POST – Rapid response content on COVID-19

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The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) has recent published several new reports relating to COVID-19.  If you’d like to sign up to the POST email newsletter, please go here: https://mailchi.mp/email.parliament.uk/post

COVID-19, children and schools
Children who have COVID-19 are much less likely to develop severe symptoms and much less likely to die from the disease than peple in older age groups. In this article we look at the latest evidence on transmission in children and what that may mean for the re-opening of schools in autumn. We have also produced a timeline of the scientific advice that was provided since February 2020 and the subsequent policy announcements on schools.

Read more on COVID-19 and schools


Child and adolescent mental health during COVID-19
Strained family relationships, reduced social contact and academic stress have mental health impacts on children and adolescents. In 2018/19 over 350,000 young people accessed NHS mental health services just in England. Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) have been reduced during the pandemic. They are likely to be under strain to meet increased demand.

Read more on children’s mental health


COVID-19 in children: July update
In our July update we look at the latest data on COVID-19 prevalence in the UK by age and sex. We explain the possible clinical outcomes for children and review evidence exploring confounding risk factors, such as underlying medical conditions and demographics. We also look at the latest data on how COVID-19 affects pregnancy.

Read more on COVID-19 and children


Effects of COVID-19 on the food supply system
COVID-19 has exposed vulnerabilities in the UK food system. Panic buying and the slow reaction of retailers exposed how cost-efficient and streamlined supply chains struggled to adapt to unforeseen shocks. Problems also arose from the closure of parts of the catering sector and the lack of agility in redistributing supplies from this sector to retail outlets or the food donation/charity sector.

Read more on COVID-19 and food supply chains


COVID-19 vaccines: July update on research
As of 6 July 2020, WHO figures showed almost 150 vaccine candidates in development across the world, 19 of which were being tested in humans. In the past few weeks, vaccine candidates have been rapidly progressing through the first two phases of clinical trials (Phase 1 and Phase 2). These trials test safety and if they stimulate an immune response in people.

Read more on COVID-19 vaccines


COVID-19 therapies
This article was updated on 1 May and again on 6 July. Since its original publication on 17 April, the number of COVID-19 clinical trials has increased from 524 to 2,378. There is currently no cure for COVID-19. Researchers are testing existing drugs to see if they act against SARS-CoV-2 or alleviate the symptoms of the disease. Initial positive findings show promise of Dexamethasone and Remdesivir. But negative findings are valuable because they allow researchers to focus on other drugs; there is good evidence that hydroxychloroquine does not offer any benefits to treat COVID-19 patients.

Read more on COVID-19 therapies


COVID-19: July update on face masks and face coverings for the general public
There is some weak evidence that face masks and coverings can reduce transmission of the virus in some specific circumstances, particularly poorly ventilated and crowded indoor spaces. Policy on using face coverings differs across the UK. This article includes a timeline of face mask policies in the UK and the available scientific advice from 6 April up to 3 July.

Read more on face covering guidance for the general public


Contact tracing apps for COVID-19
This article was updated on 14 May with information on the UK’s contact tracing app. It was updated again on 3 July after the UK Government announced that it would be trialling an app released by Apple and Google instead of the NHSX app which was trialled on the Isle of Wight.The release of this UK app is now not expected until the autumn at the earliest.

Read more on contact tracing apps

Daily Update 21/07/2020

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The total deaths as a result of Coronavirus now stands at 45,422, an increase of 110 as of today. 

UK public sector workers are to receive a pay increase of up to 3.1%. In a statement Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, said that “these past months have underlined what we always knew – that our public sector workers make a vital contribution to our country and that we can rely on them when we need them.” Between 2013-18 public sector pay was frozen for most public sector workers and pay increases were limited to 1% to help combat the government’s budget deficit. These pay increases represent the largest increase in public sector pay since that period. 

Britain and the European Union will fail to sign a post-Brexit deal with only a few days left before Boris Johnsons’ July deadline. According to the Telegraph the UK’s assumption is that there will be no deal. 

Daily Update 20/07/2020

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The total deaths as a result of Coronavirus now stand at 45,312, an increase of 11 as of today. 

