The COVID-19 mRNA vaccine: What is it and how has it been developed so quickly?

The Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has been approved for use in the UK from the week commencing 6 December 2020. This means that the UK has become the first country in the world to approve the vaccine for widespread use. MHRA, the British regulator, says the jab, which offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19 illness, is safe for distribution. Continue reading The COVID-19 mRNA vaccine: What is it and how has it been developed so quickly?

Is there a greater chance of dying by being hit by a bus than by COVID-19?

CLAIM: There is a greater chance of dying in a bus collision than by COVID-19.

CONCLUSION: INACCURATE. The probability of a randomly selected resident of Great Britain dying from January to October 2020, with COVID-19 mentioned on the death certificate, was over 3,000 times higher than the average probability of dying as a pedestrian in an accident involving a bus or a coach in the same period. Continue reading Is there a greater chance of dying by being hit by a bus than by COVID-19?

Are Northern Ireland retailers covering up non-essential items from sale?

CLAIM: Social media posts are circulating showing supermarket shelves that have been covered over or taped off to prevent customers purchasing certain items. Reference is made to this happening in Belfast and Northern Ireland.

CONCLUSION: INACCURATE. At the time of writing, Wales is the only part of the UK that has restricted the sale of non-essential items in supermarkets. There is no indication that this model of restriction will be introduced in Northern Ireland. Continue reading Are Northern Ireland retailers covering up non-essential items from sale?

What is group screening for COVID-19?

Summary 

Group screening takes samples from multiple people, mixes them together, and tests them as one. People within a group that test positive are individually retested, or an algorithm is used to identify positive individuals.

Pros: Fewer tests to process; more people tested; lower cost; detection of asymptomatic cases.

Cons: It is not efficient when the infection rate is high. Continue reading What is group screening for COVID-19?

What is Northern Ireland’s COVID-19 recovery plan?

This explainer article details the Northern Ireland Executive’s COVID-19 recovery plan. Last changed on Thursday 15 October 2020, this article is no longer being updated. Please refer to the NI Direct website for information about the latest restrictions.

[This article was originally part of the COVID-19 Information Dissemination (COVID-19 ID) Project—a partnership between Community Development and Health Network (CDHN) and FactCheckNI. The project’s aim was to improve people’s health literacy about COVID-19 by providing accurate and up-to-date information which would increase knowledge, understanding and confidence and enable people to make good health decisions.]

What is the Northern Ireland circuit breaker?

On 14 October 2020, The Executive Office published an update to the list of regulatory (enforceable) measures as well as additional health guidance.

For a period of four weeks, starting at 6pm on Friday 16 October, the following will be in effect:

    • Support bubbles are limited to 10 people from two households
    • No overnight stays in a private home unless in a bubble
    • Hospitality sector to close (except for takeaway/delivery)
    • Fast food to close nightly at 11pm
    • No sale of alcohol (in off-licences and supermarkets) after 8pm
    • Retail remains open with emphasis on mitigations
    • No mass events involving more than 15 people
    • No close-contact services, including hairdressers and beauticians (health needs excluded)
    • No indoor sport; no organised outdoor sport involving mixing of households (exception for elite athletes)
    • Gyms open for individual training only
    • Churches remain open (face masks mandatory on entering/leaving)
    • Funerals limited to 25 people with no gatherings before or afterwards
    • Weddings limited to 25 people (from Monday 19 October)
    • Advised not to travel unnecessarily
    • Advised to work from home
    • Universities and further education advised to deliver distance learning as much as possible

In addition, the school half term holiday will be extended, beginning on Monday 19 October and reopening on Monday 2 November.

Continue reading What is Northern Ireland’s COVID-19 recovery plan?