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tv   Coronavirus  BBC News  August 8, 2020 2:30pm-3:00pm BST

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i think everybody misses the buzz, edinburgh is a tourist city. but it's when it becomes too much and when the capacity of the city is over expanded, then it no longer feels a place that you are welcome as a resident. what makes edinburgh unique is the fact that people live here. and they work in the city centre. we do not want to become like venice or genoa, but we are heading down that route. the festivals have a big impact on this small city, support thousands of jobs, and make it a global, cultural destination. those here who rely on tourists for their livelihoods will be hoping they return soon. lorna gordon, bbc news, edinburgh. a man who was shot at his home in hampshire in south—east england on wednesday afternoon has died in hospital. james nash, a children's author and local parish councillor, who was 42, had suffered serious head injuries in the attack
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in the village of upper enham. the suspected attacker fled on a motorbike and was killed in a crash three miles away. the indian ocean island of mauritius has declared a state of environmental emergency as tonnes of fuel spill out of a ship that ran aground in july. the weather is forecast to deteriorate and there are fears that the japanese—owned mv wakashio could break up, leaking more diesel and fuel into the pristine waters off pointe d'esny. 400 sea booms have been deployed to limit the spill. now it's time for a look at the weather with alina jenkins. hello, another warm if not hot day for england and wales, a bit cool gci’oss for england and wales, a bit cool across northern ireland, scotland on the north of england. sunshine around for most of the rest of the day but there will be more cloud feeding in to eastern and north—eastern coast of england, parts of cornwall as well hanging on
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to more cloud. highest temperatures across central and southern england, 35 or 3a celsius across south—east england, the high teens or low 20s further north. the area of low crowd in the north sea starts to push its way westwards, some misty and murky conditions, perhaps some showers late in the night, another very muqqy late in the night, another very muggy night for many, away from scotla nd muggy night for many, away from scotland and northern ireland, temperatures across southern england may not drop much below 20 celsius. for many of us tomorrow, we may not start with a lot of cloud, misty and murky conditions, a few showers cropping up through parts of the midlands and northern england. at most, a mainly dry day, the cloud will thin and break so we will see some sunshine again, the highest ten bridges across central and southern england. hello this is bbc news. the headlines. the ministry of defence says it's had a formal request to help the home office, as it steps up efforts to reduce the number of migrants crossing the english channel. a big anti—government protest
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is underway in beirut in the wake of tuesday's massive explosion. marchers are making their way from the devastated harbour area to martyrs' square in the centre of the city. clashes have already broken out with police firing tear gas to stop demonstrators getting to the parliament building. the use of face masks in england and scotland is expanded with coverings now compulsory at cinemas, museums and places of worship. stricter lockdown measures are reinforced in preston following a spike in cases in the city. now on bbc news, philippa thomas hears from people around the world about their extraordinary experiences during the pandemic and how covid—i9 has changed their lives.
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welcome to coronavirus: your stories, a programme about how covid—i9 is affecting the lives of people around the world. i'm philippa thomas, and this week we're hearing inside stories from scientists, some of them directly involved in the fight against the virus, others using ingenious methods to carry out their research while working from home. later, we'll hear what it's like to be leading one of the global teams trying to develop a vaccine. we'll find out how students learning online with the uk's open university can remotely conduct experiments, programme robots, even point a telescope to the stars from a spanish island. and we start with two young research scientists who answered the call for expert volunteers as the uk faced its own pandemic emergency. abigail perrin and jessica olsen both work at the renowned
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francis crick institute here in london. my normaljob is looking after malaria parasites and working out how they live and grow in human red blood cells, so i think in early march time, there were lots of e—mails flying around various channels asking for people who had experience working with infectious diseases, who had the necessary training to handle potentially infectious samples, and myself and my colleagues here at the crick who had that experience have been helping with that first step in virus testing, which is just to make the samples we receive from patients and other people who are tested safe to go upstairs to the fifth floor of the building to actually have a coronavirus test. that sounds pretty crucial. jessica olsen, you also answered the call for volunteers. tell us what you've been doing to help with covid—i9 and where your skills came from.
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so, usually at the crick i work in a team where we produce genetically edited animals and cell lines to the rest of the laboratories to study human disease and development and the functionality of genes. and so, when the call came out in march, i put my hand up, because prior to working at the crick, i was a biomedical scientist at royal marsden and actually began my career in new zealand in a virology lab, which i loved. so, when the testing started, because the crick is a research facility, they needed people with the appropriate clinical accreditation to release those patient results to the patients, and that's where i stepped in. and jessica, what did your family back in new zealand think about the fact you're stepping up to the front, as it were? i think they were very proud of me. my specific part of the pipeline is at the very end, so often i'm staying up in the evening till 10:30pm at night waiting
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for the last results to go out to the patients. it has been a time that has been a lot of late nights put in, but at the same time, it's been rewarding work to do. both of you, but i will askjessica first, i suppose this is work that is going to have to continue. i mean, only this week, we have been hearing about the fact that the uk's test & trace system still needs to come up to scratch. there's a lot more work to be done. yes, yes, and since march, we haven't stopped. we're constantly improving the service we give and kind of keeping the longevity of it going in case there is that resurgence, which seems to be happening, and it's something we are planning to do for as long as it's needed. and, abby, how has it made you feel, the fact that we're all now talking about science and there's perhaps a new—found respect for scientists as well?
