Here are the coronavirus morning headlines for Wednesday, February 3, as it is being reported the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine appears to cut transmission rates by 67%.
The preliminary results of a study conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford found the efficacy from two standard doses of the vaccine administered three months apart to be 82.4%.
But it is the fact it also seems to dramatically cut transmission after just one dose that will mean lockdown measures can be lifted sooner, a former chair at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine has said.
Dr Gillies O’Bryan-Tear said the results, which have yet to be peer reviewed, were the first definitive estimate of the impact of vaccination on transmission rates.
“If the effect on transmission is confirmed for the Pfizer vaccine too, this would be a very positive,” he said.
“If these vaccines reduce transmission to the extent reported, it will mean that the easing of social restrictions will be enabled sooner, than if we have to wait for herd immunity – which may never in fact be achieved because of insufficient vaccine population coverage.”
He added: “That would be the holy grail of the global vaccine rollout, and these data bring us one step closer.”
Senior public health officials have warned since the first vaccine was approved that there was no data to indicate what impact it would have on transmission rates.
If a vaccine only prevents a patient becoming severely ill, but they are still able to catch and pass on the virus, then everyone needs to have received a jab to be protected.
But if the vaccine also stops someone hosting and spreading the virus, then each vaccinated person also protects others.
Coronavirus antibodies last for at least six months after infection
Coronavirus antibodies last for at least six months after infection for the majority of people who have had the virus, according to a new study.
The research also found that 8.8% of the UK population had been infected by December 2020, rising as high as 12.4% in London and as low as 5.5% in Scotland.
A study from UK Biobank, the UK’s major biomedical database and research resource, measured the levels of previous infection in various population groups across the UK.
It also looked at how long antibodies persisted in those who were infected.
According to the study, 99% of participants who had tested positive for previous infection retained coronavirus antibodies for three months after being infected, while 88% did so for the full six months of the study.
Researchers say this indicates antibodies produced following natural infection may provide a degree of protection for most people against getting infected again for at least six months.
Coronavirus rates in Wales continue to fall
Another seven people have died with coronavirus in Wales as the infection rate across the country continues to fall.
Latest figures from Public Health Wales (PHW) published on Tuesday, February 2, show 614 new cases of the virus have been recorded to bring the total since the pandemic began to 193,526. The number of people who have now died with the virus in Wales has now reached 4,782.
Following the latest figures the Wales infection rate is now down to 131.3 per 100,000 population for the seven days up to January 28. That is a decrease on the 141 previously reported. It has not been this low since mid-October.
Dr Giri Shankar, from Public Health Wales, did warn that while the all-Wales picture is one of falling cases there are some areas of concern, especially in North Wales.
He said: “Although the data currently shows that on an all-Wales level the numbers of cases are reducing and that the incidence is now below 150 cases per 100,000 population the rates in some areas – particularly in north Wales – are still at more than double that.
“The pressure on our hospitals is still severe and shows no signs of easing yet so it is extremely important that everyone sticks to the rules and stays at home as much as possible.”
Bus driver died day after receiving news he had coronavirus
A dad-of-three suffering with Covid-19 joked about having ‘another week off work’ after news of his positive test. A day later he had died.
Known as a “funny” and loving father, Stagecoach bus driver Kevin Woolley, 42, collapsed at home and later died, having fallen ill with the virus just days previously, and finding out he had tested positive on January 3.
In a poignant Facebook post to friends and family on January 2, Kevin described how he was struggling with a nasty cough that kept him awake.
He wrote: “Worst night ever last night. Climbed the stairs at 9pm, started coughing and was still coughing after 11.30pm. Finally dropped off, but only for an hour, then the coughing came back. Coughing blood in the early hours. Dropped off about 6am and was back up by 7am.”
Charities vow Captain Sir Tom’s legacy will live on ‘for years to come’
Captain Sir Tom Moore’s legacy will live on “for years and years”, charities have vowed, as his death prompted heartfelt tributes from around the world.
The charity fundraiser, who raised more than £32 million for the NHS during the first lockdown, died at the age of 100 on Tuesday morning after testing positive for Covid-19.
His family said the last year of his life was “nothing short of remarkable”, and that he had “experienced things he’d only ever dreamed of”.
Sir Tom set out to raise £1,000 for NHS Charities Together by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday last April – but his efforts struck a chord with the nation and the donations flooded in.
In acknowledgement of his efforts, he was knighted by the Queen during a unique open-air ceremony at Windsor Castle in summer 2020.
Ellie Orton, chief executive of NHS Charities Together, said Sir Tom “lifted the spirits of an entire nation” and demonstrated that “you’re never too old, you’re never too anything to care for people and to make a difference”.
She told the Press Association news agency: “He really was a beacon of hope, the optimism that he brought in and hope to us in a really dark and difficult time for this nation and particularly for the NHS is just incredible.
“He is held in such amazing high regard, he is a national hero and his legacy will live on in the NHS for years and years to come.”
The Captain Tom Foundation, which was set up to support causes close to Sir Tom’s heart, said its work would “aspire to ensure Tom’s message of hope becomes an enduring legacy”.
“Whilst we mourn his loss, we celebrate his life and will be forever grateful for his optimistic philosophy and wonderful spirit,” a statement said.
“Thank you Captain Sir Tom. Because of you tomorrow will be a good day for so many more.”
Sir Tom had been taken to hospital on Sunday after being treated for pneumonia for some time and testing positive for coronavirus last week.
His family praised the care he had received from the NHS and said they had been able to spend time with him in his final hours.
Nurses ‘on their knees’ as staffing shortages bite
More than eight in 10 nurses have feared for patient safety due to staffing shortages, a new poll suggests.
A survey of 1,200 British nurses found that 86% have worked shifts in recent months where they felt patient safety had been at risk due to staff shortages.
Nurses described how they and their colleagues were “exhausted”, “on their knees” and “broken” as they work tirelessly to care for Covid-19 patients.
The survey, conducted by the Nursing Times during the last two weeks of January, found that 94% worked shifts that were short-staffed due to colleagues being off sick or self-isolating.
And a third (35%) had taken time off work themselves either because of Covid-19 or needing to self-isolate since October.
Almost a quarter had been off due to stress, fatigue or another mental health concern, Nursing Times said.
A community nurse told the publication: “I have been a nurse for almost 40 years – I’ve seen colleagues with low morale but this time they are broken.”
Another hospital nurse said: “We are on our knees on every shift. Our trauma is continuing, we have no time to recover.”
Fears of staff working at Newport call centre
A call centre worker in Newport has raised concerns that a “major outbreak” could be on the cards, due to an alleged lack of coronavirus safety procedures.
The worker at Lloyds Bank call centre in Newport, who wished to remain anonymous, had raised concerns after staff on the same floor as other workers who had tested positive for Covid-19 were moved to non-infected floors with other staff.
The worker also claimed that staff contacted by Track and Trace and told to self-isolate were not being asked to provide NHS isolation notes.
They said they were concerned that the company was therefore unable keep track of how many staff were being potentially infected.
The worker also claimed that 13 staff at the call centre had tested positive for the virus, with one person having died. The company has not confirmed or denied the number of cases, but said the “health and wellbeing of colleagues and customers is our priority.”
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk