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Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advice

A place to post daily news of Kurdistan from valid sources .

Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Nov 02, 2020 12:56 am

Kurdish schools to end in-person classes

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has decided to suspend in-person classes for pupils across all schools in the Kurdistan Region until December 1 amid a surge in COVID-19 cases

"Studies for grade one and two as well as high-school grade 12 - governmental and non-governmental - will be suspended until December 1" read a statement from the KRG interior ministry's High Committee for Combatting Coronavirus. The decision is to take effect immediately.

Nearly half a million pupils are affected by the new decision.

Classes will continue online for students in grades three to 11, according to the interior ministry.

The school year in the Kurdistan Region began last month after seven months of closure due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, with grade 12 students returning to classes under new restrictions on September 27.

Schools were opened for grade one and two to physically attend classes on October 10, while students in grades 3 to 11 have been studying online.

The Kurdistan Region has 6,429 schools, with more than 1.7 million students for the 2020-2021 school year, according to data from the education ministry.

The Kurdistan Region recorded 1,054 new cases and 28 coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday. The total number of cases in the Region since March 1 stands at 77,079, with 2,483 deaths.

According to the Kurdistan Teachers Union, at least 6,000 students and teachers have contracted coronavirus in the Region since the onset of the outbreak of the pandemic.

Schools and universities were initially closed on February 26 as part of the KRG’s measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The education ministry approved online education in mid-April but eventually cancelled examinations as pupils and students missed out on a significant chunk of the curriculum. Grade 12 students went ahead with their final examinations under strict coronavirus containment measures.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/01112020
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Nov 02, 2020 4:42 am

UK loo roll scramble returns

Supermarket shelves across England have been stripped bare on the final weekend before the country enters a second national lockdown

Snaking queues and overloaded trolleys were pictured at shops around the country on Sunday as panic buyers flocked to stock up on supplies.

Under the nationwide shutdown, food shops, supermarkets, garden centres and certain other retailers providing essential goods and services will be allowed to stay open. However, restaurants, bars, pubs and “non-essential" stores must close.

At a Sainsbury’s in Weston-super-Mare toilet roll shelves were left empty, in a painful echo of the scenes captured during the first national lockdown in the spring.

The hashtag “panic buying” gathered traction on Twitter throughout the day, as people shared their despair at the perceived selfish acts of others.

One frustrated user wrote: “Panic buying hurts vulnerable people - be kind instead.

“There is no need to do this. You can buy from local shops and markets as well as the giants and online with next day delivery. #StayHome #shoplocal.”

Another pointed out: “Supermarkets aren’t closing, just as they didn’t originally. Stop panic buying which leaves others without and likely creates more food waste in the process. Buy just what you would any normal week, there’s absolutely no need to stockpile more!”

Others shared footage of shoppers heaving under multiple bumper-packs of loo roll, as they commented with exasperation: “I guess they didn’t learn from the last time.”

But singer James Blunt made light of the situation by tweeting a self-deprecatory plug for his new book.

Posting a link he wrote: “If you’ve missed out on loo roll during the #panicbuying, my book comes out this Thursday.”

Large retailers have added to their online capacity over the course of the pandemic in a bid to keep up with demand.

At the end of September, Tesco said its weekly delivery slots had doubled from 600,000 weekly delivery slots in March, to 1.5 million.

Director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), Andrew Opie, said last month: “Supply chains are stronger than ever before and we do not anticipate any issues in the availability of food or other goods under a future lockdown.

“Nonetheless, we urge consumers to be considerate of others and shop as they normally would.”

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/pani ... 37528.html
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Nov 03, 2020 2:12 am

Global coronavirus report:

WHO chief self-isolates as Germany starts 'wave breaker' lockdown

The head of the World Health Organization has gone into self-quarantine after someone he had been in contact with tested positive for Covid-19.

With the virus again spreading rapidly across Europe and elsewhere, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is based in Geneva, made the announcement by Twitter late on Sunday night, but stressed he had no symptoms.

“I have been identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19,” Tedros said in his tweet.

“I am well and without symptoms but will self-quarantine over the coming days, in line with @WHO protocols, and work from home,” he added.

Tedros has been at the forefront of the UN health agency’s efforts to battle the pandemic, which has claimed the lives of 1.2 million and infected more than 46.6 million people worldwide since emerging in China late last year, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

He stressed on Twitter that “it is critically important that we all comply with health guidance. This is how we will break chains of Covid-19 transmission, suppress the virus, and protect health systems.”

Countries across Europe reintroduced or strengthened existing lockdown measures on Monday

Germany went into “lockdown light” mode, with bars, cinemas, theatres, museums, fitness studios and swimming pools closing and cafes and restaurants allowed to offer takeaway food only. Meetings in public have been restricted to two households or no more than 10 people. Unlike during the first lockdown in the spring, schools and nurseries will stay open.

The new “wave breaker” restrictions will for now only apply until the end of the month, but the government is not ruling out an extension. On Sunday, the health minister, Jens Spahn, called on the public to prepare for “months of restrictions and abstinence”.

The chancellor, Angela Merkel, told a news conference on Monday that Germany was still some way off an end to the pandemic but if people respected the restrictions over the next four weeks “then we will be able to have the conditions for a tolerable December.”

“Throughout the winter months, we will have to limit private contacts,” Merkel said. “The light at the end of the tunnel is still quite a long way off.”

Italy will tighten its restrictions but is holding back from reintroducing a nationwide lockdown, its prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said, as infections, hospital admissions and deaths rise.

Conte told Italy’s parliament tougher measures, including curbing travel between the worst-hit regions and a night-time curfew, were now needed.

Italy’s daily tally of infections has increased tenfold over the last month and hovered around 30,000 in the last few days, while hospital admissions, intensive care occupancy and deaths have also risen steeply.

Restaurant and pub owners protest against Covid-19 restrictions in Rome on Monday.

“Despite our efforts … the evolution of the epidemic in the last few days is very worrying,” Conte said, adding that intensive care units would be overwhelmed in 15 of Italy’s 20 regions by next month unless tougher action was taken.

“We must intervene with more stringent measures,” he told the Chamber of Deputies, saying the country would be divided into three areas depending on the risk level, with certain places facing tighter restrictions than others.

Meanwhile, Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, asked the country’s president to declare a state of emergency as a preventive measure to fight the spread of the virus

The last Covid-19 state of emergency, which under Portuguese law is limited to 15 days but can be extended indefinitely in 15-day periods if necessary, was declared by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in March and lasted six weeks.

“It is a critical moment and declaring the … emergency will reinforce the civic awareness of the sanitary emergency we are facing,” Costa told reporters, adding the move was likely to last much longer than 15 days.

The president was expected to proclaim the emergency in a televised address on Monday evening and then parliament would then have to enact it – both are considered formalities.

The weekend was marked by street protests against further restrictions on daily life, including in Italy and Spain, where the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, called for an end to “the violent and irrational behaviour” of a minority of people after demonstrations against the government’s decision to declare a six-month state of emergency.

On Sunday night more than 300 people gathered in the centre of São Paulo, Brazil, to protest against state governor João Doria’s support for mandatory Covid-19 immunisation and testing the potential vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac.

The country’s health minister, Eduardo Pazuello, who is ill with Covid, remained in hospital on Sunday night after having been discharged from a civilian facility earlier in the day.

Anti-science sentiment was also on display in the US, where supporters of Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Florida on Sunday night began chanting “Fire Fauci” – and the president hinted that he may do so after the election.

The hostility towards Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government’s leading expert on infectious diseases, comes after he angered the White House by warning that the coming winter would see the virus continue to spread. Two weeks ago, Trump suggested that Fauci was an “idiot”.

Reuters contributed to this report

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/ ... itive-case
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Nov 03, 2020 3:18 pm

Time to Talk Covid-19
and Surfaces Again


Beth Kalb was worried about the pews

This summer, the century-old Catholic church she attends in a small town outside Minneapolis had, like many places, reopened its doors with new rituals of disinfection. Kalb had quickly noticed the side effects. The varnish on the pews had begun to wear, and the wood was often sticky with disinfectant, so the volunteer cleaners had started using soap and water to remove the tacky build-up.

They were weeks in, and it had already come to cleaning off the cleaner. Plus, all those chemicals couldn’t be good for the people who were spritzing and wiping down the worship space after each use. As a nurse, Kalb knew the importance of handwashing, but this all seemed like a bit much. It was certainly too much for the wood.

For Erin Berman, in Fremont, California, it was the books. In the spring, a federal project to help reopen libraries, called Realm, had commissioned tests to see how long the virus lasts on objects they lend.

Researchers had borrowed materials from the library system in Columbus, Ohio, and applied an inoculum of the virus to them in a nearby lab to see how long it could remain infectious. They started mainly with books, measuring how much virus was left after a day or two, but in subsequent months, expanded to magazines and DVDs and USB drives.

In August, a fourth round of tests addressed the question of placing books in stacks, rather than laying them out individually. Protected from light and drying air, the researchers were able to find virus particles on them after six days. On leather book covers, a fifth round of tests determined this month, the virus lasted at least eight days.

The Realm organizers emphasized that none of what they were reporting was guidance—it was research, meant to inform the staff at individual libraries who were deciding what to do with all those items gathering dust, and possibly germs, in people’s homes. However, they also noted it was not possible to disinfect every page of every book. So many library staffers, after seeing the data, were considering “book quarantines” that lasted a week or more.

Berman was aware of the practical issues raised by putting books in purgatory for so long, but she had a broader concern: that all this research was encouraging an undue fixation, or even a fear, of the objects librarians are meant to joyfully share with the public.

