Friday Five

Mass-testing in Liverpool, cancelled operations and a fall in vaccination take-up – this week’s Friday Five

Pfizer vaccine less effective against new variant

An Israeli study has found the Pfizer vaccine to be less effective against the Delta variant than against previous strains.

UK health authorities also noted a drop in efficacy for the Pfizer jab against the Delta variant, but the Israeli studies show a more severe decline with data suggesting the vaccine is only 64% effective at preventing infection from the Delta variant compared with a 94% efficacy against previous strains of the virus.

It should be noted, however, that the data suggests that the jab is still 93% effective against serious illness and hospitalisation. Professor Nadav Davidovitch said ‘Delta is a lot more infectious but appears to not lead to as much serious illness and death, especially given that we now have the vaccine”.

Read the full story in the Financial Times

Mass testing in Liverpool found to cut covid cases by 21%

A mass testing pilot saw people living and working in Liverpool offered lateral flow tests, whether or not they had symptoms, between November to April.

In November, when the pilot began, Liverpool’s covid levels were amongst some of the highest in the country. The study found that 283,338 people in the city took a lateral flow test during the six months and as a result, there was an 18% increase in case detection and a 21% drop in cases.

The study also revealed that people living in deprived areas were less likely to take up testing. Professor Sally Sheard, from the University of Liverpool, said that this was due to a “very genuine fear” of income loss due to self-isolation. She said that it was a “learning point” which could lead to discussions regarding some form of isolation payments.

Read the full story in the BBC.

Operations being cancelled due to the third wave of covid

An influx of covid patients and a lack of staff has put significant pressure on the NHS forcing hospitals to cancel important operations.

The combination of a growing number of patients alongside staff shortages due to self-isolation has led Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS trust to call off some planned operations this week. The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham similarly postponed surgeries this week due to thousands of staff members being instructed to self-isolate.

An NHS source said “The number of staff off isolating because they’ve been pinged by the app is causing real problems and their absence is really affecting their colleagues who are left’. Hospital bosses are calling for NHS staff to no longer have to isolate from 19 July in order to alleviate some of this pressure.

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Vaccination take-up drops due to hesitant young people 

Demand for covid vaccinations has fallen by 45% as its become available to younger age brackets. Many vaccination centres are beginning to offer early second jabs because of excess supply.

Lack of demand amongst the young for vaccinations has added to concerns about the potential scale of a summer wave of infections following the end to all social distancing restrictions on 19 July. Ministers are expecting a peak of 100,000 cases a day in August from which point they are expected to fall – thanks to the vaccination programme and antibodies from previous infection.

Professor Jonathan Ball of the University of Nottingham said there was a “need to increase the messaging around the benefits of vaccination”, citing “very debilitating long covid” even in the young.

Read the full story in The Times.


Quote of the week

July 19th is fast approaching. It has been dubbed “Freedom Day” but it is anything but for the extremely vulnerable.

Rosie Duffin, 75, from Fareham who is clinically extremely vulnerable said:

“For us it’s not freedom day, is it? It’s becoming a hermit day once again. It might be freedom for others, definitely not for us… I’ve got a theatre trip booked but there’s no way I’m going to be sitting in a theatre next to people who are not wearing masks. It’s frightening that freedom from masks will inevitably diminish my freedom to participate in daily life.”

Find out more from the BBC.