Grantley Adams International Airport (FILE)

Barbados' Travel Health Notice level has dropped by two levels. As it relates to travel and COVID-19, the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) nowranksBarbados as Level 2. The island was downgraded from a Level 4 warning at the end of last month and some islands which have remained at Level 4 have questioned the new rating. According to the CDC, lowering a Travel Health Notice (THN) level only occurs if the country can satisfy certain criteria. A destination is eligible to move to a lower level when it meets the primary criteria for a lower level for 28 consecutive days (2 incubation periods). The incubation period is the time it can take for a person to develop infection after being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. When a destination meets primary criteria for 28 consecutive days, then secondary criteria are reviewed. Secondary criteria are met when hospitalization rates are stable or decreasing and cumulative testing positivity rates are in line with primary criteria data. A destination’s THN level is lowered if both primary criteria and secondary criteria are met. If secondary criteria are unavailable or are inconsistent, the destination remains at its current THN level and is reevaluated. A moderate rating means for adestination like Barbadoswith a population of more than 200,000 that its Incidence Rate(cases per 100,000 people over past 28 days) is between 5–50 and itsCase Count(over past 28 days) is between 10–50. As it pertains to secondary criteria, the CDC site says that the Centre "useshospitalization ratesandcumulative testing positivity rateas secondary criteria to validate the primary criteria. Both primary and secondary criteria are measured over 28 days. Secondary criteria data are obtained from official sources, such as ministry of health websites. CDC reviews secondary criteria for all destinations, regardless of population size."

A Jamaican man, whowas struckby a motorcar in the Cayman Islands last week and subsequently died, has been identified. The deceased is 36-year-old Paul Andrew Wright. At the same time, the Cayman police are yet to locate the driver of the car that hit Wright on Thursday, November 26 at about 5:50 am as he was crossing the road to catch a bus to work. The incident reportedly occurred on Shamrock Road in the Lower Valley area of Bodden Town. He was assisted to hospital with serious injuriesand died a day later. In an update, the police indicated that no arrest has yet been made in the case, and appealed to the public for information to further the investigation.

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European Union lawmakers on Wednesday voted in favour of a “right to disconnect” from the internet and email, with around one-third of people now working from home across the 27-nation bloc due in large part to coronavirus restrictions. In a resolution, the parliamentarians argue that disconnecting from work should be a fundamental right and they want the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, to draw up rules allowing people to take time out from the pressures of working at home. “The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work and we must update our rules to catch up with the new reality,” said Maltese Socialist lawmaker Alex Agius Saliba, who led work on the resolution. “After months of teleworking, many workers are now suffering from negative side effects such as isolation, fatigue, depression, burnout, muscular or eye illnesses,” he said. “The pressure to always be reachable, always available, is mounting,” he said, resulting in unpaid overtime and burnout. The resolution, which is non-binding, was passed by 31 votes to 6 against, with 18 abstentions in the European Parliament’s Employment Committee. It must still have to be rubber-stamped by the full house, then submitted to the commission and national EU governments for possible endorsement. In it, the lawmakers argue that the culture of being “always on” and the growing expectation that workers should be reachable at any time can hurt work-life balance, physical and mental health, and well-being. They say home workers should be able to disconnect without facing repercussions from their employer.

