This POSTnote describes the scale and nature of living donation in the UK, its regulatory framework and the ethical considerations around this highly regulated procedure. It also analyses challenges within living organ donation, and the strategies implemented to address them.
There have been large volumes of inaccurate information about COVID-19 circulating since the beginning of the pandemic, including misinformation about vaccinations against the infection. This article looks at the types and sources of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and its public health impact. It also looks at the different approaches being used to fight COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, such as social media content moderation and guidance for the public.
New SARS-CoV-2 variants identified around the world could have an impact on current vaccination programmes. What is the latest evidence on the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines used in the UK on new variants? How quickly can these vaccines be updated and approved? What alternative strategies can be used?
In 2019, the UK Government called childhood obesity “one of the biggest health challenges this country faces”. Childhood obesity contributes to a range of physical and mental health conditions. This POSTnote outlines current trends in childhood obesity, the impacts on children’s health and access to support. It also covers key risk factors for childhood obesity and evidence on the effectiveness of policies to address it.
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.
How does COVID-19 affect children? Will children be vaccinated against the disease? This article summarises the latest findings from research and highlights where more research can explore some of the remaining uncertainties.
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.
The body of research investigating the effects of Coronavirus infection on pregnancy is growing. What is the available evidence? How does COVID-19 affect pregnant women and their babies? Is the virus transmitted between mothers and babies? Are some women and babies at greater risk than others?
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?
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?
In recent months several new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus have been detected in various countries around the world. This article examines how these variants arise, how genetic variation might affect the characteristics of the virus, and the possible impact that these new variants might have on the course of the pandemic.
There are various applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare, such as helping clinicians to make decisions, monitoring patient health, and automating routine administrative tasks. This POSTnote gives an overview of these uses, and their potential impacts on the cost and quality of healthcare, and on the workforce. It summarises the challenges to wider adoption of AI in healthcare, including those relating to safety, privacy, data-sharing, trust, accountability and health inequalities. It also outlines some of the regulations relevant to AI, and how these may change. As healthcare is a devolved issue, policies on healthcare AI differ across the UK. This POSTnote focusses on regulations and policies relevant to England.
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?
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?