Covid-19 Vaccines: Misinformation and Hesitancy

Despite the recent progress with the rollout of Covid-19 vaccination programmes, many mistruths circulating online have, in turn, had an impact on willingness to receive the vaccine. Unfortunately, this does not come as a big surprise. The ‘anti vax’ movement has been causing havoc for years by standing in opposition to vaccinating against disease, calling into question the safety of vaccines and circulating conspiracy theories surrounding the practice of vaccination itself. Although this kind of ideology has been around as long as vaccination itself, the accessibility of the internet coupled with the rise in use of social media in recent years provides the perfect breeding ground for such material. Vaccine hesitancy, a term which describes rejection or slow acceptance of vaccination, in relation to Covid-19 may not come as a surprise, but it is an issue worthy of attention as vaccination is our ticket out of the pandemic. 

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The Impact of Covid-19 School Closures on Children and Parents’ Mental Wellbeing

With schools having reopened their doors on March 8th, concerns have been raised that Britain’s school children now face a serious mental health crisis. British paediatricians have warned that they are witnessing an “acute and rapid increase in mental health and safeguarding cases”, with anxiety, depression and self-harm amongst young people rising to worrying levels. Parents have also been reported to be suffering psychological stress and breakdowns due to the pressures of managing their child’s remote learning whilst trying to sustain their own jobs. The Lancet has found that single parent families in particular, have the highest levels of self-reported stress. Gingerbread, the UK’s leading charity for single parents, stresses that the impact of dealing with the financial and practical pressures of Covid, whilst also having the sole responsibility for managing their child’s physical and mental health can be very overwhelming. 

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Covid-19 and the BAME community: Does It Affect Us All The Same?

When asked in late September about what the end of the year may look like for the United Kingdom Professor Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical advisor, bleakly answered “we have a long winter ahead of us”. However, will this continue to be a long winter for all of us, or will this be disproportionately longer for certain groups within the UK? 

With a series of protracted lockdowns that have been on and off for the past few months, this question is increasingly relevant. It has been well documented that the COVID-19 pandemic did not affect all populations and communities equally. For example, the most significant findings from early reports during the first peak suggested that the BAME community had a greater proportion of hospital deaths compared to White British groups. Using reports by Public Health England (PHE) and by the Labour party, this article investigates whether the UK government has a plan to protect the BAME community during the remainder of the winter as previous evidence has shown gaps in the solutions proposed. 

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The unseen challenges of refugee youth in the face of COVID-19

The lockdown period in the UK has variably affected different groups in the country. One group consistently overlooked has been refugees and refugee children, in particular. Official figures state that there are 126,720 refugees in the UK, of which 10,295 are children. Prior to the pandemic, refugee children were already in an unfavourable position in society that affected their access to education, with many schools unwilling to allow their enrolment over fears that they would have an adverse impact on schools’ academic performance and their positions in league tables.

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Should the COVID-19 Vaccine become a Global Public Good?

When the inventor of the polio vaccine, Jonas Salk, was asked who owns his discovery, he responded, ‘the people. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?’

As we enter the second year of COVID-19, various pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Novavax have completed their final round of vaccine trials at a record pace, and the roll out in some countries has now begun. Despite this being a cause for hope as we finally start to see some light at the end of the long COVID tunnel, the world has started to witness the phenomenon of ‘vaccine nationalism,’ which may hinder the global battle against the pandemic. Such a term is used to define the actions taken by governments of wealthy countries, who have signed direct deals with pharmaceutical companies in order to receive first access to billions of COVID-19 vaccine doses for their own populations. In doing so, these countries restrict the access to vaccines for other states.

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The Impact of Covid-19 on Women and Girls’ Sexual and Reproductive Health

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread throughout the world, concerns are rising about the effect of the virus on women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health, and their access to contraceptive care. Past humanitarian crises have shown that when there is a disruption in the supply and access to routine health care services, it is women and girls’ who are disproportionately affected, simply by virtue of their sex.  

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The Green Transition: South Korea and Japan follow UK Pledge to Work Towards Carbon Neutrality by 2050

The South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, has formally pledged that the country will become carbon neutral by 2050. This commitment to achieving net-zero emissions within the next 30 years is not an unprecedented step, but is in line with recent global efforts to tackle climate change.  

Major world economies have now vowed to end their dependence on coal and replace it with other forms of renewable resources as part of their Green New Deal, which involves a shift towards renewable energy and energy storage systems, as well as low-carbon energy systems. In 2019, the European Union set itself a similar target, with EU leaders agreeing to make their then 28 member states carbon neutral by 2050. Japan quickly followed suit with Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga making an ambitious pledge to accelerate the country’s global warming targets. China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, has promised to become carbon neutral by 2060, and vowed to begin cutting its emissions within the next ten years. It must not be underestimated how bold and ambitious these targets actually are. 

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Tales of a Pandemic: Migrants, Dissidents and the State

With the Covid-19 vaccine(s) seemingly on the horizon, it is important to reflect upon this period of acute stress and paranoia with regards to national politics. India, as far as domestic political discourse is concerned, has declared itself the champion of lockdowns and preventive measures.

While the world was grappling with the monumental failures of the American government pertaining to healthcare and the oppression of its own people, many aspects of the Indian lockdown flew under the radar, barely questioned by even the most vehement critics of the Indian government, out of fear, reservation, or bewilderment. It has been observed for over six years now that the current government exercises something of a blitzkrieg in the announcement and implementation of its policies. This suddenness is, indeed, an extremely deliberate political strategy that incapacitates any thought of opposition. This is evident in one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent speeches where he remarked how people in other countries resisted lockdown measures, but the Indian people immediately fell in line. What the Prime Minister leaves out in his speech, however, was the manner in which the citizens of India were confronted with the lockdown. 

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A Pandemic in itself? The Mental Health Crisis of Covid-19

The Covid-19 crisis, which has rapidly spread across the globe, has now exceeded 50 million confirmed cases in 190 countries and more than 1.2 million deaths. This pandemic has not been selective in who it targets, but rather, has had an unprecedented effect on the lives of almost every single human being.  

As the UK exits its second national lockdown, complaints have repeatedly been raised about the harmful consequences of a singular focus on the virus, with people questioning why the all-important side effects of a lockdown have not received the same attention. Though the protection of the physical health of individuals remains a priority of most governments, there are accompanying side-effects of a lockdown which can also be disastrous and need to be acknowledged. One such side effect is the impact that the pandemic has had on the mental deterioration of young adults. Based on these findings, I will consider some policy and practice recommendations which can help governments, schools and universities to better address the mental challenges facing young people today. 

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The European Union and the future of post-Covid multilateralism

The novel coronavirus pandemic has already sparked much speculation on how the international order as we know it will undergo profound changes, with suggestions that it will forever be divided between what happened BC (before coronavirus) and AC (after coronavirus). If some lament, others cheer and others are not yet willing to accept the end of the liberal international order, yet few would neglect that a return to the past is unlikely. The pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing dynamics from protectionism and nationalism to great power politics and ideological competition. While this definitely means that the health crisis has highlighted the deep flaws of our current multilateral system, it has simultaneously exposed the world’s tremendous need for an international system of collective problem solving, of which, this article argues, the EU should be at the forefront. 

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