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    • Are Vaccines the only end to the pandemic?

      This is a follow up blog post based on a discussion between @theworldofamran and @thecatalystinme on IG LIVE. You can watch the live back HERE. The theme of the live: Are vaccines the ONLY end to the pandemic?. In summary, there is no clear answer to this question! Vaccines are a way of easing the effects of the pandemic, but not the only way out. Until transmission is reduced to very low and controlled levels even WITH a vaccine, social distancing measures and mask wearing will be “the new normal”. If you are in the UK, you may be aware of the vaccine priority list. The vaccine is being offered widely across vulnerable groups and key workers, if you don’t fall in these priority groups there will be some waiting time before you are offered the vaccine. So what should you be focusing on instead? In the live session we discuss having a stance on the vaccine prior to being offered and also making sure you read sources yourself. If you have vulnerable people in your life, it is also important you have discussions around vaccines and help them find the correct information. It is your body and it is especially important to make an informed choice. By the time “non-vulnerable/healthy” people are offered the vaccine, the short term effects of the vaccines (at least 1year) would have been studied and at best that is a considerable amount of time to look at the pros and cons to make a well-informed decision. There has been an overwhelming amount of COVID-19 information. So here is a list of sources to read and follow up on. This post is written based on the most common questions that came up during the live session and other points that we have seen come up a lot. The resources listed here are specific to the UK. It can be applied to other countries, but it is best to follow your local health guidance and measures in place! Are vaccines the only end to the pandemic? The answer is no! Pandemic responses are multi-faceted. The COVID-19 vaccine has been developed to prevent severe illness from the disease and as a result reduce the likelihood of death. There have been countries that have successfully controlled the pandemic to get life back to some form of normality. The measures implemented in these countries have been a mix of lockdowns and high compliance of the public, all before vaccines were rolled out. This has been fully discussed in an earlier blog post: the world can handle the covid-19 pandemic. When looking at vaccine efficacy (effectiveness) news, it is very important to remember the vaccines have been proven to reduce severe disease. A key end to the pandemic is reducing deaths AND transmission. Transmission hasn’t been investigated in the vaccine trials and it is quite hard to understand! Face masks, isolation, handwashing and social distancing are effective measures in reducing transmission and as mentioned before, these guidelines will need to stay in place until transmission levels are low AND controlled. Basic and simple public health measures will always be in place! With the vaccine there are many unknowns that will be discovered as time goes on. COVID-19 research will require a heavy chunk of research budgets for the foreseeable future! But there are two questions asked that I want to focus on. Can I catch COVID-19 after taking the vaccine? Do I need the vaccine if I had COVID-19? As mentioned earlier, there is little information on how the COVID-19 vaccine affects transmission of the disease. A key feature of the COVID-19 vaccine is to reduce symptoms and for those reasons many people were followed up based on presenting symptoms of COVID-19 and not a positive PCR test while in the trials. What has been found is that COVID-19 patients following an infection have natural immunity for around 5 months. However, what must be remembered is that this does not mean that they are not infectious or unable to transmit the disease. There is a lot of effort and research going into answering this specific question of transmissibility! When that answer does come, this could change what the new normal looks like! Severe events due to COVID-19 infection have been linked to higher viral loads and in theory, if the vaccines lower severe events by decreasing the viral load - this could have an effect on decreasing transmission. As