Twitter @yorkshirepost



myths on
virus may
harm jab
Pharmacies ‘best placed
to beat misinformation’

MP refuses
to say sorry


■Twitter: @Geri_E_L_Scott

MYTHS AND misinformation
about coronavirus shared via social media, and by politicians and
commentators, may have contributed to a reluctance to take up the
Covid-19 vaccines, a leading Yorkshire researcher has claimed.
Dr Paul Reilly, from the University of Sheffield’s Information
School, said there was a “collective responsibility” to highlight
misinformation on coronavirus,
which he said had been present
since the beginning of the pandemic.
And another of the region’s top
academics has said pharmacies
may be the best place to do this.
Dr Reilly said: “Looking back
now, the biggest source of misinformation or disinformation
about the coronavirus was Donald Trump, and we have politicians in the UK too who also contribute to that.
“We started off last March,
where it was about coronavirus cures, we had people reading stuff like if they sipped water
and held their breath for certain
amounts of time that they would
not get it, or more serious ones
about people taking things like
bleach to avoid getting sick with
He said incorrect information
like that “does make it harder
for scientific advice about how to
prevent the spread to get to the
people who need it the most”.
And he said there had been
misinformation about the
response to the pandemic too, with false
numbers of deaths
which would have
usually occurred
in a flu season or
wrong facts about
lockdown measures.
“I think a lot of people do share information
with the best intention,” he said.
“But often, it can maybe cause
more harmful effects, where people now might not want to take
a vaccine because they’ve read
about how dangerous that might
be or some of the more wild conspiracy theories about 5G causing
Covid as well.”
The Government is concerned
about this misinformation especially in Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities,
and Professor Mahendra Patel, of
the University of Bradford, inset,
said pharmacies would be key to
making people feel confident.
“One of the things that people don’t mention is pharmacy
often can help in the myths and
the misinformation that’s getting
around,” Prof Patel, who is also

THE COMMENTS came as Tory
MP Desmond Swayne refused
to apologise for telling vaccine
sceptics to “persist” with their
campaign against coronavirus
lockdown restrictions.
Cabinet Ministers Michael
Gove and Priti Patel both
called for him to withdraw
his remarks, which included
a claim that coronavirus data
had been “manipulated”.
Mr Gove condemned his
Conservative colleague as
“completely out of order”
while Ms Patel said he was
“thoroughly wrong”.
But despite this, Prime
Minister Boris Johnson
claimed not to be aware of the

the national Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and pharmacy lead for a key trial at Oxford
University, said.
He said a huge part of the pharmacy workforce were from BAME
communities and so “understand
the culture, who understand
some of the religious differences,
the beliefs, attitude barriers that
we need to overcome”.
Dr Reilly maintained that it
was not a case of people who believed misinformation being less
intelligent but he suspected the
unprecedented nature of the
pandemic and fear had driven the
rise. He said: “I think particularly
when we look at misinformation amplified by politicians or the media, it
gives a degree of credibility.”
Advisory Group for
Emergencies (Sage)
earlier this month said
among the barriers to
vaccine uptake is the perception of risk, low confidence in
the vaccine, and lack of endorsement from trusted providers and
community leaders.
NHS England has said it is
“supporting local authorities in
their vital work with their diverse
communities and faith groups to
promote vaccine acceptance and
willingness to accept the vaccination offer”.
Habib Naqvi, the director of the
NHS Race and Health Observatory, said: “Vaccine hesitancy
amongst some groups, including
from black and other minority
communities, reiterate the critical need for local diverse, tailored
support and communications to
tackle misinformation, increase
trust and ensure reasoned decisions are made based on facts.”

SAYING THANKS: Sir Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, speaks to Hazardous Area Response Team operatives Andrew Staley, left, and Michael Hulme.

NHS chief praises ‘extraordinary work’
THE BOSS of the NHS in England
marked the anniversary of the
first confirmed coronavirus
patients being treated by
paying tribute to the staff’s
“extraordinary work in a year like
no other”.
Sir Simon Stevens visited
the Royal Victoria Infirmary,
Newcastle, where two Chinese
nationals were treated after they
tested positive.
A woman aged 50 and a

23-year-old student who had
fallen ill in York, were initially
treated in Hull and were
transferred to Newcastle in the
early hours of January 31, 2020.
Since then, hospitals have
treated more than 320,000
patients with Covid, with about
one person with the virus
admitted to critical care every 30
Hospitals have been
transformed to increase critical
care and their “surge capacity” by
around half.

