Coronavirus - The Evidence [The Evidence]

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Coronavirus: The Evidence20210529It’s been called “a moral outrage” and even “vaccine apartheid”. Rich countries have cleared the shelves of Covid vaccines leaving most of the world exposed to new waves of the virus. What will make them share? Claudia Hammond and her panel of experts from India, from Nigeria, from the USA and from the UK answer listeners’ questions about Covid-19 vaccines: about how they work, about safety, about boosters against the variants and about how to encourage everybody to take them.

Her guests include the man who lead the trials for the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine (also known as Covishield) Andrew Pollard; Gagandeep Kang one of India’s leading vaccine experts; US paediatrician and vaccinologist Peter Hotez and the co-chair of the Africa Union’s Africa Vaccine Delivery Alliance, Ayoade Alakija.

Picture: Vaccination, India, Credit: Hindustan Times/Getty Images

Claudia Hammond is joined by experts to answer questions about the coronavirus Covid-19.

Claudia Hammond joins scientists and experts to explore science\u2019s effect on our world

Coronavirus: The Evidence2021052920210530 (WS)It’s been called “a moral outrage” and even “vaccine apartheid”. Rich countries have cleared the shelves of Covid vaccines leaving most of the world exposed to new waves of the virus. What will make them share? Claudia Hammond and her panel of experts from India, from Nigeria, from the USA and from the UK answer listeners’ questions about Covid-19 vaccines: about how they work, about safety, about boosters against the variants and about how to encourage everybody to take them.

Her guests include the man who lead the trials for the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine (also known as Covishield) Andrew Pollard; Gagandeep Kang one of India’s leading vaccine experts; US paediatrician and vaccinologist Peter Hotez and the co-chair of the Africa Union’s Africa Vaccine Delivery Alliance, Ayoade Alakija.

Picture: Vaccination, India, Credit: Hindustan Times/Getty Images

Claudia Hammond is joined by experts to answer questions about the coronavirus Covid-19.

Claudia Hammond joins scientists and experts to explore science\u2019s effect on our world

Coronavirus: The Evidence2021062620210627 (WS)Claudia Hammond is joined by experts to answer questions about the coronavirus Covid-19.

Claudia Hammond joins scientists and experts to explore science\u2019s effect on our world

How Covid Damages The Human Body2021062620210627 (WS)A year and a half in, and in many ways Covid-19 is still an enigma. All over the world, doctors and scientists are still struggling to understand exactly how this new virus undermines our defences and then damages, even destroys, our bodies, in so many different ways. And why are some people completely unaffected?

In this edition of The Evidence, Claudia Hammond and her panel of experts chart the remarkable journey to understand this chameleon-like virus, including the long tail of the pandemic, Long Covid. Millions the world over are suffering under the dark shadow of post-Covid, with a multitude of symptoms months after the infection. Some of them, listeners to the programme, share their experiences.

And, the background story of the world famous RECOVERY trial, set up at record speed in the UK (but now international) to test which treatments could save the lives of the sickest Covid patients. So far 10 treatments for Covid have been randomised and tested on thousands of patients and the results have shown that six, including the widely used and promoted hydroxychloroquine, make no difference to chances of surviving a hospital stay. While evidence that the cheap, widely-available steroid, dexamethasone, does work, and has so far saved more than a million lives world-wide.

Joint chief investigator of RECOVERY, Sir Martin Landray, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Oxford, admits to Claudia that he’s been asked to include bee pollen and snake venom in the trial, but so far he’s resisted.

Claudia’s expert panel also includes Professor K. Srinath Reddy, cardiologist and epidemiologist and President of the Public Health Institute of India; Dr Sherry Chou, intensivist and neurologist from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who heads the Global Consortium Study on Neurological Dysfunction in Covid-19 (GCS-NeuroCOVID) and Dr Melissa Heightman, respiratory consultant and Clinical Lead for post-COVID services at University College London Hospitals.

