EU means business over Covid vaccine exports, says Von der Leyen

Commission president says firms must deliver on orders after AstraZeneca warns of shortfall

The EU “means business”, Ursula von der Leyen has said, as the bloc doubled down on plans for tighter monitoring of vaccine exports to countries outside of the union, such as the UK.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum, the president of the European commission said the EU had invested billions and “companies must now deliver” to the 27 member states.

Related: EU threatens to block Covid vaccine exports amid AstraZeneca shortfall

Continue reading…

German government challenges AstraZeneca Covid vaccine efficacy reports

Newspaper had reported that government was expecting European regulator’s assessment to show that vaccine was only 8% effective among over-65

The German government has challenged reports of a lower-than-expected efficacy rate of the AstraZeneca vaccine for older people, while reiterating concerns about the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant’s data reporting.

An article in German business daily Handelsblatt had reported that the German government was expecting the European Medical Agency’s (EMA) assessment to show the AstraZeneca vaccine to be only 8% effective among the over-65s, describing it a “setback for Berlin’s vaccination strategy”.

Continue reading…

Germany to administer Covid drugs used to treat Donald Trump

Country will be first in EU to use antibody cocktails after government buys 200,000 doses

Specialist clinics in Germany will this week become the first hospitals in the EU to treat Covid-19 patients with expensive and experimental antibody cocktails used to treat the former US president Donald Trump after he caught the virus last October.

“Monoclonal antibodies will be used in Germany as the first country in the EU, initially in university clinics,” the health minister, Jens Spahn, told Bild am Sonntag newspaper, confirming that his government had bought 200,000 doses for €400m (£355m).

Continue reading…

Vaccine experts call for clarity on UK’s 12-week Covid jab interval

British Society for Immunology calls for a robust programme monitoring the body’s immune response

Experts have called for greater clarity on the monitoring in place to assess the 12-week dosing interval for Covid-19 vaccines, as the row over delayed second doses continues.

The UK’s coronavirus vaccination programme was shifted late last year to prioritise administering the first dose of jabs to as many at-risk people as possible. As a result, the interval between the two doses of the jab was increased to up to 12 weeks.

Related: Doctors call for shorter gap between Pfizer Covid vaccine doses in UK

Continue reading…

Vaccine experts call for clarity on UK’s 12-week Covid jab interval

British Society for Immunology calls for a robust programme monitoring the body’s immune response

Experts have called for greater clarity on the monitoring in place to assess the 12-week dosing interval for Covid-19 vaccines, as the row over delayed second doses continues.

The UK’s coronavirus vaccination programme was shifted late last year to prioritise administering the first dose of jabs to as many at-risk people as possible. As a result, the interval between the two doses of the jab was increased to up to 12 weeks.

Related: Doctors call for shorter gap between Pfizer Covid vaccine doses in UK

Continue reading…

I’ve had my first vaccine jab. It gives me hope of liberation… but not yet

Exactly a year after his first story about coronavirus, our science editor received the Pfizer injection last week. Here he reflects on a remarkable scientific achievement

I marked a grim anniversary in an unexpected manner last week. On 18 January last year, I wrote my first story about a mysterious disease that had struck Wuhan, in China, and which was now spreading around the world. More than two million individuals have since died of Covid-19, almost 100,000 of them in the UK.

Remarkably, 12 months to the day that the Observer published my story, I was given my first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, allowing me to follow nearly six million other newly immunised UK residents who are set to gain protection against a disease that has brought the planet to a standstill. It was a rare, comforting experience after a year of unremitting sadness and gloom.

Related: World’s poor need action, not Covid ‘vaccine nationalism’, say experts

Related: The pandemic one year on: 100,000 dead in the UK from coronavirus

Related: UK bosses set up IT systems to track Covid vaccine status of staff

Continue reading…

WHO platform for pharmaceutical firms unused since pandemic began

Exclusive: ‘pool’ to share Covid-19 information has received no contributions since May 2020

A World Health Organization program for pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily share Covid-19 related knowledge, treatments and technology so they can be more widely distributed has attracted zero contributions in the eight months since it was established, the Guardian has learned.

The Covid-19 technology access pool (C-Tap) was launched in May last year to facilitate the sharing of patent-protected information to fight the virus, including diagnostics, therapeutics and trial data. The “pooling” of treatments and data would allow qualified manufacturers from around the world to produce critical equipment, drugs or vaccines without fear of prosecution for breaching patents.

Related: Global immunisation: low-income countries rush to access Covid vaccine supply

Continue reading…

UK to face short term delay in delivery of Pfizer vaccine

Overall number of doses delivered between January and March will remain the same, the firm says

The UK is set to face short-term delays in delivery of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine as the pharmaceutical company upgrades its production capacity.

Pfizer is upscaling production at its plant in Puurs, Belgium, in efforts to produce more doses than originally planned for 2021 – temporarily reducing deliveries to all European countries.

Continue reading…

Second shots of Covid vaccine could be delayed further in England

Evidence growing that spacing doses of Pfizer vaccine improves effectiveness

Second shots of coronavirus vaccine could be delayed even further amid growing evidence that spacing out the doses improves their effectiveness.

The NHS vaccination programme aims to immunise about 14 million people at greatest risk of Covid by mid-February with second doses due to be given up to 12 weeks later.

Related: Vaccine supply is holding back jabs programme, says Matt Hancock

Continue reading…

Britain could be mass-producing its Covid shot. Shame we junked our industrial base | Aditya Chakrabortty

The dire state of UK manufacturing has left us dependent on other nations. We may soon find out why some call this a ‘national security risk’

Everything now hinges on a vaccine: how many more Britons die, whether the NHS finally breaks, how long the UK stays locked down. All depends on how fast the country can get vaccinated against this plague. Yet we’re in this position in large part because of government failure. When the prime minister imposes lockdowns late and with a sulky grumble; when we haven’t fixed our £22bn test-and-trace system (which, by the way, now bankrolls more outside consultants and contractors than the Treasury has actual civil servants); and when the Dominics and Stanleys are allowed to carry on as if rules are for the little people. If Boris Johnson blunts every political instrument he can lay his pale and meaty hands on, pretty soon a syringe is the only resort.

Vaccines were always going to be how the world limped out of this pandemic; but as Taiwan and New Zealand show, even without inoculation it is possible to drive the number of Covid cases significantly down. Compare their record with the UK – which is on course to hit 100,000 Covid-related deaths before January is out, and where a staggering one in 30 Londoners is today infected. The lecterns from which Johnson and his top advisers gave their press conference this week read “Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives” – exactly as they did at the start of all this last March, as if to confirm how little progress they have made in almost a year.

Related: For mRNA vaccines, we should stick to the schedule | Angela Rasmussen and Ilan Schwartz

Continue reading…

UK vaccine minister vows ‘massive uplift’ in number of jabs this week

Nadhim Zahawi says ‘absolute focus’ is to get 13.9 million people inoculated by mid-February

The UK vaccine minister, Nadhim Zahawi, has pledged a “massive uplift” in the number of coronavirus vaccinations carried out this week as he said reaching the government’s target of 13.9m jabs offered by February would be “challenging”.

Zahawi, the minister responsible for the vaccine rollout, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “My absolute focus is to get to 13.9 million … offered a vaccine by the middle of February, that is my target and I’m confident the NHS has a plan and we will meet that target.”

The government’s joint committee on vaccination and immunisation has published a list of groups of people who will be prioritised to receive a vaccine for Covid-19 in the UK. The list is:

Related: What obstacles stand in the way of UK’s Covid vaccine rollout?

Continue reading…

Medical Writing Landscape Advancement Summit | Virtual

The Lincoln Health Network is excited to announce our 2nd Medical Writing Landscape Advancement Summit, March 3-4, 2021. Join us virtually, on the LHN virtual event platform to improve your medical writing strategies by understanding evolving regulatory protocols and submission guidelines, and learn how to improve quality and content optimizations. Visit our website for our frequently updated conference agenda, list of speakers, and pricing details. The earlier you register, the more money you save!

We look forward to seeing you online!

Interested in Speaking? Please contact Scott Grossman at [email protected]

Interested in Sponsoring? Please contact Kelly Hara at [email protected]

For any registration related inquiries or for more info on group discounts, please contact Jessica Vargas at [email protected]

TOPICS TO BE ADDRESSED:

  • Project Management Best Practices for Compliant and Timely project completion
  • Scientific Publications best practices
  • Implementation of AI into automation writing
  • Quality improvement by developing SOPs
  • Ensuring high-quality medical publications through study design
  • Hurdles and Benefits of cross-functional applications
  • Impact of lay summaries
  • Develop a road map for navigating protected data
  • Impact of redefining medical writing processes
  • Utilize plain language processes to stakeholder communications

The post Medical Writing Landscape Advancement Summit | Virtual appeared first on .

Analysis: is it wise for England to mix and match Covid vaccines?

US experts warn against plan to give different second jab if supplies run low

The UK is setting the pace around the world in the approval and use of Covid vaccines but, while other countries watch intently, not all are yet prepared to embrace what looks like public health pragmatism rather than strict adherence to evidence.