Digicel Business announced that it has won a Cisco Partner Summit Award for the Caribbean region for the fourth year in a row. As a partner, Digicel Business delivers top value products to its enterprise and SME customers across 32 countries, and this year the company took home the award for ‘Partner of the Year’. Digicel Business offers solutions to meet the needs of businesses in a range of industries, including retail, hospitality, finance, security, energy, health, manufacturing and government agencies among others. Tom Carson, Digicel Group Chief Business Officer said: “We’re very proud to have been recognised by Cisco as its leading partner in the Caribbean. This valuable recognition acknowledges the superb technical and consulting skills of our talented resources across all our markets.” Tom continued; “A huge part of our focus is about delivering scalable, innovative and reliable solutions to our customers that will help them drive efficiency, operate securely and ultimately increase their bottom line. Cisco has been a trusted and longstanding partner and we look forward to enhancing our relationship even further, delivering even greater value to our customers with our joined-up solutions. At the end of the day, it’s all about being Better Together.” Pablo Gonzalez, Director, Partner Organization, CANSAC Region said: “Digicel’s recognition is a reflection of what both our teams have achieved working together towards a common goal. Digicel has won four years running, in various technology categories, and this is a testament to the hard work and quality of service that Digicel Business offers. We thank you and your market teams for the partnership and the support in helping us achieve our own goals.”

The UK has become the first western country to license a vaccine against COVID-19, allowing for mass immunisation with the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine (BNT162b2) to begin for those who are most at risk. The Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK has granted a temporary authorization for emergency use of the vaccine. This constitutes the first Emergency Use Authorization following a worldwide Phase 3 trial of a vaccine to help fight the pandemic. Pfizer and BioNTech are anticipating further regulatory decisions across the globe in the coming days and weeks and are ready to deliver vaccine doses following potential regulatory authorizations or approvals. The distribution of the vaccine in the UK will be prioritized according to the populations identified in guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). “Today’s Emergency Use Authorization in the UK marks a historic moment in the fight against COVID-19. This authorization is a goal we have been working toward since we first declared that science will win, and we applaud the MHRA for their ability to conduct a careful assessment and take timely action to help protect the people of the UK,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer. “As we anticipate further authorizations and approvals, we are focused on moving with the same level of urgency to safely supply a high-quality vaccine around the world. With thousands of people becoming infected, every day matters in the collective race to end this devastating pandemic.” “The Emergency Use Authorization in the UK will mark the first time citizens outside of the trials will have the opportunity to be immunized against COVID-19,” said Ugur Sahin, MD, CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech. “ We believe that the roll-out of the vaccination program in the UK will reduce the number of people in the high-risk population being hospitalized. Our aim is to bring a safe and effective vaccine upon approval to the people who need it. The data submitted to regulatory agencies around the world are the result of a scientifically rigorous and highly ethical research and development program.” The MHRA’s decision is based on a rolling submission, including data from the Phase 3 clinical study, which demonstrated a vaccine efficacy rate of 95% (p<0.0001) in participants without prior SARS-CoV-2 infection (first primary objective) and also in participants with and without prior SARS-CoV-2 infection (second primary objective), in each case measured from 7 days after the second dose. The first primary objective analysis is based on 170 cases of COVID-19, as specified in the study protocol. Efficacy was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity demographics, with an observed efficacy in adults age 65 and over of more than 94 per cent. In the trial, BNT162b2 was generally well tolerated with no serious safety concerns reported by the Data Monitoring Committee to date. Today’s decision also is based on a review of Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s Chemistry, Manufacturing and Control (CMC) data for BNT162b2. In July 2020, Pfizer and BioNTech announced an agreement with the UK to supply 30 million doses of the BNT162b2 mRNA-based vaccine, once authorized for emergency use. That agreement was increased to 40 million doses in early October. The delivery of the 40 million doses will occur throughout 2020 and 2021, in stages, to ensure an equitable allocation of vaccines across the geographies with executed contracts. Now that the vaccine is authorized in the UK, the companies will take immediate action to begin the delivery of vaccine doses. The first doses are expected to arrive in the UK in the coming days, with complete delivery fulfilment expected in 2021. The companies have filed a request for Emergency Use Authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and have submitted the final Conditional Marketing Authorization Application (CA) following rolling submissions with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and several other regulatory agencies around the world. Pfizer and BioNTech continue to work in collaboration with governments and Ministries of Health around the world that will distribute the vaccine, subject to country authorization or approval, to help ensure it can reach those most in need as quickly as possible. Based on current projections, Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s combined manufacturing network has the potential to supply globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021 (subject to manufacturing capacity and regulatory approval or authorization). Through its existing mRNA production sites in Mainz and Idar-Oberstein, Germany, BioNTech is able to produce mRNA for commercial supply after having already produced the vaccine candidate doses for the clinical trials. BioNTech will also increase its manufacturing capacity in 2021, once a third site in Germany will start manufacturing to provide further capacities for a global supply of the potential vaccine. Critical to distribution in the UK will be Pfizer’s manufacturing site in Puurs, Belgium, one of Pfizer’s largest sterile injectable sites. The Puurs site is being used primarily for European supply but will also serve as back up supply to Kalamazoo, Michigan, for the US market. Pfizer has vast experience and expertise in cold-chain shipping and has an established infrastructure to supply the vaccine worldwide, including distribution hubs that can store vaccine doses for up to six months. The company’s distribution is built on a flexible just-in-time system that can ship the frozen vials quickly to designated points of vaccination at the time of need. So, this will minimize the need for long term storage anywhere. Vaccination in a pandemic situation is expected to be rapid, with high demand, and we do not expect that the product will need to be stored at any location for more than 30 days. To assure product quality, the companies have developed specially designed, temperature-controlled shippers for the BNT162b2 vaccine candidate, which can maintain recommended storage conditions (-70°C ±10°C) for extended periods of time without any additional equipment but dry ice. The shipper can maintain temperature for 10 days unopened which allows for transportation to markets globally. Once open, a vaccination center may use the specially designed shippers as a temporary storage solution to maintain the recommended storage conditions (-70°C ±10°C) up to 30 days with re-icing every five days in accordance with the handling instructions. Each shipper contains a GPS-enabled thermal sensor to track the location and temperature of each vaccine shipment 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Once thawed, the vaccine vial can be stored for up to five days at refrigerated (2-8°C) conditions. BioNTech will hold the regulatory authorization in the UK and, if granted, in the US, the EU, Canada and other countries. Pfizer will have the commercialization right worldwide with the exception of China, Germany and Turkey.

