COVID-19 pandemic updates
- Last Updated: Monday, 16 November 2020 08:41
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Researchers identify promising new compounds to potentially treat COVID-19: Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) and School of Pharmacy (UMSOP) have discovered new drug compounds to potentially treat the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The compounds disrupt the functioning of a protein complex inside human cells that the researchers discovered is critical for the replication and survival of coronaviruses. This finding could lead to the development of new broad-spectrum antiviral drugs that target viruses such as influenza, Ebola and coronaviruses, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal. More details.
A new saliva-based test developed by a team at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has been found to accurately detect the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from small samples of saliva, according to a study led by Bloomberg School researchers. Such tests, the results of which can be obtained in a matter of hours, are seen as potential alternatives to blood-sample antibody tests for research and clinical use. The test is based on multiple fragments, or ‘antigens’, from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, mostly from its outer spike and nucleocapsid proteins. In the study, the researchers found that their test detected antibodies to several of these antigens in saliva samples from all 24 participants who had confirmed SARS-CoV-2 exposure and whose symptoms had begun more than two weeks prior to the test. The test also reliably yielded negative results for saliva samples that had been collected from people prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Researchers at the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) have found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, can survive for up to 28 days on common surfaces including banknotes, glass - such as that found on mobile phone screens - and stainless steel. The research found that SARS-CoV-2 survived longer at lower temperatures than anticipated and tended to survive longer on non-porous or smooth surfaces such as glass, stainless steel and vinyl, compared to porous complex surfaces such as cotton. More details.
Experimental vaccine that boosts antigen production shows promise against COVID-19: a bioengineering technique to boost production of specific proteins could be the basis of an effective vaccine against the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, new research suggests. Scientists manipulated a natural cellular process to ramp up levels of two proteins used by the virus to infect other cells, packaged the protein-boosting instructions in nanoparticles and injected them into mice. Within a month, the mice had developed antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The technique involves altering specific sequences of messenger RNA, molecules that translate genetic information into functional proteins. While these sequences are not translated to proteins, the researchers changed their structures to promote higher-than-usual levels of proteins. The sequences are known as untranslated regions, or UTRs. More details.
University of Hong Kong researchers have reported the case of a healthy man in his 30s who is the first known case of a COVID-19 reinfection. The man contracted a second and 'clearly different' strain of the disease four and a half months after his first infection. More details.
University of Sydney researchers have confirmed that there is evidence of an association between lower humidity and an increase in community transmission of COVID-19. Lower humidity can be defined as ‘dryer air’ and a new study estimates that for a 1 percent decrease in relative humidity, COVID-19 cases might increase by 7-8 percent. The estimate is about a 2-fold increase in COVID-19 notifications for a 10 percent drop in relative humidity. The increase in infection rates is thought to be because when the air is drier aerosols become smaller, allowing them to remain suspended in the air for longer. More details.
WHO has replaced its daily COVID-19 situational updates with a weekly Epidemiological Update. This provides a summary of regional trends as well as country data. Read the first of these here (PDF).
The WHO Regional Office for Europe is convening a Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development. The Commission will draw lessons on how different countries’ health systems have responded to the pandemic and will make recommendations on investments and reforms to improve the resilience of health and social care systems. More details.
The lack of variation in the SARS-COV-2 virus is good news for researchers who are working on the development of a viable vaccine say the authors of a new study. The virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic presents at least six strains, but despite its mutations, the virus shows little variability. Common influenza has a variability rate that is more than double. Researchers at the University of Bologna drew from the analysis of 48,635 coronavirus genomes, which were isolated by researchers in labs all over the world. It was then possible for researchers to map the spread and the mutations of the virus during its journey to all continents. "The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is presumably already optimized to affect human beings, and this explains its low evolutionary change", explains Federico Giorgi, a researcher at Unibo and coordinator of the study. "This means that the treatments we are developing, including a vaccine, might be effective against all the virus strains". More details.
A team of scientists has engineered antiviral compounds that can kill several types of coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The compounds neutralized viruses in human airway cells and improved survival in mice infected with a deadly, closely related virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). The new compounds' broad activity suggest that they should be further developed as treatments for infections with emerging coronaviruses, which currently have few effective antivirals and no approved vaccines. In previous work the researchers had developed a series of antiviral compounds named 3C-like protease inhibitors, which target an enzyme essential to the replication of coronaviruses. In their latest work they tested several 3C-like protease inhibitors in cells infected with SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, or MERS-CoV. One of the compounds, named 6e, showed strong activity against SARS-CoV-2 and inhibited viral replication by tenfold in cultured human airway epithelial cells taken from infected donors. Another potent compound named 6j boosted the odds of survival in mice infected with MERS-CoV, slashed the amount of virus in the lungs, and prevented dangerous complications. More details.
Could prior exposure to common cold viruses affect the severity of SARS-CoV-2 symptoms? A study led by Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (MPIMG) shows that some healthy individuals possess immune cells capable of recognizing the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The reason for this might be found in prior infections with 'common cold' coronaviruses. Whether or not this cross-reactivity has a protective effect on the clinical course in individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 will now be addressed by the 'Charité Corona Cross' study. More details.
