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Covid-19 information: Residence and work testing to broaden in England subsequent month

A coronavirus lateral movement system exhibiting a optimistic take a look at outcome.

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Newest coronavirus information as of 5pm on 17 February

UK authorities plans to ship 400,000 exams a day to houses and workplaces

Fast coronavirus exams will begin being despatched out by submit subsequent month to permit twice-weekly testing of individuals with out covid-19 signs for as much as two-thirds of England’s inhabitants. The pregnancy-test-style lateral movement assays, which search for viral proteins in a swab from the nostril or throat, produce outcomes inside half an hour, however they don’t seem to be as correct because the slower PCR exams utilized in labs and clinics. The lateral movement exams are already getting used for screening folks with out covid-19 signs in settings comparable to healthcare, care houses and in sure colleges and universities. The variety of these exams carried out has elevated massively prior to now month. The newest deliberate enlargement would contain finishing up greater than 400,000 exams a day in houses and workplaces, based on documents seen by The Times. The roll-out would start earlier than colleges open up face-to-face educating – at the moment slated for 8 March in England – and the exams could be despatched to schoolchildren, their households and academics, in addition to anybody who can’t work from home. It could be accompanied by a marketing campaign to encourage uptake provisionally known as “Are you ready? Get testing. Go.”


Utilizing lateral movement exams for mass screening is controversial, as a result of they’ve a larger false-negative fee than PCR exams. Proponents say lateral movement exams discover people who find themselves most infectious. Critics say they miss people who find themselves nonetheless able to transmitting the virus and who’re then falsely reassured they’re freed from the virus, so could behave extra riskily. A spokesperson for the UK’s Division of Well being and Social Care stated their plans for increasing testing haven’t but been finalised.

Different coronavirus information

4 extra signs ought to be added to the checklist of indicators that individuals want a coronavirus test, researchers say. The brand new signs are fatigue, headache, sore throat and diarrhoea. The prevailing signs that point out the necessity for a take a look at are cough, fever or lack of style or odor. The findings come from an evaluation of customers of an app known as the Zoe Covid Symptom Study, which tracks covid-19 signs and instances. Utilizing these further indicators as a set off for testing would result in many extra folks being examined who don’t have the virus, however it will additionally choose up 40 per cent extra coronavirus instances, the researchers have calculated. 

The world’s first examine that can intentionally infect wholesome volunteers with the coronavirus will begin next month. Initially, 90 folks aged 18-30 can have a small dose of the virus squirted up their nostril and can then be fastidiously monitored to see how their immune system reacts and to search out the smallest dose wanted for a gentle an infection. In future the experimenters will examine how efficient vaccines are towards present and novel variants of the virus, stated Chris Chiu at Imperial School London.

South Africa will this week change into the primary nation on this planet to start giving people the Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccine. This one-shot jab is efficient at stopping extreme illness from the coronavirus variant prevalent in that nation.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 demise toll has handed 2.43 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 109.6 million, based on Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances can be a lot larger.

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Earlier updates

A woman wearing a face mask stands on a balcony in a retirement home

A lady in a retirement residence appears to be like out on the view from her balcony

Westend61/Getty Pictures

16 February

Practically two million extra folks can be added to England’s shielding checklist

About 1.7 million people in England can be informed to defend and take further precautions from covid-19 after they had been discovered to be at critical danger of illness or demise. They may even be prioritised for covid-19 vaccination. The addition will deliver the entire quantity on the UK authorities’s shielding checklist to nearly 4 million, all of whom are being suggested to defend till 31 March. 

The folks being added to the checklist have been recognized utilizing an algorithm to foretell whether or not an individual is vulnerable to extreme illness or demise from covid-19. The algorithm incorporates info on age, ethnicity, physique mass index, different well being situations and postcode (which is indicative of the extent of deprivation). “As we learn more about covid-19, we’re continuously reviewing the evidence,” Jenny Harries, considered one of England’s deputy chief medical officers, informed a briefing on 16 February. “It was very clear that not all of those individuals who were at risk were identified by the binary approach,” she stated. Harries stated it will likely be as much as the people to determine whether or not to observe the shielding recommendation or not.

Different coronavirus information

An estimated one in 5 folks in England had antibodies towards the coronavirus within the 28 days as much as 1 February, suggesting they’d beforehand been contaminated or had acquired a covid-19 vaccine, based on the Office for National Statistics. In Wales and Northern Eire the equal estimate was one in 7 and for Scotland it was one in 9 folks. Folks had been examined for antibodies as a part of the COVID-19 An infection Survey within the UK. In England, folks aged 80 and over had been most certainly to check optimistic for antibodies with 40.9 per cent testing optimistic, which might be as a result of excessive vaccination fee on this group. “It could be tempting to assume that quantifying antibody levels like this tells us the level and distribution of immunity to covid-19 in the population, but we do not know what components of the immune system are required for immunity or how long protection will last,” stated Simon Clarke on the College of Studying in a statement.