Produced by: Fiona Hill, Hannah Fisher and Maria Simons

Studio Engineers: Donald MacDonald and Matilda Macari

Picture: Male Asian doctor is writing a X-Ray summary of coronavirus patients on a tablet at the hospital, Credit: warodom changyencham/Getty Images

Covid the chameleon - the multiple ways this virus attacks our bodies

Claudia Hammond joins scientists and experts to explore science\u2019s effect on our world

How Will The Pandemic End?2021082920210830 (WS)When all restrictions are lifted in a highly vaccinated country, how manageable is the coronavirus? Both Israel and UK’s experiments to do just that, have raised new worries about raising the risk of new vaccine resistant variants. Claudia Hammond and her panel of global experts consider our ability to predict how and when variants of concern are most likely to arise and how long our repertoire of vaccines can remain effective in riding out increasingly infectious waves of the virus.

Also in the programme - does anyone need a third “booster” dose or is it more important to make sure the whole world gets their first two doses instead? And as more people in the world get vaccinated every day, can we get to a situation where the virus is kept in check, without the huge surges in cases that overwhelm hospitals?

Listeners put their questions about coronavirus and the pandemic directly to Claudia and her panel of specialists which includes Professor Salim Abdool Karim - a clinical infectious disease epidemiologist and a Member of the African Task Force on Coronavirus; Dr Natalia Freund a leading immunologist at Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University; Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the Bristol Children's Vaccine Centre, University of Bristol, and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation that advises UK health departments on immunisation, and Dr Muge Cevik, who’s a medical doctor and clinical lecturer in infectious diseases and medical virology at the University of St Andrew’s in Scotland.

Producer: Adrian Washbourne

Editor: Deborah Cohen

Technical supervision: Steve Greenwood

Picture: Sinopharm vaccine at a vaccination center in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Credit: Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Keeping a lid on risks of new covid variants as vaccinated countries ease restrictions

Claudia Hammond joins scientists and experts to explore science\u2019s effect on our world

Sharing Vaccines - What's Gone Wrong?20210529The lofty ambition of the global community was that across the globe, those with the highest risk of losing their lives to this virus should be vaccinated first. With 99% of deaths coming in the over fifties, the plan was that everybody in this age group should be inoculated.

But that’s not what has happened. Vaccine supply is in crisis and in Africa, a continent of over 1.2 billion people, only around 20 million Africans have been vaccinated, with only 35 million vaccines landing so far on the continent.

It’s been called “vaccine apartheid” and “a moral outrage” but as South Asia, South America find themselves again, in the eye of the virus storm, largely unvaccinated Africa fears the next wave is heading for them.

Can vaccine nationalism be overcome and scare supply be fairly distributed?

It’s a question that very much concerns Claudia Hammond’s expert panel: Gagandeep Kang, Professor of Microbiology at the Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, Dr Yodi Alakija, co-chair of the African Union’s Vaccine Delivery Alliance for Covid-19, Professor Andy Pollard from the Oxford Vaccine Group who led the clinical trials for the Oxford/Astra Zeneca (or Covishield) Vaccine and Professor Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine in Houston and co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Centre for Vaccine Development in the USA.

Produced by: Fiona Hill, Hannah Fisher and Maria Simons

Studio Engineers: Jackie Marjoram and Tim Heffer

Picture: Vaccination, India, Credit: Hindustan Times/Getty Images

The ethics of putting children in rich countries ahead in the global vaccine queue

Claudia Hammond joins scientists and experts to explore science\u2019s effect on our world

Sharing Vaccines - What's Gone Wrong?2021052920210530 (WS)The lofty ambition of the global community was that across the globe, those with the highest risk of losing their lives to this virus should be vaccinated first. With 99% of deaths coming in the over fifties, the plan was that everybody in this age group should be inoculated.

But that’s not what has happened. Vaccine supply is in crisis and in Africa, a continent of over 1.2 billion people, only around 20 million Africans have been vaccinated, with only 35 million vaccines landing so far on the continent.

It’s been called “vaccine apartheid” and “a moral outrage” but as South Asia, South America find themselves again, in the eye of the virus storm, largely unvaccinated Africa fears the next wave is heading for them.