Britain is the first country in the world to approve and use the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, just as it was first with Pfizer/BioNTech’s. In a further trailblazing decision, it is giving everyone a first shot of either of those vaccines, with the second shot delayed to 12 weeks afterwards instead of the three- or four-week interval in the trials.

Continue reading…

What difference will Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine make in UK?

We look at how the introduction of a new vaccine in the fight against Covid will work

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is central to the government’s plans for ending social distancing in the UK and returning to some sort of normality. It has invested in seven different vaccines, but the biggest order is for 100m doses of the AstraZeneca jab, most of which will be manufactured in the UK. While the prime minister was jubilant that the UK was first in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, he is now able to claim a British triumph. More to the point is the ease of use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Unlike Pfizer’s, it does not have to be kept in the long term at -70C. Pfizer’s vaccine can be stored in a fridge for five days, but AstraZeneca’s can be kept for months at fridge temperature, which is 2-8C and will be easy to take to care homes to administer to residents, the first priority group for vaccination.

Related: BioNTech criticises EU failure to order enough Covid vaccine

Related: World leaders urged to make Covid vaccine available to millions of refugees

Continue reading…

Change in vaccine policy is a high-stakes gamble | Letters

The effectiveness of delaying the second dose of Covid vaccines must be carefully monitored, argues Dr Grizelda George, while Jan Mortimer and Jenny van Tinteren fear the move will increase distrust and uncertainty

The manufacturer of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has said its efficacy has only been assessed for two doses given three weeks apart. Therefore the idea that a single dose will be protective beyond three weeks is speculative (Covid vaccine: chief medical officers defend rescheduling of second doses, 31 December). It would be truly tragic to vaccinate millions of recipients with the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine (at considerable effort and financial cost) with a twelve-week gap between doses if this doesn’t give them protection.

It is worth noting that there is likely to be a correlation between the antibody response and protection from infection. Therefore volunteers who have already completed two doses could be asked to give a small sample of blood to check the level of neutralising antibodies present four weeks from the first dose. Recipients whose second dose has been postponed after 4 January could give a similar sample from 11 January onwards to check their levels at the four-week point. A relatively small number of volunteers (perhaps 20 or 30 in each group) might settle this.

Continue reading…

Questions hang over UK’s rollout of Oxford/AstraZeneca jab

Analysis: regulator surprises by approving 12-week gap between first and second shots of vaccine as well as Pfizer/BioNTech shot

It’s a pragmatic solution to an incredibly urgent problem – how to immunise very large numbers of people at risk from a rampaging variant of Covid-19 in the shortest possible time. The answer that government advisers have come up with is to give them all – more than 20 million of them – a single shot of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine so that they have some protection and postpone the second dose to three months afterwards, when hopefully there will be plenty of vaccine available for boosters.

Related: How well does the Oxford vaccine work? What we know so far

Related: The vaccine miracle: how scientists waged the battle against Covid-19

Continue reading…

UK scientists trial drug to prevent coronavirus infection leading to disease

Exclusive: antibody therapy could confer instant immunity against Covid-19 to at-risk groups

British scientists are trialling a new drug that could prevent someone who has been exposed to coronavirus from going on to develop the disease Covid-19, which experts say could save many lives.

The antibody therapy would confer instant immunity against the disease and could be given as an emergency treatment to hospital inpatients and care home residents to help contain outbreaks.

Continue reading…

Government ‘operated illegal buy British policy’ over Covid contracts

Other firms better placed to supply antibody tests, argues case against health secretary Matt Hancock

The government was operating an illegal “buy British” policy when it signed contracts with a small UK firm to supply Covid antibody tests, claim lawyers who have filed a case against the health secretary.

The Good Law Project said there were a number of other companies in a better position to supply antibody tests in June and August, when the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) agreed deals worth up to £80m with Abingdon Health without going out to tender.

Continue reading…

British American Tobacco wins approval to test Covid vaccine on humans

Treatment grown on tobacco plants gets US backing for clinical study

British American Tobacco has moved a step closer to producing a vaccine for coronavirus using tobacco plants, as it won approval in the US to begin testing on humans.

The company behind cigarette brands including Lucky Strike, Rothmans and Benson & Hedges said the US Food & Drug Administration had given it clearance to begin a clinical study with adult volunteers.

Continue reading…

Can the UK deliver on the Covid vaccine rollout? | Stephen Buranyi

The challenge of delivering vaccines on this scale are hard, but are firmly within the world of logistics, engineering, and politics

The UK has become the first country to approve one of the coronavirus vaccines that the entire world has been desperately waiting for. And on Tuesday it delivered the first dose, to 90-year-old Margaret Keenan in Coventry. We should be very pleased about this. But, as with every other stage of the pandemic, the final stretch brings a new set of unprecedented challenges. The world is watching as the UK becomes the first test case of our collective ability to manufacture, ship, and deliver an entirely new class of vaccines, on a scale and speed that no previous vaccination drive in history has ever approached.

The thing everyone knows about the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is that it needs to be extremely cold. The mRNA that makes up the vaccine payload is the same stuff your cells use to send short-lived genetic instructions. It’s a messenger that isn’t supposed to stick around, as temporally fragile as a Snap on Snapchat. The vaccine is happiest at -70C, and after thawing can be kept at between 4C and -8C – the temperature of a regular fridge – for just five days before it degrades. Most logistics providers aren’t set up to ship at -70C, and while university labs and large hospitals generally have some -70C freezers, GP surgeries and smaller centres do not. The temperature for shipping and storage has been identified as one of the biggest challenges in getting this vaccine out.

The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid jab is an mRNA vaccine. Essentially, mRNA is a molecule used by living cells to turn the gene sequences in DNA into the proteins that are the building blocks of all their fundamental structures. A segment of DNA gets copied (“transcribed”) into a piece of mRNA, which in turn gets “read” by the cell’s tools for synthesising proteins.

Stephen Buranyi is a writer specialising in science and the environment

Continue reading…

Covid vaccines: US regulator sceptical over AstraZeneca model

Vaccine developed in Oxford criticised by FDA with efficacy rates and trials delaying official take-up

For a man presenting landmark results from trials of a vaccine that it is hoped will save the world from a devastating pandemic, Sir Menelas Pangalos did not look cheerful on Wednesday.

Pangalos, executive vice-president of biopharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca, and his colleagues are undoubtedly exhausted, having been working round the clock on the coronavirus vaccine with Oxford University since April. But they are now dealing with a sizeable new headache – the doubts of the US regulator.

Continue reading…

NHS told not to give Pfizer vaccine to extreme allergy sufferers after two people have reaction

Anyone scheduled to receive vaccine will be asked about history of allergic reactions

Regulators have issued a warning that people who have a history of “significant” allergic reactions should not currently receive the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine after two people who had the jab on Tuesday had allergic reactions.

Two NHS staff members who received the vaccine on the first day of the mass vaccination programme experienced an allergic reaction, the NHS in England has confirmed.

Continue reading…

Covid-19 vaccine ‘very safe and highly effective’, UK health chief says

Vaccine safety message ‘vitally important’, head of medicines regulator tells Andrew Marr Show

Public health messaging that people can have faith in the safety of coronavirus vaccines is “vitally important”, the leader of the body that has approved the Pfizer jab has said.

Dr June Raine, the chief executive of the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said of the Pfizer treatment that there “should be no doubt whatever that this is a very safe and highly effective vaccine”.

Related: The vaccine miracle: how scientists waged the battle against Covid-19

Continue reading…

The vaccine miracle: how scientists waged the battle against Covid-19

We trace the extraordinary research effort, from the discovery of the virus’s structure to the start of inoculations this week

In the early afternoon of 3 January this year, a small metal box was delivered to the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre addressed to virus expert Prof Zhang Yongzhen. Inside, packed in dry ice, were swabs from a patient who was suffering from a novel, occasionally fatal respiratory illness that was sweeping the city of Wuhan. Exactly what was causing terrifying rises in case numbers, medical authorities wanted to know? And how was the disease being spread?

Related: ‘I worked so hard in the lab. I cried when the news came’

What Zhang did was critical … Without the information he provided no one could have started working on vaccines

Related: Team behind Oxford Covid jab start final stage of malaria vaccine trials

Related: NHS staff no longer at front of queue for Covid vaccine after rethink

Continue reading…

Covid vaccines offer chance for big pharma to improve its image

They make life-saving medicines, but no one likes them. Could this year be a turning point?

Never before has the world awaited a new medicine with such bated breath. A vaccine for Covid-19 has the potential to unlock society and save millions of people from death and serious disease, and the hero of the hour is an industry that is often regarded with disdain.

“Traditionally and historically, public trust in pharma has been comparable to the trust they put in their broadband provider,” said Alex Davies, a healthcare PR expert at Hanover Communications, which counts many drug companies as clients.

Continue reading…

How does the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine work and who will get it?

Covid vaccine with an efficacy of almost 95% has been authorised by the UK medicines regulator

The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine, which has an efficacy of almost 95%, has been authorised by the UK medicines regulator, making the UK the first western country to license a vaccine against the disease. The UK has 40m doses of this vaccine on order.

