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Covid-19 Research Update

Tom Harrop gives an overview of the lastest developments in Oxford research from vaccine to track and trace systems to the pub.

New study reveals Oxford coronavirus vaccine produces strong immune response

20th July

The vaccines being designed by Oxford University’s Jenner’s Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group are proving to be safe and reliable. The vaccine, which prompts attacks by T cells and the production of antibodies to defeat the coronavirus, is being put through its paces in clinical control trials. Studies have found that the vaccine is more effective when patients have had two doses, a so-called second booster dose.

So far the vaccine has performed well under the heat of testing. Researchers are continuing to conduct trials in the US, South Africa, and Brazil, all having reached Phase III trials. In light of the positive progress being made, the Government has injected £84 million into the program. We can all be hopeful that their much appreciated efforts will save lives and help end the pandemic.

Oxford study suggests notable decline in coronavirus cases and R rate on Isle of Wight after launch of the test and trace programme

15th July

The University has run trials on its new track and trace system on the Isle of Wight. The region was feared to be one of the most at risk from the pandemic due to an aging population and deprivation. Thankfully, there is more positive news, the rate of infection has plummeted after the systems introduction. Correlation or causation? Researchers are still in efforts to understand whether the track and trace system is directly responsible for this fall or whether it is coincidence, but they are hopeful that the system did indeed cause the fall.

With a dip in rate of infection, there has also been a significant drop in the estimated R-value in the region; this is again highly encouraging. The R value is the average of how many people an individual with coronavirus goes on to infect; a low value is better.

Mathematical modellers used a synthetic control based on combined data from other regions of the UK to measure the impact of the scheme. This modelling between the actual region and a comparable synthetic region has shown that the modelled region which was at an R-value of 0.75 was far higher than the actual R-value of the Isle of Wight in mid-May of 0.25. This suggests the track and trace system was effective.

Face coverings made compulsory after Oxford COVID-19 study inspires debate

14th July

In last week’s update, we saw the release of data that proved that face masks were highly effective at preventing the transmission of Covid-19. Even DIY masks could provide 95% filtration if worn correctly.

This data prompted a debate amongst researchers, public health officials, and those in Government. It appears they have chosen to listen to the experts and have now made the use of face masks compulsory in shops. Boris Johnson admitted that the Government “could have done things differently”.

We’re going down the pub: Oxford data shows leap in movement as UK hits the town in July

14th July

Moving on, it appears we’re doing just that. Following on from last week’s update which reported a steady rise of movement growing at 2-3% a week, we’re now motoring back towards normality. So, how much more are we moving? Well, when compared to the movement of the two weeks prior, London saw a jump in movement of some 70% according to the Oxford Covid-19 Impact Monitor. This change is reflective of a spike in movement across the nation.

Gyms, shops, pubs and restaurants have all now reopened. Hopefully, the reopening of these vital amenities will improve public mood and motivation for abiding by the necessary measures such as handwashing, distancing, and application of face masks. It’s important we all continue to stick to these recommendations and compulsory measures, when possible.

If we continue to collectively do our best to limit the spread of the virus, we will avoid the risk of a second wave. So, the more we distance now, the sooner we’ll be back in Park End with a VK in-hand and grabbing those cheesy chips from Hassan’s, with mint sauce, of course.

Image attribution: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/corona-coronavirus-virus-blood-5174671/

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