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Hollywood star Michael Sheen has lent his voice to a new NHS animation created to combat anti- Covid vaccine sentiment.

News of the video comes just after the Welsh actor revealed on Twitter that he’s spent the last few weeks “laid low by Covid” in what he described as a “difficult and quite scary” experience.

Mr Sheen narrated the video before his recent illness.

It uses easy to follow visuals to show how vaccines work and provide protection safely.

He said: “Vaccination offers us a pathway out of this pandemic, so I was delighted to be able to play a part in this historic programme, which is the biggest roll out of vaccines ever carried out by the NHS.

“Many of us will have questions about how these new vaccines work, but it’s important we get our answers from trusted sources and this is where the Swansea Bay University Health Board animation comes in.

“Having experienced what this dreadful illness can do, I urge everyone to take a few minutes to watch this video and, if invited, to also take up the offer of vaccination straight away. I will certainly be having the vaccine when it’s my turn.”

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The three-minute video titled ‘Why is the COVID-19 vaccine so safe?’ explains how scientists have used a small part of the Coronavirus’ genetic instructions to create a vaccine which allows your body’s immune system to recognise the virus and develop protection without having the pressure of a Covid-19 infection.

These genetic instructions stay separate from your DNA and cannot be combined. They are destroyed by your body after being used.

The video is the brainchild of Senior Medical Illustrator Steve Atherton who works in the health board’s Medical Illustration department.

His experience in producing materials which take complex medical procedures and science and explain them in a way patients will understand gave him an instinct that a video like this would be needed and he began working on it alongside colleague Gareth Buckley.

Steve said: “I’d heard a lot of negativity around the vaccine, mostly based on unscientific claims and scaremongering on social media.

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“This was a project I initiated myself in my spare time. I researched the vaccines and how they’re made.  I got in touch with Public Health Wales to sign off the script and got started.”

His hunch was correct as Consultant Renal Pharmacist Chris Brown soon approached him looking for solutions following reports of vaccine hesitancy amongst patients in other parts of the UK.

Chris said: “Charities approached our service to help address the questions and anxieties people had in deciding whether to have the vaccine.

“The Paul Popham Fund, Kidney Wales and Kidney Care UK held a virtual conference and, as part of that, we were asked 60 questions by people who wanted to make an informed decision.

“This animation was a great way of getting our messages across and providing the context to answering questions around vaccine safety and immunosuppression.

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“It has had a real impact and resulted in a very high uptake of the vaccine.”

Joanne Popham, CEO of the Paul Popham Fund and Judith Stone, MD, Kidney Wales said: “The animation the Swansea team have created clearly explains what the virus and vaccine do and help to demonstrate to patients the safety of the vaccine.”

Steve himself initially narrated the animation, but he knew such an important message would have a much greater impact if it was delivered by Port Talbot son and BAFTA winner Michael Sheen.

Despite being very busy with work, Mr Sheen did not hesitate to agree to the voice over and recorded it himself in his own time for free.

Watch the new COVID video voiced by Michael Sheen


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Coronavirus

Swansea professor’s COVID contribution recognised with new honour

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A Swansea academic at the forefront of shaping our understanding of Covid-19 has received further recognition for his work in the field of data science.

Co-director of Population Data Science and Clinical Professor of Public Health at Swansea University, Professor Ronan Lyons has been elected to a prestigious European body, the Academia Europaea.

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This latest honour follows on from Professor Lyons becoming a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and being appointed OBE in the New Year’s honours.

The focus of his work is the use of routinely collected data to better understand factors that influence health and wellbeing and developing and evaluating interventions aimed to improve the health of the public. He has led some of the largest studies ever undertaken in this field and contributed to research surrounding the pandemic and its consequences at Wales, UK and European level.

Professor Lyons said he was delighted to have been recommended for membership of the prestigious Academia Europaea, which aims to encourage the highest possible standards in scholarship, research and education, and promote a better public understanding of the benefits of learning.

