Friday Five

Half of young people willing to have a Covid jab, Vitamin A to restore sense of smell, HRT not linked to dementia and long-term use of anti-depressants – this week’s Friday Five

Over half of young people willing to have Covid jab

A large study in England has demonstrated that half of the children and young people aged nine to 18 are willing or eager to be vaccinated against Covid.

The study was carried out during the summer term and asked over 27,000 students at 180 schools whether they would have the Covid vaccine. More than a third were undecided and just over one in 10 said they would decline.  The study also found that younger pupils were more hesitant about the vaccine than older teenagers and students who were hesitant were also more likely to spend longer on social media, attend schools in deprived areas, and feel as though they did not identify with their school community.

One of the researchers, Mina Fazel – an associate professor from the University of Oxford – said it was vital to get trusted advice out to young people. “Young people might not want their peers, their teachers, or even their parents to know about their choice to get vaccinated… It could be that they are worried what their friends think, for example, and what they may need is a way to get vaccinated while feeling safe and comfortable. We must ensure these opportunities are provided for.”

Read the full story in the BBC.

Experts hope Vitamin A could restore lost sense of smell after Covid

The University of East Anglia has said that research in Germany had shown the potential benefit of vitamin A for helping people regain their sense of smell after having contracted Covid-19.

The 12-week Apollo trial will use nasal drops containing the vitamin to treat people who have encountered smell loss or an altered sense of smell because of viral infections. The researchers believe that the trial may eventually improve the lives of millions of people who have lost their sense of smell.

Vitamin A is found in many foods and is important for vision, growth, cell division, reproduction and immunity. However, too much can be harmful. The Mayo Clinic warns that even a single large dose can cause nausea, vertigo, blurred vision and vomiting, and in the long term high intake in the long term can lead to bone-thinning and liver damage, as well as causing birth defects.

Read the full story in The Times.

HRT not linked to increased risk of dementia

Hormone replacement therapy is not linked to an increased risk of developing dementia, according to the largest study of its kind.

Previous research into HRT and dementia has been inconsistent, with some trials suggesting a beneficial link between oestrogen and age-related brain decline but others displaying signs of an increased risk of developing dementia among users of oestrogen-progestogen treatments.

Researchers at the University ty of Oxford, Southampton and Nottingham set out to investigate the risks of developing dementia for women using any of the forms of HRT commonly prescribed within the NHS and put an end to this uncertainty.

The findings were published in the BMJ where the authors wrote: “This large observational study found no overall association between use of menopausal hormone therapy and risk of developing dementia… This finding was consistent across different types of hormones, doses, applications, and time of hormone therapy initiation.”

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Taking anti-depressants in the long-term ‘is beneficial’

A study has found that people who stay on anti-depressants long-term are less likely to suffer a relapse than those who come off them.

The study found that when people stopped taking the pills after a long period of use, just over half (56%) experienced a relapse within a year, compared to 39% of those who stayed on the medication. The experts behind the research said the study supports current prescribing and dismisses the idea that people taking anti-depressants in the long term are taking them unnecessarily. They did, however, also note that if people are given the right support, they can come off the drugs safely.

Lead author Dr Gemma Lewis, from University College London (UCL) told a briefing: “To summarise the findings, what we found was that long-term anti-depressants do help to reduce the risk of relapse. However, staying on anti-depressants did not guarantee that someone remained free from relapse over the course of the trial. And we also found that many people can stop their medication without relapsing, although at present we cannot identify who those people are.”

Read the full story in the Evening Standard.


Quote of the week

Recent data has shown that the rate of face-to-face GP consultations in England has changed little since the winter lockdown. Kate Awdas, who suffers with endometriosis has not seen a GP face-to-face since the pandemic began. Heres what she had to say…

“I’ve had to describe where the pain is – you can’t really show somebody where ‘here’ is over the phone… It’s frustrating. There were times where I thought this would be so much easier face-to-face… They had to guess on what was happening based on my description, and had to use a process of elimination in some cases – ‘try this and see if it works, if not we’ll try something else’. This caused excruciating pain on top of what was going on already.”

Read the full story in the BBC.