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.
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.”
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’.
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.”
Elf Bar vapes removed from supermarket shelves after illegal nicotine levels found
Experts described the findings as ‘deeply disturbing’ and warned of a risk to young people illegally using the vapes.
Elf Bar vapes have been removed from major supermarket shelves after being found to be 50% over the legal nicotine limit.
The vapes have been taken off the shelves after the company admitted to ‘inadvertently’ selling products in the UK with legal levels of nicotine in them, a Daily Mail investigation has revealed. The disposable ELFBAR 600s were found to have at least 50% more than the legal limit for nicotine e-liquid.
Chinese vaping giant Elf Bar ‘wholeheartedly apologised’ after independent lab tests by the Daily Mail found its ‘600’ line of its disposable e-pens were at least 50% over the legal limit for nicotine. Experts described the findings as ‘deeply disturbing’ and warned of a risk to young people illegally using the vapes, which are sold by major supermarkets.
UK supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons stores, did stock the vapes but most have now confirmed that they have removed them. According to ITV, a Tesco spokesperson said: “We have temporarily removed one ELFBAR vape line from sale as a precautionary measure, whilst the manufacturer urgently investigates these claims.”
Sainsbury’s followed suit with a spokesperson saying: “We are in close contact with our supplier and have temporarily removed the affected Elf Bar product whilst they investigate further.”
A Morrisons spokesperson said: “We are taking this very seriously and we can confirm that we’re working closely with ELFBAR and Trading Standards to investigate this further.” With Asda confirming that they were ‘working with the supplier to investigate the matter’.
It is illegal for under-18s to buy vapes but with the brightly coloured packaging, a variety of flavours and sweet smells, it is no surprise they have become popular amongst young people.
A survey carried out by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) found that in 2022, 15.8% of 11-17 year olds had tried vaping, compared to 11.2% in 2021 and 13.9% in 2020. ASH also found that in 2022, 7.0% of 11-17 year olds were current users, compared to 3.3% in 2021 and 4.1% in 2020.
A Department for Social Care spokesperson stated that ‘local enforcement agencies’ are responsible for the regulation of such products.
They added that these agencies also have a duty of ‘taking action’ against non-compliant products including products that ‘do not comply’ with the 2ml nicotine limits.
Lap dancing club has licence renewed after claims it makes Manchester look ‘seedy’
The strip club has had its licence renewed despite objections from a local resident.
A lap dancing club in Manchester city centre has recently had its licence renewed despite claims from a local objector that it brings the area into ‘disrepute’ and makes it look ‘seedy’.
The ‘sexual entertainment’ venue based on Whitworth Street West, Deansgate, had its application for renewal granted by Manchester City Council despite objections from a local resident, as reported by the Manchester Evening News.
The resident claimed that the club’s proximity to Deansgate train station brings the city into ‘disrepute’, and that it ‘seems strange’ that visitors and children ‘have to walk past the front door of such a repulsive establishment as they form their first impression of Manchester’.
The sex establishment is located in close proximity to Deansgate Station, where many visitors and commuters get on and off the train in Manchester city centre. Representatives of the club dismissed the objection, arguing that it is based on ‘moral grounds’ which are not relevant to the local authority’s decision.
In an email, the objector – whose name is redacted in papers published by the council – calls for the club to move elsewhere, saying: “I live in Deansgate ward and have frequently thought that the presence of the strip club Obsessions, on the doorstep of one of our big intercity stations, brings the area into disrepute. Its exterior is poorly maintained, hinting at the seedy activity that occurs within.
“It seems very strange that visitors to our beautiful and culturally rich city centre, including international visitors and families with children, have to walk past the front door of such a repulsive establishment as they form their first impression of Manchester.
“I feel strongly that such a business should not be permitted such visibility, and that another location should be found for it. For these reasons, it is the duty of the council to take the opportunity of the licence expiring to rid Deansgate of this unsavoury enterprise.”
Speaking on behalf of the club at a town hall hearing on Monday February 6th, Heath Thomas said Obsessions has been licensed since 2006 and that the character of the area has not changed during that time. He also argued that the objection is on ‘moral grounds’ which is not a reason to refuse the licence.
Mr Thomas told the licensing panel that the property is maintained and is not an ‘eyesore’ locally, and that the police recently inspected the premises and confirmed it is meeting all of the conditions of its licence. No other objections were received in response to the application to renew the club’s sex establishment licence, as Mr Thomas added: “It is just this one email.”
Another lap dancing club in the city centre – Victoria’s in Dantzic Street – also had its licence renewed on Monday February 6th, with no objections received.
Nicola Bulley: Private dive team brought in as last images of missing mum released
Private dive teams have join the search to help find Nicola.
A team of private divers have joined search efforts to find missing mum, Nicola Bulley as last images of her from her doorbell camera have been released.
In what is now into the 10th day of the search for the missing mum-of-two, divers from the private Specialist Group International (SGI) are now assisting Lancashire Police. The firm’s founder, Peter Faulding, said he had offered the team’s services free of charge to the force.
The 45-year-old mum was last seen by a member of the public on a riverside dog walk in St Michael’s on Wyre, in Lancashire, on Friday January 27th. Police believe she may have fallen into the River Wyre.
The mortgage advisor was captured on the doorbell camera of her home as she went on the school run before her disappearance. The images show her getting ready to set off on the four-mile journey from her home. Dressed in her walking boots and hooded raincoat, she is seen opening the boot of the family car as her dog, Willow, jumps in the back.
The private team of drivers have already been scouring the water as they join a team of volunteers, along with mountain rescue, sniffer dogs, drones and helicopters, but no trace of Ms Bulley has yet been found. The firm’s founder, Peter Faulding said: “We’re bringing extra divers, and we also bring hi-tech sonar.
“It gives us double the resources so we can cover an extremely large area.”
Police said SGI’s offer to assist in the search was ‘taken up after speaking with Nicola’s family’, saying: “We continue to lead an extensive and far-reaching multi-agency search using a wide range of specialist equipment and resources.”
Hoping the extra help would bring the family ‘answers’, friend, Emma Wight, added: “Following the theory or hypothesis of the police that Nicola is in the river, we need some evidence to back that up either way.”
After she was last sighted, Ms Bulley’s phone was found on a bench by the Wyre, along with a dog harness, some 25 minutes later.
It was still logged in to a conference call.
Lancashire Police have said there was no evidence of ‘anything untoward’ happening to her or any third-party involvement.
With Detective Superintendent Sally Riley saying officers were ‘as sure as we can be that Nicola has not left the area where she was last seen and that very sadly for some reason she has fallen into the water’.
Detectives said they were open to new information and criticised the online abuse of people who had been helping their inquiry, declaring it ‘totally unacceptable’.
Ms Bulley’s disappearance has drawn a lot of attention on social media with thousands of people commenting on the ongoing search. Many have wished the family well while some people have been speculating about what might have happened by discussing the family’s finances and relationships.
According to the BBC, Ms Bulley’s friend Heather Gibbons said ‘vile’ theories being shared online were hurtful, and that she was concerned that as Ms Bulley’s daughters get older ‘they will be able to look back and they will be able to see everything that was said’.
As reported by the Manchester Evening News, a spokesperson for Lancashire Police said: “The speculation and abuse on social media aimed at some people who are merely assisting our enquiry is totally unacceptable.
“We would urge people to remember that we are investigating the disappearance of Nicola, and the priority is Nicola and her family. We want to find her and provide answers to her family.”