EScAPE Newsletter, Issue #2

Reports that are of interest for the week

Why did the world’s pandemic warning system fail when COVID hit?
This article talks about the PHEIC alarm and why countries other than Asia did not respond. It also goes into why it is concerning that countries did not respond quickly.

Science Advice at a Time of Emergency. SAGE and Covid-19
This political journal shows how following expert advice without asking questions and not following expert advice at all can have consequences. It describes how this occurs through the pandemic and the military advice leading up to the Iraq War in 2003.

Strengthening preparedness for health emergencies: implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005)
This report aims to describe the recommendations of the IHR Review Committees and the work of the Director-General with implementing functioning Regulations up to Dec. 8, 2020.

New surge of COVID-19 cases: GMA calls for restrictions on public gathering
The Ghana Medical Association has called on Government to consider re-intriducing the restrictions on public gathering particularly regarding the funeral of the former President JJ Rawlings of Ghana, since any increase in Covid 19 cases as a result of this funeral and other gatherings could lead to further stress on the already stressed health facilities.

Novavax publishes positive efficacy data for its COVID-19 vaccine
“Novavax today published positive data from the UK phase 3 study of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, showing it to be 89.3% effective in preventing coronavirus in participants.”

Covid Performance Index: Deconstructing Pandemic Responses
Lowy Institute created a Performance Index scoring each of the countries based on their reactions to the pandemic.

Study finds that Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro carried out an ‘institutional strategy to spread the coronavirus’
This article describes how President Jair Messias Bolsonaro created an “institutional strategy” in Brazil to keep COVID-19 spreading so that they could continue economic activity.

Biden orders sweeping review of government science integrity policies
“President Joe Biden today created a task force that will conduct a 120-day review of scientific integrity policies across the U.S. government, including documenting instances in which “improper political interference” interfered with research or led to the suppression or distortion of data.”
Blog regarding the same information
Memo here

Province slams doctor on COVID advisory table over paid work for teacher’s union
Dr. David Fisman was on Ontario’s COVID-19 advisory science table and was a part of the province’s elementary teacher’s union. Premier Doug Ford is criticizing Dr. Fisman and there were worries that he wasn’t giving correct information or hiding information to help the ETFO. However, he as well as other people on the advisory board have claimed that he has given good information that lines up with the science and is not distracting from the goal of the board.

Time to double or upgrade masks as coronavirus variants emerge, experts say
With new variants of the disease, some experts are saying two layered masks may be necessary. The CDC has not required this and neither has President Biden but it could be something that changes in the future.

WHO in Wuhan is probing Covid’s origins as politics hangs over mission
Scientists from WHO were sent to China to investigate the beginnings of the pandemic. However, there is a lot of politics that are making it difficult for an investigation to occur. Some of the WHO members were not able to get in due to a positive antibody test, and the research on the origin of the virus has been clamped down in the past. However, China has done a good job in keeping the virus under control.

A year after first COVID-19 patient, Arizona is open- defying science, frontline healthcare workers
This article describes the journey that Arizona specifically took with the virus and the policies that were put in place.

Unmasking the pandemic’s pollution problem
Due to the pandemic, there has been an increase in litter with things like masks, boxes, plastic bags, and gloves.

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown
New Zealand has done some of the best work in holding the virus at bay. This article describes the ways in which NZ has been successful including: preparedness for emergencies like pandemics, clear public communication, flexible legislation, and willingness to invest to “mitigate economic and social impacts of the pandemic and of social distancing measures.”

As Vaccine Rollout Expands, Black Americans Still Left Behind
The rates at which white Americans and black Americans are receiving their vaccines are not close to equal, which is interesting considering other studies have shown that the black communities are being hit the hardest by COVID-19.