Covid vaccine

Eugenics will never work – thankfully

In his most recent book, How to Argue With a Racist, the geneticist Adam Rutherford set out a lucid account of how the basis for many widely held and apparently commonsensical ideas about race are pseudoscientific; and he lightly sketched, along the way, the historical context in which they arose and the ideological prejudices that nourished them. We might have some half-baked ideas about how evolution works — and have unthinkingly accepted racial categories invented by 18th-century imperialists — but, he assured us in perhaps the standout line of the book, the underlying genetics is ‘wickedly complicated’. Control is a companion piece to that one. It again looks at the

Should we vaccinate kids against Covid?

Children could start getting Covid vaccines over the summer as part of the government’s herd immunity strategy. As Katy Balls reported last month, the current thinking in government is that vaccinating the majority of the population is the best way to stop the virus in its tracks. But where does this leave parents like me who have concerns about giving their children the jab? NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens has already mooted the idea of combining the flu and Covid vaccinations into one dose. And streamlining the two vaccinations makes perfect sense for adults. But it could put parents in a difficult position.  All this leads to the question of whether

Why are so many health workers turning down the vaccine?

On Saturday the government hit its target of administering a first vaccine dose to 15 million of the highest-risk groups for Covid 19. By now, everyone over the age of 70, all healthcare workers and vulnerable groups should have been offered a vaccine. It is an impressive achievement which stands in contrast to many of the other things that have gone wrong over the past year. But there is a rather large fly sitting in the ointment. While 90 per cent of eligible members of the general public have turned up for their appointments (97 per cent in the over-80s), the same is true of only 80 per cent of

How the EU vaccine row could escalate

The EU is now insisting that AstraZeneca use vaccine produced at its UK site to make up for a shortfall in its supplies to the EU. This is likely to kick off a major row as the UK went to great trouble to ensure that it had first refusal on all the Oxford vaccine produced in the UK. Indeed, AstraZeneca’s willingness to accept that condition is a major reason why Oxford ended up partnering with them. It is not hard to see how this situation could escalate. The EU is already saying that companies should notify them before exporting vaccine out of the bloc, and the German government is going further, calling for

Britain is leading the world in the fight against Covid. Seriously

How is Britain doing in the battle against coronavirus? Many have repeatedly declared we have the worst track record of any country, with both the highest death rate in Europe and suffering the highest economic hit. Newspaper headlines have constantly loud-hailed our alleged failings, from the shortage of ventilators to putting ourselves at the back of the vaccine queue by not joining the EU’s programme. The only trouble is that this is just not true. In many ways, the UK’s response to coronavirus is quite literally, dare I say it, world-beating. Clearly there have been many setbacks and hiccups. Clearly there are many lessons to be learned. But just as

What the new strain means for our fight against Covid

‘What’s going on in Swale?’, asked a health journalist who I often speak to. This was back in November. I responded that I didn’t know where Swale is, let alone what its problem was, although I guessed it was most likely something to do with Covid-19. But now, we’re all looking at places like Swale — and much of Kent — and wondering what’s going on.  Back in the summer, the UK government would put countries on the quarantine list when their infections hit 20 per 100,000 residents. In Swale, at the last count, it was 2,600 per 100,000 residents. Kent’s MPs were furious that their constituencies were placed in Tier 3 when the November lockdown ended

PMQs: Starmer lays traps with an eye to vaccine troubles

Prime Minister’s Questions didn’t feel particularly high wattage today. Sir Keir Starmer seemed to be using his questions to lay the groundwork for a future showdown with Boris Johnson. He used his first three questions to ask whether the government had done the necessary logistical planning to ensure the smooth roll-out of the coronavirus vaccine, particularly in care homes. He wanted to know who the Prime Minister expected to receive the vaccine next week, when those people in the top priority groups could expect to be vaccinated, and whether the Prime Minister had put plans in place to ensure that the vaccine really can get to care homes, given the

What we know so far about the Oxford vaccine

It’s three for three as far as positive outcomes from Covid vaccine trials are concerned. But the announcement from AstraZeneca and Oxford University, at a first glance, may not seem to be as exciting as those from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. The figures are a bit of a head-scratcher, so let’s look at them in more detail. Monday’s results from AstraZeneca and Oxford University state that the combined Phase 3 interim analysis from their COV002 and COV003 studies (based in the UK and Brazil respectively) included 131 Covid-19 cases and that the vaccine was found to be 70.4 per cent effective overall — but that vaccine efficacy in two dosing subgroups was