COP26 expert database

In November 2021 the UK will host COP26, the UN climate summit that will be vital for international efforts to respond to climate change. POST is inviting anyone with expertise in areas relating to COP26 to provide feedback. We would like to know what you think the UK Parliament and Government’s priorities should be while preparing for and delivering COP26. Findings from our survey will feed into an inquiry. Those who respond to the survey will be entered onto a database of experts who may be…

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COVID-19 Vaccines: July update on research

There are almost 150 coronavirus vaccine candidates under development. Only 19 of these are now being tested in humans. Many types of vaccines are rapidly progressing through clinical trials. Only two vaccine candidates have announced large scale Phase 3 trials, involving several thousands of people. Only one candidate has been approved for restricted human use. Measuring a reduction in COVID-19 levels is an obstacle for Phase 3 clinical trials, as they require a high infection rate among the te…

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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 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. New drugs are also in development, but this is at a very early stage. Results from trials on existing drugs have already been reported with some positive findings. Dexamethasone i…

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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. They are recommended across the UK in circumstances where social distancing is difficult. In Scotland they must be used on public transport and from 10 July they will be mandatory in shops. In England they are mandatory on public transport and in NHS hospitals…

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Contact tracing apps for COVID-19

Contact tracing apps could be used to control the COVID-19 outbreak. Most of them work by automatically registering another smartphone when it is too close for an extended period of time. Then if a user tests positive for Coronavirus in the future, the contact tracing app notifies these contacts. Some countries like Singapore and Australia have already adopted or rolled out their own contact tracing apps. Concerns have been raised about misuse of personal data.
Initial data suggests there has b…

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Approved: Effective biodiversity indicators

A POSTnote on effective biodiversity indicators will review the evidence base for the likely indicators of the UK Biodiversity Strategy to 2030. It will look at the challenges associated with these, such as vagueness of targets, incomplete understanding of the mechanisms driving changes in the state of biodiversity, data availability and the optimal number required. It will also review the wider value of biodiversity indicators. Provisional start date: September 2020.…

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Approved: Reforestation

A POSTnote on reforestation will summarise the strategies for identifying optimal areas for successfully restoring woodlands and the possible means of incentivising this. It will look at the evidence for the optimal approaches for providing climate and biodiversity benefits, and the challenges that will need to be addressed. Provisional start date: September 2020.…

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Approved: Hydrogen

A POSTnote on hydrogen will cover the latest developments in low-carbon hydrogen production, as well as developments in applications across transport, industry and heat more generally. We will invite views from the Board on the potential contents of this POSTnote – specifically on a choice between a single note covering all of these aspects, or two separate notes covering applications across industry and transport. Provisional start date: September 2020.…

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Approved: Mental health impacts of COVID-19

A POSTnote on mental health impacts of COVID-19 will summarise the latest findings from research on how COVID-19 has affected the mental health of the UK population. It will highlight which groups are vulnerable and their mental health outcomes. It will also discuss policy approaches to protect mental health and how health services can adapt to improve outcomes for those affected. Provisional start date: September 2020.…

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Approved: Mental health impacts of COVID-19 on healthcare workers and carers

A POSTnote on mental health impacts of COVID-19 on healthcare workers and carers will outline the short and long-term mental health impacts of COVID-19 on healthcare workers and carers. It will review policy approaches and support services dedicated to supporting healthcare worker mental health, with focus on special measures implemented during a pandemic. Provisional start date: September 2020.…

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Approved: Living organ donation

A POSTnote on living organ donation will set out the scale and nature of living donation in the UK and analyse the policies set out in government strategy to increase living donor activity.
It will seek to explore the ethical frameworks around donation relating to altruism, autonomy and reciprocity, and the ethical principles that guide clinical teams. The note will also explore how the change to an opt-out consent system for deceased donors might influence living donation. The role of social m…

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COVID-19 and social distancing: the 2 metre advice

An infected person produces respiratory droplets when talking, coughing and sneezing. These are responsible for the transmission of virus between people. Droplets can travel up to 2m, with finer aerosols containing smaller viral particles travelling even further. Numerous complex and interacting factors influence how they move and settle onto surfaces, and how infectious they are. The further away a person is, the fewer droplets they will be exposed to and so their risk of being infected with th…

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Antibody tests for COVID-19

There is insufficient scientific evidence to know whether the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies confers protection from subsequent infections, and if so at what level. Antibodies are only one part of the immune response to infection. Tests that detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies are available. They can determine whether someone has had COVID-19. Tests can reveal those who are unaware that they had COVID-19 because they had mild or no symptoms. Test samples must be analysed in a laboratory – no home…

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