FEARS OF an increase in
trauma and anxiety disorders after the pandemic has
led to calls for an increase
in funding and long-term
strategy for mental health
Experts say conditions
such as post-traumatic
stress disorders, obsessive
compulsive disorders and
substance addictions will
likely rise in the aftermath
of the crisis, particularly
among front-line health
workers, those who have
been trapped in isolation

shielding and people with
pre-existing psychological
It comes as research from
Nuffield Health revealed
that young people, BAME
(Black and minority ethnic) and LGBT (lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender)
communities, people working in health and education
sectors and working parents will be adversely affected.
One in four adults in the
Yorkshire and the Humber
region surveyed by YouGov
in a recent study admitted
to currently experiencing

In total, 26,476 patients with
Covid have needed the most
intensive level of care since the
first case was diagnosed, the
NHS said.
And on the busiest day of
the pandemic, on January 23,
2021, there were a record 5,381
people receiving critical care –
65 per cent higher than at
any point in 2019 and 36 per
cent higher than in the first
The NHS has also led the way
on administering seven million

doses of a Covid-19 vaccine in
Sir Simon, NHS England chief
executive, said: “On behalf of
families and patients across the
country, we thank staff across
the NHS for their extraordinary
work in a year like no other.”
He said hospitals in the UK
had treated more coronavirus
patients in the last three months
than they did in the previous
He visited the mass
vaccination hub at Newcastle’s

Centre for Life, then toured
the RVI, speaking to the team
working on vaccine research.
In the early days of the
pandemic the NHS set up
quarantine centres for people
returning from China in Arrowe
Park, on the Wirral, and Milton
At the peak of the first wave,
NHS staff were caring for nearly
19,000 patients in hospital with
Covid and this increased to more
than 33,000 patients at the peak
in January this year.

■ January 30, 2020:
The first cases of
coronavirus in the UK
are recorded when
a University of York
student from China and
his mother test positive.
The test results are
announced publicly by
Chief Medical Officer,
Professor Chris Whitty,
the following day. Both
the student and his
mother go on to make a
recovery after hospital
■ January 30 2020:
The earliest known
death involving Covid-19
in the UK. The victim
is 84-year-old Peter
Attwood, from Kent. His
death is not confirmed
as having involved
Covid-19 until the end of
■ February 2: The
second known death
involving Covid-19, of a
man aged between 55
and 59. A third death on
February 22, of a woman
aged between 30 and
34. Further deaths
occur on March 2, 4 and
6, then every day from
March 8.
■ March 12: First death
involving Covid-19 in
■ March 15: First death
involving Covid-19 in
Wales. The cumulative
UK death toll, based on
mentions of Covid-19
on death certificates,
passes 100.
■ March 23: The
cumulative death toll
passes 1,000. Prime
Minister Boris Johnson
orders a UK lockdown.

■ April 2: First of 23
consecutive days when
more than 1,000 daily
deaths are recorded in
the UK.
■ April 5: Cumulative
death toll passes 10,000.
■ April 8: The
“deadliest” day of the
pandemic so far, with
1,457 deaths in the UK.
■ May 23: Cumulative
death toll passes
■ June 18: The daily
death toll drops below
100 for the first time
since March 19. It
returns above 100 on
June 24 and June 25,
then remains below 100
until October.
■ August 24: The daily
death toll drops briefly
into single figures – nine
deaths – for the first
time since March 11.
■ October 7: 108 deaths
involving Covid-19 – the
first time the daily toll
has been above 100
since June 25.
■ November 18: 508
deaths involving Covid-19
– the first time the daily
toll has been above 500
since May 9.
■ November 26:
Cumulative death toll
passes 75,000.
■ January 7 2021:
Cumulative death toll
passes 100,000.
■ January 30 2021: The
first anniversary of the
earliest known death
involving Covid-19 in the
UK. Since then, more
than 100,000 deaths
have been recorded in
the UK.

Strategy plea for mental health


poor mental health, while
almost half – 48 per cent –
said theirs had deteriorated
since restrictions were announced in March 2020.
Geoff Heyes, the head of
health policy and influencing at the mental health
charity, Mind, said many
people were deterred from
accessing treatment as they
felt their problem “wasn’t
serious enough”.
Lorraine McReight, a
Calderdale-based counsellor and hypnotherapist who
works with patients suffering from PTSD and anxietyrelated illnesses, said the

country was going to see a
“mental health crisis across
the borders” if action was
not taken to fund support
Dr Pam Ramsden, an academic specialising in trauma at Bradford University,
said there would likely be a
rise in depression and anxiety following the pandemic.
A Department of Health
and Social Care spokesman said: “We are doing
our utmost to ensure that
our mental health services
are there for everyone who
needs them during the pandemic and beyond.”

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