Friday Five

Pfizer vaccine efficacy, new sickle-cell disease drug, malaria vaccine approval, and one in 10 to have diabetes by 2030 – this week’s Friday Five

Effectiveness of Pfizer vaccine found to drop after 6 months

According to data published on Monday, the effectiveness of the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE vaccine in preventing Covid infection dropped to 47% from 88% six months after the second dose.

The analysis also demonstrated that the vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing hospitalisation and death remained high at 90% for at least six months, even against the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus. Researchers said that the drop was to do with waning efficacy, rather than more contagious variants.

The study leader, Sara Tartof said “To us, that suggests Delta is not an escape variant that is completely evading vaccine protection… If it was, we would probably not have seen high protection after vaccination, because vaccination would not be working in that case. It would start low and stay low.”

Read the full story in Reuters.

Thousands to benefit from new life-changing sickle cell disease drug treatment

In what has been described as a historic moment for people with sickle cell disease, a life-changing drug treatment is to be released to thousands of people in England. The new drug, known as crizanlizumab, will be delivered by a transfusion drip and works by binding to a protein in the blood cells to prevent the restriction of blood and oxygen supply.

It is the first treatment for the disease in the past two decades and will help as many as 5,000 people over the next three years.

The CEO of the NHS, Amanda Pritchard said : “This is a historic moment for people with sickle cell disease who will be given their first new treatment in over two decades. This revolutionary treatment will help to save lives, allow patients to have a better quality of life and reduce trips to A&E by almost half.”

Read the full story in Sky News.

Malaria vaccine approved by WHO in ‘historic’ breakthrough

For the first time, children across Africa are set to be offered a vaccine against malaria after a World Health Organisation recommendation which experts hope could save tens of thousands of children’s lives each year across Africa.

The RTS,S vaccine (Mosquirix) was developed by the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and has been administered to more than 800,000 children in Africa since the pilot programme began in 2019. The vaccine has limited efficacy, preventing 39% of malaria cases and 29% of severe malaria cases among small children in Africa over four years of trials. However, in August a study led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) found that when young children were given a combination of the RTS,S and antimalarial drugs there was a 70% reduction in hospitalisation or death.

The WHO’s director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “Using this vaccine in addition to existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year… It is safe. It significantly reduces life-threatening, severe malaria, and we estimate it to be highly cost-effective.”

Read the full story in The Guardian.

 

Charity predicts one in 10 in UK will have diabetes by 2030

According to a report by Diabetes UK, almost one in 10 people in the UK will have diabetes by 2030 amid alarming levels of obesity.

Most adults in England – 68% of men and 60% of women – are now an unhealthy weight, and more than a quarter – 27% of men and 29% of women – are officially obese. This puts a significant amount of people at greater risk of type 2 diabetes which is more likely to develop if people are overweight.

Diagnoses of diabetes have doubled in the last 15 years, and analysis by Diabetes UK reveals that 5.5 million people in the UK are likely to be living with diabetes before the end of the decade.

The charity’s chief executive, Chris Askew, warned: “We’re at the tipping point of a public health emergency and need action today to stop it in its tracks. It doesn’t have to be this way – we know that with the right care and support, diabetes complications can be avoided and cases of type 2 diabetes can be put into remission or prevented altogether. We don’t want our prediction to become a reality.”

Read the full story in The Guardian.


Quote of the week

The number of pupils absent from England’s state schools rose by two-thirds to 204,000 in the fortnight to Thursday, 30 September. Association of School and College Leaders General Secretary Geoff Barton said said he was writing urgently to new Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi to ask what action he would be taking.

“These grim statistics show a big increase in the number of pupils out of school as a result of the continuing havoc caused by Coronavirus…We are hearing from schools where there are 10% or more of pupils absent and where staff are also off work because of the virus.Teaching and learning is very difficult in these circumstances and it is clear that the educational disruption of the past 18 months is far from being over.”

Read the full story in the BBC.