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well, i'd love to see that continue. i think we've gone through a sort of strange and uncertain period where there's been quite a lack of trust in science and evidence, and i hope that in this time, showing that scientists can come together, pool their skills and do something valuable for local communities, but as well more globally, might restore a bit of trust in science. we live in very uncertain times, and the best way to combat those uncertain times is with evidence. and we can learn a lot from studying the world around us, and i hope that during this pandemic, that's become more obvious. it's actually been quite a nice wa ke—up call for scientists that perhaps we're a little bit more adaptable than we sometimes give ourselves credit for, because we usually focus on a very specific area of science. and actually, most of the people who worked on this testing pipeline at the crick have very little background on virology but in just a few short weeks,
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we combined our expertise to manage to put this together in a way that has been really effective, and i hope that we as scientists learn from that. at this time, we're seeing scientists who usually work on completely different things applying their skills to fight coronavirus. we can learn that we can expand our horizons and use our skills and our training to apply ourselves to lots of different problems. and if i could jump in, i think it's been a time with science has been put in a positive light and scientists are having the chance to communicate in a way that is digestible to the general public, and i think for me specifically, my friends have started talking about pcrs as if it's every day terminology, and that's something we can give to the general public in a time like this, which has been very positive.
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and just talking about dealing with the unexpected, i want to put to both of you the idea, do you think as experts it was possible to see a pandemic coming? do you think there should've been more done to listen to voices from science? i sort of reacted a bit when you described us as experts, because most of us don't feel like an expert most of the time. these are massive, complicated global problems with lots of different types of science that's needed to solve them. whilst we may may be more expert in science than the average person, actually these are really complex problems, we all need to work together to solve them. perhaps, abigail, we all need to learn to be more comfortable with uncertainty, which involves a certain humility? i think that's what being a scientist has taught me more than anything is that there's so much we don't know. we just need to become a bit more comfortable questioning what we think we know and using that uncertainty in a positive way.
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jessica, on that matter of uncertainty, here i am as a member of the media, and the media often deals in headlines, but as a scientist, you're especially aware of the complexity of things and the uncertainty of things. and i wonder what you think about that tension between headlines and complicated realities. yeah, i mean, it's definitely there, and i think that's one thing we could probably all collaborate a bit better on having been through this pandemic. is going more for the facts and working together as media and scientists to give accurate information out to the public so that they become aware of the situation without being scared of the situation. scientific researchers jessica olsen and abigail perrin of the francis crick institute here in london.
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now, if we talk about remote ways of working or of learning, the uk—based open university probably got there first. it's just celebrated its 50th year and now has about 168,000 students across europe and beyond. and part of what the ou does is called the open stem initiative. it allows remote access to all sorts of things, whether chemistry experiments, robotic engineering, even the ability to operate a telescope to look at the stars from a spanish island. i've been talking to the director of the open stem lab, helen lockett. in the early days of the open university, we would've delivered distance learning through home kits, so students would have been sent those through the post, they would have used that kit to do engineering chemistry experiments, and worked that way from home. but of course, technology has moved on and our courses have got much larger, so for the last ten years or so, we've developed this remote technology called the open stem
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labs. i remember those kits because that's how my father took his degree. he used to have chemistry equipment and geology samples arriving through the letterbox on a regular basis. but now, of course, you seem to have the kind of learning, helen, the kind of techniques that are just right for lockdown? as soon as covid—i9 came along, we've had a huge number of enquiries from other universities who are unable to do their conventional way of using labs face—to—face, where usually students would go into a classroom and be in a large—ish group with a tutor, and that has not been possible under lockdown, whereas in our remote laboratories, students sit at home and use their laptop, and they are connecting to real equipment from home, so that might be a telescope or microscopes or electronic equipment, really any kind of scientific or engineering experiment. i'm going to have to pick up right away on you saying telescopes. what do you mean? well, the open university has an observatory on the island of tenerife, one of the ca nary islands.
