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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Oxford Covid 19 Vaccine is Approved Everything You Need to Know

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Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine is Approved: Everything You Need to Know The Covid-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca has been approved for use in the UK. With the Pfizer/BioNTech jab already being administered to the most vulnerable, what does this new development mean? – What’s in the pipeline for the UK? The Government has secured 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine. The initial doses of the Oxford jab are due to be dispatched from Germany, with a large proportion then manufactured in the UK. Like the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, people will need two doses. There will be four million doses available post authorisation and tens of millions of doses in the first quarter of next year. A specific schedule is difficult to establish as batches need to be quality approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). – How will a vaccine be rolled out? There is considerably less uncertainty over the rollout of the Oxford vaccine, with the scene having largely been set earlier in December with the Pfizer/BioNtech jab. The Oxford vaccine can be stored at fridge temperature for at least six months so it is hoped the logistics of administering it will be easier. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the approval was “fantastic news” and confirmed that the roll out would begin on January 4. AstraZeneca said it was building up a manufacturing capacity of up to 3 billion doses worldwide next year, and aims to supply the UK with millions of doses in the first quarter in 2021. – Now there are more vaccines, does this mean a wider range of people can be vaccinated? All of the people at the top of the priority list created by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have not yet been vaccinated. Therefore vaccinators will continue to work their way through the list. It is hoped more people in care homes will be reached with the rollout of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. The JCVI’s guidance says the order of priority should be: 1. Older adults in a care home and care home workers 2. All those who are 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers 3. All those who are 75 years of age and over 4. All those who are 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals, excluding pregnant women and those under 18 years of age 5. All those who are 65 years of age and over 6. Individuals aged 16 to 64 years with underlying health conditions 7. All those aged 60 and over 8. All those aged 55 and over 9. All those aged 50 and over – Don’t vaccines take a long time to produce? In the past it has taken years, sometimes decades, to produce a vaccine. Traditionally, vaccine development includes various processes, including design and development stages followed by clinical trials – which in themselves need approval before they even begin. But in the trials for a Covid-19 vaccine, things look slightly different. A process which usually takes years has been condensed to months. While the early design and development stages look similar, the clinical trial phases overlap, instead of taking place sequentially. And pharmaceutical firms have begun manufacturing before final approval has been granted – taking on the risk that they may be forced to scrap their work. The new way of working means that regulators around the world can start to look at scientific data earlier than they traditionally would do. Is the Oxford vaccine being manufactured in the UK? While there are some doses coming from Europe in the very first instance, the majority will be provided from the UK supply chain. – Aren’t there other vaccines? Yes. As well as the Pfizer vaccine which has an efficacy of 95%, a number of other jabs the UK has secured doses of. Oxford data indicates the vaccine has 62.1% efficacy when one full dose is given followed by another full dose, but when people were given a half dose followed by a full dose at least a month later, its efficacy rose to 90%. The combined analysis from both dosing regimes resulted in an average efficacy of 70.4%. Final results from the trials of Moderna’s vaccine suggest it has 94.1% efficacy, and 100% efficacy against severe Covid-19. – Which jab is best? The early contenders all have high efficacy rates, but researchers say it is difficult to make direct comparisons because it is not yet known exactly what everyone is measuring in the trials. – How many doses has the UK secured? The UK has secured access to 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine, which is almost enough for most of the population. It also belatedly struck a deal for seven million doses of the jab on offer from Moderna in the US. The deals cover four different classes: adenoviral vaccines, mRNA vaccines, inactivated whole virus vaccines and protein adjuvant vaccines. The UK has secured access to: – 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine – 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine – Some 30 million doses from Janssen – 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – the first agreement the firms signed with any government – 60 million doses of a vaccine being developed by Valneva – 60 million doses of protein adjuvant vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi Pasteur – Seven million doses of the jab on offer from Moderna in the US. – What do they cost? Pfizer/BioNTech is making its vaccine available not-for-profit. According to reports, the Moderna vaccine could cost about 38 dollars (£28) per dose and the Pfizer candidate could cost around 20 dollars (£15). Researchers suggest the Oxford vaccine could be relatively cheap to produce, with some reports indicating it could be about £3 per dose. AstraZeneca said it will not sell it for a profit, so it can be available to all countries. However, the details of the deals made by the UK Government have not been made public. – How do we know the vaccines are safe? Researchers reported their trials do not suggest any significant safety concerns. – Will people get a choice about which vaccine they are given? As things stand the vaccines will be rolled out as and when they become available. No announcement has been made on whether one might be given priority over another as they become ready on a mass scale. People are not expected to be able to choose which jab they want to receive. Published: 30/12/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Local authorities declare major incident in Essex as Covid rise further