the transmission rates are loosely dependent on the viral load present in an individual to spread the virus. Specific Vaccine resources Vaccine post written on this blog as part of TCIM conversations: A series exploring public perception of science. Basics of vaccines-What are they and why are they important? Should I take the Covid-19 vaccine: What is in it, why is it important ( written in July) Vaccine safety reports ( Pfizer, Oxford and Moderna: the candidates approved for use in the UK) The Links provided lead you directly to official pages with safety documents. I have also included links to summarised Instagram posts of the safety data summarised published in November of the three candidates. Pfizer Phase 1 published data safety, Full protocol , Extended Safety data Oxford Astrazeneca Main Website Moderna : FDA page on trial data Extra resources on vaccines British Society of Immunology NHS page on vaccines Covid-Recovery What will the new normal look like? How can things get back to normal? Will schools, shops and places of worship open like before? If I decide NOT to get vaccinated? What are the effects on my family and community? The above questions are all extremely important. To get back to normal, we need to all comply with guidelines as best as possible. The aim should be to get cases to zero and make isolation when infected with COVID-19 a simple process with minimum disruption to everyday life. A huge problem in the UK is compliance to isolation after infection with COVID-19. The BMJ highlights that “ self-isolation in those who are infected or else are contacts of those who test positive for the virus are estimated to be around 18%.”Your first thought may be that people are selfish but as highlighted in this Guardian article, it is a complex situation. Unless you are provided with a safe place to isolate and don't have financial burdens, then it is very difficult to stay isolated for the full period of 14 days. For further reading follow the hashtag #SupportToIsolate on Twitter. If you decide not to get vaccinated, if put simply, the likelihood of you suffering from severe disease from COVID-19 is increased. At the time of this post being released, the vaccine doesn’t reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 nor transmitting it as stated above. With a recent report by The Guardian reporting 72% of Black people unlikely to take the vaccine, now more than ever we need to continue to think about vaccine hesitancy and the root causes. This plays a huge role in protecting our loved ones that are most at risk from severe disease and even more so with the new variants of COVID-19 which is no longer specifically targeting the old and vulnerable. Sadly, with the increase of loss of life, not only just of the elderly, but also younger and healthier populations, we just don’t know how an individual's body will react to being exposed to the disease. There are also many more reports of ‘long COVID’ and the vaccine potentially reducing the effects of this (although evidence is pending). With the UK Planning to vaccinate everyone by mid July possibly, it is crucial now more than ever to get informed! Will there be more lockdowns? We are ALL tired. While you can’t predict the future and everyday with COVID-19 circulating, it is a learning curve and also extremely tiring when thinking about the future. Countries like China that had a strict lockdown, although successful at controlling the outbreak, are now experiencing a new cluster of cases and a localised lockdown. Pandemic fatigue is a huge issue. On our THIRD lockdown in the UK with unclear guidance, sometimes it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Personally I am struggling with this third lockdown as it is hard to see an end, especially when the government hasn't shown many signs of good leadership. While lockdowns are an effective public health measure to identify and isolate cases, an interesting article published by stanford researchers, highlighted that strict lockdowns do not have the benefit of completely controlling the virus. The article summarises comparisons of countries that had strict lockdowns versus countries with more relaxed approaches to find that where transmission of the virus is not controlled, lockdowns may not be the most effective! "In other words, it is possible that stay-at-home orders may facilitate transmission