COVID-19 vaccines and virus transmission

COVID-19 vaccines have been deployed in the UK since December 2020. This article examines the impact of COVID-19 vaccines on transmission of the virus. It also considers the potential implications of vaccine-induced protection for easing lockdown restrictions and debate about potential introduction of immunity certification or a vaccine passport scheme.

COVID-19 vaccines and virus transmission

Changing the UK COVID-19 vaccine dosing schedule

On December 31, 2020 the four UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) published a statement announcing changes to the dosing schedule for the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech and University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines. It stated that the interval between the first and second dose should be extended from 3–4 weeks to up to 12 weeks. This rapid response examines the evidence behind this decision.

Changing the UK COVID-19 vaccine dosing schedule
  • Rapid response

    The performance of COVID-19 vaccines in clinical trials and in real world conditions

    COVID-19 vaccine roll-out started in the UK on 8 December 2020. Results from Phase 3 clinical trials have been published for all the vaccines approved for use in the UK. But how does the performance of vaccines under real world conditions differ from clinical trial results? When will we able to observe the impacts of the COVID-19 vaccination programme?

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    Mass testing for COVID-19: January update on lateral flow tests

    The Government’s COVID-19 Winter Plan, relies on three things to provide the UK with a “route back to normality”: vaccines, treatments and testing. In addition to laboratory-based tests, lateral flow tests are being used for rapid testing in communities and workplaces. What are the latest data on how good these tests are? What are the pros and cons of using them for mass testing?

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    Manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines

    The rapid production of safe, effective and consistent vaccines is essential for supporting COVID-19 immunisation programmes in the UK and globally. However, manufacturing vaccines is challenging for various reasons that include the complex processes involved, the specialist knowledge and experience required, and the natural variability of the biological materials and systems used. Urgent demand is leading to manufacturers and governments taking on significant financial risks in order to speed up production. What is the UK Government doing to accelerate vaccine manufacture? How are vaccines made? Why is manufacturing vaccines at large scales so challenging?

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    COVID-19 and the digital divide

    The digital divide is the gap between people in society who have full access to digital technologies (such as the internet and computers) and those who do not. Concerns about the digital divide have been particularly acute during the COVID-19 pandemic as the internet and digital devices have played an important role in allowing people to access services, attend medical appointments and stay in touch with friends and family. What impact has the digital divide had on children and adults in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic and what has been done to tackle it?

  • Resource

    COVID-19 glossary

    The most common scientific terms used in research that relates to COVID-19. This glossary will help you understand materials that describe the biology of Coronavirus and the spread of COVID-19. It can assist in the reading of research papers and help you understand language used in drug and vaccine development. It also has a comprehensive list of international and UK organisations involved in public health, their institutional acronyms and descriptions of their work.

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    Monitoring wastewater for COVID-19

    Since early 2020, the UK has been carrying out wastewater monitoring for COVID-19. Wastewater samples are collected regularly across the country and analysed for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Wastewater monitoring is part of monitoring systems to detect new COVID-19 outbreaks and support test and trace approaches. How can SARS-CoV-2 be detected in wastewater? How can wastewater monitoring be used as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak? And how are wastewater monitoring programmes being used across the UK and worldwide?

  • POSTnote

    Mental health impacts of COVID-19 on NHS staff

    Media headlines have predicted an increase in mental ill health among NHS staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. This POSTnote gives an overview of the scale and quality of current evidence on the mental health and well-being of NHS staff before and during the pandemic. It also discusses how staff are supported and the options for introducing other effective interventions as the pandemic continues.

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    Mass testing for COVID-19 using lateral flow tests

    The COVID-19 Winter Plan, published 23 November, relies on three factors to provide the UK with a “route back to normality”: vaccines, treatments and testing. In addition to PCR testing, lateral flow devices are now being rolled out across England and Wales for the rapid testing of certain occupational groups, community testing and as an alternative to self-isolation following exposure to the virus. How well validated have these tests been? Are they accurate enough for their proposed purposes? And how have they performed to date in mass testing trials?