Yale School of Medicine and the biopharmaceutical firm AI Therapeutics have launched a multi-institutional clinical trial of a drug for treating COVID-19. Known as LAM-002A (apilimod), the drug has a proven safety record. Preliminary research has shown it can block cellular entry and trafficking of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the cause of COVID-19.The Yale Center for Clinical Investigation is now enrolling patients in a Phase II trial for the drug's use as a COVID-19 treatment. The study is expected to enroll 142 newly diagnosed patients to test the safety and efficacy of the drug in reducing virus levels in infected individuals. More details.
Approximately one third of people in the Americas are at increased risk of developing severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying health conditions says WHO... more details.
Nitric oxide treatment could be pivotal in the world's fight against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, according to a review from the George Washington University (GW). Nitric oxide is an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory molecule with key roles in pulmonary vascular function in the context of viral infections and other pulmonary diseases. In SARS-CoV-1 infection, which led to the outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2003, nitric oxide inhibited viral replication by cytotoxic reactions through intermediates such as peroxynitrite. It is one of several potential COVID-19 treatments included in the US Food and Drug Administration's emergency expanded access program. Read more in 'Harnessing nitric oxide for preventing, limiting, and treating the severe pulmonary consequences of COVID-19'.
Early stage human trials of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine have found it produces strong immune response and shows no early safety concerns, according to results published in The Lancet. The University of Oxford is working with the UK-based global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for the further development, large-scale manufacture and potential distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. More details.
75 countries have submitted expressions of interest to protect their populations and those of other nations through joining the COVAX Facility, a mechanism designed to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. More details.
Brits, Americans and other English speakers are some of the least likely to wear face masks and social distance to combat the spread of COVID-19, according to new research from Durham University Business School. The only native speakers, researched by the academics, less likely to follow health precautions are German speakers. The research was conducted by Sascha Kraus, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Durham University Business School, alongside an international team of academics. The researchers wanted to understand the predictors of COVID-19 voluntary compliance behaviours, and which native speakers were most likely to follow these. The researchers found that Italian and French speakers were most likely to follow their own government’s guidelines and recommendations, whilst Spanish and English speakers were much less likely to stick to the rules.
In a retrospective study, investigators from New York University Langone Health found that the quantity of SARS-CoV-2 (viral load) collected from patients in emergency departments is significantly higher in patients with fewer or milder symptoms who did not require hospitalization- the opposite of what might be expected. Investigators found that the initial viral load was significantly lower in patients who required hospitalization compared to those who were discharged. The association remained significant even after adjustment for age, sex, race, body mass index, and other existing medical conditions. They also found that a higher viral load was associated with shorter duration of symptoms in all patients and was not associated with disease severity. Read the study paper (PDF).
A team led by scientists at Scripps Research has discovered a common molecular feature found in many of the human antibodies that neutralize SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The scientists reviewed data on nearly 300 anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies that their labs and others have found in convalescent COVID-19 patients over the past few months. They noted that a subset of these antibodies is particularly powerful at neutralizing the virus- and these potent antibodies are all encoded, in part, by the same antibody gene, IGHV3-53. The results therefore offer hope that using a vaccine to boost levels of these ever-present antibodies will protect adequately against the virus.
Researchers from the University of Houston, in collaboration with others, have designed a ‘catch and kill’ air filter that can trap the virus responsible for COVID-19, killing it instantly. The researchers reported that virus tests at the Galveston National Laboratory found 99.8 percent of the novel SARS-CoV-2 was killed in a single pass through a filter made from commercially available nickel foam heated to 200 degrees Centigrade. "This filter could be useful in airports and in airplanes, in office buildings, schools and cruise ships to stop the spread of COVID-19," said Ren, MD Anderson Chair Professor of Physics at UH and co-corresponding author for the paper. More details.
Sweden's controversial decision not to lock down during COVID-19 has been analyzed by the University of Virginia Health System. The approach produced more deaths and greater healthcare demand than seen in countries with earlier, more stringent interventions, but Sweden fared better than would be expected from its public-health mandates alone, roughly similar to France, Italy and Spain - countries that had more stringent measures but adopted them after the pandemic took hold there. More details.
Compounds halt SARS-CoV-2 replication by targeting key viral enzyme: four promising antiviral drug candidates have been identified and analyzed by a University of Arizona-University of South Florida team in a preclinical study. One of the drugs, Boceprevir, is already FDA approved for the treatment of Hepatitis C, which would speed up the approval for COVID-19 treatment. The most effective drug identified was GC-376, an investigational veterinary drug for a deadly strain of coronavirus in cats. More details.
Asthma does not appear to increase the risk for a person contracting COVID-19 or influence its severity, according to a team of Rutgers researchers. More details.
A new paper in the Journal 'Cell' describes how a new, more infectious, variant of the SARS-CoV-2 emerged in February in Europe and rapidly spread around the world. It is now by far the most prevalent variant of the COVID-19-causing virus in circulation. The paper also confirms that the SARS-CoV-2 virus has a low mutation rate overall, much lower than the viruses that cause influenza and HIV-AIDS. More details.
