There is so much negativity in the news about COVID-19, we want to give you all the positive good news that is happening with research, clinical trials, improvements, vaccines and anything that we can be positive about that you may not have seen.


Latest stories

Dogs can Sniff out Coronavirus with Great Accuracy and might be Deployed in Public Settings for Active Screening


A new study published on 14 April in the journal PLOS ONE has shown that specially trained dogs are capable of detecting positive samples of COVID-19 with 96% accuracy, suggesting the potential of using dogs in large public gathering post-lockdown to actively screen for infection.

The study has demonstrated that even though dogs are, indeed, capable of discerning the virus, it takes careful and extensive training, which is further complicated by the intermingling of different odours in real-life situations.

Since the Working Dog Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine – where the researchers normally work – is currently on lockdown, the team partnered with Pat Nolan, a dog trainer working from a facility in Maryland.

The study enrolled eight Labrador Retrievers and a Belgian Malinois who were not involved in any medical-detection work in the past.

First, the dogs were trained to sniff out a synthetic substance known as the universal detection compound (UDC). Next, the researchers moved on to positive and negative COVID-19 samples that were collected from both adults and children, and deactivated in advance to protect the dogs from infection.

After three weeks of training, the dogs were able to pick up on positive samples with 96% accuracy on average, but were more susceptible to false negatives, which is likely due to the strictness with which the experimental set up categorised what “counts” as accurate.


Covid-19 vaccine bookings open in Northern Ireland for 35-39 age group


Vaccine appointments for a limited number of people aged between 35 and 39-years-old are being made available from Monday.

The Department of Health said it is the latest phase of the vaccine roll out.

It said bookings will open to the entire 35-39 age group by the end of April.

The slots are mainly for the SSE Arena vaccine centre in Belfast and can be booked on a first come first served basis from 14:00 BST.

Appointments in community pharmacies will be made available to 35-39 year olds later this month depending on vaccine supplies.

Patricia Donnelly, who heads up Northern Ireland’s vaccine programme, told the BBC’s Evening Extra programme that vaccine wastage across Northern Ireland is less than 1%.

At the start, the aim was for about 10%. She said across pharmacies it had been a “military operation”.


England records just one coronavirus death in lowest rise of entire pandemic


The latest UK death toll for Covid-19 has been released on Monday April 19.

Wales confirmed two deaths before 2pm, with NHS England also moving to confirm its latest figure, alongside Public Health Scotland and the Northern Irish department of health.

There have been a further 102 cases of coronavirus in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 210,925.

NHS England reported just 1 COVID-19 hospital death. 11 were reported last Monday, 15 two weeks ago & 18 three weeks ago. The death took place in the East of England.


AstraZeneca could have COVID-19 vaccine against variant by end-2021


A modified version of AstraZeneca’s (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccine tailored to combat a coronavirus variant first documented in South Africa could be ready by the end of 2021, an AstraZeneca official in Austria said in an interview published on Sunday.

Sarah Walters, AstraZeneca’s Austria country manager, told the Kurier newspaper that studies, so far, indicating the existing AstraZeneca vaccine was less effective against the more infectious variant first documented in South Africa were “too small to draw final conclusions”.

“In the meantime, AstraZeneca and Oxford University have started on modifications to the vaccine for the South African variant and we expect it will be ready by the end of the year, should it be needed,” Walters told the Kurier.


Ireland: 269 new cases reported, one further death – Lowest single-day figure since December 13th, lowest Sunday figure since September


There have been 269 new cases of Covid-19 reported by the Department of Health.

The Department has also reported one further Covid-related death.

70% of the cases involve people under 45 years of age, while the median age is 31 years old.

There are 181 people with Covid-19 being treated in hospitals, with 47 of these receiving intensive care. This is down three from yesterday.

1,188,354 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered as if Friday 16 April.

838,644 people have received their first dose, and 349,710 of these people have also received their second dose.


Half of US adults have received at least 1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine, CDC says


As of Sunday morning, 50% of American adults 18 and older have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to vaccination data from the CDC.

The CDC’s vaccine tracker shows 129,988,985 people 18 and older in this country have received at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That’s 50.4% of the adult population.

Just over 84 million Americans are fully-vaccinated, about 25.4% of the population, meaning they have received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.


UK delivers more than 600,000 vaccines in 24 hours


More than 600,000 first and second doses of coronavirus vaccine were administered in Britain in the space of 24 hours, according to data released on Saturday.

Official figures showed that 119,306 first doses were given on Friday, and 485,421 second doses. The data also showed a further 35 people had died from the virus within 28 days of a positive test, and 2,206 people had tested positive.

In the last seven days, daily deaths were down 29% from the previous week, while cases were down 6.5%.


Moderna slashing vaccine deliveries to Canada, but Pfizer steps up with 8 million more doses


Pfizer will send four million more vaccine doses in May, two million more in June, Trudeau says

Moderna will send far fewer COVID-19 shots to Canada this month than originally planned as the company grapples with production issues at its facilities in Europe.

But its main competitor, Pfizer — which also produces a highly effective mRNA vaccine against the novel coronavirus — has said it will send millions more doses to Canada in May, June and beyond, a commitment that will more than cover the shortfall from Moderna.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that while the delay in Moderna’s shipments is disappointing, Canada has now signed an agreement with Pfizer for eight million more vaccine doses on top of what has already been promised.

Canada will receive four million more Pfizer doses in May, another two million in June and two million more in July, Trudeau said.

That means Canada’s immunization campaign will have access to two million doses per week of the Pfizer product in May and 2.5 million shots per week in the month of June — vaccine stocks that are badly needed as the country grapples with a punishing third wave of cases.


U.S. Vaccinations Reach 200 Million as Campaign Picks Up Speed


The U.S. has administered 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, a White House official said Friday.

Just under 40% of Americans have had at least one dose, and about a quarter have completed the one- and two-dose vaccinations. The news was announced on Twitter by Cyrus Shahpar, the White House Covid-19 Data Director.

The vaccine rollout has been accelerating as supply increases, with the U.S. giving shots to about 1% of the population every day, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. It took the U.S. 89 days to administer the first 100 million doses, a milestone reached on March 12. The second 100 million has come in just 36 days.

President Joe Biden has said his goal was to administer 200 million doses in the first 100 days of his administration. Because vaccination was started under Donald Trump’s administration, it will take another 16.5 million doses to reach Biden’s mark. That should happen some time next week, about a week ahead of Biden’s deadline.