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Local authorities declare ‘major incident’ in Essex as Covid rise further Local authorities in Essex have declared a “major incident” as the number of coronavirus cases threatens to overwhelm health services in the county. The announcement has been made in response to a “significant growing demand” on hospitals across the county and will enable local leaders to seek further support from the Government, the Essex Resilience Forum (ERF) said. The ERF – which is made up of members of the NHS, emergency services and local authorities – said the number of patients in Essex receiving treatment for coronavirus had now increased to levels exceeding those seen at the peak of the first wave. It added that such numbers were expected to increase further in the coming days and that cases were particularly high in Mid and South Essex. Areas of concern included critical care and bed capacity, staff sickness and the ability to discharge patients quickly into safe environments. Anthony McKeever, executive lead for Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership, said: “We are taking every action possible within the NHS and across the wider health and social care partnerships in Essex to limit the impact on the NHS and the wider health system. “This involves using critical care capacity elsewhere in Essex and the Eastern region and identifying additional locations and capacity to assist with the discharging of patients to reduce pressure on hospitals. “Our strong working relationships mean we are able to respond effectively to support our local communities. “I would also like to pay tribute to all those hard-working colleagues who are working tirelessly to support our communities across the system. “They are all doing an amazing job in extremely difficult circumstances.” Chief constable of Essex Police and co-chair of the Essex Local Resilience Forum, BJ Harrington, said: “Declaring a major incident enables us to seek further support from the Government to address the severe pressures which the health system is under because of Covid-19. “The people of Essex have been magnificent and are only dialling 999 or attending A&E in an emergency – we need this to continue because this will help protect the very limited capacity available at our hospitals.” Published: 30/12/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Trump signs massive measure funding government and Covid relief

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Trump signs massive measure funding government and Covid relief President Donald Trump signed a 900 billion dollar (£664 billion) pandemic relief package on Sunday, ending days of drama over his refusal to accept the bipartisan deal that will deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and avert a federal government shutdown. The massive bill includes 1.4 trillion dollars (£1.03 trillion) to fund government agencies through to September and contains other end-of-session priorities such as money for cash-starved transit systems and an increase in food stamp benefits. Mr Trump announced the signing in a statement that spoke of his frustrations with the Covid-19 relief for including only 600-dollar (£443) cheques to most Americans instead of the 2,000 dollars (£1,476) that his fellow Republicans rejected. He also complained about what he considered unnecessary spending by the government at large. But Mr Trump’s eleventh-hour objections created turmoil because politicians had thought he was supportive of the bill, which had been negotiated for months with White House input. “I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed,” Mr Trump said in the statement. While the president insisted he would send Congress “a redlined version” with items to be removed under the rescission process, those are merely suggestions to Congress. The bill, as signed, would not necessarily be changed. Politicians now have breathing room to continue debating whether the relief cheques should be as large as the president has demanded. The Democratic-led House supports the larger cheques and is set to vote on the issue on Monday, but it is expected to be ignored by the Republican-held Senate where spending faces stern opposition. Republicans and Democrats swiftly welcomed Mr Trump’s decision to sign the bill into law. Published: 28/12/2020 by Radio NewsHub

US to require negative Covid 19 test from UK air passengers

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US to require negative Covid-19 test from UK air passengers Measures come into effect on Monday The US will require airline passengers from the UK to produce a negative Covid-19 test before their flight, in response to a new variant of coronavirus. It is the latest country to announce new travel restrictions because of the variant spreading in the UK and elsewhere. Airline passengers from the UK will need negative tests within three days of their trip and to provide the results to the airline, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency said the order will come into effect on Monday. Airlines must deny boarding to any passenger who does not get a test. The agency say that because of travel restrictions in place since March, air travel to the US from the UK is already down by 90%. Published: 25/12/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Miracle triplets celebrate first Christmas