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we have fully autonomous robotic telescopes there, and a student can sit from home and as part of their astronomy course, they can connect to those telescopes, choose where to observe in the sky and take imagery from the telescopes. it's really amazing. i understand students are able to do experiments using microscopes, very specific and delicate equipment. that's right. we have real remote microscopes, so the microscopes sit on our campus in milton keynes and students can connect to those from home. so, students might be studying the eye of a fruit fly, sitting at home, controlling an electron microscope elsewhere in the laboratory and looking at a real fly in tiny, tiny scale. and there are a lot of areas of innovation which draw a lot of interest now. i'm thinking about robotics, for example. are you actually able to programme robots from home? so, we've done a little bit of that. we have some robots, and that's something we're building up. we do something called lab cast,
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which works quite well, so a tutor sits in a laboratory and demonstrates a robot, and students interact with that from home, learning about robotics in that way. now, you said at the beginning of our conversation something about the interest you've been getting. where have the calls been coming from, what kind of countries? well, all over the uk, lots of universities saying, our labs are closed, and can you help us, what could we do to allow students to do practical work from home. we have had enquiries from as far away as australia, india, countries across the world, really. it's been quite hard for us to cope with the demand. i know from conversations i've had with other universities, notjust in the uk, but internationally, that funding, that finance is a big issue now for the future. for students and for lecturers, the universities themselves. do you feel that remote learning is going to have to play a much bigger part from now on? well, i think it is interesting that initially we thought universities
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would only be interested in the short—term in switching to a remote site model. but i think, as you say, what we've found it they see it could be potentially useful in the future, because students could have smaller laboratories, you can use your equipment more efficiently, so that blended model might work into the future to give a better experience for some students than they would get in the traditional model. and just a final thought, have you felt that professionally you've been in the right place at the right time? it's certainly been an interesting time! i think we feel incredibly lucky that our distance learning model at the open university has really protected us from the covid crisis perhaps much more than other universities, we've still faced lots of challenges, but things
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working with groups from china and korea, to australia to the british nhs,
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the wistar inovio vaccine is a synthetic dna vaccine that isn't based on the live material, but copies it, essentially fooling our immune system into believing that covid—i9 is present and needs to be repelled. the aim is to inject an artificially created version of covid's viral protein into the body as genetic information. that, it's hoped, will stimulate our immune systems to create their own defences against a virus that can do so much harm. leading this particular effort is dr david weiner. he is executive director of wistar‘s immunology centre. he has worked before in the fight against deadly viruses, from sars and mers to zyka. he's been talking about how this one feels very different. since it's happened upon us so fast, and we're really learning on the fly, we're essentially building the aeroplane to control this while we're trying to take off and control it, and that's an enormous challenge. we don't know much about its background, where it came from and then how to protect against that.
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but we are learning a lot. we've made enormous progress. i want to talk about your family, because i think you also have personal reasons to hope that this works, that mitigation and a vaccine is brought to the fore very quickly. your daughter's a doctor, yes? my daughter's a physician's assistant at the mayo clinic, and she's in emergency medicine. i'm very proud of her, and so she's of course been seeing patients with significant amounts of disease, and, yeah, so that's a very important thing and a very big... we think about that a lot, of course, and i also have a family member who is immune—suppressed, so we have a lot of personal concerns that way, but i think every family does. we are all seeing people we know who are getting sick, etc, with this disease.
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it's important to say that though i'm speaking to you in pennsylvania, this is a global effort. you have testing in south korea, and you're working with scientists across borders. that's correct. there is really a much larger effort than us. we're only a part of the programme. the programme is funded originally by the coalition for epidemic preparedness innovations, which is a global outreach programme with funding from the department of defense and supported by other agencies and also by the bill and melinda gates foundation, and of course, it has a company lead, which is how the programme is set up, which is in pennsylvania, the california company inovio, and we have collaborations across the globe, such as public health england. i'll ask you to explain, very much in layman's terms, what kind of vaccine you are working on. i'm sure our audience know there are different types depending
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on whether you're injecting live material or not. so, our vaccine approach is an approach we have worked on for several decades now, which is the idea of delivering nucleic acids. dna, and you have also heard of rna vaccines, both nucleic acid type approaches. these are nonlive pieces are basically encoded information, and this is a new concept in vaccine development, and these are nonlive. they don't grow, they can't spread. they're delivered locally in the case of the dnas in the case of covid—i9, into the skin, and that local site where the skin then tells our bodies cells to produce a single virus protein that has been designed on a computer, and that viral protein is a copy
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of the spike antigen. the spike is the antigen that the virus uses to attach to our cells, our lung cells and many others to get into it and cause the infection. so, if we can create a replica of that inside a person's body, that would be a foreign protein now in a person that their immune system would see as foreign, they would respond in two ways. one, they would generate antibodies, the molecule that binds to viruses and can bind and inactivate them and prevent them from entering cells, and one of the really important features of this approach is it's really important at generating t cell responses in humans. t cell responses are kind of the navy seals of the immune system. they patrol the body and clear sites that are infected, so they find viruses hiding within cells, replicating within cells, and destroy those cells which are now corrupted, and by doing that, they then can
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help clear infection. dr weiner, your work is always important, doctor, but with this virus and the response to it, do you feel more of a sense of urgency, of intensity, than ever before? i think all of us involved and all of us at home feel the urgency. i think our families feel the urgency. our families' whole lives are changed, our friends' lives are changed, and, as you know, there are multiple vaccine types being moved forward. it will likely take several different important successes, not one vaccine, but likely several to meet the different populations that will need it. it's likely to take several different to have more rapid global distribution. i think by working together like this, we will get through this. so, what do you think when you see headlines
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about the race for a vaccine? i think we're very used to thinking things as a race that way, a race this way, but one problem with one winner in this case is that one platform would be the only platform that would be available for a while for production, and so that would mean while you have x, you wouldn't have y, and not having y would mean many people are waiting for that y. in addition, vaccines have different properties. there are some vaccines we manufacture for older populations, there are some vaccines we manufacture the children, and so those can have different properties. to cover everyone we might want to have on the spectrum. i hear what you're saying. the more winners, the better in this particular circumstance. i do have to ask you, though, isn't there as an academic something of a sense of competition, something of a streak of determination to get your particular vaccine out there as one of the frontrunners?