Continue reading…

Oxford controversy is the first shot in international battle over vaccine efficiency

Trials will not reveal all the facts on prevention for each new drug – that process could last for years

In a few days, researchers plan to solve a medical mystery that threatens to erupt into a major transatlantic battle. Scientists at Oxford University say they intend to publish full, peer-reviewed data, in the journal Lancet, about trials they have completed on their Covid-19 vaccine.

The information, they say, should end mounting controversy about the vaccine’s effectiveness and explain apparent inconsistencies in trial results. Opponents, most of them American, say this is unlikely, and insist new phase 3 trials now need to be restarted from scratch to restore confidence in the vaccine.

Continue reading…

Different age groups may get different Covid vaccines, experts say

Oxford/AstraZeneca planning new trial of lower-dose jab to see how well it works in older people

Concerns around the efficacy of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca coronavirus jab in older people could lead to different age groups being given different vaccines, experts have said.

The partners announced last week that the vaccine had a 70% efficacy overall. For most trial participants – given two full doses, spaced a month apart – the efficacy was 62%, but for 3,000 participants mistakenly given half a dose for their first jab, the efficacy was 90%. No participants, regardless of dosing, developed severe Covid or were hospitalised with the disease.

Continue reading…

BioNTech’s Covid vaccine is a triumph of innovation and immigration | Hans-Werner Sinn

Pioneered by a Turkish-German couple, its significance exceeds its practical value

The world took note when the German startup BioNTech announced its breakthrough in the development of a new type of vaccine to combat Covid-19. After testing tens of thousands of people, BioNTech’s vaccine has been shown to be 95% effective in providing protection for those who would otherwise have been infected. The company was the first to apply for emergency use authorisation for a coronavirus vaccine in the US and it has announced it will soon take similar steps in Europe.

Antiviral vaccines are usually made with devitalised viral materials fabricated outside the body but BioNTech has pursued a new method of injecting genetically modified RNA into the patient. This prompts the patient’s cells to produce a characteristic protein of the relevant Sars-CoV-2 virus themselves, enabling the body’s immune system to build up an effective response before it encounters the real virus.

Related: Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci: German ‘dream team’ behind vaccine

Continue reading…

Here’s how to tackle the Covid-19 anti-vaxxers | Will Hanmer-Lloyd

Do not demonise. To optimise the vaccine rollout, all of us must show respect to those who are unsure about inoculations

  • Will Hanmer-Lloyd is a behavioural strategist

The Covid-19 vaccines, which are up to 95% effective, have the potential to save millions of lives in the UK and many more around the world.

Yet creating the vaccines is just the first step. We now need to produce them as quickly as possible, work out the logistics of distribution and administration and – most importantly – ensure as many people as possible take them. And as the history of vaccines shows, that is not as easy as some might assume. You only have to look at the fall in uptake of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine after it was falsely linked with autism.

Related: Vaccine results bring us a step closer to ending Covid, says Oxford scientist

Related: Covid vaccine tracker: when will a coronavirus vaccine be ready?

Continue reading…

A vaccine revolution | podcast

Results from clinical trials have shown that the world has three apparently highly effective vaccines for Covid-19. With the race now on for regulatory approval, production and distribution, is the end of the pandemic within reach?

After a gruelling year of successive waves of Covid-19 infections and national lockdowns there has been a burst of good news this month, with three separate vaccine candidates performing extremely well in clinical trials.

First, Pfizer and Moderna announced that their vaccines were testing at an efficacy of around 95%. Then came the news that the AstraZeneca vaccine (the one pre-ordered in bulk by the UK government) was hitting 90%. It marks not just a new phase in the Covid-19 pandemic but potentially a revolution in vaccine technology itself.

Continue reading…

Vaccine results bring us a step closer to ending Covid, says Oxford scientist

Latest breakthrough comes as PM says he hopes most at-risk could be immunised by Easter

The world is moving a step closer to ending the coronavirus pandemic, the scientist behind Britain’s first vaccine has declared, as Boris Johnson said he hoped the majority of those most at-risk could be immunised by Easter.

Successful trial results for the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine, suggesting it could protect up to 90% of people, are the third set of promising findings in as many weeks. Before this year, there had never been a vaccine for a coronavirus.

The UK government’s joint committee on vaccination and immunisation has published a list of groups of people who will be prioritised to receive a vaccine for Covid-19. The list is:

Continue reading…

‘It’s a great day’: Oxford coronavirus vaccine volunteers on trial data

Trial participants react to news that Oxford AstraZeneca Covid vaccine has up to 90% efficacy

Dan McAteer describes his reaction more as a sense of relief than elation when his phone pinged on Monday morning with a push alert reporting that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine has up to 90% efficacy.

Several months on from becoming one of thousands of volunteers in trials of the Covid-19 vaccine, the 23-year-old student is trying to comprehend the news that people could be vaccinated as early as next month

Related: Oxford AstraZeneca Covid vaccine: everything we know so far

Continue reading…

Oxford AstraZeneca results open up Covid vaccine to developing countries

Jab can be kept in fridge and is part of global initiative to distribute doses at limited cost

The efficacy of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine opens the way for a cheap and more easily transportable vaccine to be made available to some of the world’s poorest countries.

Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, AstraZeneca’s experimental vaccine is already a part of Covax, the global initiative which hopes to distribute some 2bn doses to 92 low- and middle-income countries at a maximum cost of $3 a dose.

Related: Latest vaccine success is good news but high price may restrict access

Continue reading…

The Guardian view on coronavirus and vaccine scepticism: time to act | Editorial

Plans for mass immunisation against Covid-19 are developing fast, but concerns must be addressed

In the 1960s, academics studying rumours drew inspiration from epidemiology. They noted how such stories spread through communities, “infecting” some individuals while others seemed immune, and how more resistant populations could stop their spread.

Their insights have in turn been taken up by health professionals. Hearsay can be useful, helping to catch disease outbreaks. It can also be deadly. Though vaccine hesitancy is as old as vaccines themselves, it has risen sharply in many countries in recent years. Unfounded scare stories about the safety of immunisation programmes have contributed to growing scepticism and outright refusal, with fatal consequences. In her new book Stuck: How Vaccine Rumours Start – and Why They Don’t Go Away, Prof Heidi Larson notes the paradox: we have better vaccine science, more safety regulations and processes than ever before, yet a doubting public.

Continue reading…

Do mRNA vaccines for Covid signal a new era in disease prevention? | Adam Finn

No one knew whether mRNA technology would work against this virus – but it does. It’s an extraordinary moment for science

The past few months have brought a number of scientific terms to public attention. We’ve had to digest R (a virus’s reproduction number) and PCR (the polymerase chain reaction method of testing). And now there’s mRNA. This last one has featured heavily in recent news reports because of the spectacular results of two new mRNA vaccines against coronavirus. It stands for “messenger ribonucleic acid”, a label familiar enough if you studied biology at O-level or GCSE, but otherwise hardly a household name. Even in the field of vaccine research, if you had said as recently as 10 years ago that you could protect people from infections by injecting them with mRNA, you would have provoked some puzzled looks.

Essentially, mRNA is a molecule used by living cells to turn the gene sequences in DNA into the proteins that are the building blocks of all their fundamental structures. A segment of DNA gets copied (“transcribed”) into a piece of mRNA, which in turn gets “read” by the cell’s tools for synthesising proteins. In the case of an mRNA vaccine, the virus’s mRNA is injected into the muscle, and our own cells then read it and synthesise the viral protein. The immune system reacts to these proteins – which can’t by themselves cause disease – just as if they’d been carried in on the whole virus. This generates a protective response that, we hope, lasts for some time. It’s so beautifully simple it almost seems like science fiction. But last week we learned that it was true.

Related: What has to happen before a Covid vaccine can be used?

Adam Finn is professor of paediatrics at the Bristol Children’s Vaccine Centre, University of Bristol

Continue reading…

UK faces calls to drop opposition to patent-free Covid vaccines

Request will be made at WTO meeting in order to allow mass production of treatments

The UK will be asked to reconsider its opposition to waiving intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines and treatments at a World Trade Organization meeting on Friday, a move that would allow mass production of treatments and inoculations against the disease and could significantly shorten the length of the pandemic, campaigners say.

India and South Africa have proposed that WTO member states be allowed to waive patents and other intellectual property (IP) rights on any treatments and tools related to Covid-19 until the end of the pandemic, including for the Moderna and Pfizer/BionNTech vaccines that are expected to be approved for use in the coming weeks.

Related: Covid vaccine tracker: when will a coronavirus vaccine be ready?

Continue reading…

Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine has 95% efficacy and is safe, further analysis shows

Among first 170 Covid cases in trial, eight had received vaccine and 162 were in placebo group

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 performs even better than previously thought, with 95% efficacy, equalling the early results from Moderna on Monday, according to an analysis of the final data from their trials, which paves the way for regulators to grant an emergency licence and vaccination campaigns to begin.

The news will excite scientists, public health experts and politicians. Pfizer/BioNTech say they also have the necessary safety data that regulatory bodies require, and will submit the vaccine for emergency approval within days to the US Food and Drug Administration and other regulators around the world.

Continue reading…

Moderna vaccine’s effectiveness bodes well for Oxford/AstraZeneca jab

Phase 3 success rate of 95% for US firm’s treatment is promising for UK vaccine trial

Hopes are rising for the Covid jab being developed by Oxford University, after Moderna became the second company to reveal impressive results from its vaccine trials.