Early information from vaccinations in Israel point out that the Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccine prevents 94 per cent of symptomatic coronavirus infections. The examine checked out 600,000 absolutely vaccinated folks and the identical variety of unvaccinated folks. This can be a very comparable degree of effectiveness to that recorded in scientific trials of the vaccine. Israel’s well being fund, Clalit, used coronavirus take a look at outcomes extracted from folks’s well being information to check numbers of infections between those that had acquired two doses of the vaccine and those that hadn’t acquired any doses. There have been 94 per cent fewer infections amongst those that had been vaccinated. Practically half of Israel’s resident adult population have acquired no less than one dose of covid-19 vaccine to date.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 demise toll has handed 2.41 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 109 million, based on Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances can be a lot larger.

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Merged variants: The UK and California variants of coronavirus seem to have mixed right into a closely mutated hybrid, sparking concern that we could also be getting into a brand new part of the covid-19 pandemic.


A laboratory technician handles vials in a laboratory

Genome sequencing of the coronavirus and its variants on the Centre Nationwide de Reference in France


15 February

Coronavirus variants carrying comparable mutations detected within the US 

Seven coronavirus variants carrying similar mutations have been detected within the US. All of the variants, reported in a preliminary study, have gained a mutation on the similar location of their genome and seem to belong to the identical lineage as a virus first sequenced on 1 December, which subsequently turned extra widespread. “There’s clearly something going on with this mutation,” Jeremy Kamil at Louisiana State College and co-author of the examine, told the New York Times. It isn’t clear if the mutation makes the variants extra transmissible, just like the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant first sequenced within the UK, however its location in a gene that influences how the virus enters human cells is regarding. “I think there’s a clear signature of an evolutionary benefit,” stated Kamil. The preliminary examine was launched on a pre-print server and has not been peer-reviewed.

Different coronavirus information

UK well being minister Matt Hancock revealed that a third of social care workers in England haven’t had a covid-19 vaccine but, regardless of being among the many first precedence teams. “We’ll keep offering and keep contacting people who work in social care,” Hancock informed the BBC’s Breakfast present. “Obviously the uptake there is very important,” he stated. Individually, a preliminary examine discovered lower covid-19 vaccine uptake amongst Black, Asian and minority ethnic workers on the College Hospitals of Leicester NHS Belief in England. “These findings give significant cause for concern, as ethnic minority groups (especially those working in healthcare) are at higher risk of infection with [the coronavirus] and adverse outcome from covid-19,” stated the report, which has not been peer-reviewed. Greater than 15 million people have acquired a dose of covid-19 vaccine within the UK to date, in keeping with the government’s target of providing a primary dose of vaccine to 4 precedence teams by mid-February.

“We’ll do everything we can” to reopen schools in England by 8 March, UK prime minister Boris Johnson has stated, including: “But we’ve got to keep looking at the data, we’ve got to keep looking at the rates of infection, don’t forget they’re still very high.” The UK authorities is predicted to set out plans for ending restrictions at a briefing on 22 February. Johnson stated the federal government’s plans can be “cautious but irreversible”.

The first travellers required to remain at quarantine inns in England arrived at London’s Heathrow airport on 15 February. Folks arriving within the UK from 33 “red list” nations at the moment are required to enter obligatory lodge quarantine for 10 days on arrival, at their very own expense.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 demise toll has handed 2.4 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 108 million, based on Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances can be a lot larger.

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Making a distinction: The unpredictability of covid-19 could make our lives really feel uncontrolled, however there are issues we will all do to affect our course via the pandemic.

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A lady receives the Oxford/AstraZeneca covid19 vaccine at an NHS vaccination middle in Ealing, west London

NEIL HALL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

12 February

Vaccinations of individuals below 70 start in England subsequent week

Vaccinators in England can now start giving covid-19 vaccines to folks aged between 65 and 69, so long as they’ve already supplied jabs to older and clinically susceptible folks within the prime precedence teams. “We have been told by NHS England that, in exceptional circumstances, where we have reached other groups, we can move on to cohort five [people aged 65 to 69],” an nameless physician informed the Guardian. Throughout the UK, 14 million folks had acquired a primary dose of covid-19 vaccine as of 12 February – equal to about 20 per cent of the entire inhabitants.

Infections fall throughout the UK

Coronavirus infections appear to be falling throughout the UK. The Office for National Statistics estimates that about one in 80 folks in England had covid-19 within the week as much as 6 February, down from one in 65 folks the earlier week. In Wales, Northern Eire and Scotland the equal figures for the newest week are roughly one in 85, one in 75 and one in 150 folks respectively, all down from the earlier week’s figures. The newest official estimate of the R quantity – the common variety of folks every particular person with coronavirus infects – places it between 0.7 and 0.9  for the UK as a complete, indicating the nation’s epidemic is shrinking. 

Neil Ferguson at Imperial School London, who advises the UK authorities as a part of the New and Rising Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, stated lockdowns have helped drive down instances. “They’re basically halving about every 17 days at the moment,” he told Politico’s Westminster Insider podcast. Ferguson stated it is perhaps doable to reopen no less than main colleges in a month’s time. “And if we continue to see then a continued decline without large outbreaks, then perhaps starting to relax other aspects of society the following month,” he added. UK prime minister Boris Johnson has stated discussions on reopening colleges will occur within the week beginning 22 February, with colleges probably in a position to reopen from 8 March.