It was hard to understand what those numbers—the number of days, the number of viral particles that remained—actually meant for spreading Covid-19 via books, but their very existence had generated anxiety among her coworkers.

And she suspected that it was drawing focus away from all the other things she and her colleagues had to do to reopen safely—to reimagine a community space in which people could no longer safely linger, in which social connection would now be mediated by Plexiglass. “I started to get very frustrated. I’m thinking, ‘We’re librarians. We should be doing research,’” Berman says. “Of all the industries, we should not be operating in fear.”

For Emanuel Goldman, a virologist at Rutgers University, the worries began with the gentle nagging of his elderly mother-in-law. “She was telling me, ‘Wipe down this, wipe down that,’” he says. He had been obliging at the start of the pandemic. The requests seemed reasonable—a set of small acts to keep his household safer.

He knew from other viruses that fomite spread—the technical term for passing on a virus via objects—was possible, and at that time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had little guidance on SARS-CoV-2. But as he delved into the research himself, he grew concerned.

Despite all the fixation on how long and how much virus lasts on surfaces, there wasn’t much evidence at all that it was relevant to how Covid-19 actually spread. In July he laid out those concerns in a tersely worded commentary in The Lancet titled “Exaggerated risk of transmission of Covid-19 by fomites.”

“In my opinion, the chance of transmission through inanimate surfaces is very small, and only in instances where an infected person coughs or sneezes on the surface, and someone else touches that surface soon after the cough or sneeze (within 1–2 h),” he wrote. “I do not disagree with erring on the side of caution, but this can go to extremes not justified by the data.”

That was months ago, and since then the scientific evidence has tipped in Goldman’s favor. And yet, here we are all the same, wiping down pews and hiding away books, among countless other disinfection rituals molded by those early perceptions. “What’s done cannot be undone,” Goldman tells me now. “And it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to turn things around.”

In March, I wrote about what we knew at the time about our understanding of surface spread, which was very little. Nearly a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s time to ask: What do we know now?

The first widely covered study on fomites and Covid-19, released as a preprint in March by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, the National Institutes of Health, and Princeton, was a look at how long the novel coronavirus lasted on different kinds of surfaces.

At the time, little was known about how the virus was transmitted, so the question was important. Depending on the material, the researchers could still detect the virus after a few hours on cardboard, and after several days on plastic and steel.

They were careful to say that their findings only went as far as that. They were reporting how quickly the virus decayed in a laboratory setting, not whether it could still infect a person or was even a likely mode of transmission.

But in the hazy panic of the time, many people had already taken up fastidious habits: quarantining packages at the door, bleaching boxes of cereal brought back from the store, wearing hospital booties outdoors. A single set of research results didn’t start those behaviors, but—along with other early studies finding the virus on surfaces in hospital rooms and on cruise ships—it appeared to provide validation.

Dylan Morris, a mathematical biologist at Princeton who coauthored the paper, recalls watching what he calls “the great fomite freakout” with frustration. The number of days the virus remained detectable on a surface in a lab wasn’t useful for assessing personal risk, he says, because in the real world, that amount would depend on how much there had been to start with and on environmental conditions that they did not test.

Plus, the amount of remaining virus doesn’t tell us much about whether it could reasonably get into someone’s airways and cause an infection. “People really picked up on those absolute times to detectability,” he says. “Everyone wants to know the magical time when something becomes safe.” In subsequent research, he says he’s avoided giving hard temporal cutoffs.

Since March, additional studies have painted a picture that is much more subtle and less scary. But like that first study, each can be easily misinterpreted in isolation. One clear takeaway is that, given an adequate initial dose, some amount of the virus can linger for days or even weeks on some surfaces, like glass and plastic,

in controlled lab conditions. Emphasis on controlled. For example, earlier this month, an Australian study published in Virology Journal found traces of the virus on plastic banknotes and glass 28 days after exposure. The reaction to that number felt to some like a replay of March: a single study with a bombshell statistic sparked new fears about touchscreens and cash. “To be honest, I thought that we had moved on from this,” says Anne Wyllie, a microbiologist at Yale University.

Of course, this was another laboratory study done with specific intentions. The study was done in the dark, because sunlight is known to quickly deactivate the virus, and it involved maintaining cool, favorable temperatures.

Debbie Eagles, a researcher at Australia’s national science agency who coauthored the research, tells me that taking away those environmental variables allows researchers to better isolate the effect of individual factors, like temperature, on stability.

“In most ‘real-world’ situations, we would expect survival time to be less than in controlled laboratory settings,” Eagles writes in an email. She advises handwashing and cleaning “high-touch” surfaces.

The second consistent finding is that there’s plenty of evidence of the virus on surfaces in places where infected people have recently been. Wherever there has recently been an outbreak, and in places where people are asked to quarantine or are treated for Covid-19, “there’s viral RNA everywhere,” says Chris Mason, a professor at Weill Cornell Medicine. That makes going out and swabbing a useful tool for keeping track of where the virus is spreading.

It’s tempting to piece those two elements together: If the virus is on the surfaces around us, and it also lasts for a long time in lab settings, naturally we should vigorously disinfect. But that doesn’t necessarily reflect what’s happening.

In a study published in September in Clinical Microbiology and Infection, researchers in Israel tried to piece it all together. They conducted lab studies, leaving samples out for days on various surfaces, and found they could culture the remaining virus in tissue. In other words, it remained infectious.

Then they gathered samples from highly contaminated environments: Covid-19 isolation wards at a hospital, and at a hotel used for people in quarantine. The virus was abundant. But when they tried to culture those real-world samples, none were infectious. Later that month, researchers at an Italian hospital reported similar conclusions in The Lancet.

In addition to environmental conditions, a confounding factor might be saliva, or the stuff that we often mean when we talk about droplets sticking onto surfaces. In her own research, Wyllie has studied how long certain viral proteins remain intact in saliva to help determine the reliability of Covid-19 spit tests.

For her purposes, stability is a good thing. But some proteins have appeared to denature more quickly than others, she notes, suggesting the virus as a whole does not remain intact and infectious. That could be because saliva tends to be less hospitable to pathogens than the synthetic substances or blood serums often used in lab-based stability studies.

Consider, Wyllie says, the extraordinary chain of events that would need to happen to successfully spread SARS-CoV-2 on a surface. A sufficiently large amount of the virus would need to be sprayed by an infected person onto a surface.

The surface would need to be the right kind of material, exposed to the right levels of light, temperature, and humidity so that the virus does not quickly degrade. Then the virus would need to be picked up—which you would most likely do with your hands. But the virus is vulnerable there. (“Enveloped” viruses like SARS-CoV-2 do not fare well on porous surfaces like skin and clothing.)

And then it needs to find a way inside you—usually through your nose or your eye—in a concentration big enough to get past your mucosal defenses and establish itself in your cells. The risk, Wyllie concludes, is low. “I’ve not once washed my groceries or disinfected my bags or even thought twice about my mail,” she says.

Low risk is not, of course, no risk, she adds. There are high-touch objects that merit disinfection, and places like hospitals need clean rooms and furniture. People at high risk from Covid-19 may want to take extra precautions. But the best advice for breaking that object-to-nose chain, according to all the health experts I spoke with: Wash your hands.

Goldman, too, had come to similar conclusions months before all this additional research came out, and US public health guidance followed right along with him. Since his Lancet paper in July, the focus on fomites has waned, and has been replaced by a focus on person-to-person transmission through respiration. The shift was based on epidemiological evidence.

Experts knew all along that droplets passed by sneezing, coughing, or speaking were likely an important mode of transmission—that’s just how respiratory viruses tend to move. Over time, it became clear that aerosols, which remain suspended in the air, can better explain why so many infections seemed to be passing between people who did not directly interact, but could have shared the same indoor air. That’s why public health officials now emphasize mask wearing and ventilation.

The CDC’s most recently updated guidance, from early October, holds that “spread from touching surfaces is not thought to be a common way that Covid-19 spread.” For those reasons, or perhaps out of fatigue, the scrubbing became less scrupulous over the summer.

But not for everyone. “I think that one thing that has been tough about this pandemic is there has been such a strong initial message that gave people the wrong intuition,” says Morris, the Princeton researcher.

For some people, and especially for institutions that were trying to reopen, liable to employees and visitors, priorities had been set based on what we knew back in the spring. It was also a way to show that they were doing something, Morris adds, even if it didn't do much.

In July, The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson coined the term “hygiene theater” to describe the rash of corporate disinfection. It’s still around. It’s part of the reason why New York City has committed tens of millions of dollars to cleaning each subway car each night, why Airbnb requires “enhanced” cleaning from its landlords, why countless schools, stores, churches, and offices continue to emphasize disinfection.

It’s why some libraries are quarantining books this fall for a week or more. It’s also a factor in what we are now less likely to do, a rationale for why many businesses no longer take cash and why playgrounds have often been among the last outdoor venues to reopen.

“There are bizarre policies that haven’t changed or adapted,” says Julia Marcus, an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School. “It’s one thing for an individual to decide to stop bleaching their groceries. It’s much more difficult to steer the ship of an institution as the science evolves, with different levels of decisionmaking and different levels of health literacy and risk tolerance.”

What is it about fomites? There’s surely something psychological in the belief that we can “see” an invisible virus, manifesting as an object that we can quarantine, avoid, wipe down. That’s evident in how we think about the research, even.

Recall the salt shaker in Germany? Or the elevator buttons in a Chinese high-rise? In New Zealand, there was that hypothesis that containers of frozen fish were responsible for an outbreak there.

Some of those conclusions can be attributed to aerosol starting off as a dirty, alarmist word. Public health officials were searching for something, anything, to explain why groups of people who didn’t gather closely were becoming infected.