Interim results from phase 3 clinical trials of the Covid vaccine from US company Moderna has revealed it to be almost 95% effective at preventing the disease. The news followed an announcement last week from Germany-based Pfizer and BioNTech that their vaccine was more than 90% effective.

Continue reading…

UK in ‘advanced discussions’ to buy Moderna Covid vaccine

Britain decided not to buy US vaccine and earliest it could be supplied to UK is spring 2021

The UK has not acquired the Moderna vaccine but is in “advanced discussions” to ensure British access, officials have said, while cautioning that no one in the UK would be able to be given it until spring next year.

A government spokesman said the company was scaling up its European supply chain but that it would be around four to six months before the vaccine might be available in the UK, a far longer timeframe than the Pfizer-BionTech vaccine, which the chief scientific officer has said could be available by Christmas.

100m doses of the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

40m doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, reported last week to have 90% effectiveness

60m doses of Novavax vaccine

Continue reading…

Moderna Covid vaccine candidate almost 95% effective, trials show

US-based biotech firm is latest to reveal impressive results from phase 3 trials of jab

The race for a coronavirus vaccine has received another shot in the arm with the US biotech firm Moderna becoming the latest to reveal impressive results from phase 3 trials of its jab.

An interim analysis released on Monday, and based on 95 patients with confirmed Covid infections, found the candidate vaccine has an efficacy of 94.5%. The company said it now plans to apply to the US regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, for emergency-use authorisation in the coming weeks. In the trial, 90 of the patients received the placebo with the remaining five the vaccine.

Related: Here are the major hurdles ahead for Covid-19 vaccine distribution in the US

Continue reading…

BioNTech vaccine scientist says jab could halve Covid transmission

Uğur Şahin ‘very confident’ vaccine candidate developed with Pfizer will cause big reduction in cases

The scientist behind the first potential Covid-19 vaccine to clear interim clinical trials says he is “very confident” the jab will reduce transmission of the disease, perhaps by 50%, resulting in a “dramatic” reduction in cases.

The German company BioNTech and the American pharmaceutical firm Pfizer announced to worldwide acclaim last week that their jointly developed vaccine candidate had proved 90% effective in stopping people from falling ill.

The UK government’s joint committee on vaccination and immunisation has published a list of groups of people who will be prioritised to receive a vaccine for Covid-19. The list is:

Continue reading…

Vaccination hesitancy is about lack of trust. Compulsion is not the answer | Kenan Malik

Better to build social solidarity than to dismiss reluctance to be immunised as ignorance

“If a strain as deadly as the 1918 influenza emerges and people’s hesitancy to get vaccinated remains at the level it is today, a debilitating and fatal disease will spread.” So wrote Heidi Larson in 2018. Larson is director of the London-based Vaccine Confidence Project and probably the most knowledgeable person on the question of “vaccine hesitancy” – the unwillingness of some to get vaccinated.

Two years after Larson wrote those words, we do have a pandemic that so far has taken more than a million lives, including at least 50,000 in the UK. We also have the possibility of a vaccine, the first of a number that could transform the Covid-19 landscape. Whether they do depends not just on how effective they are, but also on the willingness of people to be vaccinated. In the US, just half the population seems so inclined. In Britain, the figure is higher – about 70% – but still probably insufficient to generate herd immunity.

The UK government’s joint committee on vaccination and immunisation has published a list of groups of people who will be prioritised to receive a vaccine for Covid-19. The list is:

Continue reading…

Speedy work on Covid gives the vaccine industry a shot in the arm

Pfizer was first with the news, but biotech firms, governments, banks and NGOs are all involved in the search for a jab to prevent coronavirus infectionThe leading candidate to become the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine, developed by the US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, had its genesis in late January 2020. Uğur Şahin, chief executive of the Mainz-based biotech, read about coronavirus in the Lancet and worried that the outbreak could grow into a pandemic.

Şahin summoned colleagues to tell them that the company would shift its focus from cancer treatments to finding a vaccine for the deadly virus. It would use a method based on mRNA, whereby a stetch of genetic material from the coronavirus is injected into the body, resulting in human cells producing its so-called spike protein. This in turn triggers an immune response. Pfizer stepped in to help with development and distribution costs.

‘Here in the US, a recent poll showed that more than half of people said they wouldn’t take a Covid-19 vaccine’

Continue reading…

Scientist behind BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine says it can end pandemic

Exclusive: BioNTech’s CEO Uğur Şahin says he is confident vaccine can ‘bash the virus over the head’

The scientist behind the first Covid-19 vaccine to clear interim clinical trials says he is confident his product can “bash the virus over the head” and put an end to the pandemic that has held the world hostage in 2020.

The German company BioNTech and the US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced via a press release on Monday that their jointly developed vaccine candidate had outperformed expectations in the crucial phase 3 trials, proving 90% effective in stopping people from falling ill.

Related: 6 key questions about the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine

Related: Covid vaccine tracker: when will a coronavirus vaccine be ready?

Continue reading…

The Covid vaccine will benefit humanity – we should all own the patent | Owen Jones

The pharmaceutical industry has long made exorbitant profits by free-riding on research carried out by the public sector

Hooray for Pfizer! As news of a vaccine potentially offering 90% protection against Covid-19 offers a life raft for lockdown-weary humanity, perhaps those home-drawn posters on people’s windows thanking the NHS will soon be applauding big pharma instead.

The hope of a successful vaccine to liberate us from protracted economic misery should be embraced – but we should be sparing with the bunting for the pharmaceutical industry. If you want a particularly egregious case study of “socialism for the rich”, or of private businesses dependent on public sector research and innovation to make colossal profits, look no further than big pharma.

Related: The race to find a coronavirus treatment has one major obstacle: big pharma | Ara Darzi

Continue reading…

Why a Covid vaccine doesn’t mean the end of face masks yet | David Salisbury

Despite the Pfizer breakthrough, social distancing and remote working won’t disappear overnight

The news this week that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine protected more than 90% of recipients is of huge importance. The vaccine efficacy is higher than we had hoped for.

There appear to be no safety concerns, although the final safety data along with other data on manufacturing and the full efficacy results will need to be submitted to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to review whether it’s safe enough to grant temporary authorisation. This would allow the vaccine to be rolled out before a full product licence is issued.

Related: Speed trumps efficacy in UK’s Covid vaccine rollouts, says adviser

Continue reading…

Where will poorer countries stand in the queue for a Covid-19 vaccine? | Clare Wenham and Mark Eccleston-Turner

The lion’s share of the potential Pfizer vaccine is already claimed by high-income nations

The news that joint efforts by the US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and the German biotech company BioNtech have produced a vaccine that is 90% effective at protecting people from Covid-19 has been understandably applauded – in spite of the caveats. Pfizer states that it can manufacture up to 50m doses by the end of 2020 and up to 1.3bn doses in 2021.

Given the desire to get life back to normal, these doses will be in incredibly high demand. Some governments around the world, including the UK, have already begun to indicate to their populations that they will receive a vaccine by Christmas. But how will the distribution of this finite number of vaccines work when we only have enough for one seventh of the global population?

Related: Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine poses global logistics challenge

Clare Wenham is assistant professor of global health policy at the LSE. Mark Eccleston-Turner is a lecturer in Global Health Law at Keele University

Continue reading…

FTSE 100 recovers to highest level since June after vaccine unveiled

Promising clinical data from Pfizer and BioNTech help the index to a £28bn one-day gain

Optimism that a mass rollout of Covid-19 vaccines will lead to an economic recovery lifted stocks in London again on Tuesday, to their highest closing level in over four months.

London’s FTSE 100 index of blue-chip shares rallied by nearly 1.8% to finish at 6,296 points, the highest close since 23 June. This added £28bn to the index’s value, taking its gains so far this week to nearly £100bn after it surged 4.6% on Monday on news of a vaccine breakthrough.

Continue reading…

Pfizer and BioNTech could make $13bn from coronavirus vaccine

Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca pledged to make their vaccines available on a not-for-profit basis

The US drugmaker Pfizer and the German biotech firm BioNTech stand to bring in nearly $13bn (£9.8bn) in global sales from their coronavirus vaccine next year, which will be evenly split between the two companies, according to analysts at the US investment bank Morgan Stanley.

Pfizer’s half would be more than the US pharmaceutical group’s bestselling product, a pneumonia vaccine that generated $5.8bn last year.

Related: Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine poses global logistics challenge

Related: 6 key questions about the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine

Continue reading…

Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine poses global logistics challenge

Europe and US create vast facilities for Covid-19 vaccine but poorer nations lack infrastructure say experts

Two vast football-pitch-sized facilities equipped with hundreds of large freezers in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Puurs, Belgium, will be the centres of the huge effort to ship the coronavirus vaccine developed by US drug giant Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech, around the world.

Governments are scrambling to prepare for the rollout of the vaccine, which must be stored at -70C (-94F), after the announcement from the two companies that it was more than 90% effective and had no serious side-effects. The news sparked hopes of a return to normal life and a stock market rally, but now minds are turning to the practicalities of getting the vaccine quickly to populations across the world, in particular to the vulnerable people who need it most.

