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Found 126 results
  1. Event
    Are all of your severely immunocompromised patients aged 50 and over vaccinated against shingles? These patients are eligible for vaccination through the National programme Discuss identifying and vaccinating your most vulnerable patients, and how GSK can support you. This event is organised and funded by GSK­­. Further information and registration
  2. Content Article
    This population-based cohort study from Sweden and Norway aimed to explore whether exposure to mRNA Covid-19 vaccination during pregnancy increases the risk of adverse events in newborn infants. The cohort included 94,303 infants exposed to Covid-19 vaccination during pregnancy and 102,167 control infants born between June 2021 and January 2023. The authors found that vaccination during pregnancy was associated with lower odds of neonatal intracranial haemorrhage, cerebral ischemia and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, and neonatal mortality.
  3. Content Article
    Undervaccination—receiving fewer than the recommended number of Covid-19 vaccine doses—could be associated with increased risk of severe Covid-19 outcomes including hospitalisation or death compared with full vaccination. This study aimed to determine the factors associated with undervaccination and to investigate the risk of severe Covid-19 outcomes in people who were undervaccinated in each UK nation, and across the UK. The authors found that rates of undervaccination against Covid-19 ranged from 32·8% to 49·8% across the four UK nations in summer 2022. They also concluded that undervaccination was associated with an elevated risk of severe Covid-19 outcomes.
  4. Content Article
    The only masking that’s going on is that of the government’s continued failure to get to grips with the virus, writes George Monbiot in this Guardian opinion piece. For some people, going to hospital may now be more dangerous than staying at home untreated. Many clinically vulnerable people fear, sometimes with good reason, that a visit to hospital or the doctors’ surgery could be the end of them. Of course, there have always been dangers where sick people gather. But, until now, health services have sought to minimise them. Astonishingly, this is often no longer the case. Across the UK, over the past two years, the NHS has been standing down even the most basic precautions against Covid-19. For example, staff in many surgeries and hospitals are no longer required to wear face masks in most clinical settings. Reassuring posters have appeared even in cancer wards, where patients might be severely immunocompromised. A notice, photographed and posted on social media last week, tells people that while they are “no longer required to wear a mask in this area”, they should use hand sanitiser “to protect our vulnerable patients, visitors and our staff”. Sanitising is good practice. But Covid-19 is an airborne virus, which spreads further and faster by exhalation than by touch.
  5. Content Article
    In April 2023, National Voices held a workshop with members, supported by The Disrupt Foundation, on the unequal impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. It explored how communities and groups were affected differently by both the virus itself and the measures brought in to control it.   It painted a grim picture of the ways in which the pandemic response exacerbated existing, deep-rooted inequalities across the UK and compounded the disadvantages experienced by people from minoritised communities, by disabled people and by people living with long term conditions.  Just some examples include people who are immunocompromised, who were asked to go into isolation for huge periods of time and still feel completely overlooked as control measures have been lifted. Or the use of DNRs (Do Not Resuscitate orders) which were disproportionately applied to people with learning disabilities.  With the Covid-19 Inquiry underway, it is imperative that we capture the lessons learnt from the pandemic, and use them to suggest action for the future.