It’s impossible to rule out that some transmission could occur that way—and examples still come up, like a case in New Zealand possibly linked to a communal trash can—but most incidents now look like a case of shared air.

Wyllie points to a friend who remains convinced they got the virus from a contaminated door handle. She thinks that’s unlikely, but for her friend, it’s an answer to a question of how they got sick that ambient virus floating in the air simply doesn’t offer. It’s a good story.

Sharon Streams, director of the Realm project, says she sympathizes with that demand for answers. The group’s research on library materials was conceived after the surface research in March. At the time, the talk was all fomites, at the time.

Library employees wanted specifics to better understand how the virus interacts with the billions of materials they handle each year, many of which are currently marooned in people’s homes, exposed to who knows what. “They’re pulling their hair out about what is the appropriate level of quarantine,” she says.

Streams acknowledges that the conditions modeled in their experiments are based on a vague foundation. It’s hard to know whether the researchers started with a realistic dose of the virus, or whether the amount of it that remains on surfaces after a few days or hours would actually cause an infection. (The group’s latest research release, last week, included more language about aerosols and droplets being the likeliest modes of transmission.)

But to her, that’s the point of gathering more data. And Streams points out that even if a weeklong quarantine looks like overkill to some virologists or health experts, quarantines and disinfection satisfy an emotional need that’s often overlooked. Much like the wiping down store shelves, church pews, or subway cars, cleaning policies are also about signaling which spaces are safe to come back to—that libraries are ready for visitors and employees.

“‘Hygiene theater’ has been thrown around as a bad word, but they’re embracing it to show that we care about the people coming here,” she says. “They feel comforted.”

But communicating that point is difficult. Marcus points back to the original paper on surface spread in March: “They couched it appropriately. But even with those caveats, it spun into a lot of obsessive behaviors,” she says. Even seemingly benign procedures, like quarantining items, can wear people out over time. “There’s such a high level of tension in our lives and decisionmaking right now. We all need to feel some ease,”

Marcus says. “For me, the question is, where are the low-risk areas where we can ease off the gas now that we know more about how transmission happens—which is overwhelmingly from being together in indoor environments? It’s not from a book that somebody sneezed on and brought to the library a week ago.”

Worrying about the small stuff exhausts people from focusing on things that do matter. There are all sorts of ways to imagine what might go wrong. Maybe a person feels so confident in the disinfection methods around them that they eat indoors without a mask, despite the much more substantial known risks.

Or perhaps someone feels they don’t need to quarantine themselves after traveling because they wore disposable gloves and booties over their shoes on the plane. “When you ask more of people than what is needed, they grow tired of doing what actually matters,” Marcus says.

Her advice: Keep it simple.

That sort of clear, simple guidance is hard to come by. Since The Lancet publication, Goldman has become a consultant and therapist of sorts for people who are questioning the utility of overly rigorous disinfection, but who are unsure of what to make of the scientific evidence.

He’s been in touch with administrators at a local school that planned to close once a week for “a deep clean,” but who weren’t paying attention to their ventilation systems. He has fielded inquiries from people who still leave their groceries out for days, and who barely leave the house, encouraging them to find a healthier balance.

He may be able to change minds one at a time, he reasons, or at least help people put the risks in perspective. It worked, he says, on his mother-in-law. But behaviors are hard to shift, especially when the decision is made by committee. The tendency, in the absence of firm guidance to do otherwise, is to cater to the most cautious.

In Minnesota, Kalb, who is one of his acolytes, says her concerns about the pews, and the lack of evidence driving the deep cleaning, were carefully considered by the church reopening committee. But her fellow parishioners advised caution.

The daily disinfection was part of a list of changes for safe reopening, including cordoning off rows for social distancing and a sign-up process to enable contact tracing. It was safest, the committee decided, to continue doing it all, much like every other nearby church and school and store was doing.

After all, Kalb couldn’t point to a specific study that said fomite transmission was never happening. And there was news going around of an outbreak at a church in Texas. “It was like, OK, we don’t want to be that church,” she says. The church now uses a misting machine to spray disinfectant, which requires less active wiping.

It’s tempting, in other words, to play it conservatively, says Berman, the librarian. “Some of it is just making sure the employees or the public feel safe,” she says, and she sees the benefits of disinfecting library surfaces that get a lot of use. But she points out that institutions have the power to alter our perception of safety, cutting through the ambiguity of risk by offering clear guidance.

Holding out these scientific conclusions—the number of days the virus lasts on every imaginable type of library material surface—had done just the opposite, she believed, producing more fear than empowerment.

Like so many decisions about risk and public safety in this pandemic, the burden had been displaced onto people like her, a librarian, not a virologist. She marveled at how much effort she was personally expending trying to educate herself and the people around her about the risk of books as fomites, when there was so much else to worry about.

And, well, now she had done the research, and she knew the biggest risk in a library is the risk of sharing the same air, not touching the same book. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone with more authority would just come out and say so? “There’s so much fear out there,” she says. “I don’t want to put anyone at undue risk, but I want us to reopen.”

https://www.wired.com/story/its-time-to ... obal-en-GB
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Nov 04, 2020 11:48 pm

Cases near 80,000 in Kurdistan

Almost 80,000 people in the Kurdistan Region have been infected with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to Tuesday figures from the health ministry

The health ministry announced on Tuesday afternoon that 1,235 people had contracted COVID-19 and 23 had died from the virus in the previous 24 hours.

A total of 79,451 cases have been recorded in the Kurdistan Region, according to the ministry, with 50,294 recoveries and 2,532 deaths.

The first case of the virus was recorded in the Region on March 1, and prompted partial and complete lockdowns which were lifted in the summer.

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials have stressed multiple times that they will not impose further lockdowns again due to their negative impact on businesses.

The KRG reopened schools in late September, after seven months of closure, but closed them on Sunday after some 6,000 students and teachers contracted the virus.

The government has introduced fines for those who do not wear masks: it fines people 20,000 IQD ($16) if they do not wear masks in public areas and 50,000 IQD ($40) if they are not wearing a mask while driving with passengers.

Some restrictions, including bans on weddings and wakes remain in place.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/031120202
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Nov 06, 2020 2:06 pm

UK infections may be stabilising

The increase in coronavirus infections appears to be slowing around the UK, latest data from the Office for National Statistics show

Although the number of people with Covid continues to rise, the growth is levelling off.

In the week to 30 October, ONS says new daily infections in England stabilised at around 50,000.

That means around one person in every 90 in England has Covid. In Wales and Scotland the figure is slightly lower.

There, one in 110 people are testing positive for the virus.

In Northern Ireland it is one in 75 - and it is too soon to say if rates are levelling off there, say experts.

The ONS data looks at Covid-19 infections in the community, and does not include cases in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.

    There have been increases in infection rates in every region in England apart from the North East over the last two weeks

    The North West and Yorkshire and the Humber continue to have the highest infection rates
With much of the UK in lockdown, experts hope the number of new infections can reduce in coming weeks.

In Liverpool, city-wide mass testing for Covid has begun.

Everyone living or working in the region will be offered repeat tests, whether or not they have symptoms, as part of a two-week pilot.

Meanwhile, data from the Covid Symptom Study app - based on a million people logging symptoms and 13,000 recent swab test results - suggests 42,049 people are developing Covid symptoms every day in the UK.

The R number remains the same as last week, at between 1.1 and 1.3, which means that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 11 and 13 other people.

Ruth Studley from the ONS said: "At a national level we are seeing infections slow across England and Wales but they are still increasing.

"The level of infection in young adults and older teenagers appears to have levelled off recently. However, they continue to be the most likely to be infected despite increases in all other age groups."

Prof James Naismith from Oxford University said the findings were "encouraging" and suggested that the spread of the virus was slowing.

"This is evidence that the social restrictions prior to lockdown have had a real impact.

"Should next week's data show a similar stabilisation or reduction, then we can be confident that the second wave has for now stabilised. The national lockdown will not begin to show up in ONS figures for another two weeks, but we would expect it to bring a rapid decrease in the number of new infections.

"If we can contain the virus until the new year, mass testing, vaccines and new medicines will transform our outlook."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54841375
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Nov 09, 2020 3:31 pm

Vaccine offers 90% protection

The first effective coronavirus vaccine can prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19, a preliminary analysis shows

The developers - Pfizer and BioNTech - described it as a "great day for science and humanity".

Their vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised.

The companies plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month.

There are still huge challenges ahead, but the announcement has been warmly welcomed with scientists describing themselves smiling "ear to ear" and some suggesting life could be back to normal by spring.

"I am probably the first guy to say that, but I will say that with some confidence," said Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University.

A vaccine - alongside better treatments - is seen as the best way of getting out of the restrictions that have been imposed on all our lives.

There are around a dozen in the final stages of testing - known as a phase 3 trial - but this is the first to show any results.

It uses a completely experimental approach - that involves injecting part of the virus's genetic code - in order to train the immune system.

Previous trials have shown the vaccine trains the body to make both antibodies - and another part of the immune system called T-cells to fight the coronavirus.

Two doses, three weeks apart, are needed. The trials - in US, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Turkey - show 90% protection is achieved seven days after the second dose.

Pfizer believes it will be able to supply 50 million doses by the end of this year, and around 1.3 billion by the end of 2021.

The UK should get 10 million doses by the end of the year, with a further 30 million doses already ordered.

However there are logistical challenges, as the vaccine has to be kept in ultra-cold storage at below minus 80C.

When will the pandemic end?

It has been an astounding feat to get this far so soon.

No vaccine has gone from the drawing board to being proven highly effective in such a short period of time.