Different coronavirus information

Germany is imposing strict new border controls resulting from concern over coronavirus variants, with a ban on journey into the nation from the Czech Republic and Austria the place the B.1351 and B.1.1.7 variants of the virus had been discovered to be prevalent. Returning residents and sure important employees can be exempt. 

French well being authority Haute Autorite de Sante advisable that individuals who have already had covid-19 and recovered ought to only be offered a single shot of covid-19 vaccine. “The single dose of vaccine will act as a reminder,” it stated in an announcement.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 demise toll has handed 2.37 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 107 million, based on Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances can be a lot larger.

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Photo of a person's hand holding a box of medication labelled tocilizumab

A pharmacist in France shows a field of tocilizumab, which is used within the remedy of rheumatoid arthritis


11 February

Roche’s arthritis drug tocilizumab discovered to chop danger of demise amongst sufferers with extreme covid-19

The arthritis drug tocilizumab reduces the risk of death amongst severely sick covid-19 sufferers, based on findings from the RECOVERY trial, which has been testing a variety of potential therapies for the illness since March final 12 months. The examine discovered that 29 per cent of covid-19 sufferers who acquired tocilizumab died inside 28 days, in comparison with 33 per cent of those that didn’t obtain the drug. Remedy with tocilizumab – bought below the model title Actemra by Swiss firm Roche – additionally shortened the time to restoration and decreased the requirement for mechanical air flow. The trial included 2022 covid-19 sufferers randomly allotted to obtain tocilizumab along with their customary care and 2094 sufferers allotted to plain care solely, which for 82 per cent of all sufferers within the examine included remedy with a steroid, comparable to dexamethasone. Final 12 months, dexamethasone turned the first drug discovered to cut back demise charges in covid-19 sufferers. The latest outcomes point out that tocilizumab gives further advantages when used with steroids, like dexamethasone. “Used in combination, the impact is substantial,” stated Martin Landray on the College of Oxford, one of many lead investigators on the trial. “After dexamethasone (steroids), this is the most significant advance in the treatment of covid,” stated Athimalaipet Ramanan on the College of Bristol in a statement.

Different coronavirus information

The US Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) issued up to date steering saying individuals who have been “fully vaccinated” towards covid-19 are no longer advised to quarantine if they’re uncovered to somebody who exams optimistic for coronavirus. This is applicable to individuals who have had each doses of a covid-19 vaccine no less than two weeks in the past. Nonetheless, the CDC stated this doesn’t imply that absolutely vaccinated people ought to cease taking precautions and added that individuals who had their pictures three months in the past or extra ought to nonetheless quarantine if they’re uncovered, because it isn’t identified how lengthy safety towards covid-19 lasts.

US well being officers are advising people in the country to consider wearing two masks on prime of one another to higher shield themselves towards coronavirus an infection. A CDC report instructed carrying a fabric masks over a disposable surgical masks or enhancing the match of a single surgical masks as ways to spice up safety.

It could take six to nine months to provide and deploy covid-19 vaccines that work towards new variants of the coronavirus, based on AstraZeneca. The UK-Swedish firm made this assertion after its present vaccine was discovered to be much less efficient towards the coronavirus variant first recognized in South Africa.

The Guardian reported that more than 40 per cent of staff on the UK’s largest care residence supplier haven’t acquired any doses of covid-19 vaccine.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 demise toll has handed 2.35 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 107 million, based on Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances can be a lot larger.

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A woman is pictured sitting on a chair, holding a coronavirus test kit

A lady takes a coronavirus take a look at at a brief testing facility in London, UK

Hollie Adams/Getty Pictures

10 February

Chills, lack of urge for food, headache and muscle ache linked to covid-19 in new examine

New symptoms have been linked to covid-19 in sure age teams, together with chills, lack of urge for food, headache and muscle ache, in Imperial College London’s REACT study. The 4 new signs had been recognized by researchers via random swab testing and questioning of greater than 1,000,000 folks in England, performed between June 2020 and January 2021. The researchers discovered an affiliation between testing optimistic for the coronavirus and reporting any of those new signs or different signs beforehand linked to covid-19, comparable to a persistent cough, fever or a loss or change in sense of style or odor. 

The extra signs folks had, the extra probably they had been to check optimistic, though there was some variation in signs throughout completely different age teams. Chills had been linked with an infection throughout all age teams, whereas complications had been reported primarily in kids aged 5-17, urge for food loss in adults over 18 and muscle aches in these aged 18-54. Contaminated 5-17 12 months olds had been additionally much less prone to report experiencing fever, persistent cough and urge for food loss, as compared with adults.

The REACT examine additionally checked out whether or not reported signs modified earlier than and after the B.1.1.7 variant turned the dominant variant within the UK. It discovered that signs had been largely comparable, regardless of the elevated prevalence of B.1.1.7. Nonetheless, loss or change of sense of odor was much less predictive of getting covid-19 in January when B.1.1.7 accounted for about 86 per cent of infections, in contrast with November to December when it was 16 per cent. “As the epidemic progresses and new variants emerge, it’s essential that we keep monitoring how the virus affects people so that testing programmes meet changing needs,” stated Joshua Elliott, one of many researchers behind the examine at Imperial School London, in an announcement.

