After Gutting Youth Services, Can U.K. Cut Youth Crime? 砍社福預算後 英國能減少青年犯罪率？
The Marcus Lipton Youth Club is the last dedicated youth center still standing in its pocket of south London.
But it is teetering. Nearly half of London's youth centers have closed in the past decade as Britain has cut money for youth services, as well as for welfare, schools and drug and alcohol treatment, according to the most recent available data. Marcus Lipton used to count on hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in government funding. Now, it gets nearly zero.
"Just look around you," said Ira Campbell, 55, the manager of the club, which offers counseling, warm meals and sports for young people. "This place is a safe haven."
Marcus Lipton lies in the shadow of the Loughborough Estate public housing project, where two of the Conservative government's longtime priorities — fighting crime and trying to reduce the budget deficit — collide.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is building new prisons and recruiting more police officers as part of his party's pledge to be tough on crime. He has also proposed a budget that would make deep spending reductions in the coming years, forcing officials to find savings in programs that have already been whittled to the bone during a decade of austerity.
Budget cuts during that decade, instituted in response to the global financial crisis of 2008, hit the poorest neighborhoods of Britain's capital particularly hard, according to the Institute for Government, an independent research group in London. Those neighborhoods are also where serious youth violence, like homicide, has risen or remained disproportionately high after austerity, data from the office of London Mayor Sadiq Khan shows.
Annual knife violence involving teenage victims in the city increased by nearly 40% to 5,332 in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic began, from 3,809 in 2012, according to police figures obtained by The New York Times. (There was later a dip in serious youth violence during virus-related lockdowns, most likely because of reduced social contact.)
Residents of the Loughborough Estate, already frustrated by sharply rising utility bills and food costs, say that the government would rather pay to lock up young people than spend money on projects that might provide them with positive activities or help their parents to make ends meet.
Promising New Drug To Fight Coronavirus Faces Market Hurdles 抗新冠潛力新藥面臨上市困難
Over the past year, the United States' arsenal of COVID-19 treatments has shrunk as new variants of the coronavirus have eroded the potency of drug after drug. Many patients are now left with a single option, Paxlovid. While highly effective, it poses problems for many people who need it because of dangerous interactions with other medications.
But a new class of variant-proof treatments could help restock the country's armory. Scientists on Wednesday reported in The New England Journal of Medicine that a single injection of a so-called interferon drug slashed by half a COVID patient's odds of being hospitalized.
The results, demonstrated in a clinical trial of nearly 2,000 patients, rivaled those achieved by Paxlovid. And the interferon shots hold even bigger promise, scientists said. By fortifying the body's own mechanisms for quashing an invading virus, they can potentially help defend against not only COVID, but also the flu and other viruses with the potential to kindle future pandemics.
For all of its promise, though, the drug — called pegylated interferon lambda — faces an uncertain road to the commercial market. Regulators at the Food and Drug Administration late last year told the drug's maker, Eiger Biopharmaceuticals, that they were not prepared to authorize it for emergency use. Eiger executives said part of the problem seemed to be that the clinical trial did not include a U.S. site, but rather only sites in Brazil and Canada, and that it was initiated and run by academic researchers, rather than the company itself.
The regulators suggested that only a large clinical trial conducted at least in part in the United States and with more involvement from the company would suffice, Eiger executives said, a scenario that would require several years and considerably more funding. An FDA spokesperson said disclosure laws prevented the agency from commenting.
Those barriers are indicative of problems that some experts worry are threatening the development of a wide range of next-generation COVID treatments and vaccines — products that may help address the ongoing toll from COVID and also give scientists a head start in preparing for the next pandemic.