He said: “This honour is a recognition of the shared efforts and hard work of the various teams and partners I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years. None more so than over the last two years, during the pandemic.

“Through the European Population Health Information Research Infrastructure (PHIRI) Project we’re developing research infrastructure to generate the best Covid-19 population health knowledge. The multi-disciplinary, One Wales working group provided crucial evidence to Welsh Government’s response to Covid community transmission and informed policy development across the UK.

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“The International Covid-19 Data Alliance (ICODA) partnership with Health Data Research UK and the Bills Gates Foundation and others, is supporting a globally coordinated approach to tackling Covid and future threats.

“This has been an incredibly challenging period for us all and I’m enormously proud that these labours have been acknowledged and rewarded by this election.”

Professor Lyons now joins more than 5,000 other eminent, individual scientists and scholars, who cover a broad range of academic disciplines that include former Nobel Prize laureates, Turing Award recipients and Fields Medal winners.

(Lead image: Swansea University)

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Carmarthen

Health board lifts visiting restrictions at Glangwili and Withybush hospitals

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Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed that restrictions for people visiting patients will be lifted in Glangwili and Withybush hospitals from Wednesday 20 July 2022.

Visiting to Bronglais Hospital, Prince Philip Hospital and community hospitals remain open, by appointment only.

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The health board are advised that it will still be a requirement to wear masks in Glangwili, Prince Philip and Withybush hospitals.

Mandy Rayani, Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience, said: “Last week we had to make the decision to extend measures at Glangwili Hospital in addition to Withybush Hospital to reduce the risk to our patients and staff and we thank people for their support and co-operation.

“We can all continue to take protective measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to protect vulnerable people and the NHS.

“We strongly advise anyone in our locality who has the classic symptoms, or who suspects they may have COVID-19 to isolate and take an LFD test. If positive, we urge people to isolate – this will help you to rest and recover while protecting others from risk of transmission.”

(Lead image: Google Maps)

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Coronavirus

Mask wearing reinstated at Llanelli’s Prince Philip Hospital

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Hywel Dda University Health Board have said that all staff and visitors to Prince Philip Hospital must wear face masks (unless exempt) with immediate effect following the latest review of prevalence of COVID-19 in the community.

This follows the decisions made last week to reinstate mask wearing at Glangwili Hospital and both mask wearing and visiting restrictions at Withybush Hospital.

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The health board have said that visiting will continue in general at Glangwili and Prince Philip hospitals following the latest review of case numbers but local ward restrictions are in place so please contact the ward to arrange your visit in advance

Mandy Rayani, Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Wearing a surgical mask or face covering and keeping a physical distance when attending a hospital or medical facility will help protect our most vulnerable patients and service users.

“We are grateful for the ongoing support and efforts of our communities to stop the spread, particularly around more vulnerable people.

“These measures will be continually reviewed, and as soon as it is safe to do so, we will ease these restrictions.”

The health board is stressing the continued importance of the behaviours known to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, and the different requirements in place in health and social care settings.

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Mandy, added: “Isolating if we have symptoms of COVID-19, or other infectious diseases, is one of the most important things we can do to prevent the onward spread and break the chain of transmission.

“We strongly encourage anyone in our locality who has the classic symptoms, or who suspects they may have COVID-19 to isolate and take an LFD test. If positive, we urge people to continue with the same isolation guidance that has been in place – this will help you to rest and recover and protect others from risk of transmission.”

Later this week, the Welsh Government will update its vaccine strategy with details of the next booster dose in the autumn.

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Sir Frank Atherton said:

“The vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. While the vaccine does not completely stop transmission it offers protection against serious illness and reduces the risk of hospitalisation.

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“You can still get the vaccine if you haven’t had your full course, or you were too ill to get your spring booster and I would encourage parents to think about getting the vaccine for their children over the summer months to help minimise any disruption to their education during the autumn and winter terms.”

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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