Different coronavirus information

Folks within the UK are going to need to “get used to the idea of vaccinating and revaccinating in the autumn as we face these new variants”, UK prime minister Boris Johnson told parliament on 10 February. A number of vaccine producers have confirmed that they’re already engaged on new variations of their covid-19 vaccines to ensure they continue to be efficient. The UK authorities not too long ago introduced a partnership with producer CureVac to quickly manufacture new vaccines in response to new coronavirus variants if wanted. “We believe that they may help us to develop vaccines that can respond at scale to new variants of the virus,” stated Johnson.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said he doesn’t assume the B.1351 coronavirus variant first recognized in South Africa “is going to be a dominant issue in the next few months”. Talking on BBC Information, Van-Tam stated 90 per cent of instances within the UK for the time being are attributable to the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in Kent.

South Africa is considering selling or exchanging its doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine, based on the nation’s well being minister. Plans to start out administering the jabs had been placed on maintain this week after a small, preliminary examine indicated it could not shield towards delicate or reasonable covid-19 attributable to the B.1.351 variant.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 demise toll has handed 2.34 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 107 million, based on Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances can be a lot larger.

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Peter Ben Embarek, a member of the WHO-China joint study team, gestures with his hand as he answers a question during a press conference

Peter Ben Embarek solutions questions on the WHO-China joint examine press convention in Wuhan, China on 9 February

Xinhua Information Company/PA Pictures

9 February

WHO group in China is investigating idea that coronavirus was unfold via frozen meals

The World Well being Group (WHO) mission in Wuhan, China has ruled out the possibility that the coronavirus originated in a laboratory, however the group is investigating whether or not the virus got here from frozen meals, probably from outdoors China. The investigation group chief Peter Ben Embarek stated the virus appears to have originated in bats, as initially thought, however it was most likely transmitted to people by way of an unknown intermediate species, probably a lifeless or frozen animal meals product. Embarek stated it’s “extremely unlikely” that the virus escaped from a lab. The WHO mission arrived in China in January and spent 4 weeks researching the origin of the coronavirus with website visits to the Huanan seafood market, initially suspected because the supply of the virus, in addition to the laboratories on the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was additionally being investigated as a possible supply. It introduced its preliminary findings at a press briefing in Wuhan on 9 February. 

Different coronavirus information

Folks arriving in England who’re required to quarantine in inns can be charged a fee of £1750 to cowl the price of their keep, transport and coronavirus exams, UK well being minister Matt Hancock introduced. Individuals who fail to quarantine face fines of as much as £10,000, whereas those that lie on their passenger locator types about visiting any of 33 “red list” countries resist 10 years in jail. Hancock stated comparable measures are being checked out for the devolved nations. “People who flout these rules are putting us all at risk,” he informed parliament on Tuesday. He additionally confirmed that an enhanced testing regime for all arrivals would begin on 15 February, from which level all arrivals can be required to get examined for the coronavirus on the second and eighth days of their 10-day quarantine interval.

Additional covid-19 testing will begin in parts of Greater Manchester within the UK, following the invention of 4 folks contaminated with a mutated model of the B.1.1.7 variant, first recognized in Kent. The 4 folks, from two separate households in Higher Manchester, had been discovered to be contaminated with a virus carrying the E484K mutation. The mutation is regarding, as there’s proof that some covid-19 vaccines could also be much less efficient towards the B.1.351 variant, often known as the “South Africa variant”, which has the identical mutation.  

The NHS covid-19 app has told 1.7 million people in England and Wales to self-isolate since its launch in September. A preliminary analysis by researchers on the College of Oxford and the Alan Turing Institute signifies 594,000 coronavirus instances have been prevented by the app. The app has had about 21.7 million downloads, though inside information suggests about 16.5 million persons are at the moment actively utilizing its contact-tracing device, based on the BBC.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 demise toll has handed 2.32 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 106 million, based on Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances can be a lot larger.

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South Africa variant: South Africa paused its rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine because it won’t be efficient towards the South African B.1.351 coronavirus variant – however it’s nonetheless prone to restrict the severity of covid-19.

A person wearing a face mask leans out of a car window to get vaccinated

An individual receives a covid-19 vaccine at a drive-through vaccination centre in St Albans, UK

REUTERS/Paul Childs

8 February

Researchers are investigating methods to switch covid-19 vaccines to deal with the South Africa variant and others that emerge

UK ministers say work is underway to tweak existing covid-19 vaccines to tackle new variants of the coronavirus together with the B.1.351 coronavirus variant, generally known as the “South Africa variant”. On 6 February, a small, preliminary examine was reported to show that the Oxford/AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine could not shield towards delicate or reasonable covid-19 attributable to B.1.351. At the very least 147 instances of this variant have now been detected within the UK. “Our brilliant scientists and medical advisers are now working on the potential for new versions of existing vaccines to offer further protections against covid variants,” Nadhim Zahawi, minister for covid-19 vaccine deployment, wrote within the Telegraph. As a precaution, South Africa – the place the variant accounts for about 90 per cent of recent coronavirus instances – has put its rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on hold. Nonetheless, the examine, which has not but been printed or peer-reviewed, was comparatively small and didn’t take a look at the impression of the vaccine on extreme illness or demise.