And this vaccine seems to be even more effective than people were hoping.

There are still questions - how long does immunity last, does the vaccine work as well in high-risk elderly people, does it stop you spreading the virus or just from developing symptoms?

And the journey ahead is long and complicated.

Manufacturing enough doses and then actually immunising hundreds of millions of people around the world is a monumental challenge.

Hospital and care home staff will be prioritised along with those at highest risk from Covid-19.

So face masks and social distancing are likely to feature of our lives for some time to come.

But at last, the gloom of Covid is starting to give way to the hope that it might one day be over.
........................................................................

Dr Albert Bourla, the chairman of Pfizer, said: "We are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis."

Prof Ugur Sahin, one of the founders of BioNTech, described the results as a "milestone".

The data presented is not the final analysis. It is based on the first 94 volunteers to develop Covid - the precise effectiveness of the vaccine may change when the full results are analysed.

Click to Enlarge:
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Pfizer and BioNTech say they will have enough safety data by the third week of November to take their vaccine to regulators. Until then it is not possible for countries to begin their vaccination campaigns.

But the companies' announcement was welcomed as a significant development.

"This news made me smile from ear to ear," Prof Peter Horby, from the University of Oxford.

"It is a relief... there is a long long way to go before vaccines will start to make a real difference, but this feels to me like a watershed moment."

The UK Prime Minister's official spokesman said the results were "promising" and that "the NHS stands ready to begin a vaccination programme for those most at risk once a Covid-19 vaccine is available".

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54873105
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Nov 11, 2020 9:31 pm

Compulsory vaccination for
Covid-19 and human rights law


Written evidence from Dr Lisa Forsberg*, Dr Isra Black**, Dr Thomas Douglas*, Dr Jonathan Pugh* (COV0220)

Introduction and summary

We are academics working in the areas of philosophy and law, with specialisations in, inter alia, moral and political philosophy, biomedical ethics, health law, and human rights law.

Our submission pertains to compulsory Covid-19 vaccination
:

A requirement on individuals to undergo vaccination as a condition of release from pandemic-related restrictions on liberty, including on movement and association.

Our evidence is forward-looking. We expect that a Covid-19 vaccine will become available in sufficient quantity to enable population-wide immunisation.

At that stage, the Government will need to consider the means of delivery, including whether it is necessary to legislate for compulsory vaccination.

We consider the human rights law dimensions of compulsory vaccination by reference to the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights.

As such, our submission primarily addresses a live issue the second question in the Committee’s call for evidence:

What will the impact of specific measures taken by Government to address the Covid-19 pandemic be on human rights in the UK?[/b]

Our evidence takes the following form:

A discussion of the reasons why compulsory vaccination may need to be considered;

An overview of relevant legal provisions;

An examination of the human rights law compliance of compulsory vaccination. Our analysis under 3 establishes two parity arguments:

    If Covid-19 ‘lockdown’ measures are compatible with human rights law, then it is arguable that compulsory vaccination is too (lockdown parity argument);

    If compulsory medical treatment under mental health law for personal and public protection purposes is compatible with human rights law, then it is arguable that compulsory vaccination is too (mental health parity argument)
We note that there is disagreement about what compulsion means and as to whether different kinds of non-voluntary vaccination schemes are in fact compulsory schemes. This is in part a theoretical disagreement, and in part a practical one to do with the nature of state sanctions that back any scheme.

See Emma Cave, ‘Voluntary vaccination: the pandemic effect’ (2017) 37(2) LS 279-304.

In this submission, we take a coarse-grained or bird’s eye view of the issue, that is, we will not engage here with the detail of specific policy schema for compulsory vaccination.

Much of our argument is applicable, mutatis mutandis, to Covid-19 prophylactic treatment. For clarity and brevity, we focus on vaccination.

The UK Government has purchased 190m doses of three vaccine candidates, either on risk or in principle:

Sarah Bosely, ‘UK secures deals for 90m doses of coronavirus vaccine’ The Guardian (20 July 2020)

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/ ... us-vaccine accessed 20/07/20.

Our chief conclusion is that, as and when a vaccine becomes available at scale, the Government should give serious consideration to compulsory immunisation as a means of reducing the impacts of Covid-19.

There is an arguable case for the compatibility of compulsory vaccination with human rights law.

Vaccine hesitancy. A Covid-19 vaccine promises to be the best means to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on individuals and society. Yet sufficient voluntary uptake of a vaccine cannot be guaranteed.

Voluntary vaccine uptake may be limited by ‘vaccine hesitancy’, which the World Health Organization (WHO) describes as ‘the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines’.

Vaccine hesitancy in respect of Covid-19 may arise because of the influence of anti-vaccination movements, the uneven demographic distribution of Covid-19 morbidity and mortality risks, or the mistaken belief that Covid-19 immunity has already been acquired.

    Should a Covid-19 vaccine become available at scale, we cannot expect sufficient voluntary uptake. It is necessary for the Government to consider a policy of compulsory vaccination, with appropriate exceptions
Such a policy requires an assessment of its impact on human rights.

Relevant law

This section sets out the law relevant to both our parity arguments: the public health law that governs the control of disease; and mental health law that governs the detention and treatment of individuals with a mental disorder.

Public Health Law

Here we outline current law on disease control. We explain the absence of legal power to mandate vaccination and the legal basis for restrictions relevant to the lockdown parity argument.

Part 2A of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 (PHA 1984) and the Coronavirus Act 2020 provide the legal basis for Covid-19 pandemic control measures.

By sufficient we mean a level of vaccination in the population that achieves herd immunity.

World Health Organization, ‘Ten threats to global health in 2019’ (2019) https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-s ... th-in-2019 accessed 20/07/17.

See also Nuffield Council on Bioethics, ‘The rise of vaccine hesitancy’ (2019) https://www.nuffieldbioethics.org/blog/ ... -hesitancy accessed 20/07/17.

eg Among BAME communities, older people, people with pre-existing medical conditions, socio-economically disadvantaged people etc.

The requirement to vaccinate need not be exceptionless. For example, it should include exclusions for individuals in whom vaccination is likely to be unsafe or ineffective.

In order to minimise restrictions on liberty, it might also include an exclusion for individuals who are willing to lower their infection and transmission risk through other means, for example, through submitting to ‘lockdown’ and other mitigation measures.

The thought here is that for any one individual, either compulsory vaccination or other restrictions on liberty may be consistent with human rights law, but not both, that is, should an individual opt for restrictions on liberty, it may be hard to justify compulsory vaccination:

see Isra Black, ‘Refusing Life-Prolonging Medical Treatment and the ECHR’ (2018) 38(2) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 299-327.

Sections 45B and 45C of the PHA 1984 grant Ministers the power to make regulations for the purposes of ‘preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination in England and Wales’.

The Coronavirus Act 2020, schedules 18 and 19 give similar powers to the Northern Ireland Department of Health and to the Scottish Ministers respectively.

The regulations laid down under these legal regimes have included extensive restrictions on ‘persons, things or premises’ commonly described as lockdown.

For example, restrictions on leaving the home without ‘reasonable excuse’, restrictions on gatherings, and restrictions or closures of businesses.

In addition, Schedule 21 of the Coronavirus Act 2020, grants extensive powers across the four UK jurisdictions to screen and assess individuals who have potentially been infected with coronavirus outside the UK.

    Neither the Coronavirus Act 2020, nor the PHA 1984 grant the executive the power to mandate vaccination
Indeed, section 45E of the PHA 1984 and schedules 75 18 and 19 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 rule out provisions requiring medical treatment, including ‘vaccination or other prophylactic treatment’.

A policy of compulsory vaccination would thus require primary legislation.

Mental Health Law

We set out some provisions of the Mental Health Act 1983 relevant to the grounds on which a person may be detained—‘sectioned’—under the Act, and the legal basis for treatment of detained persons without consent.

These are presented for the purposes of establishing the mental health parity argument below. This is an illustrative, rather than exhaustive, exposition of the law.

Section 3 of the Mental Health Act permits the detention of an individual in hospital for treatment provided:

    Schedule 18 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 amends the Public Health Act (Northern Ireland) 1967, and Schedule 19 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 creates public health protection regulations de novo. PHA 1984, section 45C(3)(c).
    See The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020,

    The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020,

    The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020,

    The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 (revoked), section 6.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020, section 5;

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 (revoked), section 7.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020, Schedule 2;

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 (revoked), Schedule 2.

Coronavirus Act 2020, Schedule 18, section 25E (Northern Ireland);

Coronavirus Act 2020, Schedule 19, section 3 (Scotland). Note that the PHA 1984, section 45G(2)(a),

Coronavirus Act 2020, Schedule 18, section 25G(2)(a),

Coronavirus Act 2020, Schedule 19, section 4(2)(a)

    All include the requirement that a person submit to ‘medical examination’, which the PHA 1984, section 45T(3) and Coronavirus Act, Schedule 18, section 25Y(3) define as including ‘microbiological and toxicological tests’
Coronavirus Act 2020, Schedule 19, does not define medical examination for the purposes of Scotland.

He/she is suffering from mental disorder of a nature or degree which makes it appropriate for him to receive medical treatment in a hospital; and it is necessary for the health or safety of the patient or for the protection of other persons that he should receive such treatment and it cannot be provided unless he is detained under this section 15 appropriate medical treatment is available for him.

Part IV of the Mental Health Act 1983 governs consent to treatment for patients detained under section 3 of the Act. Section 63 of the Mental Health Act 1983 provides that the consent of any patient, including those who possess decision-making capacity under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, ‘shall not be required for any medical treatment given to him for the mental disorder from which he is suffering...’.