  6. News Article
    Covid vaccines should be made available for people to buy privately in Britain, leading scientists have urged, amid concerns over a new wave of the virus which could worsen in autumn and winter. Unlike flu jabs, which individuals or employers can buy for about £15 from high street pharmacies, Covid jabs are only available on the NHS in the UK. This month the UK government announced that the Covid autumn booster programme would cover a smaller pool of the population than earlier vaccination drives. The age limit has been raised from 50 to 65 and above, with some younger vulnerable groups also eligible. Covid is on the rise, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). Experts raised concerns the wave could continue to grow and add to winter pressures on the NHS. Prof Adam Finn, of the University of Bristol, a member of the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said Covid jabs should be available commercially. Some employers might want to offer the vaccines to their staff, he added. Speaking in a personal capacity, Finn said: “I think it will be a good idea for vaccines to be made available to those that want them on the private market. I don’t really see any reason why that shouldn’t be happening.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 17 August 2023
  7. News Article
    Doctors have warned the decision to remove face mask guidance in healthcare settings is "playing Russian roulette" with staff and patients' welfare. It was withdrawn in May in hospitals, dentists and GP surgeries having been in place since June 2020. Doctors from the British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland condemned the decision at the time. Now, the Scottish Healthcare Workers Coalition has written to ministers to highlight the "very serious flaws" in changing the guidance. The group is made up of Scottish healthcare workers who worked throughout the pandemic and are now living with long Covid or another chronic post-viral illness or disability. In the letter, the coalition states the updated guidance is not based on the science of coronavirus transmission and "represents a flawed and dangerous decision which will result in more infection in health and social care settings". Dr Shaun Peter Qureshi, of the Scottish Healthcare Workers Coalition, said: "At-risk patients have entirely legitimate concerns that they may endanger their health by visiting their GP or hospital. "With at least 4% of NHS staff now living with chronic post-Covid complications, the Scottish government must follow the evidence and improve protections from the airborne spread (of the virus) in healthcare settings, not reduce them." Read full story Source: BBC News, 17 July 2023
  8. News Article
    Many vulnerable patients are struggling to access covid treatments after commissioning responsibility switched to integrated care boards this week, charities have warned. Approximately two million vulnerable patients must now contact local services themselves to access treatments designed to combat covid infections, such as the antivirals Paxlovid and Sotrovimab. Integrated care boards are expected to coordinate and fund “equitable” access. Prior to 27 June, identification of patients and the delivery of treatment was coordinated nationally under pandemic arrangements. However, a group of 20 patient charities have written to Steve Barclay warning that most ICBs have not drawn up plans to deliver this new responsibility, leaving patients and primary care clinicians unclear on how to access the treatments. “Despite continually raising our concerns with those carrying out the planning, implementation, and communication of this [policy], we now find that we are in exactly the position we warned against,” they said. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 3 July 2023
  9. News Article
    Covid-19 vaccination is effective for cancer patients but protection wanes much more rapidly than in the general population, a large study has found. Vaccine effectiveness is much lower in people with leukaemia or lymphoma, those with a recent cancer diagnosis, and those who have had radiotherapy or systemic anti-cancer treatments within the past year, according to the research published in Lancet Oncology. The authors of the world’s largest real world health system evaluation of Covid-19 in cancer patients highlighted the importance of booster programmes, non-pharmacological strategies, and access to antiviral treatment programmes in order to reduce the risk that Covid-19 poses to cancer patients. Peter Johnson, professor of medical oncology at the University of Southampton and joint author of the study, said, “This study shows that for some people with cancer, covid-19 vaccination may give less effective and shorter lasting protection. This highlights the importance of vaccination booster programmes and rapid access to covid-19 treatments for people undergoing cancer treatments.” Study leader, Lennard Lee, department of oncology, University of Oxford, said, “Cancer patients should be aware that at 3-6months they are likely to have less protection from their coronavirus vaccine than people without cancer. It is important that people with a diagnosis of cancer are up to date with their coronavirus vaccination and have had their spring booster if they are eligible.” Read full story Source: BMJ, 24 May 2022
  10. News Article
