Four Bits Of Covid News That Won't Make You Despair

Amidst the bleak headlines of this week, there have been some positive developments.

Between record death tolls, a national lockdown with no end in sight and the bleak January weather to contend with, it feels as though there’s very little to be happy about right now.

But amidst the gloom, progress is being made in the fight against the virus – even if it doesn’t seem that way.

To offset the utter chaos of the news cycle, here are four developments this week that won’t make you despair.

More than three million people have had a Covid jab

Little more than a month on from the first ever Covid-19 jab being administered in Coventry, three million doses of the jab have now been given out.

The milestone was announced by health secretary Matt Hancock on Thursday, who wrote: “I’m delighted that 3 MILLION vaccines have now been administered.

“We’re accelerating the Covid vaccine roll-out across the UK.”

Three Covid vaccines have now been approved for use in the UK – the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, the UK-developed Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and the Moderna vaccine.

The government has recently been criticised for delaying the second dose of the jab for thousands of people at the top of the priority list, but says all people in the four most vulnerable groups will be vaccinated by the middle of February.

Despite a warning from a health minister that a round-the-clock vaccine rollout would be “impossible”, the prime minister pledged on Wednesday that “we will be going to 24/7 as soon as we can” but acknowledged the supply was currently not in place to do so.

The number of new Covid cases has started to fall in English regions

Cases have fallen in every region of England.
Cases have fallen in every region of England.
NIKLAS HALLE'N via Getty Images

According to the latest NHS data, the number of new Covid cases has now started to fall in every region of England for the first time since the start of the second wave of the pandemic.

The areas put under the toughest tier 4 restrictions in December are seeing bigger drops than those who remained in tier 3 until the national lockdown was introduced on January 5.

The most recent seven-day rolling average is down by as much as a third in the east of England and just slightly less in the south-east and London – all areas where Christmas bubbles were cancelled.

The change in cases was most pronounced in the East of England, where the number of new infections decreased by 34% as of a seven-day rolling average up to January 11, compared with the seven-day average recorded the previous day.

The NHS data breaks down the regions into 151 smaller areas, revealing that just 12 areas of the country had seen a rise in case numbers.

A trial for a new treatment has just started

A stock image of a man using a nebuliser, similar to the type to be used in the trial.
A stock image of a man using a nebuliser, similar to the type to be used in the trial.
sdominick via Getty Images

A trial of a brand new treatment for Covid-19 began this week, with experts hoping it will stop patients from developing the most severe forms of the virus.

The BBC reported that the first patient received the treatment at Hull Royal Infirmary on Tuesday, marking the start of a new large-scale trial.

The treatment involves inhaling interferon beta, a protein produced naturally by the body when it gets a viral infection. The new approach is hoped to stimulate the immune system, preparing cells to tackle the virus ahead of time.

Results of a UK clinical trial, released in December, suggest patients who received the drug, known as SNG001, were more than twice as likely to recover from Covid-19, compared to those who received a placebo – a substance designed to have no therapeutic value.

Professor Tom Wilkinson, from the University of Southampton, who led the study said: “The results confirm our belief that interferon beta, a widely known drug approved for use in its injectable form for other indications, may have the potential as an inhaled drug to restore the lung’s immune response and accelerate recovery from Covid-19.”

The BBC reported that a course of treatment with SNG001 could cost around £2,000 – relatively inexpensive for a hospital treatment.

The third phase of the trial, started on Tuesday in Hull, is expected to conclude in early summer after work is carried out with some 600 patients in 20 countries.

If the trial goes well, reports indicate, the treatment is expected to quickly be approved for use in the UK.

Pharmacies have started delivering their first Covid vaccines

Pharmacist Andrew Hodgson administers a dose of the coronavirus vaccine to Robert Salt, 82, at Andrews Pharmacy in Macclesfield, Cheshire.
Pharmacist Andrew Hodgson administers a dose of the coronavirus vaccine to Robert Salt, 82, at Andrews Pharmacy in Macclesfield, Cheshire.
Peter Byrne - PA Images via Getty Images

Six pharmacies in England became the first in the country to deliver Covid-19 jabs on Thursday, with the director of one high street pharmacy describing the step as one of “the biggest days of my career”.

Speaking to the PA news agency on Thursday, director Andrew Hodgson, who owns Andrews Pharmacy in Macclesfield, Cheshire, described the rush to set up a vaccination site as “a whirlwind”.

He gave the first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab to 82-year-old Robert Salt at 8am on Thursday morning.

“It is probably the biggest single day of my career,” Mr Hodgson said.

He added: “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. We’ve set this up in three or four weeks from scratch.

“The whole team is very excited to be part of the rollout.”

Elsewhere, Boots in Halifax, Cullimore Chemist in Edgware, north London, Woodside Pharmacy in Telford, Appleton Village Pharmacy in Widnes and Superdrug in Guildford have also joined the roll-out.

By the end of the January more than 200 community chemists with capacity for 1,000 doses a week will be able to give vaccines, according to NHS England.

The pharmacies join the 200 hospitals, around 800 GP clinics and seven mass vaccination centres where jabs are already being handed out.


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