Section 63 of the Act is subject to specific and limited exceptions in respect of certain kinds of treatment.

The legal regime for treatment without consent under the Mental Health Act 1983 derogates from the common law requirement that individuals (who are so able) must give consent in order for medical treatment to be lawful.

Mental health law permits the detention of a person for treatment for the protection of others, and permits compulsory medical treatment of a person so
detained.

Compulsory vaccination and human rights law compliance.

We focus on the human rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), since these rights are domestically enforceable in virtue of the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998).

The UK is also a party to other international human rights law instruments, which we do not treat here.

We explain the basis on which a compulsory vaccination measure interferes with ECHR rights, and advance two parity arguments for why such interference may be justified.

Emphasis added.Mental Health Act 1983, sections 57, 58, 58A.

Ms B v An NHS Hospital Trust [2002] EWHC 429 (Fam); King's College NHS Foundation Trust v C [2015] EWCOP.

See Emily Postan, ‘Written evidence from the Mason Institute for Medicine Life Sciences and the Law, the university of Edinburgh, School of Law (COV0115)’ (UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights, 2020) footnote 1 https://committees.parliament.uk/writte ... 5569/html/ accessed 20/07/22.

Compulsory vaccination and interference with private and family life. Our focus is on article 8 ECHR, which protects, inter alia, the right to private and family life, since this is most relevant to compulsory medical treatment. 115 Article 8 ECHR provides:

    1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life [...]

    2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
The case law of the European Court of Human Rights establishes that the provision of medical treatment without consent constitutes an interference with article 8 ECHR: ‘the imposition of medical treatment, without the consent of a mentally competent adult patient, would interfere with a person's physical integrity in a manner capable of engaging the rights protected under Article 8(1) of the Convention’.

Vaccination is defined as medical treatment for the purposes of the PHA 1984. A compulsory vaccination policy is likely to constitute an interference with the right to private life protected by article 8(1) ECHR for people who would refuse vaccination given the choice.

Note, however, that article 8 ECHR is a qualified right. This means that interference with, for example, the right to private life, may be justified—interference will not violate article 8 ECHR—so far as it is in accordance with the law and necessary in a democratic society in pursuit of the legitimate aims listed in article 8(2) ECHR.

The most important element of the evaluation whether a measure constitutes a violation of article 8 ECHR is the analysis of its proportionality.

Our strategy is to address the justification (including proportionality) of the interference with article 8 ECHR that compulsory vaccination entails through two parity arguments.

    First, if ‘the lockdown is lawful’ in terms of its human rights law compliance, then it is arguable that compulsory vaccination is too (lockdown parity argument).

    Second, if non-consensual treatment under mental health law for public protection purposes is complaint with human rights law, then it is arguable that compulsory vaccination is too (mental health parity argument). The idea underlying this strategy is that interferences with some of the interests protected by the ECHR are commensurable, that is, we can.
We doubt whether a compulsory vaccination scheme would attain the minimum level of severity so as to engage the protection of article 3 ECHR, which prohibits torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment: Ireland v United Kingdom (1979-80) 2 EHRR 25 (ECtHR);

The Greek Case (1969) 12 YB 1 (ECmHR). Pretty v United Kingdom (2002) EHRR 1 (ECtHR). Jeff King, ‘The Lockdown is Lawful’ (UK Constitutional Law Association, 2020)

https://ukconstitutionallaw.org/2020/04 ... is-lawful/ accessed 2020/07/17;

Jeff King, ‘The Lockdown is Lawful: Part II’ (UK Constitutional Law Association, 2020)

https://ukconstitutionallaw.org/2020/04 ... is-lawful/ accessed 2020/07/17.

Evaluate the degree of different kinds of interference with human rights on a comparable basis. This is the case in respect of the qualified rights, including article 8 ECHR.

The lockdown parity argument

The domestic and human rights law compliance of ‘lockdown’ measures, that is, restrictions on persons, things, and premises through the various Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations is a subject of controversy.

Some uncertainty regarding the compatibility of ‘lockdown’ with Human Rights Law, has been resolved by the recent Administrative Court decision of Dolan v Secretary of State for Health.

The applicant, Mr Dolan, sought permission to bring a judicial review challenge to the legality of ‘lockdown’ on very extensive public law and human rights law grounds. The applicant failed on all grounds but one, which was reserved.

    We might characterise the current state of the law as follows: current 'lockdown’ measures are compatible with article 5 ECHR (the right to liberty), article 8 ECHR (the right to private and family life), article 11 ECHR (the right to freedom and assembly) among others, with consideration of article 9 ECHR (the right to freedom of religion) reserved

The Dolan decision does not deny that the lockdown engages the ECHR rights contained in articles 5, 8 and 11. Rather, interference with these rights is justified because of the potential human rights impacts of Covid-19 for individuals and others, and in virtue of the State’s positive duty to safeguard the life within its jurisdiction.

The following is representative of the Court’s reasoning:

There is no realistic prospect that the courts would find regulation 7 [restriction on gatherings] in its current form to be a disproportionate interference with the rights guaranteed by Article 11 of the Convention.

The context in which the regulation was made was one of a pandemic where a highly infectious disease capable of causing death.

For a flavour of the academic debate, cf Jeff King (n 21) and Alan Greene, ‘States should declare a State of Emergency using Article 15 ECHR to confront the Coronavirus Pandemic’ (Strasbourg Observers, 2020)

https://strasbourgobservers.com/2020/04 ... -pandemic/ accessed 20/07/17

See also the following written evidence to the Committee: Merris Amos, ‘Written evidence from Merris Amos, Professor of Human Rights Law, Queen Mary University of London (COV0026)’ (UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights, 2020)

https://committees.parliament.uk/writte ... 1624/html/
accessed 20/07/22;

Merris Amos, ‘Human Rights Law and the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United Kingdom Part 2 (COV0029)’ (UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights, 2020)

https://committees.parliament.uk/writte ... 1739/html/ accessed 20/07/22; David Mead,

‘Written evidence from Professor David Mead, School of Law, University of East Anglia (COV0077)’ (UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights, 2020)

https://committees.parliament.uk/writte ... 2881/html/ accessed 20/07/22;

David Mead and Joe Purshouse, ‘Written evidence from Professor David Mead and Dr Joe Purshouse, School of Law, University of East Anglia (COV0068)’ (UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights, 2020)

https://committees.parliament.uk/writte ... 2783/html/ accessed 20/07/22;

David Mead and Joe Purshouse, ‘Written evidence from Professor David Mead and Dr Joe Purshouse, School of Law, University of East Anglia (COV0069)’ (UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights, 2020)

https://committees.parliament.uk/writte ... 2783/html/ accessed 20/07/22

Dolan & Ors v Secretary of State for Health And Social Care & Anor [2020] EWHC 1786 (Admin). Save in the case of article 5 ECHR, where the restriction on staying overnight at a place other than one’s residence was held not to constitute a deprivation of liberty within the meaning of the ECHR: Dolan (n 23) [71]-[73]. Osman v United Kingdom (2000) 29 EHRR 245 (ECtHR).

Death was spreading. The disease was transmissible between humans. The scientific understanding of this novel coronavirus was limited. There was no effective treatment or vaccine.

The regulation was intended to restrict the opportunities for transmission between humans. The regulation therefore limits the opportunity for groups of individuals to gather together, whether indoors or outdoors. The regulation was time-limited and would expire after 6 months in any event.

During that period, the government was under a duty to carry out regular reviews and to terminate the restriction if it was no longer necessary to achieve the public health aim of reducing the spread and incidence of coronavirus within the population.

What is important for the purposes of the lockdown parity argument is that the Regulations deriving their power from the PHA 1984 may provide for very substantial interferences with the ECHR rights that nevertheless are proportionate and justified.

This is the case even though the impact of these measures falls unevenly across society and is very grave for many people.

Yet, the PHA 1984 rules out compulsory medical treatment, including vaccination. This seems difficult to justify.

Let us assume that a Covid-19 vaccine available at scale is safe, efficacious and administered in a conventional way, for example, by injection.

Even accounting for any harms associated with non-consensual administration, the interference with an individual’s private life that compulsory vaccination entails seems proportionate in light of the seriousness of Covid-19 risks and impacts.

Moreover, a policy of compulsory vaccination seems less burdensome on the interests the ECHR protects as a whole than ‘lockdown’, that is, the degree of interference with bodily integrity entailed in compulsory vaccination seems less than the degree of interference with other liberties arising from lockdown.

In the event that a policy choice between ‘lockdown’ and compulsory vaccination were coterminous.

    It would, in our view, be strange to opt for lockdown over compulsory vaccination.

The absence of the legal power to require individuals to undergo vaccination is hard to explain. It is arguable that if ‘lockdown’ restrictions are compatible with human rights law, so too is compulsory vaccination.

Current public health law rules out medical treatment, including vaccination, but permits extensive restrictions on personal activity, such as free movement and association.

The law privileges the interest in bodily integrity over other liberties. The lockdown parity argument asks for a justification for treating bodily integrity as distinctively important relative to these other interests.

The mental health parity argument Dolan (n 23) [95]-[96].

We note that the more extensive ‘lockdown’ restrictions introduced in March
2020 were not litigated in Dolan, due to their revocation. As such, their compatibility with human rights law has not been established.

However, it is plausible that a court faced with a challenge to those
regulations would reach similar outcome to Dolan. eg women subjected to domestic abuse or violence and black and minority ethnic people: see Emily
Postan (n 18).

In response to the lockdown parity argument above, it might be objected that there is indeed something distinctive about bodily or physical integrity. The idea here is that we cannot in fact compare interference with bodily integrity with interference with other liberties, or that interference with bodily integrity is always worse than interference with other liberties.