    CloserStill Media Announces: Tickets are still available for The Healthcare Show, taking place at the ExceL London on 18-19 May 2022. London, United Kingdom CloserStill Media, organisers of The Healthcare Show, taking place at ExceL London on 18-19 May 2022 are delighted to announce that over 3,000 healthcare professionals are registered to attend. Don’t miss out on your chance to attend The Healthcare Show, two days full of opportunities to increase your industry knowledge through CPD accredited content and to network with both old and new peers and learn about the latest products and services. Bringing thousands of senior healthcare managers and clinicians together who are striving to transform care and improve quality against a backdrop of Covid-19, it’s an event not to be missed. Healthcare professionals can secure their FREE tickets online here. The Healthcare Show are extremely excited to open their doors again this year with a variety of new theatres and a fully booked exhibition hall. You will have ample prospects to develop professionally and examine the effects of Covid-19 within the healthcare sector. Show highlights: Louise Minchin, broadcaster and journalist, to chair the Healthcare Keynote Theatre. Co-located with the Digital Healthcare Show and The Residential & Home Care Show. Incorporating The National Association of Link Workers Conference and Awards Ceremony. Brand new theatres for The Healthcare Show 2022 include Transformation Theatre, Clinical Priorities Theatre and Care Quality and Efficiency Theatre. Incorporating The Patient Safety and Infection Prevention Show. Patient Safety Learning Partner Lounge will offer a platform to share a combination of tools, resources, case studies and best practice. Meet CQC inspectors across health and social care at their meet the inspector’s hub and put all your burning questions to them. The programme is available to view here (subject to change). Sponsorship is also now also open for the event. Should you wish to sponsor, speak or exhibit at The Healthcare Show please contact Mike Corbett on: m.corbett@closerstillmedia.com For delegate enquiries, please contact Imogen Scott on i.scott@closerstillmedia.com -ENDS- CloserStill Media, specialise in global professional events within the healthcare and technology markets. The healthcare portfolio includes some of the UK’s fastest-growing and award-winning events, such as Health Plus Care, The Clinical Pharmacy Congress, The Dentistry Show, The Pharmacy Show and Acute & General Medicine. It is a market leading innovator. With its teams and international events, it has won multiple awards, including Best Marketer – five times in succession – Best Trade Exhibition, Best Launch Exhibition, and Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to Work For – four years in series – among others. CloserStill Media delivers unparalleled quality and relevant audiences for all its exhibitions, delivering NHS and private sector healthcare professionals from across occupational therapy, pharmacy, dentistry, primary and secondary care with more than £16m worth of free training.
  11. News Article
    Clinically vulnerable people infected with Covid are being denied access to potentially life-saving antiviral medicine, patients, health officials and charities say. Around 1.3 million people with underlying health conditions in England have been identified by the NHS as at-risk and sent letters explaining they will be assessed for antiviral treatment if infected with Covid. The NHS said “tens of thousands of the most vulnerable patients” have received the medication to date, but told The Independent it was “aware of some local issues” in which clinically vulnerable people have struggled to access the antivirals. It comes at a time of record-breaking infection levels. Patients seeking the treatment, which suppresses an infection to prevent disease escalation and hospitalisation, have reported being turned away by GPs and hospital doctors, while others say they’ve been “pushed from pillar to post” in an attempt to access the medication. An NHS manager told The Independent that only 15% of eligible patients cared for by Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group received antiviral medication in February. Anthony Nolan, the blood cancer charity, and Kidney Care UK both said they had received reports that Covid Medicine Delivery Units (CMDUs), which are responsible for ensuring antiviral medication reaches patients, were overwhelmed and struggling to provide treatment. “Weekends are a particular problem and it causes a lot of stress,” said Fiona Loud, a policy director a Kidney Care UK. “We have had reports from people in different parts of the country.” Paxlovid, molnupiravir and remdesivir are available via the NHS as antiviral medicine. All three have been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of hospitalisation among infected vulnerable patients. Antibody treatment, administered intravenously, is also available. Read full story Source: The Independent, 4 April 2022
  12. News Article
    A vaccine has been used to free a man who was trapped at home by a Covid infection that lasted for more than seven months. It is the first time that a vaccine has been used to "treat" Covid rather than "prevent" it. Ian Lester, 37, has a weakened immune system due to Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, and was unable to defeat the virus on its own. He says he became a prisoner in his home in Caerphilly, Wales, as he isolated for months on end. He shielded during the first wave of Covid, but coronavirus eventually found him in December 2020. He had one of the classic symptoms - a slight loss of sense of taste and smell - which cleared up within a month. For most of us that would be the end of it, but Ian's Covid journey was only just beginning. His doctors wanted him to keep on testing because his weakened immune system meant there was a risk he could be contagious for longer than normal. But month after month, test after test came back positive. Ian had to give up work. Scientists and doctors were monitoring the battle between the virus and Ian's immune system at Cardiff University and at the Immunodeficiency Centre for Wales in the University Hospital of Wales. The analysis showed Ian had a long-term infection, it was not just "dead virus" being detected, and his symptoms were not long-Covid. Prof Stephen Jolles, clinical lead at the Immunodeficiency Centre, said: "This infection was burbling along, but with his [weakened] immune system it was just not enough to kick off a response sufficient to clear it. "So the vaccine really made a huge difference, in antibodies and T-cells, and utilised and squeezed every last drop out of what his immune system could do." Read full story Source: BBC News, 21 March 2022