The team at HSM welcomes 11 interns: Destiny Russell, Shyanne Stewart, Paris Jackson, Anabelle Bush, Johanna Dixon, Kevaughn Hutchinson, Latoya Frazer, Jaysie Allen, Christopher Herrera, Aliyanna Fisher and Christopher Myles.

The HSM Group is hosting 11 legal interns for the 2020/21 academic year in partnership with the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC). The team at HSM welcomes interns Destiny Russell, Shyanne Stewart, Paris Jackson, Anabelle Bush, Johanna Dixon, Kevaughn Hutchinson, Latoya Frazer, Jaysie Allen, Christopher Herrera, Aliyanna Fisher and Christopher Myles. HSM is a full-service law firm and corporate services provider, which offers students the ability to gain experiences across a wide-range of practices including immigration, debt collection, intellectual property, corporate services and even areas outside of law, such as finance and marketing. Typically the interns are recruited from the annual CIFEC Career Fair, but this event did not take place due to COVID-19. Instead the interviews were conducted using video conferencing. Natasha Whitelocke coordinated the CIFEC Internship Programme on behalf of HSM. Ms Whitelocke along with HSM’s Managing Partner, Huw Moses, carefully selected and paired interns with lawyers and experts at HSM. These personnel will monitor the student’s work and provide mentoring during the duration of the internship. As part of the CIFEC curriculum, the internship runs until April 2021 and each student attends work twice a week during school hours. When the programme ends, there may also be some opportunities for the students to attain a summer work placement at HSM. “We look forward to the programme each year and are thrilled to be able to participate again despite COVID-19. You can’t replace the hands-on experience the programme gives to the students,” said HSM Managing Partner, Huw Moses OBE. HSM has worked with the CIFEC programme since its formation and currently employs seven former CIFEC graduates full time.