COVID vaccinations in the age of anxiety: Fear, the great equaliser…

man, mask, covid

Shanice Atkins is Press & Policy officer/ freelance writer from Derry. “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” Marie Curie It happened as I sat there on the squeaky, plastic seat. The air of anticipation gone, a giddiness still lingered. All those seated, waiting their 15 minutes smiled at one another, nodding in a silent appreciation of what we had just received. The promise of days beyond COVID seemed just within reach. Moments before …

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The tricky business of coaxing people back into society…

man, sculpture, art

I have been texting an old school friend to meet up for a walk. He replied that he is in such bad shape after a year and a half in lockdown that even a walk might be too taxing. The pandemic affects everyone differently. Some people are living their best lives with more time with family and loads of savings due to the inability to spend to the same level. Others have had it hard with loneliness and isolation taking …

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Christians should support the right to life by get vaccinated…

vaccine, coronavirus, medical

Perhaps it’s me, but I just couldn’t see where Jim Wells was coming from in a recent Belfast Telegraph article on his views of Covid vaccines. Here’s Jim as reported in the Tele which might give some sense of why I was confused. “It is not an anti-vaccine issue it is an ethical issue. I have had a large number of Christians who have said to me: ‘Look we are not opposed to vaccines and are not into these conspiracy …

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Diane Dodds holds the key to getting the population fully vaccinated…

The Northern Ireland vaccine programme has been a stunning success. We have pretty much full vaccination in the over 60s and they have been doing a great job of going down the age groups. The issue is as you get younger you start to get more vaccine hesitancy. Young people generally think they are immortal, and when you have a disease that does not seem to affect them too badly you can understand why some might be tempted to not …

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Experts estimate that Covid-19 in India has left over a million dead so far…

It is hard to comprehend the sheer horror of the current C-19 crisis in India. This report from the New York Times makes harrowing reading: In India, people are dying while waiting to see doctors as the second wave of the coronavirus rapidly evolves into a devastating crisis, with mounting evidence that the actual death toll is far higher than officially reported. https://t.co/aWkyHU3qyF — The New York Times (@nytimes) April 24, 2021   Each day, the government reports more than …

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Questions remain about the origin of Covid 19…

I try to avoid being duped by conspiracies theories. When I read about a cabal of paedophiles in the basement of a Washington pizzeria, I switch off. When Donald J Trump is too quick to say that Coivd19 was made in China, I know better. I always try to keep objectively to the facts convinced I can spot the lunatic fringe at their zany work from a mile off. But sometimes, somehow, a weird story cannot be easily dismissed. Things …

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Should auld acquaintance be forgot?

Blaine McCartney is a Co. Down-based writer Yesterday, March 23rd 2021, the first anniversary of lockdown, is surely a day of mixed emotions for Nicola Sturgeon. Having yesterday been cleared of breaching the Scottish Ministerial Code, she nevertheless told reporters this morning that she wants to “leave politics to others today”. Scottish Tory Leader Douglas Ross, among others, have been happy to oblige on Twitter and elsewhere, as they proverbially rage, rage against the dying of the light at the …

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With an abundance of caution, Ireland shoots itself in the foot by deferred use of the AstraZeneca vaccine…

In the 1960s, US President Johnson was considering mandatory vaccination to eradicate a number of infectious diseases but was advised against it. The move would, he was told, cause 30,000 cancer deaths and 100,000 heart deaths. The President asked how the advisor knew this to which the adviser replied that this was the annual number of deaths from cancer and heart disease in the US but with mandatory vaccination, each one would be causally linked to a vaccine. This was …

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A lot can happen in a year…

A lot can happen in a year as we all know and we’re certainly not out of the woods yet, but spring is waiting and with it the hope of better days ahead. It’s this ability to find optimism and positivity in even the direst of circumstances that helps to keep us human beings marching forward. However, there is much to be said for taking a scrutinising glance into the past and I’ve been thinking about that recently, and when …

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A grim milestone reached as NI Covid 19 related deaths hit 2000…

It means the total number of deaths has doubled since December. This is quite an increase in such a short time period. Was it Christmas that did the damage or is it just these illnesses tend to be worse at this time of year? Like everything it is probably a mix of a lot of factors. The total number of positive cases in NI is now 109,147. I am curious what the multiplier is with C19. For example, for every …

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New data showing “First Doses First” strategy is working may speed UK’s vaccination progress…

