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UK to roll out rapid COVID-19 testing in Liverpool

LONDON (AP) — A half-million people in the English city of Liverpool will be regularly tested for COVID-19 in Britain’s first citywide trial of widespread, rapid testing that the government hopes will be a new weapon in combating the pandemic.

Testing will begin later this week at sites throughout the city using a variety of technologies, including new methods that can provide results in an hour or less, the government said in a statement Tuesday. Everyone who lives or works in the city in northwestern England will be offered the test, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes mass testing will provide a way out of the coronavirus crisis, which has killed more than 46,000 people across the U.K. in Europe’s deadliest outbreak. England is scheduled to go into a second national lockdown on Thursday as the government struggles to control a second wave of infections that risks swamping hospitals and emergency rooms.

“These tests will help identify the many thousands of people in the city who don’t have symptoms but can still infect others without knowing,″ Johnson said. “Dependent on their success in Liverpool, we will aim to distribute millions of these new rapid tests between now and Christmas and empower local communities to use them to drive down transmission in their areas.”

Liverpool has one of the highest infection rates in England, with more than 410 cases per 100,000 people, compared to 225 per 100,000 for the nation as a whole.


Mayor Joe Anderson said he expects the program to last six to eight weeks as authorities work to bring the local outbreak under control. Rapid testing for health-care workers, teachers and students will be particularly useful in helping the city return to normal after the national lockdown ends, he said.

About 2,000 military personnel will help the National Health Service and independent contractors deliver the tests.

“This first deployment of whole city testing in Liverpool is a really important step forward and is thanks to the big increase in testing capacity and our investment in new testing technologies,” said Dido Harding, the head of the Test and Trace program.

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Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/virus-outbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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Getting Vaccine Doubters to Roll Up Their Sleeves Won’t Be Easy

(Bloomberg) — Eddie Rice is a believer in vaccines. The Melbourne locksmith has received jabs in the past and understands that they go through rigorous testing before they’re rolled out. This time, as researchers sprint ahead with potential shots to protect the world against Covid-19, he’s not so sure.

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“This is a pretty unique one, just because it’s going to be so quick,” said Rice, 29. “I don’t know enough of the science to know 100% that it’s safe.”

Governments and drugmakers have long faced skepticism, and even hostility, from a small but vocal group of anti-vaccination campaigners. In the battle against the coronavirus, they may also run into reluctance from a broader swath of the population — people like Rice who would normally be on board.

Fading trust in governments, political interference and the dash to create a shot in record time are sowing doubts. Temporary halts to studies because of unexplained illnesses in volunteers — a part of vaccine development that doesn’t usually make headlines — add to the anxiety. These misgivings could hobble the high-stakes quest to slow a pathogen that’s killed 1.1 million people.

Assuming immunizations can be successfully developed, mass produced and deployed, vaccine advocates will need to convince enough people the shots are key to ending the crisis. In a survey of 20,000 people conducted over the summer, more than a quarter of respondents said they wouldn’t get a Covid shot. Russia, Poland, Hungary and France had the lowest support, the World Economic Forum and Ipsos study showed.



a person wearing a mask: Post-Registration Trial of RDIF's 'Sputnik V' COVID-19 Vaccine


© Bloomberg
Post-Registration Trial of RDIF’s ‘Sputnik V’ COVID-19 Vaccine

The effort to overcome that sentiment will start with health workers. Medical staff are at heightened risk of catching the virus and spreading it to others, and will likely be among the first to get immunized. Any worries they have about the quality of a vaccine could hamper wider acceptance.

Nor should their support be taken for granted. Medical workers would be careful not to damage the trust they’ve earned by promoting a product they don’t have faith in, said Sara Gorton, head of health at Unison, a union in the U.K. representing nurses, paramedics and others in the field.

“If health-care workers are going to be expected to advocate for the vaccine, then their natural concerns will have to be addressed in advance,” she said. “It’s not going to help with take-up if you go to have your jab and the person who gives it to you isn’t able to say reassuring things.”

A study in Hong Kong earlier this year found that only 63% of nurses expressed a willingness to get a potential Covid shot. It cited uncertainty over effectiveness, side effects and how long protection would last. Support was higher as cases surged, but slipped as infections ebbed, according to researchers including Kin On Kwok, an epidemiologist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

If less than two thirds of nurses during an outbreak intend to get immunized, “we anticipate that

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