Sarah Gilbert on the College of Oxford, one of many lead vaccine researchers on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, stated a modified model that’s efficient towards the South Africa variant may very well be able to deploy within the autumn. “What we’re seeing from other vaccine developers is that they have a reduction in efficacy against some of the variant viruses,” Gilbert informed the BBC’s Andrew Marr Present on 7 February, including that though vaccines could also be much less efficient at decreasing instances with new variants, they nonetheless seem like protecting towards demise, hospitalisation and extreme illness. Different covid-19 vaccine producers are additionally engaged on new variations of their vaccines to ensure they continue to be efficient. “We’re very confident in all the vaccines that we are using, and I think it’s important for people to bear in mind that all of them, we think, are effective in delivering a high degree of protection against serious illness and death, which is the most important thing,” stated UK prime minister Boris Johnson, in an interview with Sky News on 8 February. “We will be continuing to study the results, the effectiveness, of the vaccine rollout.”

Different coronavirus information

All folks dwelling within the UK can be eligible to receive a covid-19 vaccine no matter whether or not they have the authorized proper to work and reside within the nation, the UK authorities stated on 8 February. “Coronavirus vaccines will be offered to everyone living in the UK free of charge, regardless of immigration status,” a authorities spokesperson informed Reuters. The federal government stated getting the vaccine wouldn’t set off immigration checks.

Eire stated it can crack down on travellers returning to the UK from the Center East by way of Eire to keep away from not too long ago launched quarantine guidelines. The variety of folks travelling to Dublin from Dubai has risen for the reason that UK added the United Arab Emirates to its journey ban checklist in January.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 demise toll has handed 2.31 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 106 million, based on Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances can be a lot larger.

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Three people wearing face coverings sit on chairs in a waiting area

Folks wait to obtain the Oxford/AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine at Copes pharmacy in Streatham, England

Dan Kitwood/Getty Pictures

5 February

Early outcomes counsel the Oxford covid-19 vaccine works towards B.1.1.7 virus variant

Preliminary outcomes point out that the covid-19 vaccine developed by the College of Oxford and AstraZeneca is effective against the highly transmissible coronavirus variant B.1.1.7, which was first detected within the UK. Researchers on the College of Oxford analysed swabs from vaccine trial members who had examined optimistic for the coronavirus between 1 October 2020 and 14 January 2021, to find out the variant of the virus with which they’d been contaminated. They discovered comparable efficacy charges of the vaccine towards the B.1.1.7 variant (74.6 per cent efficient) and the unique virus (84 per cent efficient). That is although these contaminated with the B.1.1.7 variant produced fewer antibodies that would neutralise the virus. The outcomes had been released online as a pre-print and haven’t been peer-reviewed.

Vaccine researchers are investigating methods to switch present covid-19 vaccines quickly to make sure continued safety towards different new variants as nicely. “We are working with AstraZeneca to optimise the pipeline required for a strain change should one become necessary,” stated Sarah Gilbert on the College of Oxford in a statement. “This is the same issue that is faced by all of the vaccine developers, and we will continue to monitor the emergence of new variants that arise in readiness for a future strain change,” she stated. “All viruses accumulate mutations over time, and for influenza vaccines there is a well-known process of global viral surveillance, and selection of strains for an annual update of the vaccines.”

Different coronavirus information

Coronavirus instances appear to be falling in most of the UK. The latest outcomes from a random swab testing survey by the Office for National Statistics point out optimistic exams had been falling in England, Scotland and Northern Eire within the week as much as 30 January. New infections throughout the UK as a complete are estimated to be falling by between 2 and 5 per cent every day, and the newest official estimate for the UK’s R quantity – the common variety of folks every coronavirus case infects – places it between 0.7 and 1.0. That is most certainly to signify the scenario two to a few weeks in the past, resulting from a time lag within the information. The UK authorities stated it goals for all people aged 50 and above to have been supplied a covid-19 vaccine by Could, clarifying earlier feedback by a spokesperson for UK prime minister Boris Johnson who on 4 February stated the federal government’s goal was “spring”.

Johnson & Johnson applied for an emergency use authorisation from the US Meals and Drug Administration for its covid-19 vaccine. The corporate introduced final week that the single-dose vaccine had an efficacy of about 66 per cent in part III trials. If accredited, it will change into the third covid-19 vaccine authorised for emergency use within the US, after these developed by Pfizer and its companion BioNTech and by Moderna.

Israel introduced it will ease lockdown restrictions from 7 am native time on 7 February however will hold its borders closed, after a slight discount in coronavirus instances. Virtually 80 per cent of people over 50 in Israel have acquired a covid-19 vaccine to date. The nation is vaccinating its 9 million residents at the next fee than every other nation.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 demise toll has handed 2.28 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 105 million, based on Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances can be a lot larger.

