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All hands to the deck to break free from lockdown – this week’s Friday Five

Clinical trial for coronavirus vaccine begins in Oxford

Yesterday, Europe’s first human trial of a coronavirus vaccine began in Oxford.

The trial will include more than 800 volunteers and will compare COVID-19 infection rates in volunteers that received the vaccine against volunteers in the trial that did not.

Only time will tell whether the vaccine protects against the virus, but the team running the clinical trial at Oxford University are confident of success. Sarah Gilbert, the scientist leading the trial at the university said; “Personally I have a high degree of confidence in this vaccine”.

Read the full story on BBCNews.

UK launches study to track COVID-19 infection and immunity

Despite recent efforts to find a vaccine that protects against COVID-19, the long-lasting immunological effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus remain unknown.

This week, the UK government launched a nationwide surveillance study to track the prevalence of infection with SARS-CoV-2 in the general population.

The results will help guide the government’s strategy on when to relax the current lockdown measures, with initial study findings expected in May.

Read the full story in The BMJ.

Government announces plans to tackle the COVID-19 care home crisis

Recently, the number of deaths from COVID-19 has been a hot top of discussion, especially with today’s announcement by the WHO that care home residents account for half of all COVID-19 deaths in Europe.

In light of this, the government has now announced a four-point action plan to support all adult social care in England, including in people’s own homes, residential care homes and in the community.

The approach is based on four ideas:

  1. Controlling the spread of infection

  2. Supporting the workforce

  3. Supporting independence, supporting people at the end of their lives, and responding to individual needs

  4. Supporting local authorities and the providers of care

But crucially, to achieve this, The Government must ensure that all social care workers are tested for the virus.

Read the full story in The Telegraph.

Concerns about contact-tracing apps

Contact-tracing technology has played a key role in easing lockdown in China. And now countries around the world, including the UK, are now following suit.

But this has raised concerns about accuracy and privacy, and academics from 26 countries have urged governments and public health authorities to evaluate the potential dangers of developing contact-tracing technology before releasing an app to market.

Read the full story in digital health online.


Question of the week

Yesterday in The Telegraph, Janet Daley raised a question that could prompt anti-vaxxers to change their minds.

“Is it possible that the MMR vaccine could protect against COVID-19?”

Looking at graphs of death figures that have emerged in recent weeks, there is no doubt that they are heavily weighted toward the elderly, and that those under 30 appear to be somewhat resistant.

Yes, younger people are generally stronger, fitter and healthier than their elders. But there is also another factor that could be contributing some degree of protection against COVID-19 to this age bracket – the MMR vaccine.

The MMR vaccine was introduced in the UK in 1988 and almost everyone under the age of 32 will have had it.

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have just produced a paper suggesting the connection, but this has not yet been published or peer-reviewed.

Read the full story in The Telegraph.


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