  13. News Article
    Sasha Mallett, Sue Taylor and Kimberly Cooley all have immune deficiencies that make them especially vulnerable to Covid-19, and all have tried to get the same thing: a new treatment that can prevent the disease in people who either cannot produce antibodies after receiving a coronavirus vaccine or cannot get vaccinated at all. Ms. Cooley, a liver transplant recipient in Duck Hill, Mississippi, got the antibody drug, called Evusheld, from her transplant team at the University of Mississippi Medical Center with no trouble. But Ms. Taylor, of Cincinnati, was denied the treatment by two hospitals near her home. And Dr. Mallett, a physician in Portland, Ore., had to drive five hours to a hospital willing to give her a dose. As much of the USA unmasks amid plummeting caseloads and fresh hope that the pandemic is fading, the Biden administration has insisted it will continue protecting the more than seven million Americans with weakened immune systems who remain vulnerable to Covid. Evusheld, which was developed by AstraZeneca with financial support from the federal government, is essential to its strategy. But there is so much confusion about the drug among healthcare providers that roughly 80% of the available doses are sitting unused in warehouses and on pharmacy and hospital shelves. Interviews with doctors, patients and government officials suggest the reasons the drug is going unused are varied. Some patients and doctors do not know Evusheld exists. Some do not know where to get it. Government guidelines on who should be prioritised for the drug are scant. In some hospitals and medical centres, supplies are being reserved for patients at the highest risk, such as recent transplant recipients and cancer patients, while doses in other areas of the country are being given out through a lottery or on a first-come, first-served basis. Hesitance is also an issue. Some doctors and other providers do not know how to use Evusheld and are thus loath to prescribe it. Read full story (paywalled) Source: New York Times, 6 March 2022
  14. News Article
    Up-to-date registers of clinically vulnerable patients must be created to ensure that those who are most at risk during Covid-19 and any future pandemics are protected and can access the support they need, a report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Vulnerable Groups to Pandemics has recommended. The report considered vulnerable people’s experiences during the pandemic and makes 16 recommendations on what the government and the health service can do better to plan and prioritise extremely vulnerable patients during further Covid-19 outbreaks and future pandemics. These tackle the format and content of information and guidance; access to medical services such as mental health support to help people deal with anxiety, fear, and isolation; provision of practical support such as food and finance when isolating; and the need for more research into how medical conditions make people more vulnerable to a threat and vaccines less protective. At the launch of the report representatives of charities and patient groups described how the pandemic had left clinically vulnerable people feeling anxious, afraid, lonely, trapped, and desperate. They also described the “not on the list” scenario many had had to contend with, meaning they could not access priority services such as testing or support to isolate. There were still patients whose doctors recognised that they should be on the list fighting to get their condition recognised, said Susan Walsh, chief executive of Immunodeficiency UK. This means that, under the government’s Living with Covid plans, they will no longer be able to access free testing. Lord Mendelsohn, co-chair of the APPG on Vulnerable Groups to Pandemics, said, “We should be more willing to allow the medical practitioners responsible for these patients to be able to overhaul computerised systems and find ways to make that happen.” Read full story Source: BMJ, 28 February 2022
  15. News Article
    Senior doctors say the government’s “Living with Covid” plan will hamper the ability of the NHS to provide care. Michelle Drage, chief executive of the Londonwide Local Medical Committee, which represents the majority of practices in the city, has said the government’s changes may discourage vulnerable patients to seek care when they need it, while David Nicholl, a neurologist and spokesperson for Doctors’ Association UK, said it could exacerbate health inequalities. It comes as the legal requirement to isolate after testing positive is lifted from Thursday, while free Covid testing ends on 1 April. NHS England sent a letter to all healthcare providers confirming workers would have to continue with current rules and not come into work after testing positive. Staff were told they should continue to carrying out regular testing, and access this through national routes until 31 March, but were not given guidance on testing requirements beyond this. Dr Drage said the changes in isolation and testing rules could put off vulnerable patients. “We may well see people not being able to access the services they need to because they’re afraid to attend,” she said. “Then to make people pay for those tests for what looks like a fiver a pop, when the people that can least afford it and the people who can least afford to take time off... suggests to me we’re increasing the risk of inappropriate transmission.” “It’s a perfect storm that could be brewing that will have a further impact on the ability of patients to be properly cared for… It feels like, yet again, the government gambling with people’s health to sustain the economy.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 25 February 2022
