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Health

Why the U.K. Approved a Coronavirus Vaccine First

LONDON — The first rigorously tested coronavirus vaccine was given a green light for use on Wednesday in Britain. Doses of the vaccine, made by the American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and a small German company, BioNTech, will be injected starting next week, the government said.In leaping ahead of the United States to allow mass inoculations, Britain added to the pressure on American drug regulators, who were summoned to the White House on Tuesday by President Trump’s chief of staff to explain why they were not ready to do the same.Why did Britain authorize a vaccine before the U.S.?The two countries vet vaccines differently.Rather than accepting the findings of vaccine makers, American regulators painstakingly reanalyze raw data from the trials to validate the results, poring over wha...

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World

Labour Party Suspends Jeremy Corbyn Over Anti-Semitism Response

LONDON — Britain’s main opposition party, Labour, suspended its former leader Jeremy Corbyn on Thursday after he tried to deflect blame for the party’s handling of anti-Semitism allegations.Mr. Corbyn made his comments after a human rights watchdog in Britain said in the findings of a formal investigation that the party bore responsibility for “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” against Jewish members, reinforcing complaints that long clouded Mr. Corbyn’s tenure as party leader from 2015 to 2020.A few hours after Mr. Corbyn posted a statement on Facebook blaming “opponents inside and outside the party” and the media for overstating Labour’s failures on anti-Semitism, the party said that Mr. Corbyn had been suspended.“In light of his comments made today and his failure to re...

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World

Britain’s Health Workers Face 2d Virus Wave, but This Time With Less Support

People have also begun complaining about long wait times.“There is some disbelief that you’ve had six months to prepare for this and why haven’t you been training more nurses,” said Dr. Tamás Szakmany, an intensive care doctor in Newport, Wales. But, he said, “it’s not just like you’ve got a car factory and you suddenly need more transmissions, so you train the factory workers to build more transmissions. It’s just not that simple.”Among doctors and nurses, a sense of battle fatigue has set in. Extra weekend shifts that were intended to be temporary have lasted through the summer, especially in northern cities where coronavirus wards remained busy even as a national lockdown was lifted in the summer. Health workers are calling in sick, many of them with anxiety and depression.Rapid test...

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Scientists raise doubts about Britain’s plan to deliberately infect volunteers.

The idea of vaccinating healthy volunteers and then deliberately infecting them with the coronavirus — a plan set in motion for the first time by scientists in London this week — carries enormous ethical difficulties.Even though young, healthy participants are unlikely to be seriously sickened or killed, the virus is unpredictable and the long-term consequences of an infection are unknown, with the pandemic having started only months ago.Beyond the ethical reservations, scientists also posed practical questions about the London researchers’ plan to compare vaccines by inoculating people and then dripping virus into their noses.For one thing, scientists stressed that several vaccine makers had already distanced themselves from the idea, known as a human challenge trial. The researchers —...

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World

To Test Virus Vaccines, U.K. Study Will Intentionally Infect Volunteers

LONDON — Scientists at Imperial College London plan to deliberately infect volunteers with the coronavirus early next year, launching the world’s first effort to study how vaccinated people respond to being intentionally exposed to the virus and opening up a new, uncertain path to identifying an effective vaccine.The hotly contested strategy, known as a human challenge trial, could potentially shave crucial time in the race to winnow a number of vaccine candidates. Rather than conducting the sort of trials now underway around the world, in which scientists wait for vaccinated people to encounter the virus in their homes and communities, researchers would purposely infect them in a hospital isolation unit.Scientists have used this method for decades to test vaccines for typhoid, cholera ...

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World

England’s Flawed Virus Contact Tracing Will Be Revamped

England will overhaul its faltering coronavirus contact-tracing system, the government said on Monday, shifting some control from private contractors to local public health teams and cutting the jobs of thousands of call center workers who had complained of having no one to call.The changes were the clearest acknowledgment yet by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government that its centralized, privatized system for tracking down the patients’ contacts has come up short.Instead, the government has heeded some of the pleas of underfunded local public health directors, who have been warning for months that a London-run contact tracing system would not deliver the local intelligence needed to squelch flare-ups of the virus.Under the reorganization announced on Monday, 6,000 contact t...

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Conservative U.K. Lawmaker Is Arrested Over Rape Accusations

A Conservative lawmaker in Britain was arrested this weekend after a former parliamentary employee accused him of raping her, according to British news reports.The lawmaker, who is said to have once held a government leadership position, has not been publicly identified. He was released on bail after being taken into custody on Saturday in an East London police station, the police said.The arrest posed problems for the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, creating pressure on Mr. Johnson to suspend the lawmaker from the Conservative Party and forcing the government to account for when it learned of the allegations.The Sunday Times, the British newspaper that first reported the arrest, said that the allegations were previously raised with two senior members of Mr. Johns...

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