Related: 6 key questions about the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine

The problem is particularly acute in the global south where many rural villages don’t even have a working vaccine fridge

Continue reading…

The Guardian view on the Covid vaccine breakthrough: making it work | Editorial

At last, there is hope of an end to this pandemic. Scientists appear to have performed an amazing feat, the rest of us must do our best too

Medicine is only partly a matter of science; it is, very much, the business of people. The inspiring news that a Covid vaccine appears within reach, with interim results showing the Pfizer/BioNTech candidate has 90% efficacy in protecting people from illness, reflects the extraordinary efforts of scientists this year. The speed with which this one has been developed – with others close behind – is remarkable. Detailed data has yet to be published, and much remains unknown, including how long individuals may be protected, whether it prevents infection and how effective it will be for older people, who are most vulnerable to Covid-19. There are still no guarantees it will be used, though manufacturing has begun. Nonetheless, this is a potentially transformative moment.

Now it is up to the rest of us to do our part. If this vaccine becomes available from the end of the year, as now looks likely, and others soon follow, the deployment will matter as much as its discovery. As one scientist has noted: “Vaccines don’t save lives. Vaccinations save lives.” Pfizer and BioNTech hope to make 50m doses available this year, but each patient requires two doses, and with the US, EU, UK and others all having placed advance orders, each country will get a tiny fraction of those it ultimately needs. Even if production of this vaccine is scaled up as planned, others will still be needed. The UK has a clear plan for who will be protected first, beginning with the oldest in society and those who care for them and thus might transmit the virus to them. Professor John Bell told MPs that there is a 70%-80% chance of having the most vulnerable covered by Easter if authorities “don’t screw up the distribution”. Mass inoculation will be a challenge; NHS England is planning seven-day services.

Continue reading…

Will enough people in the UK take the Covid-19 jab?

The UK usually has a high take-up for vaccines, experts say, but there are fears over misinformation and scepticism

The spread of scepticism and misinformation about coronavirus and the development of a vaccine for it has raised questions about whether it will pose a threat to the goal of achieving widespread immunity.

A report published on Tuesday by the British Academy and the Royal Society for the SET-C (Science in Emergencies Tasking: Covid-19) group said an 80% take up of a jab could be necessary in order for enough people to become immune to the virus and stop its spread. However, the actual threshold will depend on the efficacy of the vaccine, and the 90% achieved by the Pfizer/BioNTech candidate in trials was higher than many dared hope for.

Continue reading…

Cautious optimism over Covid-19 vaccine trials | Letters

Readers respond to news that an interim analysis has shown Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine candidate was 90% effective in protecting people from transmission of the virus in global trials

The media have been awash with stories about the apparent success of the Pfizer Covid vaccine following the publication of preliminary trial outcomes (Hopes rise for end of pandemic as Pfizer says vaccine is 90% effective, 10 November). I am not surprised that the public has latched on to these, as hope and positivity have been in short supply this past year. I have even had patients contacting me about when the vaccine will be available, stating that it will allow “normal” life to resume.

While the public can be forgiven for overoptimism, it is important that the medical profession, the media and the government keep expectations grounded and do not encourage the notion that we now have a panacea that will take us out of the pandemic.

Continue reading…

6 key questions about the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine

There are grounds for optimism but also several unknowns around this coronavirus vaccine

Hopes that the end of the coronavirus pandemic has become nearer have soared after the news that a coronavirus vaccine was found to be 90% effective in global trials.

Although there is definite reason to be optimistic, experts have cautioned that the data from the trials conducted by Pfizer and BioNTech are not final, and there remain plenty of unknowns.

Related: Covid vaccine could be ready for rollout next month, says Hancock

Continue reading…

Despite the fine print, we can still feel optimistic about a Covid vaccine | Charlotte Summers

Pfizer’s preliminary results are a huge development, although hurdles still lie ahead

We could all do with some good news right now. After a long and difficult year of multiple lockdowns and numerous sacrifices, the announcement from Pfizer and BioNTech that preliminary results show their vaccine is 90% effective at protecting people from Covid-19 felt like the light at the end of the tunnel.

The announcement is based on interim results from phase 3 of a multinational, randomised controlled trial – considered the gold standard of clinical trials – involving 43,538 people. Each participant was given two doses of the vaccine or a placebo 21 days apart, to see if this would prevent them developing Covid-19. To date, 94 of those enrolled in the trial have developed confirmed Covid-19. The data suggests that just eight of these had been given the vaccine.

Related: If you’re pinning your hopes on a Covid vaccine, here’s a dose of realism | David Salisbury

Continue reading…

BioNTech’s Covid vaccine: a shot in the arm for Germany’s Turkish community

Couple who set up and run firm are children of long-maligned ‘guest workers’ from Turkey

When the German biotechnology company BioNTech picked a street called An der Goldgrube or At the Goldmine in the western city of Mainz for its headquarters, the couple behind it could not have predicted how prophetic the address would turn out to be.

The company’s shares shot up 23.4% on Monday morning after the Covid-19 vaccine it is developing with the US pharma giant Pfizer became the first candidate worldwide to show positive results in phase 3 trials, the crucial final stage of testing.

Related: Covid-19 vaccine candidate is 90% effective, says Pfizer

Continue reading…

What has Pfizer’s Covid vaccine trial found and is this a breakthrough?

Early results from phase 3 trial look promising but there are still many questions to be answered

Pfizer and the German biotech company Biontech said on Monday that they had had encouraging early results from a phase 3 clinical trial of their coronavirus vaccine. The trial is assessing how well the vaccine works in preventing humans from becoming infected. Although details are scant, the news is positive.

Related: Covid vaccine tracker: when will a coronavirus vaccine be ready?

Continue reading…

Oxford Covid vaccine works in all ages, trials suggest

Vaccine being trialled by Oxford University and AstraZeneca offers hope for all age groups

One of the world’s leading Covid-19 experimental vaccines produces an immune response in both older and young adults, raising hopes of a path out of the gloom and economic destruction wrought by the novel coronavirus.

The vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, also triggers lower adverse responses among elderly people, said the British drug maker AstraZeneca, which is helping to manufacture the vaccine, on Monday.

Related: Covid vaccine tracker: when will a coronavirus vaccine be ready?

Related: At 75, I’ve volunteered for a Covid vaccine trial. It could set people free

Continue reading…

A War on Science is a War on Us

By KIM BELLARD

We’re in the midst of a major U.S. election, as well as hearings on a Supreme Court vacancy, so people are thinking about litmus tests and single issue voters – the most typical of which is whether someone is “pro-life” or “pro-choice.”  Well, I’m a single issue person too; my litmus test is whether someone believes in evolution. 

I’m pro-science, and these are scary times.

Within the last week there have been editorials in Scientific American, The New England Journal of Medicine, and Nature – all respected, normally nonpartisan, scientific publications – taking the current Administration to task for its coronavirus response.   Each, in its own way, accuses the Administration of letting politics, not science, drive its response. 

SA urges voters to “think about voting to protect science instead of destroying it.”  They cite, among other examples, Columbia Law School’s Silencing Science Tracker, which “tracks government attempts to restrict or prohibit scientific research, education or discussion, or the publication or use of scientific information, since the November 2016 election.”  Their count is over 450 by now, across a broad range of topics in numerous federal agencies on a variety of topics.   

The SA authors declare:

Science, built on facts and evidence-based analysis, is fundamental to a safe and fair America. Upholding science is not a Democratic or Republican issue.

Similarly, NEJM fears:

Our current leaders have undercut trust in science and in government,4 causing damage that will certainly outlast them. Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed “opinion leaders” and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies.

Jeff Tollefson, in Nature, warns:

As he seeks re-election on 3 November, Trump’s actions in the face of COVID-19 are just one example of the damage he has inflicted on science and its institutions over the past four years, with repercussions for lives and livelihoods. 

“This is not just ineptitude, it’s sabotage,” Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University, told Mr. Tollefson about the Administration’s pandemic efforts.  “He has sabotaged efforts to keep people safe.”  Christine Todd Whitman, former New Jersey Governor and EPA head, added: “I’ve never seen such an orchestrated war on the environment or science.”

The Administration likes to tout the admittedly remarkable progress that pharmaceutical companies have made in therapeutics and vaccines – Operation Warp Speed! — but the constant battles with both the FDA and the CDC (EUAs for everything!) have left the American public skeptical of supposed breakthroughs.  In the wake of President Trump’s recent embrace of monoclonal antibodies, The Washington Post lamented:

This has been the 2020 pattern: Politics has thoroughly contaminated the scientific process. The result has been an epidemic of distrust, which further undermines the nation’s already chaotic and ineffective response to the coronavirus. 

A Pew Research survey found Americans evenly split between those who would definitely/probably get a vaccine as soon as it was available and those who would not – and the percent willing has dropped from 72% in May.  Almost 80% fear the approval process will move too fast; in other words, that the science will be trumped by political concerns. 

“Warp speed really isn’t something I want from my medications, especially not ones for my children,” one physician told Alexandra Feathers in Slate.

A separate survey, from Axios/Ipsos, found that only 8% of Americans now have a “great deal” of faith in the FDA to look out for their best interests; only slightly more than half even had a fair amount of faith.  Trust in the CDC has also fallen

Science is losing. 