Britain has a signed deals to purchase three prospective vaccines to help combat Coronavirus. The government has purchased 30 million doses of a possible Coronavirus vaccine from the pharmaceutical companies BioNtech and Pfizer; acquired 100 million doses of the Oxford University vaccine being produced by AstraZeneca; and 60 million doses of a vaccine produced by Valneva.

Daily Update 17/07/2020

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The total deaths as a result of Coronavirus now stands at 45,233, an increase of 114 as of today. 

Boris Johnson has encouraged Britons to prepare for a steady return to work as official guidelines on workplaces and the use of public transport are set to change from August 1. From August 1 workers will be asked to return to their offices, at the discretion of their employers.

Bowling, skating rinks, and casinos will also be allowed to open from August 1. In addition, wedding receptions with up to 30 people will be permitted. There will also be trials of openings of live music venues and sports arenas.  

Daily Update 16/07/2020

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Official employment figures reveal that the number of people on employer payrolls decreased by 649,000 between March, when the lockdown started, and June. Unemployment has not increased dramatically, however, because many employers have put their staff on the government’s furlough scheme. Job vacancies are at their lowest since records began in 2001 at an estimated 333,000. 

The education secretary announced today that universities across in England at risk of bankruptcy could apply for emergency loans from the government. Thirteen universities across England are at risk of bankruptcy, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies. Loans granted to at risk universities could come with conditions, such as ending “low value” courses.

Health Assured webinar

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How much do you know about the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)?

Are you aware that Health Assured provide a confidential support service that Members’ staff can access? They can provide help with issues such as:

  • Health and wellbeing information
  • Stress at home or work
  • Family and relationship problems
  • Financial issues including debt
  • Legal and consumer issues
  • Reporting a whistleblowing concern.

In order to find out more about the EAP, the Members’ Services Team have invited Health Assured to deliver a webinar exclusively for Members’ staff. They will talk in more detail about who they are, how to access their services and how to use the online portal. You will also have the opportunity to ask any questions you might have about the service.

The session is one hour long and will be taking place on Thursday 30 July 1.30pm. To book your place, please email MST@parliament.uk

Daily Update 14/07/2020

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The total deaths as a result of Coronavirus now stands at 44,968, an increase of 138 as of today. 

A major study has found that Coronavirus outbreaks are 20 times more likely in large care homes then small ones. Of the 55,000 people that have died of Coronavirus according to the ONS’ numbers, 40% of these deaths occurred in care homes. At the peak of the virus 25,000 people where discharged from hospitals into care homes without being tested for Coronavirus. 

Reported incidents of domestic violence have increased by over a tenth compared to the figures this time last year. The 11.4% increase in calls to police about domestic violence amounts to an additional 480 calls a week. 

Daily Update 13/07/2020

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The total death toll as a result of Coronavirus now stands at 44,830, an increase of 11 as of today. 

Tomorrow the government is set to announce that face-masks will be compulsory in shops across England, however these restrictions will not come into place until 24 July. Fines of up to £100 will be levied against anyone that breaks the new rules. 

The government’s post-EU immigration rules have come under criticism as it has been revealed that the new fast-track immigration system will not include care workers. Many care workers will be excluded from the list of workers eligible for the fast-track because their roles do not require sufficiently advanced qualifications or attract high enough salaries. 

Daily Update 10/07/2020

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The total death toll as a result of coronavirus now stands at 44,650, an increase of 48 as of today. 

The UK is to turn down the chance to a multibillion-euro EU plan secure supplies for potential coronavirus vaccines. John Bell, the regius professor of medicine at Oxford university working with development of a Covid-19 vaccine has said that he thought that the UK’s decision was a sensible one. In an interview with the Financial Times Bell stated that the UK has a “very, very good and coherent vaccine plan.”

England faces a serious risk of running out of water within 20 years. In a report the public accounts committee has said that the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, the financial regulator Ofwat and the Environment Agency had failed to insure that privatised water agencies invested adequately in infrastructure. More than three billion litres, or one fifth of treated water, is lost leakage everyday.