Our mental health parity argument addresses this objection by reference
to mental health law, which permits compulsory interference with bodily integrity.

The criteria for detention under section 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983 require that appropriate treatment for the person’s mental disorder is available and that it is not possible to provide treatment without detention.

It is clear that the objective of section 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983 is not merely to detain individuals with mental disorder for their own protection or the protection of others, but also to administer treatment for these purposes.

Section 63 of the Mental Health Act 1983 permits treatment without consent to persons detained under the Act, even if they possess decision-making capacity.

Mental health law provides an example where the law permits exceptionally—
compulsory interference with a person’s bodily integrity for their own protection and that of others when the nature and degree of their circumstances gives warrant.

The case law establishes that compulsory treatment in this context may be compatible with articles 3 and 8 ECHR.

We can argue by analogy from the compatibility with the ECHR of compulsory
treatment in mental health law to the human rights law compliance of compulsory vaccination.

In the context of highly infectious disease, every person is at risk of infection and a potential threat to the life and health of others—a person’s default state
is of a nature and degree to warrant immunisation. Vaccination protects the individual from possible serious harms.

Vaccination also contributes to the protection of the community generally and the protection of its vulnerable members specifically.

Given vaccine hesitancy, it may be necessary to compel vaccination in order to achieve herd immunity.

The justifications for compulsory vaccination map onto the criteria for detention and treatment contained in the Mental Health Act 1983.

The law permits compulsory interference with bodily integrity under mental
health law. This derogation from the common law principle of no treatment without consent is compatible with the ECHR.

It is arguable that if compulsory treatment under mental health law is compatible with human rights law, so too is compulsory vaccination. Importantly, the same protected interest—that in bodily integrity—is at stake in the two contexts the mental health parity argument compares.

22/07/2020 Herczegfalvy v Austria (1993) 15 EHRR 437; R (on the application of B) v S (Responsible Medical Officer, Broadmoor Hospital) [2006] EWCA Civ Including those who cannot safely undergo immunisation.
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:41 am

Rush to pub may have fuelled
record rise in Covid cases


A rush to the pub before England's second national lockdown may have fuelled a record rise in Covid cases, experts have claimed

Click Image to Inlarge:
1271

It comes as Britain announced another 33,470 positive coronavirus cases yesterday – 39 per cent more than last Thursday – despite indicators showing the outbreak is slowing down.

The case count is the highest since the Covid-19 outbreak began and comes a week after England's second national lockdown started. It is an increase from 22,950 Wednesday.

Scientists believe said the sudden spike may have come from people rushing to socialise ahead of the lockdown, which began last Thursday.

One expert Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre of Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, told the Telegraph: 'These figures are going through the roof, and it's not really surprising when we saw scenes like Christmas Eve last week before we went into lockdown.

'The problem is when these policies are drawn up the Government assumes everyone will behave the same way, and they just don't take account of the fact that many people saw it as a last chance to get out.'

Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, also said socialising ahead of lockdown may have been a factor in the spike.

He told the paper: 'If cases remain this high for another day or so then it will pretty much be down to people having more social contacts – partying before lockdown.'

Meanwhile, Dr Yvonne Doyle, the medical director at Public Health England, said the majority of tests were carried out between November 9 and November 10 - meaning the people picked up the virus in the days leading up to the national lockdown.

Their comments come as a further 563 deaths were recorded, bringing total coronavirus fatalities to 50,928. It is a 48.9 per cent increase on the 378 deaths announced last Thursday.

Unofficial statistics suggest that the country's outbreak had already started to slow down and shrink before the lockdown began on November 5, and it is expected to continue shrinking throughout November during the stringent rules.

Meanwhile in Wales, which is now out of lockdown having gone through a short two-week firebreaker, students were seen drinking in pubs and bars last night.

Experts believe a rush to the pub before England's second national lockdown may have fuelled a record rise in Covid cases, according to reports. Pictured: People out in Leeds city centre, ahead of a national lockdown for England

Scientists believe yesterday's sudden spike may have come from people rushing to socialise ahead of the lockdown. People out in Birmingham before the second national lockdown

One expert Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre of Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, told the Telegraph : 'These figures are going through the roof, and it's not really surprising when we saw scenes like Christmas Eve last week before we went into lockdown. Dr Yvonne Doyle, the medical director at Public Health England, said the majority of tests were carried out between November 9 and November 10 - meaning the people picked up the virus in the days leading up to the national lockdown.

Although yesterday's number are high, Department of Health case counts do not pin to a particular day – the 33,000 infections announced today will have come from tests done on numerous days over the past week or more. It does not mean that all those people tested positive yesterday.

Testing data shows that the number of people testing positive spiked on Monday, November 9, when 24,642 people who took swabs were infected. Tests from this day accounted for 11,685 of yesterday's total, and are considerably higher than the approximately 20,000 on each of the two previous weekdays.

The testing system is also known to not pick up everyone infected with Covid-19 because many never get symptoms. This means the number of people testing positive can fluctuate without a fundamental change in the size of the outbreak.

Yesterday's spike was not explained by the Department of Health and experts could not account for the sudden surge – Public Health England said many of the cases were from people who likely caught the virus before lockdown.

Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS England medical director, said in a briefing yesterday it was 'important not to focus just on a single day' and instead to look at a variety of sources of data.

The Government-run REACT mass-testing study said it had seen a 'slowdown' in the spread of the virus at the start of this month, while scientists behind the Covid Symptom Study estimate the R number to now be below one.

But experts agree that the number of people currently infected with the virus is very high – the best estimates put it higher than half a million – which was part of Boris Johnson's rationale for imposing lockdown 2.0.

Office for National Statistics data last Friday suggested this might have been starting to level off before the lockdown began under the three-tier local rules.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... cases.html
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Nov 16, 2020 3:23 pm

Moderna: Covid vaccine
nearly 95% protection


A new vaccine that protects against Covid-19 is nearly 95% effective, early data from US company Moderna shows

The results come hot on the heels of similar results from Pfizer, and add to growing confidence that vaccines can help end the pandemic.

Both companies used a highly innovative and experimental approach to designing their vaccines.

Moderna says it is a "great day" and they plan to apply for approval to use the vaccine in the next few weeks.

However, this is still early data and key questions remain unanswered.

How good is it?

The trial involved 30,000 people in the US with half being given two doses of the vaccine, four weeks apart. The rest had dummy injections.

The analysis was based on the first 95 to develop Covid-19 symptoms.

Only five of the Covid cases were in people given the vaccine, 90 were in those given the dummy treatment. The company says the vaccine is protecting 94.5% of people.

The data also shows there were 11 cases of severe Covid in the trial, but none happened in people who were immunised.

"The overall effectiveness has been remarkable... it's a great day," Tal Zaks, the chief medical officer at Moderna, told BBC News.

Dr Stephen Hoge, the company's president, said he "grinned ear to ear for a minute" when the results came in.

He told BBC News: "I don't think any of us really hoped that the vaccine would be 94% effective at preventing Covid-19 disease, that was really a stunning realisation."

When will I get it?

That depends on where you are in the world and how old you are.

Moderna says it will apply to regulators in the US in the coming weeks. It expects to have 20 million doses available in the country.

The company hopes to have up to one billion doses available for use around the world next year and is planning to seek approval in other countries too.

The UK government is still negotiating with Moderna as their vaccine is not one of the six already ordered. It says Moderna's will not be available before spring next year.

The UK has outlined plans that prioritise the oldest people for immunisation.

What don't we know?

We still do not know how long immunity will last as volunteers will have to be followed for much longer before that can be answered.

There are hints it offers some protection in older age groups, who are most at risk of dying from Covid, but there is not full data.

Mr Zaks told the BBC their data so far suggests the vaccine "does not appear to lose its potency" with age.

And it is not known whether the vaccine just stops people becoming severely ill, or if it stops them spreading the virus too.

All these questions will affect how a coronavirus vaccine is used.

Is it safe?

No significant safety concerns have been reported, but nothing, including paracetamol, is 100% safe.

Short lived fatigue, headache and pain were reported after the injection in some patients.

"These effects are what we would expect with a vaccine that is working and inducing a good immune response," said Prof Peter Openshaw, from Imperial College London.

How does this compare to the Pfizer vaccine?

Both vaccines use the same approach of injecting part of the virus's genetic code in order to provoke an immune response.

The preliminary data we have seen so far is very similar - around 90% protection for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and around 95% for Moderna's.

However, both trials are still taking place and the final numbers could change.

Moderna's vaccine appears to be easier to store as it remains stable at minus 20C for up to six months and can be kept in a standard fridge for up to a month.

Pfizer's vaccine needs ultra-cold storage at around minus 75C, but it can be kept in the fridge for five days.

The Sputnik V vaccine, developed in Russia, has also released very early data which suggests it is 92% effective.

How does it work?

Moderna has developed an "RNA vaccine" - it means part of the coronavirus's genetic code is injected into the body.

This starts making viral proteins, but not the whole virus, which is enough to train the immune system to attack.

It should train the body to make both antibodies - and another part of the immune system called T-cells to fight the coronavirus.

When will Covid be over?

In the space of a week, the positive results from Pfizer, Moderna and Russia have transformed our chances of ending the pandemic.

Before the first results, the talk was of a vaccine that offered maybe 50% protection. Those expectations have been blown out of the water - not only are vaccines possible, they appear to be potent.

The data so far also raise hopes that the other vaccines in development will be successful too, but now as one challenge draws to an ends, another begins.

The logistical effort of actually vaccinating, potentially billions of people, around the world is gargantuan.