The findings of a nationwide survey assessing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the emotional wellbeing of US adults show that 90 percent of survey respondents reported experiencing emotional distress related to the pandemic. The results indicate that there could be an emerging mental health crisis which needs addressing. More details.
Researchers have completed a new study of how well a variety of natural and synthetic fabrics filter particles of a similar size to the virus that causes COVID-19. Of the 32 cloth materials tested, three of the five most effective at blocking particles were 100 percent cotton. More details.
Whole-town study shows that more than 40 percent of COVID-19 infections had no symptoms...New research from the University of Padova and Imperial College London confirms that asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people are an important factor in the transmission of COVID-19. More
The WHO 28th June sitrep reports a record number of new COVID-19 cases (189,077) in the previous 24 hours globally, with several countries reporting their highest number of new cases in a 24-hour period. The infection curve is starting to look worryingly like it is showing exponential growth. More details.
An American Chemical Society paper explains how a different approach to treating COVID-19 is a possibility using Cellular Nanosponges: these are nanosponges coated with human cell membranes, the natural targets of the virus, as a decoy to lure SARS-CoV-2 away from cells to prevent infections. More
WHO has welcomed the initial clinical trial results from the UK that show dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, can be lifesaving for patients who are critically ill with COVID-19. For patients on ventilators, the treatment was shown to reduce mortality by about one third, and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth, according to preliminary findings shared with WHO. More details.
Clinical researchers will begin human trials of a new COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine developed by researchers at Imperial College London. The trials will be the first test of a new self-amplifying RNA technology, which "has the potential to revolutionise vaccine development and enable scientists to respond more quickly to emerging diseases" according to the UK Government. The vaccine has undergone rigorous pre-clinical safety tests and has been shown to be safe and produced encouraging signs of an effective immune response in animal studies. Over the coming weeks, 300 healthy participants will receive two doses of the vaccine. More details.
Researchers at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have built an online tool that could help decrease the concentration of aerosols containing the novel coronavirus in hospitals and other spaces such as offices, retail stores and residences, potentially reducing the likelihood of building occupants becoming infected. The Fate and Transport of Indoor Microbiological Aerosols (FaTIMA) tool considers factors including ventilation, filtration and aerosol properties to estimate the concentration of aerosols a person might encounter in a room. Using the new tool, building managers and engineers can evaluate their options for reducing occupant exposure to the novel coronavirus. More details.
Naphthalene, an organic compound derived from the distillation of coal tar and best known for its use in moth balls, may be an effective inhibitor of the COVID-19 coronavirus. A team of researchers at the University of Georgia has successfully demonstrated that a set of drug-like naphthalene-based small molecules have been shown to be effective at halting SARS-CoV-2 PLpro activity, as well as replication. PLpro is known to be essential in other coronaviruses for both replication and the ability to suppress host immune function. More details.
An international team of researchers led by McMaster University has found that while higher heat and humidity can slow the spread of COVID-19, longer hours of sunlight are associated with a higher incidence of the disease, in a sign that sunny days can tempt more people out even if this means a higher risk of infection. The findings, published online in the journal Geographical Analysis, inform the widespread scientific debate over how seasonal changes, specifically warmer weather, might shape the spread of COVID-19. More details.
Population-wide use of facemasks keeps the COVID-19 coronavirus 'reproduction number' under 1.0, and prevents further waves of the virus when combined with lockdowns, a modelling study from the universities of Cambridge and Greenwich suggests. The research suggests that lockdowns alone will not stop the resurgence of SARS-CoV-2, and that even homemade masks with limited effectiveness can dramatically reduce transmission rates if worn by enough people, regardless of whether they show symptoms. More details.
In a paper for the Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness journal, The Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health has asked whether the COVID-19 pandemic is being handled in the right way and whether herd resistance needs to be revisited as a viable strategy. Read the paper (PDF).
COVID-19 could be a seasonal illness say University of Sydney researchers: reduced humidity linked to increased COVID-19 risk. A study conducted in Sydney has found an association between lower humidity and an increase in locally acquired positive cases. Researchers discovered a 1 percent decrease in humidity could increase the number of COVID-19 cases by 6 percent. The research led by Professor Michael Ward, an epidemiologist in the Sydney School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney, and two researchers from our partner institution Fudan University School of Public Health in Shanghai, China, is the first peer-reviewed study of a relationship between climate and COVID-19 in the southern hemisphere. "COVID-19 is likely to be a seasonal disease that recurs in periods of lower humidity. We need to be thinking if it's winter time, it could be COVID-19 time," said Professor Ward. More details.
The first academic review of all available evidence, including 172 observational studies looking at how physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection affect the spread of COVID-19, SARS, and MERS in both community and healthcare settings across 16 countries, has confirmed that physical distancing of at least 1 metre lowers risk of COVID-19 transmission, but distances of 2 metres could be more effective. Face coverings and masks might protect both healthcare workers and the general public against infection with COVID-19, and protective eye covering may also provide additional benefit--although the certainty of the evidence is low for both forms of protection. Importantly, even when properly used and combined, none of these interventions offers complete protection and other basic protective measures (such as hand hygiene) are essential to reduce transmission. More details.