if they increase person-to-person contact where transmission is efficient such as closed space" Following on from that article, it is clear that in order to stay safe, we need to make simple things like hand washing and mask wearing (especially the latter) second nature. By observation, people wear masks more because they ”have” to and less because they want to. I believe I will keep wearing a mask on public transport long after the rules are relaxed. But for the time being, it is important you can answer these questions: What are the different types of masks available and what protection do they offer? How to dispose or reuse masks properly? How to wear masks properly? When don’t I need to wear a mask? What is the difference between a mask and a face covering? All the questions above are answered in the WHO guidance on when and how to wear masks. We want lockdown to end. So how do you risk assess the situation of meeting people in public once the time comes? You really shouldn't be meeting people right now, but are good to keep in mind when the outside slowly opens. These guides and articles will help you understand the risk and exposure to COVID-19. This will help you make responsible decisions once restrictions ease and the country reopens, so we can get out of this constant cycle of lockdowns and uncertainty. Risk assessment quiz to limit your chances of spreading and catching Covid-19 The spread of Covid-19 Indoors Should I be worried about the new variants? At the time of writing this post, there are 3 known COVID-19 variants present in the UK. For someone without a science background, getting into the specifics can be quite confusing and even from someone with a science background, it can be quite overwhelming! For now, the only worry about these variants is that they seem to be more transmittable between people and hence the soaring infection rates. Currently, there is no evidence that the variants are more deadly or the vaccine candidates being rolled out won’t work against them. If the constant updates are stressful, no matter the variant; social distancing, mask wearing and handwashing rules remain the same! How can I follow correct information? If you decide to not take the vaccine, it is a personal choice and if you are young and healthy it may not be important to you (YOU THINK?). As we have seen with the increase in COVID variants, anyone can be affected by hospitalisation. You taking the vaccine will reduce your chances of hospitalisation. If you decide not to take it, it is important to not impose your personal views on others and let them make a decision based on their own research and findings. Do not attempt to convince family members based on biased views with little to no medical evidence. With any doubts, there are many immunologists and Drs that have a wealth of resources for you to look through and community discussions with professionals as well! While the news is a great source of information, it does sometimes offer a lot of confusion as headlines can be politicised. It’s okay to take a break from constant updates. WHO resource on the covid-19 infodemic More Resources People / pages to follow Kizzmekia Corbett : Immunologist and one of the lead scientists that developed the Moderna Vaccine (Read more) Science.sam: Science communicator based in Canada Dr esmeralda Infectious disease doctor in the UK that often answers questions in her stories about vaccines Dr Samira Hassan: GP in the UK and VP of British Somali Medical Association Virus.vs.labcoat : Immunologist PhD student in Australia with a wealth of posts on understanding immunity Podcasts Coronavirus: What You Need To Know - ITV News How To Vaccinate The World - BBC Four The COVID Vaccine - What You Need To Know and Why You Should Get It With Dr Jessica Sacher Vaccine Infodemiology (COVID-19 Immunity) with Jessica Malaty Rivera Community Conversations on COVID-19 and Vaccines COVID-19 Vaccines: Your Questions Answered - Hosted by Asian Resource Centre Croydon (ARCC) CAHN Health Hour: COVID Vaccine Panel - Hosted by Carribean and African Health Network (CAHN) DrFuraha_Asani : Vaccines in Pop culture Upcoming Webinars: Thursday 21 January 2021 - Ubele Talking Points: The Vaccine Conversation Friday 29 January 2021 - COVID-19 Vaccination and BAME Population For the latest information on COVID-19: NHS UK Government: World Health Organization (WHO):

