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Panel of experts at Bolton University to reveal truth behind Covid-19 vaccine conspiracy theories

They’re tackling misinformation around the vaccines



Keir Starmer / Flickr

A panel of experts at the University of Bolton are busting myths around the coronavirus vaccine that have been circulating online.

The university is working with a number of specialists to encourage people to get their jabs by finding the truth behind some of the claims about the vaccine.

The panel includes Dr Abhishek Kumar, a consultant interventional cardiologist who will chair the online seminar ‘Know the truth! Understand the advice, have the vaccine, protect yourself and your loved ones’, alongside other experts and community leaders.

Dr Kumar has explained that some on the Muslim community are concerned animal produce is found in the vaccine meaning it is not halal.

But the doctor encourages everyone to get the vaccine, explaining that this is simply not true.

He said: “There are these online conspiracy theories and people ask how do you know the vaccine is safe. People say it has microchips in it, that it contains animal products or that it can turn you sterile.

“Overall I think in the UK population about 15 million people have been vaccinated but there are concerning reports from different parts of the country that particularly in the BAME community there’s been a reluctance in vaccine uptake.

“In Bradford they’ve had similar issues. There have been reports from different parts of the country and the government did come out advice and various communications to try and dispel the myths and reassure people.”

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He added: “I and my colleagues with whom I work see the vaccination as a way out to the future.

“Everybody’s been suffering, people on the frontline, behind the scenes, people cooped up inside their house and children in particular. They can’t go to school, play or mix with their friends.

“This has had significant affects on the mental and physical wellbeing in general of most people. So we ought to move together in a direction where we try and help each other as a society so that we can come out of this series of lockdowns and that vaccine is the only way we have at the moment.

“There are no animal products in this vaccine, it’s safe to use, it’s efficient and it’s effective.”

Keir Starmer / Flickr

The panel includes Prof Sanjay Arya, medical director at Wrightington, Wigan & Leigh Teaching Hospital; Dr Wirin Bhatiani, chairman of Bolton’s Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Helen Lowey, Bolton’s director of public health, and Prof John Lumley, founding dean for the School of Medicine at the University of Bolton.

Professor George E Holmes, president and vice chancellor at the university, said: “We are delighted to host this fascinating and extremely important webinar.

“As a university that values all the diverse communities we serve, it is so important that the facts are presented to help people understand why getting the vaccination is so crucial. I would like to thank the eminent panel for agreeing to take part.”

The webinar will take place on February 17th at 3pm and is open to everyone. Register here


Manchester’s George Floyd mural has been defaced with racist graffiti once again




@JonConnorLyons / Twitter

The mural of George Floyd in the Northern Quarter has been defaced with racist graffiti once again.

A local councillor took to social media to share the news, slamming the ‘racist cowards’ who vandalised the artwork overnight.

The tribute was created by graffiti artist Akse P19 in Stevenson Square after Mr Floyd’s death sparked protests across the world.

Akse recently had to repaint the mural after it was defaced earlier this month. Around the same time two men were also arrested after filming themselves urinating on the artwork.

Councillor Jon-Connor Lyons, representing Piccadilly ward on Manchester city council, took to Twitter to share the news that once again the mural has been hit by a ‘racist vandal’.

The incident occurred at around 5.30am this morning, with a suspect spotted by CCTV operators before being chased and caught by police.

Mr Lyons took to Twitter to share the news, writing: “Earlier this morning, police officers gave chase to another racist vandal who decided to come in the dead of night to attack the George Floyd memorial.

“The man was spotted on CCTV & was chased by police through the city centre & was caught. Thank you to GMP for their vigilance!”

He added in a later tweet: “These racist vandals all come in the dead of night – they are cowards.

“They know themselves how shameful it is what they are doing, attacking a memorial of a man killed by police brutality, but obviously have to do it in the dead of night. Racist cowards the lot of them.”

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Face masks and Covid tests for school kids won’t be ‘compulsory’

The guidance on masks and tests won’t be enforceable



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News broke earlier in the week that secondary school students would have to wear face masks and take twice-weekly Covid tests when they return to classrooms from March 8th.

It’s now been confirmed that neither of these measures will be enforceable, with schools told they won’t actually be able to make students wear a mask.

This is despite the government saying that secondary school pupils would need to wear them, both in classrooms and in the corridor.

However, according to the finer details of the ‘operational guidance’ for schools, ‘no pupil should be denied education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering.’

While before Christmas a lot of secondary school and college students were wearing masks in corridors and communal areas, the ‘roadmap out of lockdown’ revealed this was being expanded so kids would have to wear them in classrooms too.

The official document states: “The government also recommends that the use of face coverings in Higher Education, Further Education and secondary schools is extended for a limited period to all indoor environments – including classrooms – unless 2m social distancing can be maintained.

“Face coverings are now also recommended in early years and primary schools for staff and adult visitors in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible, for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas.

“All children will once again be expected to attend school, as they were in the autumn term.”

The move had divided opinion among parents, with some saying they might keep their kids off school if they’re forced to wear masks, while others said they were in favour of it.

As well as face masks, it’s now been revealed that the twice-weekly Covid tests secondary students were meant to be taking are also ‘not compulsory’.

Education minister Nick Gibb confirmed that testing will be voluntary for pupils, saying that it remains ‘highly recommended’ to do so, however.

Mr Gibb added that it will not be a case of ‘no test, no school’, also clarifying that face masks will not be compulsory in schools, even though the government strongly advises pupils to use them.

He told Good Morning Britain: “No, they’re not compulsory but we highly recommend it, it’s everybody doing everything we can to identify asymptomatic cases of Covid, helping to reduce the transmission.

“The first three tests will be taken in the school that will show the students how to do it most effectively and it’s the students themselves that will do it at home with supervision by their parents.”

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The UK’s Covid-19 alert level has been downgraded

‘It is really important that we all – vaccinated or not – remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines’



Evelyn Simak / Geograph

Following the threat of the NHS being overwhelmed receding, the Covid alert level in the UK has been downgraded.

According to the UK’s chief medical officers, the alert level should move from 5 to 4, Sky News reports.

This is because the numbers of patients in hospital are ‘consistently declining and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded’.

Under Level 5, there was ‘a risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed’, while under Level 4 transmission of coronavirus is now ‘high or rising exponentially’ – so there’s still a way to go.

The four UK chief medical officers and NHS England’s national medical director said in a joint statement that they agreed the alert level should be downgraded.

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This follows advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre, but is also ‘in light of the most recent data’.

They added: “The health services across the four nations remain under significant pressure with a high number of patients in hospital, however thanks to the efforts of public we are now seeing numbers consistently declining, and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded.

“We should be under no illusions – transmission rates, hospital pressures and deaths are still very high. In time, the vaccines will have a major impact and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they receive the offer.

“However, for the time being, it is really important that we all – vaccinated or not – remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines.

“We know how difficult the situation has been and remains to be for healthcare workers, we thank them for their immense effort, skill and professionalism throughout the pandemic.”

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