Employers across the UK could face legal action from employees who return to work and contract the COVID-19 virus, a leading health and safety expert has warned. Professor Andrew Watterson, of the University of Stirling, believes further evidence and clarity is required on exactly how the 'test, trace and isolate' approach will protect workers - especially when untested workers may be asymptomatic - and he also reemphasised the 'critical' importance of the use of appropriate personal protective equipment and two-metre social distancing. More details.
Rheumatologists at the University of Alberta are flagging similarities between the deaths of some COVID-19 patients and those with rheumatic illnesses, and are testing proven rheumatic treatments to see whether they help against the pandemic virus. More details.
Two anti-inflammatory drugs found that inhibit the replication of SARS-CoV-2: the URV's Cheminformatics and Nutrition research group has carried out a computational screening to predict whether there is a medicine authorised for treating another pathology that can inhibit the main protease of the virus (M-pro). This is key to the whole process because this enzyme plays an essential role in the replication of the virus. The study demonstrates that a human and a veterinary anti-inflammatory drug - Carprofen and Celecoxib - inhibit a key enzyme in the replication and transcription of the virus responsible for COVID-19. More details.
Continuity Central news and resources
- GPMB report highlights weaknesses in pandemic preparedness and highlights lessons learned so far from COVID-19
In a new report, ‘A World in Disorder’, published by the World Health Organization, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) provides an assessment of pre-COVID pandemic planning, highlights lessons learned, and makes recommendations for improvements for future pandemic preparedness.
- Scientists predict that COVID-19 will become a seasonal disease - but not until herd immunity is reached
A new review published in Frontiers in Public Health suggests that COVID-19, the illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, will become seasonal in countries with temperate climates, but only when herd immunity is attained. Until that time, COVID-19 will continue to circulate across the seasons.
- Half of UK healthcare workers expect a second pandemic wave within three months
Nine out of ten healthcare professionals believe there will be a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK - and many anticipate it will be soon, according to a YouGov survey. The survey found that 46 percent healthcare professionals surveyed say that this scenario is very likely and 44 percent say it is fairly likely.
- Business continuity through a COVID-19 lens
COVID-19 has brought business continuity under scrutiny, with the opportunity to enhance resilience into the future. Padma Naidoo looks at what worked and how this will influence business continuity in the future…
- New research looks at how US organizations used AI to support business continuity during the pandemic
IPsoft has published new research, in partnership with Censuswide, examining the uptake of AI during the COVID-19 pandemic and its continuing impact on the American workforce.
- How effective does a COVID-19 vaccine need to be to stop the pandemic?
Researchers around the world are working hard to find a COVID-19 vaccine but how effective does a vaccine need to be to allow a return to normal life? A new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine provides some insights.
- Research demonstrates enterprises must adapt to address telework security challenges
Fortinet has published its 2020 Remote Workforce Cybersecurity Report, which investigates the cyber security challenges that organizations faced as a result of the dramatic shift to telework early in 2020 and the planned investments to secure remote work going forward.
- ServiceNow and Uber for Business partner to help organizations offer safer commuting
ServiceNow has announced a new integration with Uber for Business to help organizations enable their employees to feel safe when commuting to and from work.
- BSI survey finds that supply chain issues are still impacting many North American organizations
BSI recently conducted a survey among business leaders in North America to better understand the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on organizations and evaluate their business continuity efforts on the road to recovery.
- Insurance against pandemic risk: options for shared resilience solutions in the EU
The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) has published an Issues Paper highlighting options for developing shared resilience solutions for pandemic risk. The paper recognises that private insurance solutions alone will not be sufficient to protect against the financial consequences of future pandemics.
- Emerging markets face ‘unparalleled’ civil unrest, as economic impacts of pandemic unfold
As the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic mounts, protests in emerging and frontier markets are set to swell with millions of newly unemployed, underpaid, and underfed citizens, posing a risk to domestic stability with few parallels in recent decades. This stark assessment comes from global risk analysis company Verisk Maplecroft on the back of the release of its latest Civil Unrest Index Projections report.
- Gartner emerging risk survey shows that a renewed COVID-19 outbreak is top concern
Gartner has published the results from its 2Q20 Emerging Risks Monitor Report, which shows that senior executives see renewed outbreaks of the COVID-19 pandemic as their top emerging risk.
- Pandemic-induced changes will alter the future of business resiliency says Forrester
According to Forrester, the lasting global impact of COVID-19 will usher in five macro shifts that will permanently alter business and technology. In a new report, ‘The New, Unstable Normal: How COVID-19 Will Change Business and Technology Forever’, Forrester identifies business resiliency as one of these trends.
- State of ITSM in the COVID-19 Pandemic report looks at business continuity success levels
ManageEngine has announced the results of a new survey, ‘The State of ITSM in the COVID-19 Pandemic’. The survey, conducted among more than 500 global IT professionals, highlights the ramifications and challenges the COVID-19 pandemic caused for IT service teams.