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Miracle triplets celebrate first Christmas They were born at 29 weeks, weighting between 2 and 3.5 pounds Miracle triplets born prematurely during the Covid-19 pandemic are about to celebrate their first Christmas. Willoughby, Rafferty and Emmeline were born at 29 weeks, on May 28, weighing between 2lb and 3.5lb. They were whisked into intensive care as soon as they were born and were kept in hospital in both Gloucester and Bristol for eight weeks. Their mothers, Shelley Davis, 35, and partner Sarah Bell, 33, were unable to see their children for more than two hours after their births. Before they were born, Ms Davis, whose waters broke at 27 weeks, spent three weeks in hospital in isolation due to Covid-19 and was told she might lose one of the babies if she went home. Emmeline was born weighing 2.04lb, Willoughby was 2.10lb and Rafferty was the heaviest at 3.5lb. Published: 24/12/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Bond stars narrate poem with Charles and Camilla for actors charity

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Bond stars narrate poem with Charles and Camilla for actors’ charity It comes after Coronavirus restrictions have left theatres and cinemas empty this Christmas James Bond stars Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench have joined the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in recording a much-loved festive poem in aid of charity. Charles and Camilla have been filmed narrating ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas with a host of performers to raise awareness about the Actors’ Benevolent Fund which has received more requests for help this year than ever before. The actors who took part included Tom Hardy, Dame Maggie Smith, Joanna Lumley, Ncuti Gatwa and the ABF’s president Dame Penelope Keith. The heir to the throne read the famous opening lines of Clement Clarke Moore’s poem: “‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” Published: 24/12/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Care home staff to receive rapid result tests to protect against Covid variant

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Care home staff to receive rapid-result tests to protect against Covid variant The rollout of rapid testing is being supported by a £149 million grant. Care home staff in England will receive two rapid-result tests a week in addition to regular testing to help keep the new coronavirus variant at bay. Health officials have brought forward plans for care home staff to receive bi-weekly lateral flow device tests (LFDs) as concerns grow about the rapidly spreading strain. Staff in all tiers will be given two LFDs, one mid-week, in addition to the weekly PCR tests, according to the Department of Health and Social Care. If a case of coronavirus is identified in a care home in a Tier 4 area, all staff members will be tested daily with LFDs for a week. Public Health England have confirmed that LFDs can detect the new variant. Published: 23/12/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Boxing Day lockdown for six million due to dangerous mutant coronavirus spread

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Boxing Day lockdown for six million due to ‘dangerous’ mutant coronavirus spread Tier 4 restrictions include a warning to stay at home and a limit on household mixing to two people outdoors More than 40% of England’s population will be in lockdown from Boxing Day after a further six million people were placed under Tier 4 restrictions. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the variant coronavirus was spreading at a “dangerous rate” as he announced the measures, which include tough restrictions on mixing with people and the closure of non-essential shops. He also said cases of another new mutant coronavirus linked to South Africa have been found in the UK and placed travel restrictions on the country. The changes were made as Government figures showed a further 744 people were reported to have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, the highest such figure since April 29 during the first peak of the virus. Published: 23/12/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Mass testing for lorry drivers aims to ease congestion as French border reopens

