Coronavirus: What have we got to feel optimistic about?
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to keep its hold on the UK, there are some rays of hope and developments to feel optimistic about.
The PA news agency looks at some of the progression that is being made in the fight to get Covid-19 under control.
– Antibody test
Public Health England (PHE) has approved an antibody test from the pharmaceutical giant Roche after experts at its Porton Down facility gave it the green light.
Previously described by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a “game changer”, the test picks up cases where somebody has had coronavirus in the past, and can be used on people who experienced no symptoms.
Experts believe those who have had Covid-19 develop a degree of immunity, meaning the test could prove a useful tool for helping to ease lockdown restrictions.
Many researchers across the world are racing to develop a vaccine for the virus. A small number have started clinical trials in humans, including a team at the University of Oxford.
Studies of the vaccine candidate in rhesus macaques showed that the animals developed antibodies, and a single vaccination dose was also effective in preventing damage to the lungs.
Experts believe results of the human trials could be ready by the middle of June.
Despite Mr Johnson saying there is no guarantee of a vaccine, on Thursday the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said licensed drugs to treat Covid-19 could be available in the next few months, and that a vaccine might be approved in early 2021.
– R number
Academics at the University of Cambridge reported that the UK’s rate of reinfection, known as the R number, was now firmly under 1.0.
This is a goal the Prime Minister has set in order to keep gradually releasing the lockdown in the coming months.
The R number represents the average number of people an infected person will pass the virus on to. It is also referred to as the reproduction number.
Nations across the UK are looking at how and when lockdown restrictions may be eased, with England outlining the most comprehensive plan.
After weeks of being told to stay at home, from Wednesday the measures in England were relaxed to allow people to spend more time outside, meet a friend at the park and view a potential new home.
Unlimited exercise, sunbathing and meeting one person from another household in a public space has also been permitted, as long as the two-metre rule is respected, while golf clubs, tennis courts and angling were also given the green light.
– What else has changed that may help lift spirits?
Sports fans who have been disappointed by the postponement of many events, including the Olympics and Euro 2020, will be able to enjoy live football as the German Bundesliga restarts on Saturday, albeit behind closed doors.
Soap fans will have welcomed the news that the makers of Coronation Street and Emmerdale are in the “final stages” of working on plans for the soaps to return to production.
And EastEnders is set to resume filming by the end of June.
On Thursday, the nation took to their doorsteps for the eighth week in a row to clap for NHS carers and key workers who have put their lives at risk fighting Covid-19.
Elsewhere, countries such as New Zealand and Australia have eased lockdown measures, with pubs in New South Wales opening to the public.