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When a coronavirus vaccine might be available after initial trial creates an immune reaction

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The findings from a potential coronavirus vaccine trial have been celebrated, with Boris Johnson deeming it a ‘step in the right direction’. 

Scientists at the University of Oxford have revealed they are currently working on a vaccine that is safe and induces an immune reaction. 

Researchers around the world are racing to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 with the World Health Organisation following the development of over 140 candidate vaccines.

Professor Sarah Gilbert from Oxford said that after intensive research they were ‘more than happy with the first results’. 

She told the Guardian:  “We’re really pleased that it seems to be behaving just as we thought it would do. We have quite a lot of experience of using this technology to make other vaccines, so we knew what we expected to see, and that’s what we have seen.” 

While Boris Johnson explains this as ‘very positive news’ he added:  “There are no guarantees, we’re not there yet and further trials will be necessary – but this is an important step in the right direction.”

Matt Hancock said: “Very encouraging news. We have already ordered 100 million doses of this vaccine, should it succeed.”

Despite this, Professor Gilbert and her colleagues will not predict when the vaccine will be available, explaining ‘none of us have a crystal ball’. 

While the lockdown drastically reduced the circulation of COVID-19 and saved many lives it also made it very difficult to trial vaccines. 

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The study released the results on Monday, which involved 1,000 healthy volunteers half of which were given the vaccine and half were given meningitis vaccine. 

The results were a ‘really important milestone’ according to Professor Andrew Pollard, lead author on the study. 

He added: “We are seeing exactly the sort of immune responses we were hoping for, including neutralising antibodies and T-cell responses, which, at least from what we’ve seen in the animal studies, seem to be those that are associated with protection.

“We just don’t know what level is needed if you meet this virus in the wild, to provide protection, so we need to do the clinical trials and to work that out.”

Pollard added that researches should be able to find out this from the vaccine trails which will help vaccine developers.

He explained: “We don’t know what high is. We’ve got immune responses that we can measure, we can see the virus being neutralised when the antibodies are tested in the laboratory, but we don’t know how much is needed. I mean it’s encouraging but it’s only the first milestone on this long path.”

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While some scientists are hopeful that a vaccine could be ready by autumn, others have avoided speculation over when it could be available at this early stage.

Pascal Soriot, the chief executive of AstraZeneca, which is the pharmaceutical company that developed the vaccine alongside the Oxford scientists, has said that if successful, the vaccine could be distributed as early as the end of 2020.

He told reporters: “We’re working as quickly as we can but of course there are things that we cannot control, in particular the infection rate in the community which influences the results. We’re basically starting the manufacturing process in parallel to running the clinical trials.

“Our hope is that we can actually start delivering the vaccine before the end of the year, and how early before the end of the year depends really on infection rates in the community.”

This was backed up by Kate Bingham, the UK Vaccine Taskforce’s chairwoman, who told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme ‘optimistically we will be vaccinating by the end of the year’, before adding that she wouldn’t ‘go to the bank on it yet’.

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In an ideal world, the coronavirus vaccine will help fight any risk of infection however scientists have already accepted that instead, the vaccine will reduce the severity of the disease instead and in turn reduce the risk of death. 

A further question is how long any immune response will last and how regularly people will need booster shots. 

However, Gilbert explains that the work so far suggests this will not be a problem. The vaccine is delivered in an inactivated chimp adenovirus (similar to the common cold in humans) and there have been concerns that this might be recognised and rejected by the immune system. 

“We actually show in the paper that there are some antibodies that develop against the vaccine vector itself – against the adenovirus – it doesn’t stop the vaccine from boosting,” she said.

There are also other questions as to the success rate of the vaccine on older adults. Safety trials have already begun in two groups of adults, one in 56-69 and the other in over-70s, says Gilbert. 

“The immune system has two ways of finding and attacking pathogens – antibody and T-cell responses. This vaccine is intended to induce both, so it can attack the virus when it’s circulating in the body, as well as attacking infected cells,” said Pollard.

“We hope this means the immune system will remember the virus, so that our vaccine will protect people for an extended period. However, we need more research before we can confirm the vaccine effectively protects against Sars-CoV-2 infection, and for how long any protection lasts.”

Other scientists have cautiously welcomed the study in a similar response to a second paper published in Lancet which showed trials of Wuhan of a vaccine developed in China. This used a similar process, using a human adenovirus vector showed it was also safe and generated an immune response. 

Head of global policy and advocacy at the research charity Welcome Trust, Alex Harris said the Oxford University result was just one crucial step but it’s very encouraging, and builds on the incredible global research effort during this crisis.

“To see promising results from several candidates in months is remarkable, but we must also be prepared for some candidates to fail in the later stages and be realistic about time frames for manufacturing and roll-out.”

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Tributes pour in for ‘gorgeous’ mum killed in Liverpool dog attack

Police say five American bulldogs have since been ‘humanely destroyed’

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Ann Dunn / Facebook & Granada Reports

Tributes have been pouring in for the ‘gorgeous’ mum who was mauled to death by five dogs in Liverpool.

