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4. Health and Safety (of all, including employees)

Return to March 2020 update

Length: 3 min read;  634 words.

Note: The following paragraphs summarize the category of Health and Safety (H&S) observed in March. More information about the specific category from March (and previous months) can be found in the downloaded report(s).The number in square brackets (e.g., [X]) refers to a reference where the reader can find more infomation about a specific statement.  The references can be found in the References list below, Systematized References page or in the dowloaded report.

 

H&S has been discussed 11% more in March than in December (21.8% vs. 19.7%) mostly due to vaccine rollouts and new virus variants [1][4][5][6]. Important developments: vaccines work, the vaccine rollout is improving [1], more vaccines are coming (Johnson & Johnson [24], Novavax [238]), therapeutics are poised to make more of a difference, new cases and deaths are lower but still high, more infectious variants may drive a new wave of cases in coming months; and variants may also reduce vaccine efficacy or enable reinfection [7][6][8][9][10]. Furthermore, the discussion continues about vaccine distributions and vaccination progress globally [11][12][13][14] [15][16][17] [18][19] [20][21] [5][22] [23] [24][25][26][27][28][29][30] [31][32], side-effects [33][34], especially blood cloths linked to Astra Zeneca vaccine and rollout suspension in Europe [35][36][37][38][39], lagging symptoms [40][41], Brazil’s world’s worst crisis [42][43][44][45] [46], vaccine passports [47][48][49], vaccine effectiveness, confidence and myths [50][51][52][53][54] [55][56], vaccine studies on children begin [57], masks [58][59], travel restrictions extended globally [60], etc. One year ago (March 11 2020), WHO declared a global pandemic. At the time, there were more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people had died. In the past 12 months, we have recorded more than 118M cases across the globe, with more than 2.6 M deaths. [1]

Experts predict progress toward normalcy during the second quarter of 2021 in the UK and the US and herd immunity in the third quarter. The new third wave of cases in the EU means that these transitions are likely to come later. [62][63]  But new variants of the coronavirus and other risks threaten that timeline. China is expected to reach heard immunity in the third quarter of 2022. Many low-income countries may not receive enough doses to vaccinate all adults until well into 2022. The world is on pace to manufacture enough doses for 80% of the global population, or close to 100% of the adult population, by the end of 2021, but the distribution of these doses may continue to be asymmetric. [64] [12]

Vaccine rollout has brought optimism and vaccinated are slowly returning to some pre-pandemic activities. [67][68][69] Nevertheless, mental health crisis continues. It will take time to deal with mental health problems pandemic has caused. The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in more Americans experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. [70] A recent survey from CDC found that almost 41% of American adults struggle with mental-health issues stemming from the pandemic. That number increases to 75% among those 18 to 24 years old. [71][72] Children are also hitting the pandemic wall. [73] Workplace is full of burnout, stress, and anxiety. People are tired of working from home.[74] Patience and grace is the answer. [75] Health and wellness of employees will remain a priority in the post-pandemic future. COVID-ready office design balances the mental health risks that come with isolation as well as the physical risks of being exposed to the virus. Companies are starting to understand the importance of employee health for company performance better and providing mental-health awareness and resources in the workplace. Leaders can foster a psychologically safe work environment. Psychological safety means an absence of interpersonal fear. When psychological safety is present, people are able to speak up with work-relevant content. [76][77] Workplace stressors are psychological “secondhand smoke”. [161] Five ways to design a better mental-health future for a stressed-out workforce: 1) open the lines of communication; 2) understand and meet the need; 3) know the signs of distress; 4) make help available; and 5) embrace and encourage self-care.[71] Four daily habits that will make you happier: 1) take three brisk walks a week; 2) replay your day; 3) do five random acts; and 4) meditate. [239] Social determinants of health include conditions in which people are born, work, and live and the wider set of social forces and systems shaping the conditions of life – and play a critical role in achieving health equity. Evidence indicates that medical care contributes to just 20% of overall health outcomes. The remaining 80% is attributed to genetics (20%) and the social determinants of health (60%).The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the social disparities in communities globally and has increased the need for coordinated action. [240] According to the WHO, every $1 invested in mental health yields a $4 return on investment. [78] Green and blue spaces can improve our health. [241]

