rise in rural case numbers.

The politicization of the pandemic – and of mask-wearing – has hampered both public health efforts and collaboration among businesses, community organizations and health care entities. Political tensions have given rise to misinformation, reinforced on social media, that can be difficult to turn around. If people aren’t taking protective measures, when COVID-19 does come in, it can easily and quickly spread.

In some communities, the resumption of small-town activities, such as school, church and sports events, has led to more infections. Experts have pointed to social gatherings, including the nearly 500,000-strong Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota in August, as sources of the recent COVID-19 surge in the upper Midwest.

Working from home is also nearly impossible for many rural jobs. Paid sick leave may also be difficult to come by, prompting some people to choose between working while sick and isolating at home without pay. Meat and poultry processing plants and other farm industries often employ immigrants whose living and commuting realities can make social distancing difficult. Many rural places are heavily dependent on recreation and service industries. When visitors arrive from out of town, they may bring COVID-19 with them.

A man partially wearing a mask waits for an employment interview in Imperial County, California.
Unemployed workers wait to fill out job applications in a region hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Local health care is already short-supplied

Pinpointing COVID-19 outbreaks early and stopping the spread can also be harder in rural areas.

Funding for rural public health departments has long been anemic, crippling their ability to test, share data and conduct contact tracing. Limited resources also constrain education and outreach efforts.

Many rural hospitals and primary care practices entered the pandemic in financial trouble and chronically short-staffed. They reside squarely at the end of the supply chain, making acquisition of needed personal protective equipment and testing supplies difficult. Rural hospitals have fewer ICU beds per capita than their urban counterparts. Lack of consistent broadband coverage can make access to telehealth difficult, as well.

These factors, compounded by caring for a population that is comparatively older, sicker and poorer, leave rural communities extraordinarily vulnerable as cases continue to rise.

How to turn the tide of rising cases

Intervening now can slow the rate of rise of COVID-19 cases in rural hot spots while simultaneously building a more robust long-term response.

To be most effective, each rural area’s unique demographics, economies and perspectives should be considered as policies are developed.

For example, allowing rural communities to exert control over their reopening and closing decisions based on local disease transmission dynamics would allow them to better balance disease mitigation with economic impacts. Some states allow rural communities with few or no cases to apply for waivers from statewide public health orders. These applications generally look at local infection data, containment measures and health care capacity.

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Changing the nature of the conversation around COVID-19 in the community can also help in implementing simple, effective measures like mask-wearing. When communications are personal, they may be more accepted. For example, a public service message could remind people that wearing a mask keeps your favorite business open and your grandmother healthy. Framing levels of risk in understandable terms for different types of activities can also help, such as how to exercise or socialize safely. Working with trusted local messengers, such as business owners and faith leaders, can help convey evidence-based information.

A cafe owner wears a protective face mask in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Stillwater, Oklahoma, pulled back on requiring people to wear masks in stores last spring after officials said some customers threatened store employees. Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty

Planning is also essential. Communities need to prepare so they can get supplies, testing and treatment when needed; protect the most vulnerable community members; educate the community; and support people in isolation and quarantine. A rural regional approach to testing and contact tracing, sharing supplies and swapping staff could help bridge some of the gaps. Getting test results closer to home could decrease wait times and courier costs. Sharing resources across health care organizations could also minimize the burden of response.

3 ways to strengthen systems for the future

COVID-19 isn’t likely to be the last pandemic rural America will see. Here are three ways to strengthen rural systems for the future.

  • By partnering with universities and local and state agencies, communities can incorporate their unique susceptibilities into dynamic epidemiological models that could better inform local public health and economic decisions.
  • Aligning public health and health care measures could help governments better balance pandemic responses and ensure all parts of the community are moving toward the same goal.
  • Increasing broadband access and internet speeds in rural and frontier communities could also help. During the pandemic, people everywhere have appreciated the need for internet connectivity for education, remote work and purchasing goods, as well as virtual health care.

