Friday Five

Assisted dying debate, and Covid-19 latest – this week’s Friday Five

Moderna vaccine to be rolled out in the UK this month

The Moderna Covid vaccine will be available in the UK from April, it was announced this week.

The jab was approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MRHA) in January, and has been found to be 95% effective. Like the BioNTech/Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines, it is given in two doses. The UK government has ordered 17 million.

Following vaccine delivery issues last week, under-50s were warned that their jabs could be delayed but Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the government still plans to vaccinate all adults by the end of July.

Read the full story in the Financial Times.

Germany and Canada suspend AstraZeneca vaccine

Canada has paused the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for adults under the age of 55. Germany is set to do the same for under 60s.

STIKO, Germany’s vaccine committee announced that it would only recommend the vaccine for older adults, based on reports of “rare but very severe thromboembolic side effects”. Canada’s health authority is awaiting further analysis.

AstraZeneca noted that the UK government, European Union and World Health Organization have each found the vaccine’s benefits to outweigh any potential risks or side effects.

Read the full story in the Telegraph.

Fewer than a quarter of people with Covid symptoms get tested

A study has found that only one quarter of people in the UK with Covid symptoms book a test.

The survey, carried out by King’s College London, Public Health England and University College London, also found that 71% of people with Covid symptoms said they had intended to fully self-isolate but only 51.8% stayed at home for the full 10 days.

Read the full story in the Guardian.

Calls for inquiry into assisted dying

Henry Marsh, retired neurosurgeon and author, believes an inquiry into UK laws on assisted dying is “absolutely essential”.

With a diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer, he is supporting a group of 50 MPs who have written to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland. The current law means that helping another person to kill themselves (assisted suicide) can lead to a sentence of up to 14 years in jail. The letter, organised by Humanists UK and My Death, My Decision aims to change this.

Humanists UK’s chief executive Andrew Copson said “In coming together to demand an inquiry, Henry and the lawmakers who have signed this letter have put the voices of the terminally ill and incurably suffering at the centre of the debate.”

Read the full story in the BBC.


Quote of the week

Last week, we saw Conservative opposition to the possibility of Covid passports. This week, Labour Leader Keir Starmer has added his voice saying that, in an environment where the virus is controlled,

“The British instinct in those circumstances will be against vaccine passports”

Read the full story in the Guardian.