  16. News Article
    The NHS has been accused by a major charity of failing to address the emerging gap in Covid booster vaccine coverage for racialised communities. Blood Cancer UK has told The Independent it has “serious concerns” over what it claims is a “shocking” lack of urgency from the NHS in addressing the gap in booster vaccine doses for immunocompromised people from black and minority ethnic communities. The charity has said NHS England has failed to set out any “concrete” plans since it revealed 84% of immunocompromised people from a white British background had three vaccine doses by mid-December, compared to just 43% of immunocompromised people from a Pakistani background. The news comes after the government announced people over 75 and immunocompromised children would be eligible to receive a fourth Covid vaccine by Spring. According to an analysis published by Open Safely, a team of data scientists at Oxford University, of those who are part of the shielding population, as of the 22 February just 72% of Black people have had their booster does, and 73% of south Asian people. This compares to 89% of white people. NHS England has highlighted a number of actions it is taking to address the situation such as using pop-up sites within communities and providing free transport. Speaking with The Independent chief executive of Blood Cancer UK Gemma Peters, said: “We have serious concerns about how the poor roll-out of third doses for the immunocompromised has left people from some communities much less well-protected than people from a white British background. But while it is deeply troubling that a racial disparity in access to third vaccine doses has been allowed to develop, just as shocking has been NHS England’s apparent lack of urgency in addressing it." Read full story Source: The Independent, 25 February 2022
  17. News Article
    Medically vulnerable people say the decision to end Covid restrictions means their freedoms being eroded. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that legal requirements, including the need to self-isolate if you test positive, will end on Thursday. Two clinically vulnerable women in the West say not knowing who is infected means it is now more dangerous for them to leave their homes. "It doesn't feel safe," said Chloe Ball-Hopkins, from Gloucestershire. "My friends and family will continue to try and keep me safe, my partner will keep me safe, they'll continue to test before they meet me," said the 25-year-old from Wotton-under-Edge. Miss Ball-Hopkins has already had her fourth vaccine dose as she is considered extremely clinically vulnerable. She has a rare form of muscular dystrophy called nemaline myopathy which affects her respiratory system, and contracted sepsis in 2019 which undermined her immune system further. Miss Ball-Hopkins said that while the easing of restrictions would feel like freedom to much of the population, it meant the opposite for her. "I'm supposed to go out and live my life normally yet now I won't know if someone next to me in a supermarket is literally breathing Covid down on me, as I'm in a wheelchair. "I was actually probably safer in January when everyone was wearing masks than I will be in a week's time. That makes no sense," she said. Read full story Source: BBC News, 22 February 2022
  18. News Article
    Abolishing free Covid tests for those who look after the vulnerable will amount to a “tax on caring” that would cost them more than £500 a year, ministers have been warned. All remaining domestic Covid regulations that restrict public freedoms are ending, with Boris Johnson announing a move away from government intervention to “personal responsibility”. However, the scale of free testing to be retained is still being thrashed out within government. Current data suggests that nearly 4 million people take regular Covid tests, including those who visit and help vulnerable relatives. That number also includes vulnerable people who work in settings that could put them at greater risk, where they have face-to-face contact with others. Research based on the average cost of tests internationally, compiled by the Liberal Democrats, suggests that people who take two tests a week face an average bill of £534 a year. It comes after the government’s own scientific advisers have warned that removing free testing will “increase anxiety” and limit the “social participation outside the home” of those who are clinically vulnerable or who live with someone in that position. “Charging people for the tests they need to safely see vulnerable loved ones is a tax on caring that risks leaving millions of people in lockdown by stealth,” said Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader. “It means vulnerable people will see fewer loved ones and will be able to enjoy less of their lives. It is unfair and unjust. Ministers need to scrap these plans to stop a ‘cost of living with Covid’ crisis. Throughout the pandemic, people have been trying hard to do the right thing and keep others safe. The government should not be making that harder.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 19 February 2022