A person wearing personal protective equipment holds a vaccine vial and syringe between their fingers

A health care provider prepares to manage the Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Salisbury Cathedral in Salisbury, UK

NEIL HALL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

4 February

UK plans to check impact of giving one dose every of the Pfizer and Astrazeneca covid-19 vaccines

A UK trial is aiming to research the impression of giving people two different covid-19 vaccines for his or her first and second doses. With the ability to use both vaccine will create extra flexibility within the supply of doses, and assist cope with disruption in provides, stated England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam. He said combining two completely different vaccines on this approach might additionally enhance immune responses, probably main to higher safety towards covid-19. The trial, which is being led by researchers on the College of Oxford and funded by the UK authorities’s vaccine taskforce, will recruit 820 volunteers over the age of fifty who haven’t but acquired a covid-19 vaccine. Individuals will then obtain a primary dose of both the vaccine developed by the College of Oxford and AstraZeneca or the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. A few of them will get the identical vaccine once more for his or her second dose 4 or 12 weeks later and others will get a second dose of the opposite vaccine, to check the impact of mixing the 2 pictures and of various time intervals between doses. 

UK vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi stated the country is on track to meet its target of vaccinating all folks within the 4 precedence teams towards covid-19 by 15 February. He informed parliament it has been “an incredible effort” that has “drawn on the hard work of so many”. Final month, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated the UK authorities goals to have given a primary dose of covid-19 vaccine to all these over 70, probably the most clinically susceptible folks and frontline well being and social care employees by 15 February – equal to about 15 million folks. Throughout the UK, more than 10.4 million people had acquired a primary dose of covid-19 vaccine as of 4 February.

Different coronavirus information

Worldwide travel was associated with increased death rates within the worst-affected nations in the course of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, based on a examine printed within the scientific journal BMJ Open. Tiberiu Pana on the College of Aberdeen, UK, and colleagues analysed the connection between country-level elements – comparable to worldwide arrivals, inhabitants density and well being indicators – and the common improve in every day deaths recorded in early 2020 throughout the 37 nations with the very best demise charges from covid-19. They discovered that the largest improve in demise charges was related to worldwide arrivals. A rise of 1,000,000 worldwide arrivals was related to a 3.4 per cent rise within the common every day improve in covid-19 deaths.

A World Well being Group scientist has stated society is unlikely to return to “normal” until 2022. “I think we are going to be well into next year before we see a change – that change is likely to be caused by high coverage of the vaccines,” stated Helen Rees, who sits on the WHO’s committee for covid-19. “I think this new normal we all talk about is with us for a very long time,” Rees informed BBC Wales Dwell.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 demise toll has handed 2.27 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 104 million, based on Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances can be a lot larger.

Newest on coronavirus from New Scientist

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Royal Navy medics prepare syringes of the Oxford/AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre

Royal Navy medics put together syringes of the Oxford/AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Bathtub, UK

ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP by way of Getty Pictures

3 February

Covid-19 vaccine towards new variants may very well be deployed quickly, says Oxford vaccine researcher

A model of the covid-19 vaccine developed by the College of Oxford and AstraZeneca that may deal with the brand new, extremely transmissible coronavirus variants may very well be ready to deploy in about 7 months within the UK, based on a researcher on the Oxford vaccine group. “The actual work on designing a new vaccine is very, very quick because it’s essentially just switching out the genetic sequence for the spike protein,” Andrew Pollard on the College of Oxford informed the BBC. “And then there’s manufacturing to do and then a small scale study. So all of that can be completed in a very short period of time, and the autumn is really the timing for having new vaccines available for use,” he stated. Pollard stated work is already underway to replace the vaccine and improve its efficacy towards not too long ago recognized coronavirus mutations, comparable to these within the variants first sequenced within the UK and South Africa.

Preliminary outcomes counsel that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine may reduce coronavirus transmission, along with decreasing symptomatic covid-19 and extreme sickness. UK well being minister Matt Hancock praised the findings of the examine led by researchers on the College of Oxford. The outcomes point out that two doses of the jab scale back coronavirus an infection with or with out signs by 67 per cent. Additionally they counsel {that a} single dose of the vaccine is 76 per cent efficient at stopping symptomatic covid-19 for 3 months, with this determine growing to 82 per cent after two doses. Hancock described the outcomes as “absolutely superb” and stated they present that “vaccines are the way out of this pandemic”.

Different coronavirus information

A mobile coronavirus testing unit has been arrange within the city of Southport in England to check residents for the coronavirus and establish if they’ve the variant first recognized in South Africa. Firefighters and council workers are additionally delivering 10,000 residence testing kits to folks dwelling within the space.

Denmark introduced plans to introduce a digital “Corona-Pass”, which might enable Danish residents to show they’ve been vaccinated towards covid-19 for the needs of enterprise and leisure journey, based on the nation’s finance ministry.

