The antibody response in patients who have recovered from coronavirus is not typically strong, and declines sharply one month after hospital discharge, a new study suggests.
A better understanding of antibody responses against Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, will provide fundamental information for developing effective treatments and a preventive vaccine, experts say.
In the study researchers monitored Sars-CoV-2-specific antibody responses in 19 non-severe and seven severe coronavirus patients for seven weeks from disease onset.
They found that most patients generated antibody responses against Sars-CoV-2.
According to the study published in PLOS Pathogens, although 80.7 per cent of recovered Covid-19 patients had varying levels of antibody neutralisation activity against Sars-CoV-2, only a small portion elicited a potent level of neutralisation activity.
Researchers say this highlights the importance of carefully selecting blood samples from recovered patients using antibody neutralisation assays prior to transfusion into other Covid-19 patients.
Spain closes primary school after teachers test positive
Authorities have shut a primary school in the Basque Country region of Spain after several teachers tested positive for Covid-19, the first to be closed entirely in the week classrooms reopened across the country.
Students have begun to return to school after a six-month shutdown, prompting feelings of relief but also concerns about further infection in the country that already has the most cases in Western Europe.
The government has been criticised by teachers unions and parents groups for making health and safety plans at the last minute. But Education Minister Isabel Celaa said the reopening had gone very well, with cases detected in only a few dozen places.
“We have 28,600 schools…and as of yesterday we had incidents in 53,” she told state broadcaster TVE. “This means that school management and administrative staff have done a spectacular job.”
A handful of individual classes were sent home and small groups of teachers quarantined earlier this week, but the primary school in the Basque town of Zaldibar was closed entirely.
A spokeswoman for the regional government could not confirm how many teachers had tested positive or how long they expected the school to remain closed for. All staff will be tested.
Spain has recorded 4,137 new infections in the past 24 hours, taking its total cases to 554,143 but continuing a fall in daily infections from over 10,000 last Friday.
Thirteen deaths were reported today, taking the overall toll to 29,699.
“In the last few days there seems to be a slowdown and we could even be facing a stabilisation,” health emergency chief Fernando Simon told a news conference, adding that the caseload was falling in half of Spain’s provinces.
Why has Sweden been added to the travel corridor list?
The number of cases per 100,000 people in Sweden is currently 10.8, the same rate as the previous seven days, having dropped from 14.6 the week before.
If a country rises above 20 cases per 100,000, the Government says it will consider quarantine measures for travellers.
Sweden was one of the few European countries not to impose a compulsory lockdown, and health officials opted for a “herd immunity” approach to tackling the virus.
Many bars and restaurants have stayed open throughout the pandemic.
Figures from the Johns Hopkins University in the US show that the country has diagnosed 86,194 cases of Covid-19 and has seen 5,843 deaths so far.
Other Scandinavian nations have recorded much lower rates of both infections and deaths.
Denmark has seen around 19,000 cases and just over 600 deaths, and Norway has seen 12,000 cases and around 250 deaths.
Another U-turn, another round of confusion
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “While holidaymakers may be more acutely aware of any risks involved with travelling abroad, this sudden U-turn adds further confusion as to how these decisions are made.
“The last-minute approach continues to ruin holiday plans, with often little prospect of getting any money back as airlines won’t issue refunds or offer vouchers, and in some cases aren’t even offering free rebooking. Travellers already abroad are also likely to be extorted for additional airfares as they rush to get home before the restrictions come into effect.
“It’s obvious that the current travel corridor system is not working for passengers, and becoming completely detrimental to the already dwindling trust in the sector. A major reassessment of the UK Government’s approach is needed to ensure holidaymakers don’t continue to lose money, and tour operators and airlines have a better opportunity to get back on their feet financially.”
This page has been updated with everything you need to know about the latest twist in the travel saga:
Travel industry responds to new quarantine announcement
A spokesperson for Abta, the association of travel agents and tour operators, said: “Every country, mainland or island that is taken off the Government’s travel lists lessens the ability of travel businesses to operate and increases the necessity for the Government to provide tailored industry support.
“There are travel agents and tour operators based in every region of the UK that are viable businesses, which are unable to trade because of the measures to control the pandemic, and tens of thousands of livelihoods are at risk until we are able to move beyond widespread travel restrictions.
“As part of the Save Future Travel Coalition, Abta has today written to the Chancellor, alongside other travel associations, setting out its suggested plan to help, which includes changes to quarantine policy, the introduction of testing and the granting of an APD holiday. It explains that with the right policy and regulatory support the Government can save jobs and ensure the viability of the UK’s travel industry.”
Lockdown to be eased in Northern Ireland from Monday
Soft play areas will be able to reopen in Northern Ireland on September 14.
From September 21 pubs which do not serve food will also be able to open, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said.
On the new coronavirus limitations for some areas, she said: “They are necessary and proportionate in the context of the public health crisis that is upon us.”
She warned others living outside the restricted postcodes that they were not invincible to the threat.
Arlene Foster said the spread of Covid-19 was happening in households and affecting more older people.
“It is a grave situation but we also need to ensure that our economy continues to flourish.”
These cities in England are recording a sharp increase in infections:
Just over 500 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in Leeds in the seven days to September 7, the latest Public Health England data shows.
A total of 536 new cases were recorded – the equivalent of 67.6 cases per 100,000 people, up from 33.5 in the previous week.
Other cities recording sharp increases in their weekly rate include:
– Salford (up from 39.4 to 82.3, with 213 new cases)
– Sunderland (up from 9.0 to 80.3, with 223 new cases)
– Manchester (up from 42.5 to 71.6, with 396 new cases)
– Liverpool (up from 18.3 to 60.8, with 303 new cases)
Women are being “bounced from service to service” when it comes to accessing contraception, the chair of a group of cross-party MPs and peers warned as their report called for cuts in funding to be addressed.
