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News round-up (December 4)

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4th December 2020 about a 3 minute read

Here’s a selection of some of the stories that caught our eye this week…

DeepMind co-founder: Gaming inspired AI breakthrough

News broke this week of an AI breakthrough that could accelerate research into a host of illnesses.

The project, called Alpha Fold, was pioneered by DeepMind. It can determine the shape of many proteins quickly and at relatively low cost.

Diseases like Alzheimer’s involve the build-up of abnormally folded proteins that cause damage to nerve cells in the brain.

BBC Radio 4 interviewed DeepMind co-founder Demis Hassabis who said gaming inspired his scientific work.

Two thirds in NIHR survey said they would be likely to have a COVID-19 vaccination

An online survey by NIHR researchers looking at attitudes to having a COVID-19 vaccination found that 64% of respondents would be likely to have one when it became available.

People who had been vaccinated for flu last year were more likely to intend to be vaccinated for coronavirus, as were older people and those who perceived a greater risk of COVID-19 to others.

How covid-19 unleashed the NHS

An article in the Economist highlights how the pandemic has prompted “a wave of innovation.”

Among those quoted is Dr Shelagh O’Riordan, a consultant in geriatric medicine in Ashford Kent, who was prompted to set up a home treatment service to keep people out of hospital.

Tests on blood samples suggest COVID virus may have been present in the US earlier than first thought

The Infectious Diseases Society of America highlights research which suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may have been introduced into the United States prior to January 19, 2020 when the first case was identified.

The study tested for anti-SARS-CoV-2antibodies in samples from 7,389 routine blood donations collected by the American Red Cross from December 13, 2019 to January 17, 2020. The donors were resident in nine states.

Traditional stereotypes of entrepreneurs ‘out of date’

The Scotsman reports on a study by King’s Entrepreneurship Institute and YouGov which reveals that negative stereotypes of business leaders may be preventing people from recognising entrepreneurial qualities in themselves.

A total of 44 per cent of those taking part saw entrepreneurs as important to responding to crises, such as the COVID pandemic. 

Forty-five per cent of respondents believed entrepreneurs were more likely to be male.

DSRU plans ‘post-authorisation’ study of COVID-19 vaccines in the UK

An article in the Pharma Times online says the Drug Safety Research Unit – an independent academic unit based in Southampton – is planning to conduct an active surveillance study on COVID-19 vaccine following regulatory authorisation.

The study will aim to capture the reporting by vaccinees and enable near real-time evaluation and communication of any potential side effects.

According to the DSRU, this post-authorisation study will reassure the public that the vaccines are under continuous monitoring,