- Agile leadership will be one of the keys to help organizations adapt to the new normal
The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has brought with it a crisis of leadership and adapting to the post-lockdown new normal will demand a new more agile style of leadership. This message emerged from an expert panel discussion looking at the subject of leadership in a pandemic hosted by Resilience First.
- BSI updates its COVID-19 Safe Working Guidelines for businesses
BSI has announced the availability of its ‘Safe Working Guidelines, Version 2’ which provides guidance on safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidelines have been enhanced and extended and include major updates.
- Everbridge Control Center launches: provides a ‘return-to-work connectivity hub’
Everbridge, Inc., has announced the availability of the Everbridge Control Center, which organizations can use to automate the triggering of alerts relating to COVID-19 monitoring in the workplace.
- UK risk professionals are receiving more board time as a result of COVID-19
The scale and velocity of the COVID-19 pandemic took many organizations by surprise, according to a report from Airmic, the UK association for risk and insurance professionals. The research also reveals that risk professionals are receiving more board time than ever before as the pandemic disruption erodes internal organizational barriers.
- Enterprises that halted IT cloud migrations due to the pandemic had more outages than those that continued
Enterprises that halted their cloud migration journey during the current global pandemic are two and a half times more likely than those that continued their move to the cloud to have experienced IT outages that negatively impacted their SLAs.
- The impacts of work from home measures surveyed
Early 2020 saw the beginning of worldwide lockdown measures that forced many businesses worldwide to work remotely in response to COVID-19, and a new report, the ‘2020 Work-from-Home IT Impact Study’, has examined the impacts of these steps.
- New study looks at how prepared businesses were for a pandemic and the strategies being used for continuity
Telstra had published the results of a research study, ‘Business Continuity, Flexible Working and Adaptive Infrastructure: Five Actions for When the Economy Reopens Following COVID-19’.
- Many traditional business continuity strategies don’t work in pandemic times says Crises Control
The COVID-19 pandemic raises a number of very significant issues for business continuity. These issues include employee availability, supply chain disruption, and social distancing. As companies return to full operations, they will have to adapt to a new normal with significantly changed business operating models. These are some of the areas explored in a new white paper from Crises Control.
- COVID-19: survey looks at current business continuity measures and future outlook
A new survey from International SOS highlights that over 70 percent of companies’ primary business continuity concern is further disruption from a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The people element of business continuity: some lessons from COVID-19
With so many working environments made unavailable as a result of COVID-19, and staff being forced to work remotely for extended periods of time, what lessons have companies learnt about the provisions they had in place, and how might they adapt for the future? With many organizations looking at introducing more flexible working as a permanent solution, the people element of business continuity needs more consideration than ever. Chris Butler explores…
- Collaborating with the competition as a business continuity strategy
Businesses around the world have had to collaborate with competitors in order to survive the COVID-19 pandemic - in some cases they have grown – but sharing excessive amounts of information with rivals comes with risks.
- COVID-19 pandemic underscores importance of IT in business resiliency finds survey
The COVID-19 pandemic has irrevocably changed the way businesses everywhere operate, crystallizing the link between a robust IT infrastructure and business continuity says a new study.
- Many organizations are taking security risks when supporting work from home
Bitglass has released its 2020 Remote Work Report, which analyses how organizations have adjusted to support remote workers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
- BSI publishes UK Safe Working Guidelines to help organizations protect staff and customers from COVID-19
BSI, in its role as the UK’s National Standards Body, has published new safe working guidelines to help businesses manage a safe return to work from COVID-19 lockdowns.
- A Resilience Guide for Our New World: a new publication from Resilience First
The UK business resilience organization, Resilience First, has published ‘A Resilience Guide for Our New World’, a new route map for businesses to strategically find ways out of the COVID-19 crisis.
- US National Governors Association releases guidance on managing natural disasters during pandemic conditions
The National Governors Association (NGA) has published ‘Planning for Concurrent Emergencies’, a memo outlining best practices for managing natural disasters during pandemic conditions, which create additional challenges in evacuation and sheltering protocols, as well as financial and logistical complications for states.
- Social distancing guidelines are based on old information and ignore submicron aerosols say researchers
Scientists from the American Association for the Advancement of Science have published a new Perspective which highlights that WHO social distancing guidelines to help control COVID-19 are based on studies of respiratory droplets carried out in the 1930s and do not account for submicron aerosols.
- Three emerging societal risks that organizations should be aware of as lockdowns relax
International SOS has experienced a large rise in COVID-19 related physical security cases during the pandemic. The company has analysed trends related to this increase and is highlighting three emerging societal challenges that may impact organizations.
- The return from lockdown: seven risk and compliance considerations for distributed workforces
NAVEX Global has provided a checklist of seven key considerations for business leaders and decision makers preparing their organizations for a return to work after COVID-19 lockdowns.
- Is the Chinese route out of lockdown one for the UK to follow?
Resilience First has highlighted a series of key points that emerged from the latest in a series of webinars it hosted focusing on the response to COVID-19.