    • How bad do you want it? - The Career Plan 1/7

      This is post 1 of a 7 part series ! How do you get your dream career? Your current job should lead to you building your dream career ! So how bad do you want your current career aspirations? job1 /dʒɒb/ a paid position of regular employment. career /kəˈrɪə/ an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress. Being able to understand the length you would go for your goal helps you weed out the options that you don’t feel are worth the stress. This is not to encourage toxic working situations but acknowledging your limits and setting boundaries to make sure that they aren’t crossed! Being able to narrow this down allows you to understand your options and only focus on a few. Knowing what you want comes with honest self reflection and pin pointing your main motivational factor. Motivation comes in waves and determination and consistency is what drives your goals to make them a reality. Its a weird cycle though, without motivation you can’t be determined and consistent. You may pick a particular career because of money and that is okay! We all need money and I want to be a rich aunt with a private island in some version of my life. Financial stability is important and if your current situation calls for that you will have real decisions to make! You may have realised that you’re not done learning, exploring and will choose further study and in another sense you may not see a future in your current field so need to plan an exit strategy. Humans learn by example so lets use me ? Who am I: a medical physiology graduate with a masters in medical ultrasound where my masters was chosen to provide me the job security a lab based degree doesn't offer. Two months into my degree I knew I wanted to do something else and the hospital environment wasn't where I wanted to be. Not that I couldn't do it but I appreciated basic science more ! This feeling brought me back to my initial decision not to pursue medicine. At the time I couldn’t pin point it but I just knew It wasn’t for me.When looking to alternatives to medicine the option of pursuing a Physician's associate degree came up and my dad asked the very simple question “ Why not a Doctor” . The role of a PA is similar to Medicine so indeed a very good question.This isn't to say a PA is not as good as a doctor, but if I had really wanted it, I would have been able to justify my reasons and tell him it was the career for me ! This was the same for my msc. The obvious career path was an Echocardiographer . I couldn't see myself in that role for anything longer than I had to be in it. I had conversations with someone amazing on twitter far along in her career and I just couldn’t see myself in the role. She also mentioned I had more passion talking about lab work ! I stuck with that point and let it guide my job search. So pandemic, I had two options further additonal training to get the hospital job I had initially planned or pack it in and try something else. The added training I needed to do wasn't worth it to me and certainly didn't interest me as much as basic science. My msc experience was all forms of negative so that is where I set my boundaries of not dying for academia and dropped my hopes of a Phd in that exact same field. The Phd thing is still an option but How bad I want it is still up for debate. I am taking the year as it comes and trying to enjoy the present. I have set my boundaries of prioritising my mental health and realising that things take time while continuing to find myself outside of academia. Note: me writing this post makes it sound like a smooth process but throw in trying to make proper career decisions and a pandemic and it was what I will call STRESSFUL ! I made it out Alhamdullilah because I cant finish this point without saying God really took me through it ( sorry if you aren't religious lol) To end, remember you don’t need to have all the answers but you should have checkpoints with yourself to assess how bad you want something. Regular checkpoints help build motivation and to be productive you must have the most efficient strategy and to know this you need to constantly self evaluate your outlook on your career. If the job or route is no longer serving it s purpose, don’t be afraid to move on ! To end. Here are two TCIM career profiles that are shining examples of determination and following a career based on desire and not time limits set by the outside world. Both Lynn and Adama decided to pursue a career in Medicine much later than the usual grad entry route. Adama Fullah ( Pharmacovigilance consultant to Medicine) Lynn Asante-arae ( Phd Cancer Biology to Medicine)