By: Lauren Hughes / Associate Professor of Family Medicine, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus & Roberto Silva / Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, University of Colorado Denver

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CBS This Morning 1.64M subscribers The number of new coronavirus cases is rising across the country as the death toll approaches 200,000 in the U.S. Infectious disease experts are criticizing a reversal to critical guidance from the CDC on how COVID-19 spreads. David Begnaud reports.

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China Reports Highest Number Of Asymptomatic Cases Since April Following Outbreak In Xinjiang

China reported its highest number of asymptomatic Covid-19 infections since it started recording these types of infections in April, after local health authorities found a cluster of 137 cases linked to a garment factory in the Xinjiang region, Reuters reported.

Key Facts

Discovery of the new asymptomatic cases came after China began mass testing 4.75 million people in the Kashgar area of Xinjiang.

Across the mainland, China reported 20 new “confirmed” and 161 new symptomatic cases in the previous 24 hours, the country’s National Health Commission said on Monday.

As of Sunday afternoon, more than 2.84 million people had been tested in the Kashgar region, while tests of the remaining population are expected to be completed by Tuesday.

Key Background

The mass testing in Kashgar was triggered after a 17-year-old female factory worker in the region tested positive on Saturday, while displaying no symptoms. The teenager’s infection was discovered during a routine weekly test in Xinjiang. The source of the teenager’s infection remains unclear. The new cluster of asymptomatic cases has been linked to a separate garment factory where the girl’s parents work, however, they themselves have not tested positive.

Big Number

85,810: That’s the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases that have been found in mainland China, where the first case of Covid-19 emerged in December 2019.. The country has recorded a total of 4,634 deaths. As per the National Health Commission’s website, China records asymptomatic cases separately from what it calls “confirmed” cases.

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Further Reading

China reports surge of asymptomatic coronavirus cases in Xinjiang (Reuters)

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Siladitya Ray

Siladitya Ray

I am a Breaking News Reporter at Forbes, with a focus on covering important tech policy and business news. Graduated from Columbia University with an MA in Business and Economics Journalism in 2019. Worked as a journalist in New Delhi, India from 2014 to 2018. Have a news tip? DMs are open on Twitter @SiladityaRay or drop me an email at siladitya@protonmail.com.

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FRANCE 24 English 1.41M subscribers China’s northeast Heilongjiang province which borders Russia has become the new battleground against the coronavirus as authorities reported the highest number of new daily cases in nearly six weeks, driven by infected travellers from overseas. Subscribe to France 24 now: http://f24.my/youtubeEN FRANCE 24 live news stream: all the latest news 24/7 http://f24.my/YTliveEN Visit our website: http://www.france24.com Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://f24.my/youtubeEN Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FRANCE24.Eng… Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/France24_en

Sewage Signals Covid-19 Outbreaks, A Project Led By The U.K. Government Says

Fragments of Covid-19 can be successfully detected in sewage, providing an early warning mechanism for disease outbreaks and a useful means of identifying large outbreaks of asymptomatic carriers, the British government said on Friday.

Key Facts

A government-led project, which was first launched in June, has now confirmed that fragments of Covid-19 genetic material can be detected in sewage. 

The government said it is sharing the information with NHS Test and Trace — England’s contact tracing system — and local authorities, who can prepare for an increase in cases and encourage greater care and more testing. 

The project is already a success, with sewer data identifying a spike in Covid-19 cases in one region despite there being relatively low numbers of people seeking tests.  

With this early success, the project has already been rolled out to cover around 22% of England’s population, with plans to expand in the future. 

Though fragments of Covid-19 can be detected in sewage, the WHO says the likelihood of contracting the disease through the sewer system is extremely low.

Key Background

There are now a number of studies documenting traces of Covid-19 in waste water, with early ones signalling the potential of this finding to track infections across a geographic area. The early successes of the English project highlight this potential, particularly in identifying otherwise hidden outbreaks. 

PROMOTED

Crucial Quote

Environment Secretary George Eustice said the findings are a “significant step forward in giving us a clearer idea of infection rates… particularly in areas where there may be large numbers of people who aren’t showing any symptoms.”