This comes via the marvellous John Naughton’s substack feed… It’s from Alex Tabbarok on Marginal Revolution… First, as I mentioned yesterday, we now have epidemiologists and vaccine researchers saying that for people previously infected with COVID a second dose is not necessary and may be “overkill.” Given how many people have had COVID, this increases the net benefit to First Doses First for everyone significantly. Second, an important new study verifies that for the AZ vaccine a longer delay for …

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Goodbye January 2021, the month that felt like a year…

So here we are, the last day of January. I bet you are like me and glad to see the back of it. January can be a tough month generally, but throw in a lockdown and you have a recipe for a really grim time. The first lockdown will go down in history a fabled time of everlasting sunshine, but this one will be remembered for harsher conditions. There were some beautiful sunny days at the start of the month, …

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Why does the government not give the public more useful advice on protecting themselves from Covid-19?

Open up any newspaper and you get full-page ads telling you to stay at home, practice social distancing and wash your hands. Such is the volume of these ads I suspect they are using it as a subsidy to the newspaper industry whose ad revenue has been hit hard by Covid-19. It is useful to have simple messages repeated frequently, but after nearly a year of the same messaging is there anyone who does not know these rules by now? …

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Can Ireland’s Churches be Something Other than a Building? New Research on Religion during the Pandemic

The annual worldwide Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (18-25 January) has just passed. Over the years it has been celebrated by Ireland’s more enthusiastic ecumenists, especially those who saw inter-church cooperation as essential for contributing to the healing of societal divisions, north and south. This year, all prayers and events marking Christian Unity have been virtual, owing to the pandemic. Yet there is evidence that the pandemic could be an unexpected catalyst for inter-church cooperation. My latest research report, …

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We need to be vigilant against the antivaxers…

Medical scientists are more positive than they have been for months. If the science is right – and we trust it is – twenty-one days after 95% of the most vulnerable have had their first covid-19 vaccine they should have 70% protection against the virus and then there should be a sharp fall in the numbers hospitalized and ending up in ICU. Mission accomplished in protecting the NHS and this should be happening mid-March. The Covid-19 virus will off course …

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Perspectives on Covid, Part 2: Contemporary…

Public Health medicine is the speciality that manages diseases in a population, where a “population” can be the inhabitants of a hamlet, a town or city, or of a country, an island, or a continent. Management includes prevention and treatment strategies. It’s a multi-disciplinary speciality today and includes, amongst others, epidemiologists who study the spread of disease, statisticians and modellers, and those responsible for policy and education. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is an agency of the United Nations and …

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Perspectives on Covid, Part 1: Historical…

What we now call Covid-19 appeared as a new disease in China in late 2019. It rapidly spread worldwide as a pandemic with countries struggling to manage it, and to prevent their health services being overwhelmed while simultaneously keeping their economies functioning. Before considering some of the issues around this, I though that an historical perspective would help to understand how and why “we are where we now are”. Leprosy is one of mankind’s oldest scourges. It’s mentioned in the …

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Life goes on…

As the end of 2020 approached (that was just last week) many people online seemed to be falling in to the usual New Year nonsense trap. I don’t mean the usual suspects of New Year New You, Dry January, Veganuary or whatever-you’re-having-yourself-anuary. I am of course referring to believing that a particular dawn on a new day will herald magical changes which were hitherto unlikely. Get real. (I sold this piece to the editor as a little bit of hope …

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The Covid-19 Christmas hangover begins…

How was your Christmas? Let me guess, quiet? While some of us were enjoying Black Narcissus and working our way through the Celebrations tub, Covid-19 was on an epic bender. A snapshot of how the #coronavirus rate has dramatically increased in Northern Ireland over the past few months. On 3rd of Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec & Jan. Mid Ulster's rate has increased from 9.3 per 100,000 to almost 900 per 100,000 pic.twitter.com/O1P7u49G96 — Darran Marshall (@DarranMarshall) January 3, 2021 As …

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Exiling NI Expats Can’t Become Another Political Game

30 January 2020 was my 27th birthday. That weekend also turned into my last time in Northern Ireland for a full 6 months. The pandemic that we have all experienced has been suffered in many different ways, and to different degrees. I won’t pretend that being a stranded celt in London meant I was on the sharper end of the experience, but you can only live through it the way you did and so while I ought not to have …

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