Update from Westminster and Northumberland
Welcome to my weekly update email, largely focused on covid-related news this week.
My monthly column is published in today's local papers, which you can read HERE.
The United Kingdom has now delivered 15,940,972 vaccines (as of yesterday). This has been an incredible team effort from all involved. Those who are aged between 65 and 69 are now able to book their vaccination appointment. The central booking system is likely to offer you an appointment at a larger regional hub, such as the Centre for Life in Newcastle. If you are not able or willing to travel, your GP surgery will contact you in due course to arrange a local appointment.
I have received a lot of questions about the vaccine priority list in recent weeks, so to clarify for those who are uncertain, the priority list is not determined by politicians, but by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. You can read more about who they are and their expertise HERE.
There are two phases for the vaccination programme. Phase one is groups 1-9 (all over 50s and under 50s with an underlying medical condition). Phase two is everyone aged 16 to 50. The JCVI has determined that age and underlying health conditions are the primary drivers of clinical risk, which is why they have determined the priority list in this way. You can read more about their rationale HERE.
SCAM ALERT: A reminder that the NHS will never ask you for payment, your bank details or other identity documents when booking your vaccination.
This week, the UK’s clinical trials ethics body gave approval for the world’s first coronavirus human challenge here in the UK. This involves intentionally infecting healthy young volunteers with covid-19 in order to study its effects and further research into treatments and vaccines.
Researchers are seeking healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 30 to become one of the 90 who will participate in the first trial, which will begin within the next few weeks. You can read more about the trials HERE and apply to be a volunteer HERE.
Today we have announced £18.5 million in funding to help tackle the lasting effects of long COVID, by funding new research to help us better understand the causes, symptoms and treatment of the condition.
We are acutely aware of the lasting and debilitating impact long COVID can have on people of all ages, irrespective of the extent of the initial symptoms – with 1 in 10 experiencing fatigue, headaches and breathlessness, which can affect people for months after their infection.
This investment will fund ambitious and comprehensive research programmes across the UK to help understand and address the physical and mental health effects of COVID-19. Through this research, we will build on our knowledge and develop the best treatments to help people recover from COVID-19 in the long term.
The UK continues to be at the forefront of scientific research and innovation when it comes to the treatment of COVID-19 - and with this funding, we will better understand long COVID and how to help get its sufferers limit its effect on their daily life.
Figures from UCAS show applications for nursing degrees have risen by 34% in the past year, with more 25 to 34 year olds, 35-and-overs and men applying than last year. These are the nurses of the future who will help the NHS and social care recover from this pandemic and continue to deliver world-class care to patients for years to come.