Further Reading

Sewage can reveal COVID outbreaks, UK project finds (Reuters)

MIT Spinoff Raises $4.2 Million To Estimate Scope Of Coronavirus Cases By Analyzing Poop (Forbes)

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Robert Hart

Robert Hart

I am a London-based reporter for Forbes covering breaking news. Previously, I have worked as a reporter for a specialist legal publication covering big data and as a freelance journalist and policy analyst covering science, tech and health. I have a master’s degree in Biological Natural Sciences and a master’s degree in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge. Follow me on Twitter @theroberthart or email me at rhart@forbes.com 

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Data about the coronavirus found in sewage can warn of an outbreak up to seven days before clinical testing shows signs of a spike, say wastewater epidemiologists. That can give public health workers time to get ready – prepare hospitals, ramp up closures and take other measures. “You’re seeing it in sewage before people are really showing the symptoms, days and weeks before,” said Eileen White, director of wastewater for EBMUD, a utility that serves 685,000 households in San Francisco’s East Bay area. Since the pandemic began, the field of wastewater epidemiology, which tracked polio and Ebola viruses, has grown rapidly in response. An international alliance of more than 400 researchers is collaborating to share findings and methods, in an attempt to bring the most accurate information about the disease’s spread to leaders. ————————— LINK: https://www.voanews.com/usa/sewage-ma…

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Hospital Beds Filling, Bars Closing With Nearly All Threshold

Countries across Europe are imposing new restrictions as the second wave of coronavirus infections that’s swept across the region since summer-time has recently taken a turn for the worse—seeping into older, more vulnerable populations and driving a surge in hospitalizations.

Key Facts

All but three European countries—Cyprus, Finland and Norway—have reached the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s (ECDC) coronavirus alarm threshold, which designates countries reporting above 20 cases per 100,000 residents on a seven-day average at high risk.

The ECDC’s most recent report, published last Thursday, also noted the rising death rate in Europe and identified sustained case increases in 27 countries, many of which are reporting more new infections than in the spring (though better detection methods play a factor). 

Among the countries faring the worst, the Czech Republic, reporting 22,179 cases and 158 deaths in the past week, enacted a second state of emergency Monday, while Madrid has entered a partial lockdown, barring non-essential travel to and from the city, as Spain reports nearly 10,000 new cases per day. 

France’s capital, which moved into a state of “maximum alert” on Monday as 30% of emergency beds in hospitals filled, leading to the closure of Paris bars and cafés, may be on the verge of tougher restrictions as the number of Covid-19 patients in emergency beds jumped to 40% on Tuesday. 

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Brussels, which has overtaken Paris and trails only Madrid in terms of infections per capita among Europe’s major cities, also announced it is shutting down bars and cafés in the city for a month on Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, a slew of other countries, including Ireland and Scotland, are mulling tough new restrictions.

Key Background 

While France, Spain, the Czech Republic and the U.K. are reporting higher numbers of new cases on average than they were during the peak of their spring outbreaks, the crisis isn’t as severe as it was through March and April. However, European authorities are concerned that rising infections, which have begun to spill into older populations, could soon bring hospitals back to the brink.

Crucial Quote 

“The enemy hasn’t been defeated yet,” said Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte last weekend, calling on Italians to be careful as to avoid a return to stricter pandemic measures. Italy, once the centre of the coronavirus pandemic, was the first country in the world to activate a nationwide lockdown in March.

Further Reading 

“British universities re-open with students locked-down and forced to care for infected classmates” (The New York Times) 

“As Second Covid-19 Wave Rolls Through Europe, Deaths and Hospitalizations Rise” (The Wall Street Journal)

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Jemima McEvoy

I’m a British-born reporter covering breaking news for Forbes.