As tempting as it is to blame the current Administration for this war on science, it is a symptom of the problem, not the cause.  Some examples:

  • One in four Americans believe the sun rotates around the earth. 
  • Depending on how the question is asked, between a fifth and a third of Americans don’t believe in evolution at all, with another third believing in evolution “directed” by God. 
  • Only three-fourths are Americans believe climate change is happening, with smaller percentages believing any such change is due to human actions. 
  • Anti-vaccination beliefs had been growing steadily even prior to COVID, for well-understood, highly effective vaccines.    
  • American school children continue to rank mediocre in science and math; adult Americans get a gentleman’s “D” for their science knowledge. 
  • Only 73% of Americans think science has, on balance, had a positive impact on society; only 35% have a “great deal” of confidence in scientists to act in the public interest (although 51% had “fair” confidence). 

Politicians can get away with downplaying science because we let them; we let them because some of us don’t know enough, and others among us don’t care enough.  Anti-vaxxers were initially seen as an aberration, too small to worry about, but became a problem.  Now people not getting a COVID vaccine could be the difference between months of pandemic and years of pandemic.

Cultural wars have become wars on science.  Experts agree that wearing a mask and social distancing are the keys to our battle against COVID for the next many months, yet to many wearing a mask is a “personal choice” — even when not wearing one is a risk not just for the person not wearing one but to them people around them. 

We should listen to the science.

It’s easy to get caught up in partisan politics about all this, but that’s wrong.  Science doesn’t care about your politics.  COVID doesn’t ask who you’re going to vote for.  Climate change doesn’t stop if you refuse to believe in it.  As writer Valorie Clark tweeted:

Stop asking candidates if they “believe in” climate change and start asking if they understand it. It’s science, not Santa Claus.

We should stop allowing candidates to tell us there’s a metaphorical Santa Claus and start demanding fact-based decisions. We should stop thinking science is something only scientists care about and start accepting that our lives depend on science, so we better understand how. 

Many might claim they are bad at science, but I think about what mathematician Paul Lockhart wrote many years ago in A Mathematician’s Lament.  If music was taught like math (or science) is, few would enjoy listening to it and even fewer would play it. It’s incumbent on scientists and educators to make science more accessible and understandable for the rest of us. 

We’ve failed the science test so far when it comes to COVID, and it has literally cost us hundreds of thousands of lives.  It’s not the first such test we’ve failed, but we can, should, and must do better – starting now. 

Kim is a former emarketing exec at a major Blues plan, editor of the late & lamented Tincture.io, and now regular THCB contributor.

A War on Science is a War on Us

By KIM BELLARD

We’re in the midst of a major U.S. election, as well as hearings on a Supreme Court vacancy, so people are thinking about litmus tests and single issue voters – the most typical of which is whether someone is “pro-life” or “pro-choice.”  Well, I’m a single issue person too; my litmus test is whether someone believes in evolution. 

I’m pro-science, and these are scary times.

Within the last week there have been editorials in Scientific American, The New England Journal of Medicine, and Nature – all respected, normally nonpartisan, scientific publications – taking the current Administration to task for its coronavirus response.   Each, in its own way, accuses the Administration of letting politics, not science, drive its response. 

SA urges voters to “think about voting to protect science instead of destroying it.”  They cite, among other examples, Columbia Law School’s Silencing Science Tracker, which “tracks government attempts to restrict or prohibit scientific research, education or discussion, or the publication or use of scientific information, since the November 2016 election.”  Their count is over 450 by now, across a broad range of topics in numerous federal agencies on a variety of topics.   

The SA authors declare:

Science, built on facts and evidence-based analysis, is fundamental to a safe and fair America. Upholding science is not a Democratic or Republican issue.

Similarly, NEJM fears:

Our current leaders have undercut trust in science and in government,4 causing damage that will certainly outlast them. Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed “opinion leaders” and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies.

Jeff Tollefson, in Nature, warns:

As he seeks re-election on 3 November, Trump’s actions in the face of COVID-19 are just one example of the damage he has inflicted on science and its institutions over the past four years, with repercussions for lives and livelihoods. 

“This is not just ineptitude, it’s sabotage,” Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University, told Mr. Tollefson about the Administration’s pandemic efforts.  “He has sabotaged efforts to keep people safe.”  Christine Todd Whitman, former New Jersey Governor and EPA head, added: “I’ve never seen such an orchestrated war on the environment or science.”

The Administration likes to tout the admittedly remarkable progress that pharmaceutical companies have made in therapeutics and vaccines – Operation Warp Speed! — but the constant battles with both the FDA and the CDC (EUAs for everything!) have left the American public skeptical of supposed breakthroughs.  In the wake of President Trump’s recent embrace of monoclonal antibodies, The Washington Post lamented:

This has been the 2020 pattern: Politics has thoroughly contaminated the scientific process. The result has been an epidemic of distrust, which further undermines the nation’s already chaotic and ineffective response to the coronavirus. 

A Pew Research survey found Americans evenly split between those who would definitely/probably get a vaccine as soon as it was available and those who would not – and the percent willing has dropped from 72% in May.  Almost 80% fear the approval process will move too fast; in other words, that the science will be trumped by political concerns. 

“Warp speed really isn’t something I want from my medications, especially not ones for my children,” one physician told Alexandra Feathers in Slate.

A separate survey, from Axios/Ipsos, found that only 8% of Americans now have a “great deal” of faith in the FDA to look out for their best interests; only slightly more than half even had a fair amount of faith.  Trust in the CDC has also fallen

Science is losing. 

As tempting as it is to blame the current Administration for this war on science, it is a symptom of the problem, not the cause.  Some examples:

  • One in four Americans believe the sun rotates around the earth. 
  • Depending on how the question is asked, between a fifth and a third of Americans don’t believe in evolution at all, with another third believing in evolution “directed” by God. 
  • Only three-fourths are Americans believe climate change is happening, with smaller percentages believing any such change is due to human actions. 
  • Anti-vaccination beliefs had been growing steadily even prior to COVID, for well-understood, highly effective vaccines.    
  • American school children continue to rank mediocre in science and math; adult Americans get a gentleman’s “D” for their science knowledge. 
  • Only 73% of Americans think science has, on balance, had a positive impact on society; only 35% have a “great deal” of confidence in scientists to act in the public interest (although 51% had “fair” confidence). 

Politicians can get away with downplaying science because we let them; we let them because some of us don’t know enough, and others among us don’t care enough.  Anti-vaxxers were initially seen as an aberration, too small to worry about, but became a problem.  Now people not getting a COVID vaccine could be the difference between months of pandemic and years of pandemic.

Cultural wars have become wars on science.  Experts agree that wearing a mask and social distancing are the keys to our battle against COVID for the next many months, yet to many wearing a mask is a “personal choice” — even when not wearing one is a risk not just for the person not wearing one but to them people around them. 

We should listen to the science.

It’s easy to get caught up in partisan politics about all this, but that’s wrong.  Science doesn’t care about your politics.  COVID doesn’t ask who you’re going to vote for.  Climate change doesn’t stop if you refuse to believe in it.  As writer Valorie Clark tweeted:

Stop asking candidates if they “believe in” climate change and start asking if they understand it. It’s science, not Santa Claus.

We should stop allowing candidates to tell us there’s a metaphorical Santa Claus and start demanding fact-based decisions. We should stop thinking science is something only scientists care about and start accepting that our lives depend on science, so we better understand how. 

Many might claim they are bad at science, but I think about what mathematician Paul Lockhart wrote many years ago in A Mathematician’s Lament.  If music was taught like math (or science) is, few would enjoy listening to it and even fewer would play it. It’s incumbent on scientists and educators to make science more accessible and understandable for the rest of us. 

We’ve failed the science test so far when it comes to COVID, and it has literally cost us hundreds of thousands of lives.  It’s not the first such test we’ve failed, but we can, should, and must do better – starting now. 

Kim is a former emarketing exec at a major Blues plan, editor of the late & lamented Tincture.io, and now regular THCB contributor.

NHS coronavirus tests threatened by Roche supply chain glitch

Pharmaceutical firm reports ‘significant drop in processing capacity’ of reagents, kits and swabs

Concerns have been raised over the supply of vital testing materials for a range of conditions, including Covid-19, following a supply chain problem with the pharmaceutical company Roche.

On Tuesday, Roche said it had experienced a “very significant drop” in its processing capacity due to a problem with its Sussex distribution centre, the only one in the UK. It has been reported that the shortage includes vital reagents, screening kits and swabs.

Related: UK government ‘thwarting independent labs’ efforts to step up Covid-19 testing’

Continue reading…

Trump’s steroid Covid treatment adds to confusion over health

Dexamethasone ‘normally reserved for people going into respiratory failure’, says expert

The latest intervention from Donald Trump’s medical team has been to put the president on dexamethasone, a steroid that is proven, thanks to the UK’s Recovery trial, to benefit Covid-19 patients who are having breathing difficulties.

But the decision to administer the steroid now has only added to the confusion surrounding the president’s state of health. Normally, dexamethasone is reserved for patients who have been ill for at least a week and whose oxygen levels are low.