Some experts have claimed normality by spring, others by next winter, others still think there is a long journey ahead.

The answer will depend on how quickly countries can get this "hope in a vial" into the arms of people.

BioNTech's Ugur Sahin: "I'm confident that...we could have a normal winter next year"

What reaction has there been?

"This news from Moderna is tremendously exciting and considerably boosts optimism that we will have a choice of good vaccines in the next few months," said Prof Peter Openshaw from Imperial College London.

He added: "We need more complete details than we have in this press release, but this announcement adds to the general feeling of optimism."

Prof Trudie Lang, from the University of Oxford, said: "It is very good news indeed to see another vaccine coming through with similar efficacy results as were reported last week from Pfizer.

"This is also an interim analysis, which means that there were enough cases within the vaccinated volunteers to give statistical significance and allow the team to break the blind to determine who had the active vaccine and who had placebo."

Dr Richard Hatchett, the head of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, said: "The Moderna results are as good as we could have hoped for and really terrifically encouraging."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54902908
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Nov 18, 2020 3:29 am

Doctors How to exit lockdown

Lifting lockdown must be handled better this time round to avoid a surge in Covid that could overwhelm the NHS, doctors say

The British Medical Association has published a blueprint for how it thinks England should proceed with any easing.

It includes replacing the "rule of six" with a two-households restriction to reduce social mixing and banning travel between different local lockdown tiers.

Government is yet to say if or exactly how England will exit on 2 December.

It will decide next week, based on whether cases have fallen enough and how much strain hospitals are under.

'Same mistakes'

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has said ministers want to see a "significant easing" of coronavirus controls.

But Public Health England medical director and NHS Test and Trace chief medical adviser Susan Hopkins said government would have to look at "strengthening" the three-tier system introduced in October.

And now, the BMA, a trade union for UK doctors, has said robust measures to keep the virus under control must be in place before lockdown ends, including:

    giving local public-health teams more of the oversight and budget of Test and Trace to ensure it is fit for purpose

    replacing the rule of six, which allowed up to six people from different households to meet with a two-households rule to reduce social mixing

    banning travel between different local lockdown tiers

    replacing guidance with rules to ensure workplaces and public areas such as shops and pubs are Covid secure

    continuing to encourage people who can to work from home
BMA chair of council Dr Chaand Nagpaul said government must learn from mistakes surrounding the ending of the first lockdown - rapid relaxation and inadequate monitoring, while people had been encouraged to go to the pub and dine out.

"It is unthinkable that we make the same mistakes again," he said, "because this time, the impact will be far worse."

Prof Neil Ferguson, whose modelling led to the original lockdown in March, has said reopening pubs and restaurants in the run-up to Christmas would likely lead to rising infection levels.

He told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: "The big question in practical terms is can we reopen hospitality venues - pubs and restaurants - in the run-up to Christmas and still avoid infection levels increasing?

"I suspect we can't, but the decision may be made to do so anyhow on the basis that any increase will be slow and may be able to be counteracted later."

The NHS was preparing to roll out Covid vaccinations should a jab become available soon, the BMA said.

But such a mass immunisation programme must be properly resourced and funded by government.

And all of that groundwork should be done now, rather than later.

The Department of Health and Social Care said it has invested over £230m into manufacturing any successful vaccine and there had been "an enormous amount of planning and preparation" for distributing it to the people who needed it.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54973530
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Nov 18, 2020 5:00 am

Team Behind Leading Vaccine

German company BioNTech, founded by two scientists, has teamed up with Pfizer on vaccine that was found to be more than 90 percent effective

Image
Dr. Ugur Sahin and Dr. Özlem Türeci
the couple who founded BioNTech


Two years ago, Dr. Ugur Sahin took the stage at a conference in Berlin and made a bold prediction. Speaking to a roomful of infectious disease experts, he said his company might be able to use its so-called messenger RNA technology to rapidly develop a vaccine in the event of a global pandemic.

At the time, Dr. Sahin and his company, BioNTech, were little known outside the small world of European biotechnology start-ups. BioNTech, which Dr. Sahin founded with his wife, Dr. Özlem Türeci, was mostly focused on cancer treatments. It had never brought a product to market. Covid-19 did not yet exist.

But his words proved prophetic

On Monday, BioNTech and Pfizer announced that a vaccine for the coronavirus developed by Dr. Sahin and his team was more than 90 percent effective in preventing the disease among trial volunteers who had no evidence of having previously been infected.

The stunning results vaulted BioNTech and Pfizer to the front of the race to find a cure for a disease that has killed more than 1.2 million people worldwide. “It could be the beginning of the end of the Covid era,” Dr. Sahin said in an interview on Tuesday.

BioNTech began work on the vaccine in January, after Dr. Sahin read an article in the medical journal The Lancet that left him convinced that the coronavirus, at the time spreading quickly in parts of China, would explode into a full-blown pandemic. Scientists at the company, based in Mainz, Germany, canceled vacations and set to work on what they called Project Lightspeed.

“There are not too many companies on the planet which have the capacity and the competence to do it so fast as we can do it,” Dr. Sahin said in an interview last month. “So it felt not like an opportunity, but a duty to do it, because I realized we could be among the first coming up with a vaccine.”

After BioNTech had identified several promising vaccine candidates, Dr. Sahin concluded that the company would need help to rapidly test them, win approval from regulators and bring the best candidate to market. BioNTech and Pfizer had been working together on a flu vaccine since 2018, and in March, they agreed to collaborate on a coronavirus vaccine.

Since then, Dr. Sahin, who is Turkish, has developed a friendship with Albert Bourla, the Greek chief executive of Pfizer. The pair said in recent interviews that they had bonded over their shared backgrounds as scientists and immigrants.

“We realized that he is from Greece, and that I’m from Turkey,” Dr. Sahin said, without mentioning their native countries’ long-running antagonism. “It was very personal from the very beginning.”

Dr. Sahin, 55, was born in Iskenderun, Turkey. When he was 4, his family moved to Cologne, Germany, where his parents worked at a Ford factory. He grew up wanting to be a doctor, and became a physician at the University of Cologne. In 1993, he earned a doctorate from the university for his work on immunotherapy in tumor cells.

Early in his career, he met Dr. Türeci. She had early hopes to become a nun and ultimately wound up studying medicine. Dr. Türeci, now 53 and the chief medical officer of BioNTech, was born in Germany, the daughter of a Turkish physician who immigrated from Istanbul. On the day they were married, Dr. Sahin and Dr. Türeci returned to the lab after the ceremony.

The pair were initially focused on research and teaching, including at the University of Zurich, where Dr. Sahin worked in the lab of Rolf Zinkernagel, who won the 1996 Nobel Prize in medicine.

In 2001, Dr. Sahin and Dr. Türeci founded Ganymed Pharmaceuticals, which developed drugs to treat cancer using monoclonal antibodies.

After several years they founded BioNTech as well, looking to use a wider range of technologies, including messenger RNA, to treat cancer. “We want to build a large European pharmaceutical company,” Dr. Sahin said in an interview with the Wiesbaden Courier, a local paper.

Even before the pandemic, BioNTech was gaining momentum. The company raised hundreds of millions of dollars and now has more than 1,800 people on staff, with offices in Berlin, other German cities and Cambridge, Mass. In 2018, it began its partnership with Pfizer.

Last year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation invested $55 million to fund its work treating H.I.V. and tuberculosis. Also in 2019, Dr. Sahin was awarded the Mustafa Prize, a biennial Iranian prize for Muslims in science and technology.

Dr. Sahin and Dr. Türeci sold Ganymed for $1.4 billion in 2016. Last year, BioNTech sold shares to the public; in recent months, its market value has soared past $21 billion, making the couple among the richest in Germany.

The two billionaires live with their teenage daughter in a modest apartment near their office. They ride bicycles to work. They do not own a car.

“Ugur is a very, very unique individual,” Mr. Bourla, Pfizer’s chief executive, said in the interview last month. “He cares only about science. Discussing business is not his cup of tea. He doesn’t like it at all. He’s a scientist and a man of principles. I trust him 100 percent.”

In Germany, where immigration continues to be a fractious issue, the success of two scientists of Turkish descent was cause for celebration.

“With this couple, Germany has a shining example of successful integration,” wrote the conservative-business site Focus.

A member of Parliament, Johannes Vogel, wrote on Twitter that if it was up to the far-right Alternative for Germany party, “there would be no #BioNTech of Germany with Özlem Türeci & Ugur Sahin at the top.”

“If it were up to critics of capitalism and globalization,” he added, “there would be no cooperation with Pfizer. But that makes us strong: immigration country, market economy & open society!”

Dr. Sahin has had little time for politics this year. BioNTech has been so busy developing a vaccine that the company has not finalized the financial details of its partnership agreement with Pfizer.

“Trust and personal relationship is so important in such business, because everything is going so fast,” Dr. Sahin said. “We still have a term sheet and not yet a final contract on many things.”

Dr. Sahin said he and Dr. Türeci learned about efficacy data on Sunday night and marked the moment by brewing Turkish tea at home. “We celebrated, of course,” he said. “It was a relief.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/10/busi ... obal-en-GB
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Nov 19, 2020 11:56 am

More promising results
from Covid vaccine trials


Summary:

    The team in Oxford developing a coronavirus vaccine says trials have shown a promising immune response in elderly people

    Oxford's Prof Pollard said there was "no competition" with other vaccines - multiple vaccines were needed to be successful

    Three vaccines - Pfizer-BioNTech, Sputnik and Moderna - have already reported good preliminary data

    A scientist advising the UK government warns households socialising at Christmas poses "substantial risks"

    The US records more than 250,000 deaths from Covid-19 and nearly 11.5 million cases, as infections soar across the country

    More than 200 Facebook workers accuse the firm of forcing staff back to the office despite the risks of contracting coronavirus

    NHS Wales's boss warns it will take "a number of years" for waiting times to recover to pre-coronavirus levels
I say:

STOP testing vaccines on innocent animals

START testing on murderers, pedophiles, rapists and drug dealers
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Nov 20, 2020 8:41 pm

Covid-19: UK setting up vaccine centres

We will be ready to start vaccination next month

The NHS is setting up vaccination centres across the country in preparation for any jab being approved, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

People will be vaccinated at sites around the UK, as well as in hospitals and by GPs in the community.