The coronavirus pandemic has made the problem worse, the inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health found.
The inquiry, which opened last year in response to reports of women being unable to access contraception in a way that meets their needs, said the lockdown and its consequences had “demonstrated the need for a more integrated commissioning system which can provide holistic, woman-centred care”.
The report said: “The pandemic has exacerbated the pressure on this already compromised system, with the additional hurdles posed by remote access, limited consultation capacity and severely reduced face-to-face access making access to contraception difficult and even unnavigable for many women during the period.”
The inquiry concluded cuts to the contraceptive budget in England between 2015 and 2018 had led to service closures, reduced opening hours, reduced service provision and cuts to staff numbers.
Ministers have been urged to provide greater support to the tourism industry to help it recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Leading a Commons debate on support for the sector after lockdown, Conservative MP Selaine Saxby (North Devon) said that city and town centres had not yet seen high levels of visitors.
Ms Saxby warned that indoor attractions are struggling to break even due to social distancing guidelines.
“The pandemic has indeed shone a light into many of our economic sectors, highlighting the inter-connectivity of so many activities,” she told the Commons.
“After being cooped up for months, the pandemic has reminded many of us of the benefits of wide open spaces, and our beaches and moors have seen huge influxes of visitors.
“Our city and town centres however have not. Indoor attractions continue to struggle to approach break-even with social distancing, not to mention the plight of the coach industry, conference and exhibition venues, tour operators, airlines and unfortunately so many more.”
Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael called for the temporary cut of VAT from 20 to five per cent for the hospitality and tourism sectors to be extended to allow businesses to regain some stability.
He told MPs that “the case for a continuation for the period of reduction for VAT is I think a very strong one”.
UK announces air bridge with Sweden
Mr Shapps also confirmed Sweden has been added to the travel corridor list, allowing them to avoid self-isolating when arriving in England.
He said: “This week, Sweden has been added to the Travel Corridors list. If you arrive in England from Sweden, you will not need to self-isolate for 14 days.”
He also reiterated that all travellers returning to the UK are legally required to complete a Passenger Locator Form.
Mr Shapps said: “This is vital in protecting public health and ensuring those who need to are complying with self-isolation rules.
“It is a criminal offence not to complete the form and spot checks will be taking place.”
Portugal added to red list
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Twitter: “Data shows we need to remove Portugal (minus the Azores and Madeira), Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion from the Travel Corridor list to keep everyone safe.
“If you arrive in England from these destinations after 4am Saturday, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days.”
He added: “Through enhanced data we now have the capability to assess islands separate to their mainland countries. If you arrive in England from the Azores or Madeira, you will NOT need to self-isolate for 14 days.”
JUST IN: Portugal, Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion have been removed from the UK’s quarantine exemption list.
This means those arriving in England from those countries must self-isolate for 14 days from 4am on Saturday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced.
Bolton remains UK worst-hit town, but Birmingham’s edging closer….
Nearly 1,000 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in Birmingham in the seven days to September 7, according to new data from Public Health England.
A total of 975 cases were recorded – the equivalent of 85.4 cases per 100,000 people, up from 32.0 per 100,000 in the previous week (the seven days to August 31).
Birmingham now has the second highest seven-day rate in England.
Bolton continues to record the highest seven-day rate, which now stands at 160.7 cases per 100,000, up from 80.0. A total of 462 new cases have been recorded.
Preston has the third highest rate in England. Here, the rate has risen from 35.6 to 85.2, with 122 new cases.
In a bid to keep her punters safe, one pub owner has taken the law into her own hands…
A North Yorkshire pub has banned drinkers under-25, as young people bear the brunt of a surge in UK coronavirus cases.
The Oddfellows Arms in Sherburn, near York, announced in a Facebook post on Thursday that it would refuse to serve the age group after Boris Johnson announced tighter restrictions on social gatherings.
Infections are most prevalent among 19 to 21-year-olds, with 54 cases per 100,000 people seen over the past week, compared to the national average of 19.7.
Here’s a breakdown of all the latest UK figures:
The UK’s largest care home operator is facing potential legal action from families of residents who died with coronavirus.
Law firm Leigh Day said it is investigating action regarding HC-One over allegations “systemic failings” at its care homes led to Covid-19 deaths that could otherwise have been avoided.
One of the families involved is that of Colin Harris, one of 10 residents who died during a coronavirus outbreak at the Home Farm care home in Portree, Skye, in May, in which 30 residents and 29 staff tested positive.
HC-One, which has more than 300 care homes across the UK, operated the home at the time.
Mr Harris’ widow Mandie wants to know what the company knew of the risks to residents from Covid-19 and what it did to protect them.
She also wants answers on the movement of workers between homes and on accepting hospital admissions.
Richard Meeran, a partner at Leigh Day who is representing the families, said it has questions over true scale of coronavirus deaths in privately-run care homes in England and Scotland.
He added the operators of these homes “must account for the quality of the care they provide and whether consideration of profit comes before the safety of their residents and staff”.
Renewed hope for a vaccine:
The chief executive of AstraZeneca has said it is “still feasible” for the Oxford vaccine to be approved by regulators by the end of this year.
Pascal Soriot made the comments during an event hosted by media organisation Tortoise on Thursday.
It comes after AstraZeneca said on Tuesday night that the late-stage studies of the vaccine had been paused while the company investigates whether a patient’s reported side effect is connected with the vaccine.