Israel will begin increasing its covid-19 vaccination programme to everyone over the age of 16, based on its well being ministry.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 demise toll has handed 2.25 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 104 million, based on Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances can be a lot larger.

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Vaccine throughout being pregnant: With little security information accessible on covid-19 vaccines throughout being pregnant, people who’re pregnant should weigh up the dangers and advantages for themselves, whereas proof for many who are breastfeeding is extra clear.

Passengers push luggage on trolleys through a terminal at London's Heathrow airport

Travellers arrive at London’s Heathrow airport

Hollie Adams/Getty Pictures

2 February

UK science advisers advisable introduction of journey restrictions two weeks in the past

The UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) advised the government to introduce mandatory hotel quarantine for travellers arriving into the UK two weeks in the past, based on minutes from a gathering on 21 January that had been leaked to the Occasions. On Thursday 21 January, SAGE reportedly warned that “reactive, geographically targeted” journey bans couldn’t be relied on to forestall faster-spreading coronavirus variants, comparable to these recognized in South Africa and Brazil, from reaching the UK, including that: “no intervention, other than a complete, pre-emptive closure of borders, or the mandatory quarantine of all visitors upon arrival in designated facilities, irrespective of testing history, can get close to fully preventing the importation of new cases or new variants.” 

A Downing Avenue spokesperson stated SAGE didn’t straight advise UK prime minister Boris Johnson to shut borders. Universities minister Michelle Donelan told Sky News that the federal government “always based our decisions on the best medical and scientific advice” and stated “the SAGE advice actually said it would probably be ineffective, in fact, to close the borders, which was the same advice that we got at the time from the World Health Organization”. Johnson introduced geographically focused lodge quarantine measures for travellers coming back from 30 nations, together with Brazil and South Africa, final week.

UK well being minister Matt Hancock urged folks dwelling in postcodes in England singled out for enhanced coronavirus testing for the so-called South Africa variant to stay at home unless “absolutely essential”. Pressing door-to-door testing for the faster-spreading variant has been deployed after 11 instances with no hyperlink to overseas journey had been recognized in components of England.

Different coronavirus information

Interim outcomes from part III trials counsel Russia’s covid-19 vaccine is 91.6 per cent efficient, and information on the vaccine is being submitted to the European Medicines Company, based on Kirill Dmitriev, director of the Russian Direct Funding Fund. The outcomes, primarily based on a part III trial together with 21,977 adults, three-quarters of whom acquired the Sputnik V vaccine, are printed in scientific journal the Lancet. Different members acquired a placebo. 

Sweden introduced it would not recommend the covid-19 vaccine developed by the College of Oxford in partnership with AstraZeneca for folks aged over 65, hours after Poland stated it will not supply the vaccine to over 60s. Final week, medical specialists in Germany and Austria made comparable suggestions, citing an absence of knowledge on this age group. The European Medicines Company authorised the vaccine to be used in all grownup age teams throughout the European Union and June Raine, chief government of the UK Medicines and Healthcare merchandise Regulatory Company, last week said: “Current evidence does not suggest any lack of protection against covid-19 in people aged 65 or over. The data we have shows that the vaccine produces a strong immune response in the over-65s.”

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 demise toll has handed 2.24 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 103 million, based on Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances can be a lot larger.

Newest on coronavirus from New Scientist

Quicker-spreading variants: The faster-spreading UK coronavirus variant has acquired a mutation that can assist it evade immune safety – the identical mutation already discovered within the South African variant.

Article amended on 4 February 2021

We corrected June Raine’s title.

A health worker talks with a man taking a swab test in a park

A well being employee talks with a person taking a swab take a look at in Goldsworth Park, because the South African variant of the novel coronavirus is reported in components of Surrey, in Woking, UK, 1 February 2021

REUTERS/Hannah McKay

1 February

All adults in components of England to be examined for South Africa variant after 11 new instances recognized

Door-to-door testing for the so-called South Africa coronavirus variant will start in components of England this week, after 11 instances with no identified hyperlinks to journey or to earlier instances had been recognized in eight areas of the nation. Pressing testing of adults, no matter signs, will happen in some postcodes in Hertfordshire, Surrey, Kent, Walsall, Sefton and within the London boroughs of Merton, Haringey and Ealing. “We are trying to contain this so it does not spread,” Susan Hopkins, senior medical adviser at Public Well being England informed the BBC. Any newly recognized infections can be analysed to see if they’re attributable to the extremely transmissible coronavirus variant first sequenced in South Africa. 

UK well being minister Matt Hancock “has ordered an attempt at eradication of the new variant if at all possible”, with public well being officers beginning to go door-to-door in affected areas this week, based on a briefing seen by the Guardian. “This is a precautionary measure,” stated Ruth Hutchinson, director of public well being for Surrey, in an announcement. “The more cases of the variant we find, the better chance we have at stopping it from spreading further,” stated Hutchinson, including: “It’s really important to say that there is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness, so you don’t need to worry.”