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i think we're going to follow the science on every one of these, and we're very dedicated to advancing our platform as fast and as safe as possible. we have. i think everyone is dedicated to getting out platforms that can help, that can be tested in different populations and that can be put together as a global effort to get us out of our houses. doing what you do, dr weiner, isn't it hard to switch off at the end of the day? this is such intense work, and you're now under something of a spotlight. this is a very intense project, and all of us are really working 2a—7. we could probably go to sleep thinking about it, we wake up thinking about it, so it is an all—engrossing project that is very different than the way things were before. dr david weiner, ending this week's edition of personal stories from scientists pursuing their research in the face of this deadly pandemic.
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i'm philippa thomas. thank you forjoining us for coronavirus: your stories. hello. yesterday was the hottest august day since 2003. temperatures reach 36.4 celsius in london and some parts of southern england didn't drop below 20 celsius overnight. lots of sunshine around for many this afternoon, but not for all. there is much more cloud around, across the north—east coast of england and that may start to fringe parts of lincolnshire through the afternoon. also, coastal areas of cornwall could just hang onto more cloud throughout the day. this area of high pressure building to the north of the uk, it is generating more of a north, north—westerly wind, so a north—south split in terms of temperatures. the south is where we will see the heat, cool and fresh further north, also keeping an eye on this area of cloud in the north sea, as i mentioned, just fringing north—eastern and eastern coasts of england, cornwall as well, is likely to hang on to some more cloud, particularly the further south and west you are.
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fairly light breeze but that wind direction will keep it cooler for eastern coasts. this is where the heat is through this afternoon and areas in and around london perhaps getting up to 3a, 35 celsius. more like the high teens to low 20s for northern england, scotland and northern ireland. overnight, this area of cloud in the north sea starts to extend its way a little bit further west, there's a murkiness, a few showers developing across parts of north wales, through the midlands and into northern england. elsewhere, there will be some clearer skies, cool and fresh across scotland, northern ireland and northern england, once again across england and wales, temperatures in the mid to high teens, perhaps not falling below 20 celsius again for some southern counties of england. tomorrow, mist and low cloud for large swathes of north wales, through the midlands and into northern england, which will thin and break as the day goes on. it may give a few showers for a time. again, a mainly dry day, good spells of sunshine, once again, it's very warm, if not hot across much of england and wales, temperatures and high teens to low 20s celsius further north. we need to keep an eye
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on what is happening into next week, we are going to hold on to the heat for many, especially across england and wales as we start to see low pressure becoming more of an influence, it's also a good chance we're going to see thunderstorms developing and they could well develop quite widely. they are going to be a bit hit and miss, we need to keep an eye on the detail, but an increasing chance of seeing these thunderstorms through next week, they could bring a lot of rain in a short amount of time but for many, it's going to stay very warm and humid, notjust by day, but also overnight.
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this is bbc news with the latest headlines. the ministry of defence says it's had a formal request to help the home office as it steps up efforts to reduce the number of migrants crossing the english channel. a big anti—government protest is underway in beirut as the death toll from tuesday's massive explosion rises to 158. clashes have already broken out with lebanese police firing tear gas to stop demonstrators getting to the parliament building. the use of face masks in england and scotland is expanded with coverings now compulsory at cinemas, museums and place of worship. stricter lockdown measures are reinforced in preston following a spike in cases in the city. and at half past three, the click team takes a special look


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