The government has also officially asked the medical regulator to assess the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Mr Hancock said if the regulator approved it, vaccination could start next month.

But the bulk of the vaccination roll-out would be in the new year, he added.

It comes as another 20,252 confirmed Covid cases were announced by the government on Friday, as well as a further 511 deaths.

Speaking at the Downing Street briefing, Mr Hancock said: "The NHS is in the process of establishing vaccination centres across the country that can manage the logistical challenge of needing to store the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at -70C.

"In addition it is establishing vaccination hubs in hospitals for NHS staff.

"These two routes are likely to comprise the bulk of the campaign this side of the new year. Then there will be a community roll-out involving GPs and pharmacists."

Vaccination centres could be set up in places like sports halls, and earlier this week it was confirmed that a sports arena in Derby had been earmarked to be used.

On the question of when people could get vaccinated, Mr Hancock said: "I know everyone wants to know about the timing and the speed of the roll-out. That will depend on the speed at which the vaccines can be manufactured.

"We know that the manufacturing process for all vaccines is difficult and uncertain so I've asked the NHS to be ready to deploy at the speed at which the vaccine can be produced.

"If, and it still is an if, if the regulator approves a vaccine, we will be ready to start the vaccination next month with the bulk of the roll-out in the new year. We're heading in the right direction but there is still a long way to go."

Mr Hancock also confirmed the government had formally asked the independent medical regulator - the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency - to assess the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

He said the UK government had been given the "confidence" to begin the process, after the vaccine-makers applied for approval in the US.

Three vaccines - Pfizer/BioNTech, Sputnik and Moderna - have already reported good early results from the final stages of testing, called phase-three trials.

The first breakthrough came from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which published data first and showed it protected 94% of adults over 65.

Another vaccine, developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, has shown positive results at an earlier stage, phase two.

The UK government has ordered more doses of the Oxford vaccine than any other (100 million doses) - but has also ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and five million of the Moderna vaccine.

How some Covid vaccines compare

Asked about Christmas and whether Covid restrictions could be relaxed, Mr Hancock said the government was still working to decide what should happen after England's lockdown ends on 2 December.

"It's still too early to tell, although we can see from the data out in the last couple of days, and also from the ONS survey out today, that this is clearly flattening," he said. "We're clearly near the peak of this second increase and the second wave."

NHS England's medical director Prof Stephen Powis also said it appeared the number of hospital patients with coronavirus had been "levelling off" in the last few days.

But he added: "That is just a few days' data and it's important not to read too much into it yet."

It comes as the government's group of scientific advisers said the R rate - the number of people on average that one infected person passes the virus onto - had dropped to between 1 and 1.1 for the UK as a whole.

Daily confirmed cases

Mr Hancock also urged people aged 50 and over to get a flu jab.

Thirty million people are being offered a flu jab in England's largest flu-immunisation scheme to date. People aged 50 to 64 will be eligible for the vaccine from 1 December.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-55021334
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Nov 22, 2020 1:44 am

UK to end 10pm pub curfew as
lockdown ends on December 2


Prime Minister intends to extend opening hours until 11pm when the second national lockdown ends on December 2. While last orders will still be called at 10pm, people will get an extra hour to finish drinks and meals

As well as helping the hospitality sector, the plan – expected to be accepted in a crunch Cabinet meeting this evening – will help prevent crowds congregating on the streets at kicking-out time.

The 10pm curfew was widely criticised after its introduction in September and No 10 is determined to show it can both listen to its backbenchers and learn lessons when measures are unsuccessful. The proposal has widespread support. One Minister said: '10pm last orders and being allowed to stay longer sounds eminently sensible.'

Mr Johnson will on Monday tell the House of Commons and the nation in a televised address that lockdown will end, as promised, on December 2.

The move by Westminster to extend the curfew in England is expected to put pressure on the devolved nations to follow suit.

He will also set out details of a new winter plan to tackle Covid, including a revised three-tier structure for restrictions. The new framework will run until the spring in a move designed to give businesses and the public more confidence and clarity while work continues on approving vaccines and a mass immunisation project.

There is growing confidence that positive results from a trial of a vaccine being developed by Oxford University and the pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca are 'imminent'. Vaccines produced by Pfizer and the US firm Moderna have already been shown to be almost 95 per cent effective.

One Government insider said: 'There is a possibility that one day soon we will wake up and Brexit will be done and we'll have the Oxford vaccine.'

Last night, the next stage of Britain’s virus policy was discussed at a wider ‘Covid-O’ committee that included Business Secretary Alok Sharma, Home Secretary Priti Patel and others alongside those in The Quad clique. And today the wider Cabinet will discuss the new tier system, due to come in to force on December 2, as well as plans for loosening restrictions for Christmas. Their decision will then be presented to Parliament tomorrow.

It is a marked shift away from the previous concentration of power that alienated many excluded Ministers.

One Cabinet Minister told this newspaper that meetings have become more inclusive since Mr Cummings left Downing Street.

A Government source said last night: ‘People want more involvement and broader voices in decision making.’

However, the revised tier system unveiled by Mr Johnson is expected to see more areas enter the highest third level. The final decision for which areas go into which tiers will be taken on Thursday.

While almost all shops will be allowed to reopen, bookmakers and so-called 'wet pubs' that do not serve food may be required to remain closed in places with the highest infection rates. There may also be harsher controls on households mixing indoors. 'The new Tier 3 will look a lot tighter than the old version,' a Government source admitted.

However, restrictions on playing sport are set to be relaxed, while Ministers are having detailed discussions about allowing crowds in open-air stadiums – but the main sticking point is how to get fans to and from the events without risking infection on public transport.

Seeking to bolster confidence, Mr Johnson said in a speech yesterday: 'My first message is 'thank you' for what you have done over the last very difficult eight months, my second is that there is hope on the horizon.'

The developments came as:

    There was renewed hope that the second Covid-19 wave had passed its peak as 341 new deaths were recorded – 121 fewer than last Saturday, and only five of whom did not have underlying health conditions – and the number of daily infections fell by more than a quarter to 19,875;

    US pharmaceutical firm Novavax raised hopes that a vaccine that it is developing could stop people infecting each other following successful trials in monkeys;

    At least 22 people were arrested as anti-lockdown protesters clashed with police at rallies in Bournemouth, London and Liverpool;

    Mr Johnson enjoyed a boost in the opinion polls, with the Tories on 41 per cent and Labour down to 38 per cent, according to Optimum; lIt was reported that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will this week unveil a £3 billion plan to tackle the backlog of surgeries cancelled as a result of the pandemic as part of a Spending Review that will also aim to boost mental health support and revitalise the high street;

    Church leaders appealed to the Government to re-open places of worship for Christmas services.
Ministers were yesterday continuing talks on whether and how restrictions might be lifted for Christmas. It is understood that a four-nation 'truce' will see all families across the UK allowed the same number of days to celebrate with their loved ones.

The Government is also in discussions about how it might allow some pantomimes to go ahead, although a wider opening of theatres is unlikely before next year.

Scientists last week warned that up to five days of tough lockdown could be needed to compensate for each day with fewer restrictions over Christmas.

But Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak have emphasised the need to return to a 'functioning economy'. A source said: 'We've got to get normality back.'

Ministers are seeking to identify 'morale boosting' measures such as allowing people to watch live sport again or reopening cinemas.

'That is an important element to consider,' a Government source said. '[Paving a way to] allowing people to see the latest Bond film in the cinema would send a big signal that normality has returned.' The renewed optimism is linked to the 'transformative' effect that the rollout of a vaccine or vaccines will have.

One source said Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, has had a 'spring in his step'.

Ministers are now working on plans to keep some form of restrictions in place until late March when, according to experts, the bulk of vaccines could have been delivered. The restrictions will be subject to review if the data improves or worsens.

Ministers will pore over the latest data before finalising the new tier arrangements later this week.

The measures will then be voted on in Parliament. While some Tory MPs have raised concerns that gyms and the beauty industry will be an 'afterthought', the Treasury is understood to be pushing for them to be allowed to reopen on December 2.

A source said: 'Businesses such as gyms, beauty salons are dying to open and have made themselves Covid safe.

'People want to get their nails done before Christmas – it's a huge season for these businesses.'

However, 70 Conservative MPs have written to the Prime Minister saying they will not vote for the reintroduction of the tier system unless the Government sets out the reasoning behind every ongoing restriction.

The letter, organised by Steve Baker and former chief whip Mark Harper, warns that Ministers 'must publish a full cost-benefit analysis of the proposed restrictions on a regional basis'.

A No 10 spokesman said: 'Everyone's efforts during the current national restrictions have helped bring the virus back under control, slowed its spread and eased pressures on the NHS.

'But the Prime Minister and his scientific advisers are clear the virus is still present – and without regional restrictions it could quickly run out of control again before vaccines and mass testing have had an effect.'
Big brother fury as the government uses Twitter as a propaganda tool to attack the Mail's coronavirus analysis

Link to Full Article - Charts:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... ystem.html
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