Immunity to COVID-19: August update

New studies on COVID-19 immune response are advancing our understanding of this disease in both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases. There is increasing evidence that the differing severity of COVID-19 between individuals is a consequence of a diverse range of immune responses to the virus.
There is some evidence that antibodies can be detected in recovered patients for up to 2–3 months after symptoms. A role for the adaptive cellular immune system, especially T cells, in responding to SARS-CoV…

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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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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 people in older age groups. There is some research indicating that children aged 13 years and under may be less susceptible to infection than adults, but the confidence in this evidence is low. There are some limited data suggesting that children from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background are at higher risk of severe disease, consistent with the evidence for adults.…

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Child and adolescent mental health during COVID-19

Charities and academics have expressed concerns that children’s mental health is disproportionately affected by the intervention measures used during the pandemic. Child and adolescent mental health may be compromised by factors such as strained family relationships, academic stress and reduced social contact with friends. Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) have been reduced during the pandemic. They are likely to be under strain to meet increased demand. The UK Government has…

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COVID-19 in children: July update

There is very good evidence that children who have COVID-19 are much less likely to develop severe symptoms and much less likely to die from the disease than people in older age groups.There is good evidence that children under 13 years old are less susceptible to developing clinical disease (this means having recognisable signs and symptoms) than adults. It is not yet clear whether this is also the case for older children. There is some research indicating that children aged 13 years and under…

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Effects of COVID-19 on the food supply system

The effect of consumers stockpiling certain goods and the slow reaction of retailers to ration them exposed the limitations of cost-efficient and streamlined supply chains to be agile and adapt to unforeseen shocks. This suggests that changes may be needed to make the supply chain more resilient. Specific problems 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. This w…

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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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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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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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Immunity to COVID-19

Scientific understanding of the immune response to COVID-19 is incomplete but numerous research studies are underway. There is little evidence to suggest that exposure to other coronaviruses can confer protection against SARS-CoV-2. There is very good evidence that it takes at least 14 days to develop an antibody response to SARS-CoV-2. A significant proportion of people exposed to SARS-CoV-2 make very little or no detectable antibodies at all. There is insufficient scientific evidence to know w…

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COVID-19 in children

There is very good evidence that children who have COVID-19 are much less likely to develop severe symptoms and much less likely to die from the disease than people in older age groups. There is good evidence that children under 13 years old are less susceptible to developing clinical disease (this means having recognisable signs and symptoms) than adults. It is not yet clear whether this is also the case for older children. There is some research indicating that children aged 13 years and under…

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COVID-19 and international approaches to exiting lockdown

The UK Government announced its approach to exiting lockdown on 10 May in a statement by the Prime Minister and in a report published on 11 May. Current models suggest that 5.38% of the UK population has been infected with COVID-19. To lift restrictions the World Health Organisation has outlined key criteria that should guide decision making, such as ensuring that health systems can identify, isolate, test, trace contacts and quarantine COVID-19 cases. Several countries have eased measures with…

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