  19. News Article
    Today the Government is expected to announce the end to all Covid restrictions, including ending self-isolation and free testing in the country. However, in an open letter to the UK's Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer, the UK science and medical communities say this is a "HUGE mistake". The open letter expresses concern about the Government plans to end testing, surveillance surveys and legal isolation of Covid-19 cases and asks the Government to clarify the scientific advice underpinning these policy decisions as they do not believe there is a solid scientific basis for the policy. "It is almost certain to increase the circulation of the virus and remove the visibility of emerging variants of concern." "The emergence of new variants and a resultant wave of infections can occur very quickly, potentially within just several weeks. The ability to rapidly detect and characterise new variants and to scale up necessary responses (such as TTI and vaccinations) quickly will be very important. Considerations for future response preparedness and surveillance infrastructure should take this into account." "We believe humanity is in a race against the virus." The letter goes on to say that some form of surveillance must be continued to ensure the situation is well understood and new variants of concern identified. Lack of testing is not only detrimental to controlling the spread of SARSCoV2 and detecting new variants, it also puts people who develop Long Covid at a great disadvantage by not having a confirmation of their infection, which is integral to the diagnosis, support and care they need to receive. For the 1 in 4 people in the UK who are clinically vulnerable, the current approach appears a perilous and politicised pandemic response. The authors of the letter are asking members of the UK science and medical communities to sign the open letter. Read the letter in full and sign here
  20. News Article
    When the coronavirus pandemic began, Emily Landon thought about her own risk only in rare quiet moments. An infectious-disease doctor at the University of Chicago Medicine, she was cramming months of work into days, preparing her institution for the virus’s arrival in the United States. But Landon had also recently developed rheumatoid arthritis—a disease in which a person’s immune system attacks their own joints—and was taking two drugs that, by suppressing said immune system, made her more vulnerable to pathogens. Normally, she’d be confident about avoiding infections, even in a hospital setting. This felt different. “We didn’t have enough tests, it was probably around us everywhere, and I’m walking around every day with insufficient antibodies and hamstrung T-cells,” she said. Two years later, Covid-19 is still all around us, everywhere, and millions of people like Landon are walking around with a compromised immune system. A significant proportion of them don’t respond to Covid vaccines, so despite being vaccinated, many are still unsure whether they’re actually protected—and some know that they aren’t. Much of the United States dropped COVID restrictions long ago; many more cities and states are now following. That means policies that protected Landon and other immunocompromised people, including mask mandates and vaccination requirements, are disappearing, while accommodations that benefited them, such as flexible working options, are being rolled back. This isn’t a small group. Close to 3% of US adults take immunosuppressive drugs, either to treat cancers or autoimmune disorders or to stop their body from rejecting transplanted organs or stem cells. That makes at least 7 million immunocompromised people. In the past, immunocompromised people lived with their higher risk of infection, but COVID represents a new threat that, for many, has further jeopardised their ability to be part of the world. From the very start of the pandemic, some commentators have floated the idea “that we can protect the vulnerable and everyone else can go on with their lives.” Seth Trueger, who is on immunosuppressants for an autoimmune complication of cancer, said. “How’s that supposed to work?” He is an emergency doctor at Northwestern Medicine; he can neither work from home nor protect himself by avoiding public spaces. “How am I supposed to provide for my family or live my life if there’s a pandemic raging?” he said. Read full story Source: The Atlantic, 16 February 2022 Further reading Read further Covid-19 blogs and stories from staff on the frontline
  21. News Article
    Millions of people will be invited for their autumn Covid booster jab in England and Scotland, with care home residents the first to receive them. Although infections are falling, health bosses are predicting a resurgence of Covid and flu this autumn and winter. They are urging those eligible to protect themselves from serious illness by getting vaccines against both. A recently approved vaccine against the Omicron variant will be used first. However, there is not enough of Moderna's "bivalent" vaccine to protect everyone aged over 50 so health officials say people should take whichever booster they are offered. These will be the vaccines used in the spring. The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced on Saturday that it had approved a second "bivalent" coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech for people aged 12 and over. Read full story Source: BBC News, 4 September 2022
  22. News Article