Related: Trump doctors say he had two oxygen dips but is ‘improving’ and may return to White House tomorrow – live

Related: Trump and Covid: what we now know about the week he caught the virus

Continue reading…

Anti-Covid treatments being given to Trump are still unproven, say experts

Neither remdesivir nor REGN-COV2 have completed large-scale randomised trials, say UK scientists

Scientists still lack conclusive proof that the two anti-Covid drugs given to Donald Trump are clinically effective.

UK researchers point out that both medicines – remdesivir and REGN-COV2 – have still to complete the large-scale, randomised trials needed to demonstrate fully their ability to counter Covid-19 in patients. And many have criticised US authorities for their failures to carry out such trials. This has undermined efforts to find effective medicines to treat people affected by the disease.

Continue reading…

UK doing more than most to help poor get Covid vaccine, study finds

Campaign scoring countries for global access efforts calls for more British transparency

The UK is doing more than most countries to support access to Covid vaccines for the poorest populations in the world, but it is not transparent enough about the deals it is doing at home, according to an international aid organisation launching a tracker.

The One campaign has given countries and pharmaceutical companies scores for the efforts they have made to ensure the poorest get vaccines. In the vaccine access test no country or company scores green, the top rating, classed as aiding global access to vaccines.

Continue reading…

Show more empathy to boost confidence in vaccines, scientists told

Expert behind vaccine confidence report points to halting of Oxford Covid trial as example

Doctors and scientists need to show more empathy towards volunteers in coronavirus vaccine trials who fall ill if the public is to have full confidence in the safety of the vaccines being developed, say experts.

The temporary halting of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca trial after one volunteer in the UK was admitted to hospital was good news, not bad, said Heidi Larson, who leads the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, as it showed that scientists and the company were putting safety first.

Continue reading…

Oxford Covid-19 vaccine is still possible this year, says AstraZeneca chief

Pharmaceutical firm’s boss says 2020 deadline possible if regulators move fast

AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine could still be available by the end of the year, or early next year, according to the company’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, despite clinical trials being paused after a volunteer fell ill.

AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which are jointly developing the vaccine and testing it on 50,000 to 60,000 people around the world, halted trials on Wednesday to investigate the “potentially unexpected illness” of one participant.

Related: Covid vaccine tracker: when will a coronavirus vaccine be ready?

Continue reading…

Oxford Covid vaccine trial suspension: what happens next?

Tests have been paused after a UK volunteer became ill. How will it affect the search for a cure?

One of the volunteers in the UK has become ill and it is crucial that the researchers find out whether this could be related to the vaccine. This is not uncommon in vaccine trials – and in fact it is said to be the second time it has happened with this vaccine . Very large trials are essential to pick up any rare side-effects. Something that affects one in 10,000 people, for instance, will probably not be detected in the early trials of just a few thousand.

Continue reading…

The Oxford University AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine trial has been paused – should we be worried?

Is this the end for hopes of an early breakthrough in the race to find a coronavirus drug?

The halt in development of the University of Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine due to a possible adverse reaction in a trial participant has triggered fears of a delay in finding a solution to coronavirus restrictions.

A spokesman for AstraZeneca, the company working with the academic team to produce the vaccine, said the voluntary pause is “routine”.

Related: Oxford University Covid vaccine trial put on hold due to adverse reaction in participant

Related: Why are Australian church leaders opposing the Oxford coronavirus vaccine?

Related: Covid-19: ‘possible’ Oxford vaccine data will be put before regulators this year

Continue reading…

Oleandrin: Trump allies pitch extract from poisonous plant to fight Covid

Experts raise concern over compound that has not been proven safe but could reach public as dietary supplement

Allies of Donald Trump have promoted a plant extract called oleandrin to people seeking to ward off Covid-19. The plant the extract is derived from, oleander, is poisonous and there is no proof the compound is either safe or effective to treat or prevent Covid-19, experts say.

But unlike other unproven and potentially dangerous Covid-19 “cures” pitched by Donald Trump and his supporters, including the prescription antimalarial hydroxychloroquine, experts fear this compound could easily reach the public as a dietary supplement.

Related: What is blood plasma therapy and does it work for Covid-19?

Continue reading…

AstraZeneca starts Covid-19 antibody drug trial in UK

Volunteers are receiving doses of drug, which has potential both as a vaccine and a treatment

The pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca has started a clinical trial of a drug to help prevent and treat Covid-19, with the first volunteers already receiving doses.

The company, which is separately developing a potential Covid-19 vaccine together with scientists at Oxford University, said the drug, known as AZD7442, is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies.

Continue reading…

Six of the most promising treatments for Covid-19 so far

While a cure-all drug or therapy is a long way off, there have been some breakthroughs

Many different drugs and therapies are being trialled and used on patients with Covid-19. There are some positive results, which may be beginning to bring the hospital death toll down, but there is still a long way to go towards something that will cure all comers. These are some of the most promising.

Continue reading…

Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine firm denies Trump talks

AstraZeneca says it has not discussed ‘emergency use authorisation’ with the US

The company manufacturing the Oxford University coronavirus vaccine has denied it is in talks with the Trump administration about fast-tracking its vaccine for emergency use ahead of November’s presidential elections.

With both Russia and China pressing ahead with inoculations involving experimental vaccines yet to pass final efficacy and safety trials, the Trump administration has become increasingly frustrated with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which the president has tried to suggest is slowing approval of a vaccine for “political reasons”.

Related: Covid vaccine tracker: when will we have a coronavirus vaccine?

Continue reading…

Honey better treatment for coughs and colds than antibiotics, study claims

Research suggests honey also more effective than many over-the-counter medicines

Honey may be better than conventional treatments for coughs, blocked noses and sore throats, researchers have said. The substance is cheap, readily available, and has virtually no side-effects.

Doctors can recommend it as a suitable alternative to antibiotics, which are often prescribed for such infections, even though they are not effective, scientists from the University of Oxford said.

Continue reading…

UK agrees deals for 90m doses of two potential coronavirus vaccines

Government secures early access to those being developed by Novavax and Janssen

The UK government has reached agreements it says will give British citizens early access to 90m doses of two more potential Covid-19 vaccines.

The vaccines are being developed by the US biotech company Novavax and the pharmaceutical business Janssen, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson and has its headquarters in Belgium.

Continue reading…

The Guardian view on Brexit bureaucracy: tied up in red tape | Editorial

Businesses already struggling with the fallout from Covid-19 will be forced to deal with a mountain of new bureaucracy in the middle of a deep recession

The government did not quite achieve the Brexit breakthrough it was seeking on Friday, when there was hope that a fast-tracked trade agreement with Japan might be reached. But it seems likely that a deal, essentially replicating one signed by the EU and Japan last year, will be done by the end of the month. Some kind of morale booster for Britain’s battered and bruised businesses would certainly be welcome.

As the clock runs down to the end of the transition period on 31 December, ministers are no longer bothering to offer the false hope of a relatively frictionless trade agreement with the EU. Even a Canada-style free trade deal will mean a vast infrastructure of compliance and checks: permits for lorry drivers to enter Kent, huge customs clearance centres and tracking apps are all in the mix. The government estimates that, from 2021, there will be over 400m extra customs checks a year on goods going to and from the EU.

Continue reading…

Australia experiencing critical shortage of antidepressants, contraceptives and HRT

Reasons for shortages are often unclear and substitutes, which are not subsidised by PBS, are prohibitively expensive

Australia is experiencing a critical shortage of key drugs including antidepressants, contraceptives and hormone replacement therapies, a situation that experts say highlights systemic problems with medicine supply in the country.

Most of the shortages appear unrelated to coronavirus disruptions, although in the case of the popular antidepressant Prozac, the manufacturer, Eli Lilly, cites “unexpected increase in demand” during the crisis. Other manufacturers refuse to detail reasons for the supply problems.

Related: Australian drugmakers hit by critical shortages at height of pandemic, inquiry hears

Related: Many doctors have colleagues they wouldn’t want to treat their own family | Ranjana Srivastava

Continue reading…

Covid-19: Gilead Sciences urged to study drug that showed promise with cats

Activists are calling on the pharmaceutical firm Gilead Sciences to study a drug for the treatment of Covid-19 that showed promise in curing cats of a coronavirus.

The drug, called GS-441524, is chemically related to remdesivir, an antiviral also made by Gilead, and one of the only treatments to successfully shorten the duration of Covid-19 recovery.

Related: US secures world stock of key Covid-19 drug remdesivir

Continue reading…

AstraZeneca signs deal worth up to £4.7bn for cancer treatment

Pharmaceuticals company buys global rights to new technology from Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo

Drugmaker AstraZeneca could pay up to $6bn (£4.7bn) for the global rights to a new Japanese cancer treatment.

The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company said it would pay $1bn (£800m) up front to its partner Daiichi Sankyo.

Related: Covid-19 is Big Pharma’s chance to impress. But who’ll do best?

Continue reading…

Covid-19 is Big Pharma’s chance to impress. But who’ll do best?

AstraZeneca and GSK both release results this week. But picking winners in the sector may be complicated

It was the press announcement heard around the world: a potential Covid-19 vaccine from the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca had not only been “tolerated” by patients, but “generated robust immune responses against the Sars-CoV-2 virus in all evaluated participants”. The project will now proceed to all-important phase 3 trials in Brazil and South Africa to test if it actually stops infection.