 Jemima McEvoy

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There are mounting concerns the pandemic will cause a global recession. It has been another torrid day on the markets. Stocks plunged around the world, despite a coordinated effort by central banks to protect growth and jobs. Al Jazeera’s Neave Barker begins our coverage with a look at the situation around Europe. –

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Stocks Will Take A Hit From Second Wave Of Coronavirus, Wall Street Firm Warns Clients

Much like what is happening in Europe, the United States will likely see a second wave of coronavirus that will hurt markets and slow the reopening of the economy, Wall Street investment firm Bernstein warned clients in a recent note.

A top World Health Organization official said Thursday that Europe is facing a “very serious situation” as countries like Spain and France see an alarming rise in new cases of coronavirus.

Bernstein warned that the United States, which has so far seen rolling waves of coronavirus infections in different regions, is poised to get hit by a similar second wave over the next few months.

The best-case scenario, according to Bernstein, is that the most recent U.S. hot spots can stabilize at around 60 cases per million people per day—roughly the level held in the northeast region since it endured its first wave in March and April.

“The Northeast has been slower to reopen as much as Europe has (still no indoor dining or international travel without quarantine) and thus we have not seen the second wave yet,” the firm said.

But as parts of the economy continue to slowly reopen—with people now starting to go back to school and the office, another surge in the Northeast and across the rest of the country looks likely, the firm told clients.

A true second wave of coronavirus hitting the United States “will become an issue within a month,” Bernstein predicted, warning that investors and the stock market are “going to take some pain.”

What To Watch For

Although fears of a second wave will undoubtedly weigh on stock market sentiment, there are reasons to be optimistic, Bernstein says. The next wave won’t necessarily be as bad as the first ones, since a younger group of people seem to be getting infected and hospitals are no longer at capacity. What’s more, in some regions of the country, 15% or more of people are estimated to have already contracted the virus, which means they are more unlikely to be infected again for some time. 

Crucial Quote

“The hope for the U.S. is that the impact would be moderated by being ‘bad enough’ already,” Bernstein’s note said.

Key Background

There have now been more than 30.2 million global cases of coronavirus, with around 6.7 million in the United States alone, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 200,000 Americans have died from the disease, while global deaths have almost reached 950,000.

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Sergei Klebnikov

Sergei Klebnikov

I am a New York—based reporter for Forbes covering breaking news, with a focus on financial topics. Previously, I wrote about investing for Money Magazine and was an intern at Forbes in 2015 and 2016. I graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2018, majoring in International Relations and Modern History. Follow me on Twitter @skleb1234 or email me at sklebnikov@forbes.com

CNBC’s Bob Pisani looks ahead to the day’s market action. Stocks dropped on Monday as investors grapple with signs of a second wave of coronavirus cases as the U.S. economy reopens. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 266 points, or 1.1%. The S&P 500 slid 0.7% while the Nasdaq Composite traded 0.3% lower. Stocks which stand to benefit the most from a successful reopening led the losses. Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines each lost more than 4%.

United Airlines lost 3.7% and American Airlines slid 3.5%. Retailers Kohl’s and Gap declined. These types of stocks surged in May as investors bet that the worst of the virus was over. “We’re in the midst of a correction,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities. “The coronavirus is spiking up again and that’s a problem. There was also over-exuberance in the market. The market was discounting a quicker economic rebound.” The action Monday followed a big pullback last week triggered by rising fears of a resurgence in the virus as well as investors’ profit-taking after the massive comeback.

The Dow and S&P 500 lost 5.5% and 4.7% last week, respectively, while the Nasdaq shed 2.3%. All three major equity benchmarks suffered their worst week since March 20. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://cnb.cx/2JdMwO7 » Subscribe to CNBC TV: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCtelevision » Subscribe to CNBC: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBC » Subscribe to CNBC Classic: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCclassic Turn to CNBC TV for the latest stock market news and analysis. From market futures to live price updates CNBC is the leader in business news worldwide. Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: http://www.cnbc.com/ Follow CNBC on LinkedIn: https://cnb.cx/LinkedInCNBC Follow CNBC News on Facebook: https://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC Follow CNBC News on Twitter: https://cnb.cx/FollowCNBC Follow CNBC News on Instagram: https://cnb.cx/InstagramCNBC

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