Can vaccine nationalism be overcome and scare supply be fairly distributed?

It’s a question that very much concerns Claudia Hammond’s expert panel: Gagandeep Kang, Professor of Microbiology at the Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, Dr Yodi Alakija, co-chair of the African Union’s Vaccine Delivery Alliance for Covid-19, Professor Andy Pollard from the Oxford Vaccine Group who led the clinical trials for the Oxford/Astra Zeneca (or Covishield) Vaccine and Professor Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine in Houston and co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Centre for Vaccine Development in the USA.

Produced by: Fiona Hill, Hannah Fisher and Maria Simons

Studio Engineers: Jackie Marjoram and Tim Heffer

Picture: Vaccination, India, Credit: Hindustan Times/Getty Images

The ethics of putting children in rich countries ahead in the global vaccine queue

Claudia Hammond joins scientists and experts to explore science\u2019s effect on our world

Whatever Happened To\u2026those Covid-19 Stories2021073120210801 (WS)Whatever happened to those sniffer dogs who were seeking out any passengers infected with Covid-19 at Helsinki airport? And did plans to sample sewage to spot outbreaks early prove successful? This week on The Evidence, we have listeners’ questions about some of the clever ideas which were in the news early on in the pandemic but we haven’t heard about for a while. Trials of treatments like the cheap steroid dexamethasone proved successful – but what about the anti-parasite medication, ivermectin, which has sparked fierce debate on social media?

Because of its role in our body’s immune system, researchers wondered if Vitamin D might be useful in preventing Covid infections or treating people in hospital. We hear about some of the flaws in those studies – and the role which genetics plays in how much Vitamin D there is in our bodies.

Nasal sprays have been used for colds and flu to help shorten how long you are ill for and reduce the symptoms – can we achieve the same result for Covid infections by using a spray which contains seaweed?

Vaccination is key to ending the pandemic – but have all of the vaccines bought by countries like the United States been used? And what will happen to any which are left over, can they be given to countries which desperately need them? Once enough people are vaccinated or have immunity from being infected we should reach the magical “herd immunity” level where there aren’t enough people vulnerable to infection for Covid-19 to spread. We hear how new variants of the virus could mean that number will grow – making it more difficult to bring the pandemic to an end.

Claudia Hammond’s panel of experts will guide you through some of the ideas which have been tested like nasal sprays and nicotine patches – to separate the duds from the winners – as well as highlight others which could still prove to be promising. Claudia’s expert panel includes global health epidemiologist from the University of Boston, Professor Matthew Fox; from The Netherlands Professor Marion Koopmans who’s Head of the Erasmus MC Department of Viroscience in Rotterdam, who was a member of the WHO’s mission to Wuhan in China earlier this year to investigate the origins of Covid-19; Vice Dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine Dr Danny Bryden, who’s a Consultant at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals; medical journalist Clare Wilson from New Scientist Magazine.

Produced by: Paula McGrath, Samara Linton and Maria Simons

Studio Engineers: Jo Longton

Picture: Covid-19 Sniffing Dogs Activity In A School In Bolzano, Credit: Alessio Coser / Getty Images

Claudia Hammond and panel study ideas that have disappeared

Claudia Hammond joins scientists and experts to explore science\u2019s effect on our world

We now know the answers to many of the early questions about Covid-19 – like how lethal it can be and whether masks can help to reduce transmission.

But some of the other ideas about SARS-CoV-2 have faded into the mists of time…so this month Claudia Hammond and her panel of experts try to answer some of your queries under the heading “whatever happened to…”: studies and ideas which have disappeared from the headlines like whether dogs can sniff out Covid-19 and how much bats are the blame for the pandemic.

Her guests include: Matthew Fox, professor of Global Health and Epidemiology at the University of Boston; medical journalist Clare Wilson from New Scientist magazine; and from Rotterdam, Marion Koopmans, professor of virology and Head of the Erasmus MC Department of Viroscience. Earlier this year she was part of a 4 week WHO mission to Wuhan to investigate the origins of the coronavirus.