- World Economic Forum publishes report looking at how COVID-19 risks may develop
‘Prolonged global recession’, ‘high unemployment’, ‘another outbreak of infectious disease’, and protectionism dominate the list of near-term worries for companies, according to the World Economic Forum’s new report, COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and Its Implications.
- How COVID-19 has changed the cyber threat landscape
Ryan Weeks, CISO, Datto, looks at areas where cyber threats have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights key steps for improving security.
- Siemens new body temperature solution helps reduce COVID-19 infection risk in buildings
Siemens Smart Infrastructure has announced the launch of Siveillance Thermal Shield, a solution package that quickly measures the body temperature of a person seeking to access a building and enables the results to be integrated into the video and access systems of organizations.
- COVID-19 business recovery: your twelve-point checklist
Resilience consultants, Controlled Events, have provided a resource to assist organizations as they begin restarting operations following pandemic lockdowns. The checklist-based resource sets out key strategies, processes, and activities for business recovery which should be implemented alongside the phased processes for relaxing lock down in the countries where you operate and is applicable to businesses of all sizes.
- How to stay resilient amidst COVID-19 and the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season
Pat Corcoran, Global Strategy Executive for IBM Business Resiliency Services, provides advice for organizations considering how to prepare for an active Atlantic hurricane season during pandemic times.
- Looking ahead to a second pandemic wave: why acting now to strengthen your crisis management capability is the key to building future resilience
As many countries seem to be emerging from the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis, now is the time to plan for a possible second wave says Jonathan Hemus.
- Is COVID-19 forcing organizations to move on from Crisis Command Centres?
COVID-19 has changed our perspectives on a lot of things and, whilst we focus on managing response and work from home (WFH) arrangements, COVID-19 may have forced another change: the use of Crisis Command Centres / Centers. Marcus Vaughan explains…
- Some technology factors to consider when adapting your organization for new ways of working
Nick Sacke discusses a number of factors that organizations should consider when adopting a new way of working as the COVID-19 pandemic develops. Organizations need not only to adapt to new ways of working, but also prepare now to future proof their businesses for the post-pandemic future.
- Facility restart risks that need addressing before allowing reopening
With businesses in many countries now preparing to reopen after a period of pandemic induced inactivity, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) has highlighted a number of risks which need addressing before dormant facilities are reactivated.
- UK companies seem to be doing well when it comes to supporting employees’ mental health during the pandemic
UK businesses are so far delivering on employee engagement in the current COVID-19 pandemic, according to new research from Wazoku. 70 percent of survey respondents say their employer has taken steps to ensure their mental health and well-being is addressed and 72 percent have been consulted about how best they can all approach home working during the crisis.
- COVID-19 office reopening plan: checklists and re-entry forms
As COVID-19 restrictions begin to be relaxed in many countries around the world, organizations are starting to think about when and how to restart operations. To assist Continuity Central readers in this area, Raymond-Cox Consulting, LLC, has provided a useful resource for organizations to use as they consider when and how to reopen their office(s).
- Accounting for multiple crises: how businesses can mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and concurrent natural disasters
Although COVID-19 is, understandably, the focus for most businesses, the disruption caused by the virus will not cause the threat from other hazards, such as natural disasters, to disappear. Erika Weisbrod looks at how COVID-19 may impact the response to natural disasters and highlights some areas that organizations need to consider.
- SHRM survey: 52 percent of US small businesses expect to close within next six months
New research released by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) warns that the state of US small businesses could go from bad to worse, as 52 percent of those surveyed expect to be out of business within six months due to COVID-19.
- Everbridge unveils COVID-19 ‘Return to Work’ software solution
Everbridge, Inc. has announced the availability of a new COVID-19 Return to Work software solution to help businesses and governments navigate the unprecedented complexity of operating during the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic – preparing to bring back the workforce and reopen society.
- Study finds that two-thirds of UK organizations surveyed had no pandemic plans in place before COVID-19
New research from Databarracks has revealed that two-thirds of organizations (66 percent) surveyed had no plans in place for responding to an infectious disease pandemic before the COVID-19 outbreak. This is despite pandemic ranking highest in terms of impact and likelihood in the UK government’s National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies; and despite 61 percent of respondents having a business continuity plan which was considered to be up-to-date.
- World Economic Forum promotes blockchain as a tool to tackle supply chain failures exposed by COVID-19
The pressure created by the COVID-19 outbreak on global trade systems highlights an urgent need for global cooperation to maintain and strengthen the resilience of international supply chains.
- Remote working: lifeline or a tightrope?
As we look ahead from COVID-19 pandemic response to recovery where does remote working fit in? Chris Butler looks at some business continuity considerations as organizations consider the future ‘new normal’.
- Survey shows that COVID-19 response is putting cyber security under pressure
(ISC)² – the non-profit association of certified cyber security professionals – has released the findings of a survey in which cyber security professionals shared insights into their current work situations during the first several weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Has BCM protected shareholder value in the COVID-19 outbreak?
Patrick Roberts looks at whether firms that have adopted good practice in business continuity management (BCM) suffered less impact on their share prices during the initial stage of the COVID-19 outbreak than those that haven’t.
