Friday Five

Johnson unveils Covid-19 roadmap, US passes heart-breaking milestone and Moderna produces variant-specific vaccine for clinical study – This Week’s Friday Five

Johnson unveils roadmap to end England restrictions by 21 June

This week, Boris Johnson unveiled a new four-step plan to ease England’s lockdown which could see all legal limits on social contact lifted by 21 June, if strict conditions are met.

The Prime Minister told MPs the plan aimed to be “cautious but irreversible” and at every stage decisions would be led by “data not dates”. The plan will require four tests on vaccines, infection rates and new coronavirus variants to be met at each stage.

The first step of the plan will begin on 8 March with all schools opening and outdoor after-school sports and activities will be allowed. Recreation in an outdoor public space – such as a park – will also be allowed between two people, meaning individuals could sit down for a coffee, drink or picnic.

Read the full story in the BBC.

US passes heart-breaking milestone of 500,000 Covid-19 deaths

The United States have confirmed that they have now surpassed 500,000 Covid-19 deaths. The solemn milestone came nearly a year after the first fatality from the virus was recorded in the country.

The US death toll is by far the highest in the world in absolute terms and more than double the deaths in Brazil, the country with the second-highest number of fatalities, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The number of US Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations experienced a significant increase after the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The daily death toll surpassed 4,000 several times in January, making it the deadliest month of the pandemic in the US, with more than 94,000 confirmed fatalities.

Read the full story in FT.com.

NHS app could be converted to display Covid status

The NHS app could be used to display vaccine status or a person’s latest Covid-19 test results to gain entry to pubs and theatres.

On Tuesday, Boris Johnson spoke on how he has tasked senior minister, Michael Gove, with the responsibility for leading a review into the “deep and complex issues” surrounding “Covid status certificates”.

It is understood that the government wants people to have the option of showing either vaccination status or test results to ensure that the scheme does not penalise those who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons.

Read the full story in the Evening Standard.

Moderna sends South Africa variant-specific vaccine for clinical study

Moderna has become the first vaccine maker to produce a shot targeted at the virus variant discovered in South Africa and is shipping the doses to the US National Institutes of Health to prepare for a clinical trial.

The Boston-based biotech company said in a statement that it has completed manufacturing of clinical trial material for the new vaccine candidate, called mRNA-1273.351, and that it is pursuing two strategies against the new and emerging strains of Covid-19.

The shipped doses will be used for a Phase I clinical trial, to be led and funded by the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Read the full story in pharmatimes.com.


Quote of the week

When speaking on the government’s new Covid-19 roadmap, Chief Scientific Advisor, Patrick Vallance, spoke on how society will have to learn to live with Covid-19 and that everyone must take some responsibility to protect themselves.

Speaking to Times Radio, Patrick Vallance said: “What we want to do is get rid of the social distancing-type laws that get in the way of normal life and move to personal responsibility, rather than laws dictating how all of us live our daily lives.”

Read the full story in ITV.com.