Ann Dunn, sixty-five, died after being attacked by five American bulldogs in a property on St. Brigids Crescent, Vauxhall.

Merseyside Police were called out by paramedics on Monday October 3rd at around 4:25pm. However, Ann’s injuries were too serious and she was pronounced as dead at the scene.

Police say five American bulldogs, which were found inside the property, were handed over and have now been humanely destroyed.

Ann Dunn / Facebook

Officers also confirmed that a thirty-one-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of owning a dog dangerously out of control. He remains in custody.

Following the news of her death, people who knew Ann have paid their own tributes to the mum and grandmother on social media.

One person wrote on Facebook: “RIP gorgeous lady, still can’t believe it Ann. Had some good times with you I will never forget.”

She added: “I am all so heartbroken for you kids and family right now. Don’t want to even think how they feeling… So happy I got [sic] have old chat with you on Friday even though it was only for 10 minutes, keeping looking over your family.”

Another social media user added: “Heart breaking thinking of all the family, devastated for yous all. R.I.P lovely Ann.”

Ann Dunn / Facebook

Liverpool John Moores University, where Ann worked as a cleaner, also paid tribute to their ‘hard-working and dedicated’ employee.

They said: “The university community is absolutely shocked and devastated by this tragic loss and to lose Ann in this way is just heart-breaking. Ann was hard-working and dedicated and had so many friends across the organisation. It’s just awful and she will be terribly missed.

“Our thoughts at this time are with her family and loved-ones.”

Detective Inspector Katie Coote added: “This is clearly a very distressing incident and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the lady who died.

“Our enquiries remain ongoing as we seek to establish what has happened and I would urge anyone who could assist our enquiries to get in touch.”

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Man arrested after woman killed by ‘five dogs’ in Liverpool

The dogs have since been ‘humanely destroyed’

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Granada Reports & BBC Breakfast

A man has been arrested after a woman was killed after she was attacked by five dogs in a house in Liverpool.

Merseyside Police were called out by paramedics yesterday (Monday October 3rd) after reports a sixty-three-year-old woman had been attacked by the animals inside a property down St. Brigid’s Crescent in Kirkdale.

The woman, who is yet to be formally identified, died at the scene following the attack at around 4.25pm. 

Police say five American bulldogs, which were found inside the property, were handed over and have now been humanely destroyed.

A thirty-one-year-old man has since been arrested on suspicion of owning a dog deemed to be dangerously out of control. He remains in custody.

An investigation into the incident remains ongoing and a post-mortem will be carried out to establish the exact cause of death.

Detective Inspector Katie Coote said: “This is clearly a very distressing incident and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the lady who died.

“Our enquiries remain ongoing as we seek to establish what has happened and I would urge anyone who could assist our enquiries to get in touch.”

Anyone with information is asked to DM @MerPolCC or @CrimestoppersUK on Twitter. Alternatively, they can be contacted via telephone on 0800 555 111 quoting reference 22000731247.

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New details about Greater Manchester’s Bee Network transport system revealed

The first fifty Bee Network buses are due to be rolled out in part of the region next year

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Transport for Greater Manchester

As the launch date for Greater Manchester’s highly-anticipated Bee Network draws ever closer, more details about the new transport system have been unveiled.

Mayor Andy Burnham unveiled the first look at the Bee Network’s fleet of electric buses last month, with the first fifty due to be rolled out across Wigan and Bolton on September 17th, 2023. 

The rest of the network will then be implemented across the region by January 2025, alongside Bee Network cycle hire bikes and, ultimately, the Metrolink network.

The buses will be powered by electric batteries to ensure they produce zero local emissions, supporting Greater Manchester in building a sustainable future for public transport.

This comes as Transport for Greater Manchester confirmed a receipt of thirty-three bids from nine different operators vying to run the locally controlled bus services – the first in thirty-six years.

Andy Burnham said of the new network: “The countdown to bringing buses back under local control for the first time in thirty-six years is well and truly on.

“With the order placed for our first fifty new electric buses and strong interest from operators who want to run the first franchised services a year from now, the Bee Network is gathering real momentum.

“We’ve already seen a positive response to our call for people to get back on board, helped by the successful introduction of cheaper bus fares across Greater Manchester to help residents cope with the cost-of-living crisis and I’m pleased to announce that we have commenced engagement with operators about the potential to cap weekly bus tickets from early next year.”

“The previous government bought into what we are trying to do, and I underlined the importance of this partnership approach continuing during my meeting with the new Transport Secretary yesterday.

“By working together, we will realise our ambitions and deliver a network that will transform how people get around our city region – not just in the years ahead but for future generations.”

Bus franchising will be rolled out in phases, starting in Bolton and Wigan as well as parts of Salford and West Manchester on September 17th 2023, followed by Bury, Rochdale, Oldham and parts of North Manchester from the end of March 2024.

Stockport, Trafford, Tameside and South Manchester, as well as the remaining parts of Salford, will be rolled out from January 5th, 2025.

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