CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom — Although the “six-foot rule” has been a staple of coronavirus safety measure since 2020, is it really doing anything to keep people healthy? A new study finds the answer to that appears to be a resounding no. Scientists from the University of Cambridge say the social distancing rule of six feet does not protect against catching COVID-19, even outdoors.
The team calls the social distancing rule an “arbitrary measurement” of safety in the absence of masks. It could have been set anywhere between three to 10 feet, depending on the risk tolerance of the local public health authority putting out the mandate.
Infected individuals spread the virus through coughing, speaking, and even breathing. People expel larger droplets that eventually settle on surfaces or break into smaller aerosols that may float through the air. The study used computer modelling to quantify how these infectious particles travel. Results show coughs vary widely when it comes to expelling particles.
“I remember hearing lots about how COVID-19 was spreading via door handles in early 2020, and I thought to myself if that were the case, then the virus must leave an infected person and land on the surface or disperse in the air through fluid mechanical processes,” says lead author Professor Epaminondas Mastorakos in a university release.
Scientists are racing to tweak existing vaccines against the new Covid variant spreading rapidly across the planet.
The ‘monster’ strain, named Omicron and designated a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organisation on Friday, has reached the UK and Belgium after being discovered in South Africa.
The UN public health body sparked panic by warning that preliminary evidence suggested that the mutation has an increased risk of reinfection and is more transmissible than other strains. Downing Street’s scientists previously said that the variant could be vaccine resistant.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid banned flights from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia yesterday, telling MPs that there is ‘huge international concern’ about the mutation.
The Prime Minister is due to hold a press conference at 5pm this evening after health officials confirmed two cases of Omicron were found in Nottingham and Brentwood.
The South African doctor who first raised the alarm on new Covid variant Omicron has revealed that patients are presenting with ‘unusual’ symptoms.
Dr Angelique Coetzee, who runs a private practice in the South African administrative capital of Pretoria, said she first noticed earlier this month that Covid patients were presenting with a host of odd symptoms.
The doctor, who has practiced for over 30 years and chairs the South African Medical Association, said that none of the Omicron patients suffered from a loss of taste of smell typically associated with Covid, but instead presented with unusual markers like intense fatigue and a high pulse rate.
‘Their symptoms were so different and so mild from those I had treated before,’ Dr Coetzee told The Telegraph.
She was compelled to inform South Africa’s vaccine advisory board on November 18 when she treated a family of four, all of whom were suffering with intense fatigue after testing positive for Covid-19.
First discovered in South Africa earlier this month, Omicron has since been detected in Britain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Botswana, Israel, Hong Kong and Australia, while Austrian health authorities are today conducting an investigation into a suspected case.
The Omicron Covid-19 variant does spread rapidly and can be transmitted between full-vaccinated people, the UK government said at a press conference tonight.
It comes amid fears the new super-mutant strain makes jabs 40 per cent less effective as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the variant ‘might in part reduce the effectiveness of vaccines over time’.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said it is not yet clear how effective the vaccine will be as protection against the variant – but said those who are vaccinated or receive the booster jab will be less likely to become seriously ill.
Mr Johnson urged people to come forward for their jab and said the booster campaign would get a ‘boost’ by reducing the gap between second doses and booster.
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance told the Downing Street press conference vaccine makers are already looking at how they can make them more effective against emerging variants, and that a jab designed to specifically target the Omicron variant could be created in ‘about 100 days’.
Meanwhile the prime minister announced new measures to combat the new strain be reviewed in three weeks, including mandatory PCR tests for all arriving international travellers and ramping up the use of face masks.
The Welsh Government has confirmed it will introduce the same measures on international travel as announced by the prime minister, saying it had warned the UK Government of the dangers of removing restrictions.
America’s weight problem is so bad a recently published report in the New England Journal of Medicine predicts over half of the nation will be obese in just ten years from now. To make matters worse, one-fourth of the country will be more than 100 pounds overweight.
BioNTech is studying the new COVID-19 variant that emerged in South Africa and said it will know in two weeks if the vaccine it developed with Pfizer is effective against it, The Financial Times reported.
The German company said it is testing the B.1.1.529 variant to determine if its vaccine would have to be reworked, noting the new variant “differs significantly from previously observed variants.”
“We expect more data from the laboratory tests in two weeks at the latest. These data will provide more information about whether B.1.1.529 could be an escape variant that may require an adjustment of our vaccine if the variant spreads globally,” a BioNTech spokesperson told Reuters.
A daily brisk walk or bike ride may reduce an older person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research. Researchers have found that physical activity dampens inflammation in the brain, protecting against mental decline.