    When Susan Sullivan died from Covid-19, her parents’ world fell quiet. But as John and Ida Sullivan battled the pain of losing their eldest, they were comforted by doctors’ assurance that they had done all they could. It was not until more than a year later, when they received her medical records, that the family made a crushing discovery. These suggested that, despite Susan being in good health and responding well to initial treatments, doctors at Barnet hospital had concluded she wouldn’t pull through. When Susan was first admitted on 27 March 2020, a doctor had written in her treatment plan: “ITU (Intensive therapy unit) review if not improving”, indicating he believed she might benefit from a higher level of care. But as her oxygen levels fell and her condition deteriorated, the 56-year-old was not admitted to the intensive unit. Instead she died in her bed on the ward without access to potentially life-saving treatment others received. In the hospital records, seen by the Observer, the reason Susan was excluded is spelled out: “ITU declined in view of Down’s syndrome and cardiac comorbidities.” A treatment plan stating she was not to be resuscitated also cites her disability. For John, 79, a retired builder, that realisation was “like Susan dying all over again”. “The reality is that doctors gave her a bed to die in because she had Down’s syndrome,” he said. “To me it couldn’t be clearer: they didn’t even try.” Susan is one of thousands of disabled people in Britain killed by Covid-19. Last year, a report by the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review Programme found that almost half those who died from Covid-19 did not receive good enough treatment, including problems accessing care. Of those who died from Covid-19, 81% had a do-not-resuscitate decision, compared with 72% of those who died from other causes. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 10 July 2022
  23. News Article
    The UK must urgently procure stocks of a drug that can boost vulnerable people’s protection against Covid, experts have urged in a letter to The Times. Evusheld, made by AstraZeneca, was licensed by the UK regulator the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in March. Some people with immune system problems, such as blood cancer patients or organ transplant patients do not get sufficient protection from vaccinations and many are continuing to shield. Campaigners believe that offering Evusheld to those people could allow them to resume normal life. Evusheld is being used in countries including the United States and Israel but the UK government has yet to ask AstraZeneca for supplies. In a letter published in The Times, Gemma Peters, chief executive of Blood Cancer UK, and Lord Mendelsohn, co-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vulnerable Groups to Pandemics, say that this represents a failure of a promise made at the start of the pandemic that the government would “do everything in its power to protect the vulnerable”. They write: “People who are immunocompromised are still dying from Covid at much higher rates than the rest of the population. They cannot afford to wait. They deserve better.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Times, 6 July 2022
  24. News Article
    Patients with rheumatic conditions who shielded during the pandemic feel "left behind", according to new research. The University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol conducted a study with patients about their experiences of shielding during the pandemic and how it continued to affect them. Researchers interviewed 15 rheumatology patients from the Bristol area. Pamela Richards, who suffers with arthritis, said the pandemic has been "a massive blow" to the way she lives. "I have never experienced anything like shielding, it heightened a sense of anxiety in me," said Ms Richards. "How do I get food? I cannot leave the house. How can I see friends? I was not allowed to." Ms Richards, who shielded for nearly two years during the pandemic, said that life has not returned to normal, despite no longer being advised to shield. "It is a new normal, which is about being on high alert and managing risk every day," she said. Researcher Christine Silverthorne said: "Many are still dealing with lasting physical and mental effects both from the experience of shielding and as a consequence of delays to their healthcare and treatment". Read full story Source: BBC News, 6 March 2023
  25. News Article
    The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has decided not to recommend Evusheld for adults who are unlikely to have an adequate immune response or cannot have the vaccine against Covid-19, citing a lack of evidence that it is effective against circulating variants. However, it is still reviewing whether the antibody drug could be used to prevent covid-19 infection in adults at the highest risk of severe illness, including people with immunodeficiency, people who have had a solid organ transplant, and people with cancer. NICE’s director of medicines evaluation, Helen Knight, acknowledged that the decision would be “disappointing for the many thousands” of vulnerable people who “continue to significantly modify their behaviour to avoid infection. Commenting on NICE’s decision, Lennard Lee, senior clinical research fellow at the University of Birmingham, said, “While it’s right for NICE to ensure that treatment options are based on the best possible evidence for their safety, efficacy, and cost effectiveness, it must be recognised that those who remain extremely vulnerable to covid need to be prioritised in trials akin to those early days of the pandemic to find treatments fit for them. “Otherwise, we run the risk of consigning half a million people to continue to live in 2020, stuck in their homes, not able to see their families and friends for fear of infection with no protection.” Read full story Source: The BMJ, 16 February 2023
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