See December Category Summary

References

[1] “One year on: How we’re grappling with a world changed by COVID”, World Economic Forum. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[4] “Covid-19 cases are rising again in much of the world”, The Economist, March 19, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[5] “Vaccine Tensions Rise in Europe; U.S. Deaths Slow: Virus Update”, Bloomberg.com, March 20, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[6] J. S. Kelland Kate, “‘When will it end?’: How a changing virus is reshaping scientists’ views on COVID-19”, Reuters, March 04, 2021. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[7] “I Got Vaccinated, Then I Got Covid. What Happened?”, Bloomberg.com, March 05, 2021. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[8] D. Grady, “Vaccinated People Can Get Covid, but It’s Most Likely Very Rare”, The New York Times, March 23, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[9] “Yes, You Can Catch Covid After Vaccination. But Don’t Panic”, Bloomberg.com, March 05, 2021. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[10] A. Smout, “COVID-19 reinfection rare, but more common in older people, study finds”, Reuters, March 17, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[13] “Politicians in Lebanon jumped the queue for covid-19 vaccine”, The Economist, March 06, 2021. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[14] “Vaccination is going well in Chile. Why not its neighbours?”, The Economist, March 06, 2021. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[15] “Largest Vaccine Maker Warns of Delays as U.S. Prioritizes Pfizer”, Bloomberg.com, March 04, 2021. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[17] K. L. CNN Jeff Zeleny and John Harwood, “Biden now says US will have enough vaccine for every adult by the end of May”, CNN. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[18] “Vaccine Shipments to States Will Rise Along With J&J Burst”, Bloomberg.com, March 02, 2021. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[20] “Covid: Rich states ‘block’ vaccine plans for developing nations”, BBC News, March 20, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[22] “Astra to Seek U.S. Go-Ahead After Shot’s Reassuring Data”, Bloomberg.com, March 22, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[23] A. G. SFGATE, “It’s official: California sets date for when everyone can get vaccine”, SFGATE, March 25, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[24] M. E. O’Donnell Carl, “J&J plant authorization clears way for big boost in U.S. COVID-19 shots”, Reuters, March 23, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[25] S. S. Baczynska Philip Blenkinsop, Gabriela, “Facing ‘crisis of century’, EU threatens ban on COVID vaccine exports to UK”, Reuters, March 17, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[26] N. Kitroeff, M. Abi-Habib, Z. Kanno-Youngs, and J. Tankersley, “U.S. to Send Millions of Vaccine Doses to Mexico and Canada”, The New York Times, March 18, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[28] P. Aripaka, “AstraZeneca, U.S. agree 500,000 more supplies of COVID-19 antibody cocktail”, Reuters, March 16, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[30] T. Panja, “I.O.C. Will Buy Coronavirus Vaccines From China for Olympians”, The New York Times, March 11, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[32] A. L. Dahir and B. Mueller, “Some Nations Could Wait Years for Covid Shots. That’s Bad for Everyone”. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[34] “Some Experience Delayed Rash After Moderna Shot, Study Says”, Bloomberg.com, March 03, 2021. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[35] M. S. Burger Ludwig, “Austria suspends AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine batch after death”, Reuters, March 07, 2021. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[36] J. Steenhuysen, “Scientists probe new theories on whether AstraZeneca shot linked to blood clots”, Reuters, March 20, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[44] “Covid: Brazil’s daily deaths reach all-time high”, BBC News, March 04, 2021. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[45] “Covid-19: Brazil surge reaches new level as daily deaths pass 2,000”, BBC News, March 11, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[47] S. Y. Frost Clara-Laeila Laudette, Laurence, “Travel industry bets on vaccine passports to draw Brits to the Mediterranean”, Reuters, March 05, 2021. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[49] “Qantas boss: Governments ‘to insist’ on vaccines for flying”, BBC News, March 21, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[50] “Covid vaccines cut risk of serious illness by 80% in over-80s”, BBC News, March 01, 2021. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[52] “Five Covid vaccine myths - busted”, BBC News. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[53] “Confidence in COVID-19 vaccines continues to rise”, World Economic Forum. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[54] R. Staff, “UK study finds strong immune responses from one dose of Pfizer COVID-19 shot”, Reuters, March 26, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[56] “Covid: Past infection increases vaccine response six-fold”, BBC News, March 26, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[57] Reuters, “Moderna begins study of Covid-19 vaccine in kids”, NBC News. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[59] “Covid: Masks and social distancing ‘could last years,’”, BBC News, March 21, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[60] D. Shepardson, “U.S extends travel restrictions at Canada, Mexico land borders”, Reuters, March 18, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[62] I. K. and V. D. D. CNN, “Europe has missed its chance to stop the third wave. The US could be next”, CNN. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[63] “Covid: Germany warns of ‘exponential’ rise in coronavirus cases”, BBC News, March 19, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[68] “CDC Says Vaccinated People Can Visit Each Other Mask Free”, Bloomberg.com, March 08, 2021. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[72] J. Grose, “Why Your Brain Feels Broken”, The New York Times, Febuary 24, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[73] M. V. CNN, “Why kids are hitting the pandemic wall”, CNN. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[74] “Covid: ‘People are tired of working from home,’”, BBC News, March 01, 2021. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[75] J. Gay, “As a Window Opens, a Plea for Patience and Grace”, Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[76] McKinsey & Company Featured Insights, “Five Fifty: Is it safe? – Desktop”. (accessed April 15, 2021)
[78] “Mental health: lessons learned in 2020 for 2021 and beyond”, World Economic Forum. (accessed May 17, 2021)
[161] J. Goh, J. Pfeffer, S. A. Zenios, and S. Rajpal, “Workplace stressors & health outcomes: Health policy for the workplace”, Behavioral Science & Policy, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 43–52, 2015, doi: 10.1353/bsp.2015.0001.
[239] L. Evans, “Four Daily Habits That Will Make You Happier”, Fast Company, March 21, 2016. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[240] “Achieving Health Equity”. (accessed May 16, 2021)
[241] “This is how ‘blue spaces’ can improve our health”, World Economic Forum. (accessed May 17, 2021)
Monthly Summary: 
AEC and Pandemic: Response and Impact - March 2021 Update