What we were reading: Covid misinformation, reasons for the UK's death toll, EU vaccine row and schools

What we were reading: Covid misinformation, reasons for the UK's death toll, EU vaccine row and schools

Catherine Neilan

06:27 29th January 2021

One week a month, the Making Common Ground focus group will read an article a day, ahead of our discussion.

The articles are distributed without headline or any indication of which publication they come from, to encourage the participants to read them in full and without any pre-conceived ideas about what they are looking at.

This week the focus was on misinformation during the pandemic, the start of a vaccine row between the UK and EU, the reasons for the UK's high Covid death toll and a delay to reopening schools.

If you're listening to the latest focus group podcast, which you can listen to via the player below, you might like to have a read yourself - although we can't reprint the articles in full.

Here's what we were reading this week:

Article 1

There has been a huge amount of misinformation during the pandemic. Much of it was unavoidable, especially at the start as we dealt with a new virus, but some myths are persisting a year into the pandemic.

The myths range from the ridiculous to the merely implausible, but together they are misleading the public about the danger of Covid-19 and other variants. These false claims could also have serious consequences, such as fuelling premature calls to end social distancing measures before the vaccination rollout has reached a safe level.

To combat some of this misinformation, a group of scientists, journalists, economists and other researchers have created Anti-Virus, a website that tries to address the biggest myths surrounding the pandemic, and highlight claims or points of view that have been expressed by figures in academia or the media that are no longer credible.

Read the rest of the article here

Article 2

AstraZeneca vaccines meant for and paid for by the EU could have ended up in Britain, diplomatic sources in Brussels claimed today.

The suspicion is that the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company supplied the UK from the EU vaccine stock because Britain paid a higher price for the dose and approved it sooner.

On Monday, Brussels threatened to block EU vaccine exports to non-EU countries, after AstraZeneca revealed that it would not be able to fulfil its contractual obligations as originally hoped.

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, said on Tuesday that the EU would press on with the export mechanism that would force companies to ask for permission before vaccines could leave the bloc.

Read the rest of the article here

Article 3

On nearly every metric, the UK death toll from coronavirus has now exceeded 100,000. Here, we look at why that figure is so high.

Britain went into the Covid-19 pandemic in poor health in some key areas. In 2018, the proportion of adults who were obese had already reached 28%, having almost doubled over 25 years. Morbid obesity tripled over the same period.

The NHS has identified obesity as a cause of clinical vulnerability to Covid. After Boris Johnson was hospitalised with Covid in April, he remarked he was "way overweight" and soon after he was discharged he launched a national anti-obesity campaign.

Read the article in full here:

Article 4

Campaigners and MPs hit out yesterday at Boris Johnson's decision to delay reopening schools - warning of a disaster for kids' education.

Children have already missed at least 111 school days out of a possible 190 since last March's first Covid lockdown.The Prime Minister scrapped plans to get them back to class after the February half-term, with March 8 now the earliest return date instead.

The announcement sparked widespread dismay, with calls to at least get primary school children back earlier.

Campaigners warned being stuck at home was damaging kids' educational prospects and well-being.

Read the article in full here.

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Tags: Coronavirus Vaccination Podcast