- The benefits that IoT can bring to pandemic response
Paul Marshall explores the specific benefits that the Internet of Things (IoT) can have on mitigating the impact of the current pandemic and looks at what innovation needs to be adopted to ensure the world is prepared, should it happen again.
- Pandemic response and recovery: a CEO’s perspective
Jon Ezrine highlights lessons that CEOs can learn from the COVID-19 pandemic, which will help businesses emerge in a stronger position when the outbreak subsides and organizations face a new business ’normal’.
- New survey shows the impacts of home working on UK productivity
A new UK-based survey into the experience of home working shows that 37 percent are finding it increasingly difficult to work from home. The survey of 2,000 people, commissioned by Moneypenny, showed that a further 6 percent said they don’t feel they can work from home any longer while 52 percent said they have got used to home working.
- Ensuring business continuity in a remote working environment
The rush to remote working as organizations responded to COVID-19 lockdowns and other restrictions may have resulted in business continuity and cyber security taking a back-seat. Mick Bradley highlights areas that need to be considered and makes some recommendations.
- Indoor precautions are essential to stem airborne COVID-19 say researchers
Researchers are urging health authorities to immediately recognise the role of airborne transmission of COVID-19 virus droplets from an infected person beyond 1.5m in order to stem the disease's spread.
- New COVID-19 business alliance to provide key data insights in bid to tackle pandemic recovery
A new business alliance has been formed which aims to help find new, faster ways of supporting the response to COVID-19 and subsequent global recovery. The alliance, Emer2gent, will share data and expertise ‘to build economic resilience and innovate for a better tomorrow’.
- Trust, not surveillance, is the key to a successful and resilient home working environment
Businesses must implement a policy of trust rather than surveillance and monitoring when managing remote teams through the COVID-19 pandemic, according to insight from talent acquisition specialist, Guidant Global.
- Sitemark launches COVID-19 workplace hygiene system
Sitemark, the independent benchmarking service for the facilities management industry, has launched a workplace hygiene system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. The system has been developed to enable businesses to maintain clean and hygienic buildings so that building users remain safe and healthy.
- Telematics company records spike in commercial vehicle theft
Radius Telematics has seen a big increase in the thefts of commercial vehicles and plant since the COVID-19 lockdown. With many offices, factories and construction sites shut, thieves appear to be taking advantage of unattended locations.
- Gartner survey sees indication that higher levels of home working are here to stay
A Gartner survey of 229 HR leaders on April 2nd revealed that many workers are planning to work remotely more often in the future. Currently nearly 50 percent of organizations report that 81 percent or more of their employees are working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Survey finds widespread concern over cloud security risks during the COVID-19 pandemic
As many organizations have been forced to make a rapid shift to work-from-home to help stem the spread of COVID-19, a significant percentage of IT and cloud professionals are concerned about maintaining the security of their cloud environments during this period. The findings are a part of the State of Cloud Security survey conducted by Fugue.
- Initial lessons from the COVID-19 business continuity response
Although the crisis is still unfolding, it’s already clear that building resilience into your organizational DNA is more important than ever. Michael Davies, CEO of ContinuitySA says this is one of the clear lessons from the COVID-19 response so far.
- COVID-19: riding the second wave of the pandemic
At some point governments across the world are going to have to start taking some very tricky decisions as to when to ease the COVID-19 lockdown. But when that happens will the virus stage a vicious comeback? Jim Preen looks ahead…
- Closing workplace facilities creates new risks says FM Global
As companies close offices, plants and warehouses to reduce COVID-19 spread, other risks are emerging at these now-idle facilities, warns FM Global.
- Enterprise risk managers are finding that COVID-19 is resulting in less engagement with the company board
A Gartner survey of more than 900 audit and risk leaders on March 27th 2020 has found that most of their focus is on assessing the impact of COVID-19 on organizational operations and controls, as well as revising and executing the company audit plan.
- International Labour Organization outlines catastrophic effect of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a catastrophic effect on working hours and earnings, globally. A new ILO report highlights some of the worst affected sectors and regions, and outlines policies to mitigate the crisis.
- How safe is using Zoom for video conferencing?
One of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is the rapid uptake in the use of video conferencing, especially the Zoom platform. Recently questions have been asked about how secure Zoom is. Here, Elliott Thompson gives his view on what the real risk of using Zoom is and offers tips to mitigate.
- BCI launches a survey to capture business pandemic planning and recovery lessons
The BCI has launched a survey which will inform a new report exploring current pandemic planning activities as well as organizational preparations for post-pandemic business operations.
- Academics warn that the COVID-19 pandemic is a symptom of systemic issues in human society
While the world is focused on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists from the Singapore University of Technology and Design are warning that it is important not to lose sight of the causes of the pandemic. They suggest that COVID-19 is ‘more than just a virus, but rather a symptom emerging from something much deeper - a nonlinear dynamical system of coupled pathologies underlying a veneer of progress in an increasingly fragile, volatile, hyperconnected world.’