    • Bsc Biology and (MPH) Public Health to Research Manager I TCIM Careers

      Name: Amran Mohamed Course/ job: Research Project Manager A levels/ equivalent: Biology, Psychology & Economics with AS in Chemistry Undergrad and post grad degrees :BSc Biology , MPH Public Health Favourite science fact: You have more bones in your body when you are born compared to when you’re an adult!!! Journey in 3 Words: Dynamic, Exciting & Fun • Briefly describe your role or course : I’m currently a research project manager at an NHS trust responsible for an NIHR/UKRI funded COVID-19 and ethnicity community intervention study. My interests lie in supporting marginalised groups build healthier and stronger communities. My BSc in Biology was very broad allowing for a degree of flexibility across the spectrum from biochemistry to conservation whilst my MPH in Public Health focused on human health and health systems and covered aspects from public health practice, epidemiology & statistics to health economics, systems & policy. I also specialised in Global Health. What motivated you to pursue a career in science :I always had an interest in the natural world when I was growing up and the study of life always intrigued me. I had amazing science teachers at school who really believed in me! What advise would you give on picking universities: I think it’s important to choose the course rather than the university. I think university is really what you make of it, and I always remind the younger generation that it is important to choose what you’d like but also to look at aspects of what opprotunities choosing a particular university will bring you. By all means, Russel Group universities can be great but they are not the be all and end all. I had the most amazing time during my undergrad degree and I thought I wouldn’t because I didn’t get into my first choice - but it’s really about making the most of your time and seeking opportunities whenever you can! What career paths did you feel were available to you before you started your course :I would say that I was quite lucky to secure a graduate job quite rapidly after my undergraduate degree, so I had a pretty solid plan and career progression route. But after working for almost two years I realised that this path was not for me, and that I couldn’t see myself doing a lab based masters (Mres) or a PhD in the biological sciences. I knew that my outreach work would always be a very small part of my role in academia and if I wanted to work in public health that the minimum requirement would be a Masters. What were your perceptions of being a scientist before you started your masters course :Working in an academic institution prior to beginning my course gave me an insight into the aspects of research that I liked and what I didn’t like. I went into my masters with a plan that I wouldn’t necessarily go down the research route in terms of the scientific aspect, but that I would want to focus on what skills I could gain and theory that I could learn to prepare me for a career that would allow me to serve my community and not a life in the lab that I came to dislike over the years. What did you enjoy the most about your masters course :My cohort during my masters was very international and I always valued this when I was doing my undergraduate degree. You learn so much from people who come from different backgrounds, countries etc. I also enjoyed the aspect of bringing together so many different subject areas under the umbrella of public health; both the social & humanities aspect but also scientific element. How have your previous experiences played a part in your career path :I took a 2 year break in between my undergraduate degree and my postgraduate degree to enter the working world. I think that definitely gave me an insight into what I like and what I don’t like. It was important for me to do so because if I had done a masters two years ago it would have been a completely different subject area (and more along the lines of life sciences) When considering your career path, how much has your potential salary affected your decision? : I would say that I never moved into Public Health for the money, but I knew that pursing a MPH would make my salary increase very quickly in comparison if I had remained in my old role and worked my way up. Where do you see yourself in 5 years : If I answered this at the beginning of my MPH I would’ve said somewhere abroad working within the UN system. But now, my outlook has very much changed because I see how much needs to be worked on in our own communities and to be given the opportunity to lead a national study is something that I wouldn’t have even imagined doing in 5 years time, let alone right now. So only time will tell! Outside science how would you describe yourself : I dabble in a bit of everything, from hosting events and community conversations to travelling the world and writing my blog. I also recently started podcasting and utilising IG live to engage others in community engagement and public health! Connect with Amran Twitter: @AmranMR_ & @theworldofamran Instagram: @theworldofamran Wordpress:

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    • Sci comm | website

      tcim by by Adama Sci comm & Career content After three years of creating career content on social media , 2021 I am officially calling myself a "sci commer". ​ Come along on this journey with me. ​ ​ The start of the Covid-19 pandemic led me to follow news articles, tweets and finally survey 145 people to understand their perception of science. This led to a series of blog posts and videos investigating receptiveness to vaccines and reasons for public mistrust View More Public Perception of science I am taking 2021 to focus on developing and expanding my science communication skills. Find resources and blog posts that help me along the way View More SCI COMM Resources

    • Careers | website

      bsc Choosing an undergraduate degree is one of the first steps to your life science career. Gain inspiration and discover new courses, is it right for you ? View More Msc So academia is calling you. An Msc/Mres is usually a tremendous task. You don't have to rush into it. View More Grad Every graduate hates the question "what next". Find out how other chose their next steps. View More PHD A Phd takes up the next 3-5 years of your life. Why did others do it? How did they do it? Is it for you? View More Long term The long term plan is important at any stage of your career. Find out what people have done 2+ years after graduation. Here you will also find professionals with more than 10 years experience in their fields View More Featured Posts Adama Dec 4 4 min Bsc Biology and (MPH) Public Health to Research Manager I TCIM Careers 17 Write a comment 1 Adama Oct 11 3 min Marine Biology to Chief Executive British Pharmacological Society ITCIM Career Profiles 17 Write a comment Adama Aug 18 4 min Pharmacovigilance and Medicine I TCIM Careers 59 Write a comment 1 Adama Mar 5 6 min Career Profile - Visiting scientist and graduate medical student 39 Write a comment

    • About | TheCatalystInMe

      The Catalyst In Me sarted with the aim to motivate people and educate them in a slightly non-conventional way on the different life science careers out there. What started out as few friends answering my questions has now expanded to a number of interviews from people across the world. In-depth career journeys are shared giving advice on how to life and science. Adama Saccoh tcim

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