Antibody: Antibody is a protective protein produced by the immune system in response to the presence of a foreign substance, called an antigen. Antibodies recognize and latch onto antigens in order to remove them from the body.
Antigen: Antigens are any substance that stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies. Antigens can be bacteria, viruses, or fungi that cause infection and disease.
Asymptomatic: When you don’t show any signs of being ill, even though you may be infected with a disease such as coronavirus.
Childcare bubble: A childcare bubble is where one household links with one other household to provide informal childcare to anyone under 14. All adults in both households must agree to this arrangement. ‘Informal’ childcare means it is unpaid and unregistered. Members of either household can provide childcare in a home or public place. This includes overnight care. You can only have one childcare bubble with one other household. This means no household should be part of more than one childcare bubble. For more information on childcare bubbles, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/making-a-childcare-bubble-with-another-household.
Clinical trial: Clinical trials are a type of research that studies new tests and treatments and evaluates their effects on human health outcomes. People volunteer to take part in clinical trials to test medical interventions including drugs, cells and other biological products, surgical procedures, radiological procedures, devices, behavioural treatments and preventive care. Clinical trials are carefully designed, reviewed and completed, and need to be approved before they can start.
Contact tracing: The process of identifying, assessing, and managing people who have been exposed to a contagious disease to prevent onward transmission
COVID-19: COVID-19 refers to the coronavirus disease. Diseases are named to enable discussion on disease prevention, spread, transmissibility, severity and treatment. Human disease preparedness and response is WHO’s role, so diseases are officially named by WHO in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).
Critical workers: Parents whose work is critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and EU transition response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision#critical-workers.
Epidemic: A number of outbreaks of a disease in a number of different areas at the same time.
Epidemiologist: Epidemiologists search for the cause of disease, identify people who are at risk, determine how to control or stop the spread or prevent it from happening again.
Fatality rate: The percentage of people who die from a disease compared with the total number of people who were diagnosed with the disease in a certain time frame.
Flatten the curve: A way of slowing the rate at which people become infected with coronavirus, to avoid everyone becoming ill at the same time and to allow the NHS to cope. The “curve” refers to a graph showing the number of cases of COVID-19 that happen over a period of time. Many cases happening in a short period of time create a graph that looks like a tall spike. By using protective measures, we can slow down how many new cases happen. This is the “flattening” of the curve – on the graph, the flattened curve winds up looking more like a gentle hill.
Herd immunity: When the majority of people in a population are protected against a disease, either because they have already had it or because they have been vaccinated against it.
Incubation period: The time before a person shows signs that they are ill, after being infected with a disease.
Pandemic: Numerous outbreaks of a particular disease all over the world at the same time. It relates to the way a disease spreads, not the severity of the disease itself. The World Health Organisation decides when a series of epidemics are widespread enough to be called to be a pandemic.
PCR test: This is a type of the test used to find out if you have a COVID-19 infection. It’s a genetic test. A swab is taken from the mucous membrane lining your nose and throat. Any RNA (the genetic instructions contained within the virus) samples are turned into DNA using an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. The DNA is then amplified in a process called polymerase chain reaction – hence PCR.
Personal protective equipment (PPE): Equipment that protects you against risks to your health or safety at work. Care workers and health care staff such as nurses and doctors rely on things like facemasks, gloves and aprons to protect their own health while they are treating people with coronavirus, and to avoid spreading infection between people.
Priority group: The independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advises the Government on which vaccines we should use, and what the priority groups are. Their decision is based of a range of factors, including the different characteristics of different types of vaccines, to work out the most effective way to protect as many people as possible and save as many lives as we can, using the best available clinical, modelling and epidemiological data.
R number: The reproduction number (R) is the average number of secondary infections produced by a single infected person. An R number of 1 means that on average every person who is infected will infect 1 other person, meaning the total number of infections is stable. If R is 2, on average, each infected person infects 2 more people. If R is 0.5 then on average for each 2 infected people, there will be only 1 new infection. If R is greater than 1 the epidemic is growing, if R is less than 1 the epidemic is shrinking. The higher R is above 1, the more people 1 infected person infects and so the faster the epidemic grows. R can change over time. For example, it falls when there is a reduction in the number of contacts between people, which reduces transmission. R increases when the numbers of contacts between people rise, leading to a rise in viral transmission.
SARS-CoV-2: SARS-CoV-2, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, refers to virus that causes COVID-19. Viruses are named based on their genetic structure to facilitate the development of diagnostic tests, vaccines and medicines. Virologists and the wider scientific community do this work, so viruses are named by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV).
Shielding: A way of protecting people who are most at risk of becoming seriously ill if they get coronavirus, by making sure they have as little contact as possible with other people. They should not leave their homes for a set period, and anyone they live with should follow the Government’s guidance on social distancing.
Support bubble: A support bubble is a support network which links 2 households. Once you’re in a support bubble, you can think of yourself as being in one ‘household’. It means you can have close contact with the other household in your bubble as if they were members of your own household. This means you do not need to maintain social distance with people in your support bubble. You have to meet certain eligibility rules to form a support bubble. This means not everyone will be able to form a support bubble. For more information on support bubbles. Please visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/making-a-support-bubble-with-another-household.
Vaccine: A treatment that causes the body to produce antibodies, which fight off a disease, and gives immunity against further infection.
Variant: The virus which causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, is a mutated strain of coronavirus, which is a family of viruses. When SARS-CoV-2 mutates, the resulting mutations are known as “variants,” which are still considered a part of the SARS-CoV-2 strain. All types of SARS-CoV-2 can cause COVID-19 infection.
Ventilator: A machine that takes over breathing for the body when disease has caused the lungs to fail.