For a global population that has seen its movement curtailed and its health threatened, it was a welcome dose of good news. It is also a large feather in the cap for AstraZeneca, whose boss, Pascal Soriot, will unveil financial results for the first half of 2020 on Thursday.

Continue reading…

‘Major’ breakthrough in Covid-19 drug makes UK professors millionaires

Synairgen’s share price rises 540% on morning of news of successful drugs trial

Three professors at the University of Southampton school of medicine have this week made a “major breakthrough” in the treatment of coronavirus patients and become paper millionaires at the same time.

Almost two decades ago professors Ratko Djukanovic, Stephen Holgate and Donna Davis discovered that people with asthma and chronic lung disease lacked a protein called interferon beta, which helps fight off the common cold. They worked out that patients’ defences against viral infection could be boosted if the missing protein were replaced.

Epidemics of infectious diseases behave in different ways but the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed more than 50 million people is regarded as a key example of a pandemic that occurred in multiple waves, with the latter more severe than the first. It has been replicated – albeit more mildly – in subsequent flu pandemics.

Very proud of my husband’s efforts!!
He is the CSO of this company. He and has team have worked their socks off over the last 5 months to make this happen.

And the results are stunning! #COVID19 #Synairgen #SNG #clinicaltrials https://t.co/NThZDV1k0O

Continue reading…

The world needs a ‘people’s vaccine’ for coronavirus, not a big-pharma monopoly | Helen Clark and Winnie Byanyima

AstraZeneca and others should not own a lucrative patent on a medicine that is needed by poor as well as rich nations

See all our coronavirus coverage

• Helen Clark is a former prime minister of New Zealand and Winnie Byanyima is UN undersecretary general

To bring an end to the pandemic, the world needs a vaccine. Promising early trial results for the vaccine developed by Oxford University suggest we’re inching closer to discovering one.

Related: Oxford offers best hope for Covid-19 vaccine this year, MPs told

Continue reading…

WHO says trials show malaria and HIV drugs don’t cut Covid-19 hospital deaths

Hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir not found to help patients in hospital

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday that it was discontinuing its trials of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and combination HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir for patients in hospital with Covid-19 after they failed to reduce mortality.

The setback came as WHO also reported more than 200,000 new cases globally of the disease for the first time in a single day. The US accounted for 53,213 of the total 212,326 new cases recorded on Friday, the WHO said.

Hydroxychloroquine, also known by its brand name, Plaquenil, is a drug used to treat malaria. It is a less toxic version of chloroquine, another malaria drug, which itself is related to quinine, an ingredient in tonic water.

Related: Oxford offers best hope for Covid-19 vaccine this year, MPs told

Continue reading…

Oxford offers best hope for Covid-19 vaccine this year, MPs told

University is leading rivals but first drugs may not work fully, says vaccine taskforce chair

Oxford University is leading the world in developing a vaccine against Covid-19 and offers the best chance of having something protective against the virus as we go into winter, MPs have been told.

Kate Bingham, chair of the UK vaccine taskforce, said she expected to have a vaccine “early next year” from one or more of the candidates, although it was possible the first vaccines might only “help alleviate the symptoms” so that people have a less serious bout of disease, rather than fully protecting them.

Related: ‘I felt guilty’: volunteer on signing up for Oxford Covid-19 vaccine trial

Related: The Lancet’s editor: ‘The UK’s response to coronavirus is the greatest science policy failure for a generation’

Continue reading…

US secures world stock of key Covid-19 drug remdesivir

No other country will be able to buy remdesivir, which can help recovery from Covid-19, for next three months at least

The US has bought up virtually all the stocks for the next three months of one of the two drugs proven to work against Covid-19, leaving none for the UK, Europe or most of the rest of the world.

Experts and campaigners are alarmed both by the US unilateral action on remdesivir and the wider implications, for instance in the event of a vaccine becoming available. The Trump administration has already shown that it is prepared to outbid and outmanoeuvre all other countries to secure the medical supplies it needs for the US.

Related: Remdesivir: US allows emergency use of experimental drug for coronavirus

Continue reading…

I believe Roundup gave me cancer. The Monsanto settlement is a slap in the face | Christine Sheppard

I have to inject myself with needles just to stay alive. Still, Bayer will continue to sell Roundup, and refused to label it as carcinogenic

Last Wednesday was my 71st birthday, a low-key celebration in these Covid-19 times. Then I heard the news that the pharmaceutical conglomerate Bayer has offered a settlement to resolve several massive class-action lawsuits alleging that the company’s herbicide, Roundup, is dangerous and causes cancer.

I’m one of the thousands of people who filed suit. The news of the settlement ruined my birthday.

Bayer admitted no guilt, will continue to sell Roundup, and refused to label it as carcinogenic. People will continue to get cancer from it

Christine Sheppard was born in Hertfordshire, England, and immigrated to the US in 1980. She is now a retired grandmother living in southern California

Continue reading…

How will the world’s poorest people get a coronavirus vaccine? | Achal Prabhala and Kate Elder

Rich countries’ governments are putting all their trust in a marriage of markets and philanthropy called Gavi

Vaccines for Covid-19 are coming. Billions of dollars are flowing in, over 100 efforts are under way, and at least 13 leading candidates are already being tested on humans. But how will these vaccines reach the poorest people on the planet? This question haunts the fate of more than half the world’s population. It is the central question of our time. The failure to address this question in the past has resulted in millions of unnecessary deaths – and yet, some believe there is a simple answer. Ask pharmaceutical corporations about how they will ensure access to Covid-19 vaccines, and they say “Gavi”. Ask the wealthiest governments in the world what they are doing to ensure global equity, and they too say “Gavi”.

Gavi, the Vaccines Alliance, is a 20-year old public-private partnership that believes the marriage of markets and philanthropy will bring vaccines to everyone in the world. The numbers are impressive: every year, Gavi sends out 500 million vaccine doses against 17 different diseases. The sums of money pumped into Gavi are equally impressive. At the Global Vaccine Summit held earlier this month, Gavi raised a record-breaking $8.8bn. With £330m committed annually for the next five years, the British government is their single largest donor, alongside other wealthy countries and the Gates Foundation. At the summit, Gavi launched its newest initiative, a fund for future Covid-19 vaccines – the Covax Facility – which invites countries to invest in a wide portfolio of potential vaccines, pool their risk, and gain dedicated access to eventual products.

Related: UK plans £38m centre to start production of coronavirus vaccine

Related: Covid-19 vaccine may not work for at-risk older people, say scientists

Achal Prabhala is the coordinator of the AccessIBSA project, which campaigns for access to medicines in India, Brazil and South Africa. Kate Elder is the senior vaccines policy adviser at the Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign

Continue reading…

‘The wondrous map’: how unlocking human DNA changed the course of science

Thanks to the success of the Human Genome Project, 20 years ago this week, scientists can track biology and disease at a molecular level

Twenty years ago this week, an international group of scientists announced it had put together the first genetic blueprint of a human being. After 10 years of effort, the team – made up of thousands of scientists working on both sides of the Atlantic – revealed it had pinpointed all 3bn units of DNA that make up the human genome.

The result was “the most wondrous map ever created by humankind”, US President Bill Clinton told a special White House ceremony to mark the event. A parallel event, hosted by Tony Blair in Downing Street, also featured glittering praise for the effort.

DNA studies have helped to develop new drugs for conditions ranging from cystic fibrosis to asthma

We are sequencing samples of Sars-Cov-2 from different sources to see if the virus is mutating significantly

Related: Human code fully cracked

Continue reading…

Demand for flu vaccine soars as countries plan for second Covid-19 wave

Manufacturers warn they will struggle to meet demand as governments seek to ease pressure on health services

Fears of a second wave of coronavirus have sparked a global scramble for influenza shots from countries that hope to vaccinate great swathes of the population to reduce pressure on their health services.

Health officials in the UK are considering whether to offer flu shots to everyone as part of planning for a resurgence of coronavirus in the autumn, but with other countries hitting on the same strategy, demand for flu vaccines has soared.

Continue reading…

The Lancet’s editor: ‘The UK’s response to coronavirus is the greatest science policy failure for a generation’

Richard Horton does not hold back in his criticism of the UK’s response to the pandemic and the medical establishment’s part in backing fatal government decisions

There is a school of thought that says now is not the time to criticise the government and its scientific advisers about the way they have handled the Covid-19 pandemic. Wait until all the facts are known and the crisis has subsided, goes this thinking, and then we can analyse the performance of those involved. It’s safe to say that Richard Horton, the editor of the influential medical journal the Lancet, is not part of this school.

An outspoken critic of what he sees as the medical science establishment’s acquiescence to government, he has written a book that he calls a “reckoning” for the “missed opportunities and appalling misjudgments” here and abroad that have led to “the avoidable deaths of tens of thousands of citizens”. 

In being shielded, he has learned the true significance of key workers… ‘they are making society work’

Related: UK failures over Covid-19 will increase death toll, says leading doctor

Whitty is in the middle of viral storm… it’s debatable whether he’d increase public confidence by acknowledging he got it wrong

Continue reading…