Different coronavirus information

A covid-19 vaccine has now been offered to older residents at every eligible care home in England, the NHS introduced, however vaccination rates of care home staff are lagging behind residents. Fiona Carragher, director of analysis and influencing at Alzheimer’s Society informed the BBC she remained involved that the vaccination rollout for care residence workers “has not been nearly so effective”. In January, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated the UK authorities goals to vaccinate all these over 70, probably the most clinically susceptible folks and frontline well being and social care employees by 15 February – equal to about 15 million vaccinations. Throughout the UK, more than 8.9 million people had acquired a primary dose of covid-19 vaccine as of 30 January.

The European Union said AstraZeneca has agreed to produce it with 9 million further doses of its covid-19 vaccine, developed in partnership with the College of Oxford. This brings the entire variety of anticipated doses for the primary quarter of this 12 months to 40 million, which is about half of what the EU was initially anticipating. European Fee president Ursula von der Leyen tweeted saying the corporate would broaden its manufacturing capability in Europe, and begin delivering doses every week sooner than scheduled.

Germany’s well being minister Jens Spahn hinted that covid-19 vaccines from China and Russia may very well be utilized in Europe to compensate for the shortfall of doses provided by Pfizer and its companion BioNTech, and by Oxford/AstraZeneca. “Regardless of the country in which a vaccine is manufactured, if they are safe and effective, they can help cope with the pandemic,” Spahn told German media on Sunday, including that any vaccine will first have to be accredited by the European Medicines Company.

Coronavirus deaths

New Scientist Default Image

Matthew Rowett

The worldwide covid-19 demise toll has handed 2.23 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 103 million, based on Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances can be a lot larger.

Newest on coronavirus from New Scientist

Can vaccines cease transmission?: A number of research counsel that coronavirus vaccines can considerably scale back transmission of the virus, however not halt it utterly – so social distancing remains to be needed.

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A lab technician working at Janssen Pharmaceutical in Beerse, Belgium

Virginia Mayo/AP/Shutterstock

29 January

Vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax report optimistic trial outcomes

A coronavirus vaccine developed by the US agency Novavax has been proven to be 89 per cent efficient in stopping covid-19 in scientific trials. The trials included members within the UK and South Africa, and located the vaccine to be 86 per cent efficient towards the UK variant of the virus, however solely 60 per cent efficient towards the variant in South Africa. Novavax stated it can instantly start growth on a vaccine particularly focused to the South African variant.

Janssen, a subsidiary of US agency Johnson & Johnson, introduced that its covid-19 vaccine confirmed 66 per cent efficacy in a world trial. These outcomes are primarily based on a single dose of the vaccine, which makes it simpler to manage than the two-shot vaccines which have already been accredited. The corporate has stated it can promote its vaccine on a not-for-profit foundation.

The UK has already ordered 30 million doses of the Janssen vaccine and the European Union has ordered 400 million. The UK has additionally ordered 60 million doses of the Novavax jab.

Different coronavirus information

The European Medicines Company has recommended the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for all adults, which can enable mass use of the vaccine within the European Union. Yesterday, a German committee recommended against approving the vaccine for folks over 65 due to inadequate information within the trials, however the EMA’s specialists stated safety may very well be anticipated on this group and there’s dependable info on security. The vaccine is already the topic of a dispute between AstraZeneca and the EU over the agency’s resolution to produce fewer doses to the EU this 12 months than initially agreed. As we speak, the European Fee published parts of its contract with AstraZeneca, which it says obliges the corporate to produce the agreed volumes. The drug-maker says the contract solely obliges it to make its “best effort” to fulfill the EU demand, to not stick with a particular timetable. The EU additionally announced export restrictions on vaccines made throughout the bloc in response to the deliberate reduce in deliveries. 

The coronavirus variant from South Africa – which is extra infectiousness  than the unique variant has been detected within the US for the primary time, with two instances confirmed in South Carolina

The New York state authorities has released new figures exhibiting that it undercounted deaths from covid-19 in nursing residence residents by greater than 3800. The state’s total demise toll has not elevated, however the larger tally in nursing houses has fuelled criticism that governor Andrew Cuomo didn’t do sufficient to guard these residents.

Within the UK, covid-19 hospital admissions fell to 33.51 per 100,000 folks from a fee of 35.64 within the week ending 24 January, figures from the Office for National Statistics present. One in 55 folks in non-public households in England examined optimistic for covid-19 between 17 and 23 January, which has similarities to the earlier week. The an infection fee was roughly one in 70 in Wales, one in 50 in Northern Eire and one in 110 in Scotland. The R quantity for the UK is between 0.7 and 1.1, based on the latest estimate by the federal government’s scientific advisory group. The R quantity is the variety of folks every particular person with covid-19 will go on to contaminate.

Newest on coronavirus from New Scientist

World vaccine distribution: Whereas mass immunisation programmes are making fast progress in wealthy nations, many middle-income nations have solely simply begun roll-outs and most low-income ones will take months to get began. These delays improve the danger of mutations resulting in variants which might be extra transmissible,and will render vaccines much less efficient in future.

Coronavirus deaths

The worldwide covid-19 demise toll has handed 2.19 million. The variety of confirmed instances is greater than 101 million, based on Johns Hopkins University, although the true variety of instances can be a lot larger.

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