- SHRM surveys look at the impacts of COVID-19 lockdown on US small businesses
Half of America’s small businesses can’t afford to pay employees for a full month under the current economic lockdown meant to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- How fit for purpose are VPNs for enterprise remote access?
PortSys has highlighted security and capability gaps that it believes exist in the VPNs that many organizations around the world are now using for business continuity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Keeping resilient while home working – useful tips and techniques
Dominic Irvine has spent 20 years working from home. Here he builds on this experience to offer advice for how to ensure that yourself and your team maintain business as usual while working at home.
- Six initiatives to help maintain employee performance and engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic
While organizations are focused on business continuity plans and strategies to maintain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to also focus on employee well-being. Organizations need to focus on employees’ emotions related to the pandemic to restore productivity and deliver on employee experience, according to Gartner.
- Survey finds that only 29 percent of companies globally expect to operate at full capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic
With employee work restrictions in place to combat the COVID-19 crisis, just 29 percent of companies can continue to be fully operational with employee work restrictions in place and 57 percent expect to be partially operational, according to the international ‘Rapid Ratings State of Supply Chain Survey’.
- The psychology of bulk buying…
Supermarket and some other supply chains have been heavily impacted by bulk buying during the COVID-19 pandemic. To assist organizations understand this phenomenon, Dr. Ali Fenwick, an expert in human behaviour at Nyenrode Business University, explains why people behave in this way and why it is a predictable reaction…
- NIST provides information resources for secure teleworking
As people around the world transition from an office environment to home working, maintaining cyber security is imperative. For organizations establishing telework security policies, remote access solutions, etc., NIST has developed a comprehensive telework resource guide that provides information on securing enterprise telework, remote access, and bring your own device (BYOD) solutions.
- Supply chain resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic: thoughts from Zurich North America
Today, businesses are learning how a global pandemic can put immense strain on supply chains. The spread of COVID-19 is not only impacting shipping lanes, ports and locations, but also the people inside manufacturing facilities who are making the products.
- ‘Organizations should follow a five-phase approach for resilient business continuity models during Coronavirus disruptions’ says Gartner
A five-phase strategic and systematic approach to strengthen the resilience of organizations’ current business models is key to business continuity during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Gartner, Inc.
- IABM collates COVID-19 related business continuity resources
IABM, the international trade association for Broadcast and Media technology suppliers, has produced a comprehensive ‘virtual repository’ to collate COVID-19 related business continuity resources from around the world.
- Warning issued to adopt a heightened state of cyber security when facilitating home working
CISA, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, has issued an alert to encourage organizations to adopt a heightened state of cyber security when implementing teleworking in response to COVID-19.
- WHO declares COVID-19 pandemic: now is the time to validate your plan
As every business continuity manager will be aware, the World Health Organization has designated the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. What should organizations do in response? The first action is to validate your pandemic plan says Geary W. Sikich…
- Preparing your pandemic response plans: a comprehensive checklist
Dr. Jim Kennedy provides a detailed checklist of items that organizations need to consider to sense-check existing pandemic plans, or to inform planning processes which may be underway.
- A quarter of companies are developing their first business continuity plan in response to COVID-19: study
COVID-19 has been a catalyst for many organizations to address business continuity failings; with just under a quarter (24 percent) of companies currently in the middle of drafting an initial business continuity plan, according to a study by global consultancy firm Mercer.
- COVID-19: preparing for business interruption and other claims
As the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak continues to spread, organizations are preparing for possible impacts on their operations. In this article, Paul McVey looks at what organizations should do to prepare for potential business interruption claims due to the presence of the virus on their premises, employee absenteeism, or supply chain disruptions.
- Business continuity planning and actions in relation to COVID-19
From 14th to 20th February 2020, Continuity Central conducted an online survey which aimed to capture information to help business continuity managers around the world understand what actions others in the profession are taking in response to or in preparation for COVID-19 infections.
- To slow a disease outbreak, focus on handwashing confirms new study
A new study estimates that improving the rates of handwashing by people passing through just 10 of the world's leading airports could significantly reduce the spread of many infectious diseases. And the greater the improvement in people's handwashing habits at airports, the more dramatic the effect on slowing the disease, the researchers found.
- Early spread of 2019-nCoV was far greater than reported say University researchers
Infectious disease researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and other institutions in Hong Kong, mainland China and France have concluded that there is a high probability that the 2019-nCoV coronavirus spread beyond Wuhan and other quarantined cities before Chinese officials were able to put a quarantine in place.
- Business continuity management advice relating to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak
In this resource page Continuity Central is collecting advice issued by business continuity consultancies around the world concerning actions that organizations can be taking in response to the 2019-nCoV outbreak.
- 2019-nCoV Coronavirus: assessing risk and planning initiatives
Geary Sikich looks at lessons learned from the 2006 avian flu pandemic scare, and provides pointers for activities that risk managers and business continuity managers could be considering currently.
- 100 years on from the 1918 flu pandemic: what lessons can be learned?
With flu season nearly upon us, a new study looks at the factors behind the extremely high mortality of the 1918 flu pandemic and how to prepare for future pandemics.