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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.”

Keir Starmer / Flickr

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


Around 20 people involved in mass brawl ‘with knives’ in Piccadilly Gardens

The violence spilled out into the street



Magnus D / Flickr

A large group of people were involved in a mass fight ‘with knives’ in Piccadilly Gardens last night.

Around 20 people were caught up in the large brawl on Monday evening, and according to reports some were armed with knives.

The fight took place outside Morrisons on the end of Oldham Street, and happened around 9:30pm.

Witnesses reported seeing some of the suspects carrying knives, although police didn’t recover any from the scene, and busses were forced to stop as the violence spread out onto the road.

Peter McDermott / Geograph

Someone who witnessed the fight said on Twitter: “Piccadilly gardens is the roughest place on earth… a lovely night out helping ruined by a group of young kids kicking each others faces in”.

Officers responded to the incident, but no arrests were made or serious injuries reported.

This incident was the third of serious violence in just a few days.

Saturday afternoon saw another incident outside Morrisons in Piccadilly Gardens, in which a man was slashed in the face.

And on Sunday a brawl involving two tables at Barca bar in Castlefield happened, with some involved arming themselves with weapons like bar furniture and a baseball bat.

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Leading scientists call for end of face masks and social distancing by June

Do you agree?



Leading scientists have written to the UK government calling for social distancing and face masks to be scrapped from June.

In total 22 scientists have signed the communication, saying that these measures should finish on June 22nd – the same date limits on social contact are set to be scrapped in England.

One of the scientists who has added their name to the letter is Dr Roland Salmon, the former director of the communicable disease centre in Wales.

Nickolay Romensky/Flickr

Dr Salmon told BBC Radio Wales: “I am not venting my frustration but I do think some dialogue is well overdue.

“I have always felt that there has been little credible evidence benefit for many of the measures that we take.”

According to him, the letter was written to encourage the government to focus on protecting vulnerable people rather than the masses as we move forward.

Dr Salmon said we need to deal with the ‘here and now’ when asked about the threat of variants, going on to add that the vaccine has shown it helps prevent severe disease and death.

He added: “We can’t stop living forever while we wait for things to happen”.

Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

Scientists who’ve signed the letter include Prof Robert Dingwall from Nottingham Trent University, who sits on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG). 

There’s also Prof Anthony Brookes, a geneticist and health data scientist at the University of Leicester, and Prof Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University.

The letter reads: “We are being told simultaneously that we have successful vaccines and that major restrictions on everyday life must continue indefinitely. Both propositions cannot be true.

“We need to give more weight to the data on the actual success of the vaccines and less to theoretical risks of vaccine escape and/or surge in a largely vaccinated population.”

It continues: “Covid-19 no longer requires exceptional measures of control in everyday life, especially where there have been no evaluations and little credible evidence of benefit.

“Measures to reduce or discourage social interaction are extremely damaging to the mental health of citizens; to the education of children and young people; to people with disabilities; to new entrants to the workforce; and to the spontaneous personal connections from which innovation and enterprise emerge.”

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Boris Johnson is regarded as ‘untrustworthy’ by six out of 10 voters

It follows weeks of allegations against the PM



No10 / Flickr

According to a new poll Boris Johnson is seen as ‘untrustworthy’ by six out of 10 voters in Britain, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer seen as more trustworthy.

The poll from Ipsos MORI was shared by the Evening Standard, and comes after weeks of leaks and allegations about sleaze aimed at the prime minister.

The research found that Mr Johnson is trusted by just 35% of voters and deemed untrustworthy by 59%, while Sir Keir is seen as trustworthy by 42% and is untrusted by 41%.

No10 / Flickr

Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, said: “On honesty Boris Johnson is clearly trumped by Keir Starmer, so this is an area of potential risk for him. 

“However, his own supporters still trust him, and the public overall have never seen it as one of his strongest attributes … and as previous leaders such as Tony Blair have shown, you don’t have to be ahead on trust to win elections. 

“The key question is whether and if these stories continue and start to change the public’s overall view on him as PM.”

No10 / Flickr

The poll was taken following weeks of reports about murky donations being used to refurbish the prime minister’s flat, as well as disclosures about covert lobbying.

However, it was undertaken before the most recent allegations that Mr Johnson said he’d rather see ‘bodies pile high’ than have another lockdown, so those reports won’t have been taken into consideration by those polled.

Despite all the recent controversy, the prime minister and government’s net satisfaction hasn’t changed much since March, with both Mr Johnson (44 satisfied/50 dissatisfied) and Sir Keir (36/46) having net negative ratings.

Ipsos MORI interviewed 1090 adults across the UK by telephone from April 16th to the 22nd – you can find full details here.

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