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Mass testing for lorry drivers aims to ease congestion as French border reopens A mass testing programme for lorry drivers will get under way on Wednesday to alleviate congestion at ports after an agreement was reached to reopen the border between France and the UK. French authorities announced that journeys from the UK will be allowed to resume after the coronavirus ban was lifted, but those seeking to travel must have a negative test result. It comes amid reports further areas of England could be placed into Tier 4 restrictions on Boxing Day. The Daily Telegraph reported that the Covid-O operations committee was expected to meet on Wednesday morning to decide whether more areas should face tougher restrictions, with an announcement the same day. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has written to the Prime Minister to say his party would back any Government moves to tighten restrictions if that is what scientists recommend. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed on Tuesday evening that rapid lateral flow tests – which can give results in about 30 minutes – will be used to test HGV drivers at the ports. The French authorities will be carrying out similar testing on hauliers entering the UK. More than 2,800 HGVs were stuck in Kent on Tuesday afternoon as a result of the disruption, and Mr Shapps warned it could take until Christmas for congestion to be relieved near ports. He said: “We have managed to get all those tests to Kent, enough for all the vehicles which will want to return before Christmas, so that won’t be an issue. “Obviously there’s a physical issue of providing the test, getting the results. A negative test allows you to leave. “But all of that requires operationalising and that can’t happen in an instant, so this will take two or three days for things to be cleared.” The Transport Secretary has urged hauliers not to travel to Kent until further notice. Elizabeth de Jong, policy director at business group Logistics UK, said it was “vital” that testing procedures are “stood up fast to ensure drivers can be processed and get home for Christmas safely”. She added: “The backlog of traffic across the region will take time to clear so hauliers should wait for further news before travelling to Kent.” The protocol agreed with the French government will be reviewed on December 31 – but could run until January 6, the Department for Transport (DfT) said. The travel ban was imposed in response to fears about the spread of the more infectious coronavirus strain, which is spreading in the UK. In a press release, the French foreign affairs ministry said that from 11pm UK time (midnight in France) there would be a “limited resumption of the movement of people from the United Kingdom to France subject to negative health tests sensitive to the variant”. The statement said that a negative test result, taken less than 72 hours before the journey, is required and this can be either a “PCR or antigen test” sensitive to the new variant. Those who can make journeys include French and EU residents, British or third-party nationals who normally live in France or the EU, as well as some other groups. The French decision to ease its restrictions came after the European Commission recommended a joint approach from EU members in response to the mutant VUI 202012/1 coronavirus. The World Health Organisation’s European chief Hans Kluge said limiting travel to contain the spread of the new variant was “prudent” until there was more information, but supply chains for “essential goods” and essential travel “should remain possible”. Meanwhile: – Official figures showed a further 691 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday and there had been another 36,804 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. – More than 84,000 deaths involving Covid-19 have occurred in the UK, according to analysis of official statistics. – Soldiers from the British Army have been called in by the Welsh Ambulance Service to drive its vehicles and support teams responding to emergency callouts. Published: 23/12/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Nicola Sturgeon apologises for breaching Covid rules

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Nicola Sturgeon apologises for breaching Covid rules Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has apologised after she breached Covid rules by taking off her face mask at a funeral wake. A photograph published in the Scottish Sun showed the First Minister chatting to three women in a bar while standing at a distance but without wearing a mask. Under Scottish Government coronavirus rules, customers in hospitality venues must wear a face covering except when seated and must wear one when moving around. Ms Sturgeon was attending a funeral wake for a Scottish Government civil servant. She said: “Last Friday, while attending a funeral wake, I had my mask off briefly. This was a stupid mistake and I’m really sorry. “I talk every day about the importance of masks, so I’m not going to offer any excuses. “I was in the wrong, I’m kicking myself, and I’m sorry.” The Scottish Sun reported that she was at the Stable Bar and Restaurant after attending a funeral at the nearby Mortonhall Crematorium. A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “The First Minister should know better. “By forgetting the rules and failing to set a proper example, she’s undermining essential public health messaging. “It’s a blunder that an ordinary member of the public wouldn’t get away with. There cannot be one rule for Nicola Sturgeon and another for everyone else.” Under coronavirus regulations introduced on September 14 in Scotland, face coverings for customers and staff are mandatory when entering, exiting and moving around hospitality venues. The rules state: “There is an exemption for when customers are seated for the service of food and drink and for back of house roles such as kitchen staff or staff who are behind protective screens separating them from customers.” Those who breach the face covering rules can face a £60 fine. Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf tweeted: “FM has approached pandemic by being upfront from v beginning. “She has apologised for accidental lapse (which I suspect most of us have had one over last 9 months). “I’ve known her for 15yrs & she is her harshest critic. I am sure most ppl will understand, accept apology & move on.” Published: 23/12/2020 by Radio NewsHub