Oxford COVID-19 study: face masks and coverings work – act now

8th July

An extensive new study from Oxford’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science finds that the use of face masks is beneficial in protecting both the wearer and those in their surroundings. These results fill a critical gap in medical literature.

Researchers emphasise that we need not wear surgical masks or respirators, rather, simple face masks made from high-quality materials such as layers of high-grade cotton or flannel can provide over 95% filtration. These masks should be looped around the ears or tied behind the neck to give increased facial coverage, and hence, tighter protection from infection; loosely fitting garments such as scarves are far less effective.

The report gives clear recommendations that the inclusion of face masks in government ‘policy packages’ and public messaging, alongside hand washing and social distancing, are vital to public perception and the uptake of these masks.

The message could not be clearer: from now on, use a mask when possible.

Oxford scientists form spinout to launch rapid Covid-19 virus test

8th July

Researchers from the University of Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science and Oxford Suzhou Centre for Advanced Research (OSCAR) have collaborated to produce a promising new test that can quickly detect the coronavirus SARS-CoV2. The hope is that the test can be used to identify, and aid tracking of, those infected in a variety of environments, such as airports, community care, home self-testing, and schools. The test should help populations to exit lockdown in the knowledge that they are safe.

Tests now available on the market cost far more than the estimated £20 per test of the new product, Oxsed RaViD Direct, which will be certified with CE-mark and manufactured in large volumes. Clinical trials suggest that the test should reliably provide results as good as existing laboratory tests, within 30-45 minutes, making use of throat and nasal swabs. Previous methods used intensive laboratory processes giving rise to a number of issues, specifically, slow collection of samples and release of test results, as well as stretched supply chains. Consequently, the new test is a vast improvement.

Britain is reluctant to move on COVID-19 advice, but not if it is sunny

29th June

With lockdown rules now easing, study finds we are cautious to get moving again. As we descended into lockdown the country recorded a 98% fall in human movement. However, more recently, data collected by the Oxford COVID-19 Impact Monitor shows that movement has risen steadily, at a rate of 2-3% a week, back to around half of pre-lockdown levels. Although people are more mobile, activity seems to occur more locally, with people tending to remain closer to home.

The data also makes it apparent that certain areas of the country are less active than others, and we seem to roam most when it is sunny. Given this, it is no surprise that we recorded our highest levels of movement on the hottest day of the year, hitting 53% of pre-lockdown movement. As well as this, the Monitor finds London, Wales and Scotland have, on the whole, moved significantly less than regions such as the North-East and South-West. Nevertheless, it’s important we remember that movement depends on a variety of factors, for example, commute to work, living conditions, and access to online services.

For more details on these updates, check the University’s dedicated research page here.

Image credit: Arpita Chatterjee