Friday Five

100,000 deaths prevented by Covid vaccines, aspirin found to help breast cancer treatment and Covid booster jabs unlikely – this week’s Friday Five

Latest estimates indicate that Covid vaccines have prevented nearly 100,000 deaths in England

Official figures suggest that the Covid-19 vaccines have prevented nearly 100,000 deaths in England, 82,100 hospital admissions and up to 24.4 million infections.

Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 94.2 per cent of adults in the UK are now likely to have Covid-19 antibodies, although levels might be dropping among older age groups.

Dr William Welfare, Covid-19 incident director at PHE, said: “The pandemic is not over but vaccination is weakening the link between infection and serious illness. 16 and 17 year olds can now join the millions who’ve already received their vaccine – we encourage young people to take up this offer as soon as they are able.”

Read the full story in The Independent.

Aspirin found to help treat aggressive breast cancer

Doctors have found that aspirin may help treat aggressive breast cancer by making hard-to-treat tumours more responsive to anti-cancer drugs.

A team at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust, in Manchester, suspect that aspirin’s anti-inflammatory properties give the boost to anti-cancer drugs and are beginning a trial with triple-negative breast cancer patients. Lab findings have suggested that it can make certain types of immunotherapies more effective by preventing the cancer from making substances that weaken the immune response. It is, however, too early to recommend people taking it.

Trial lead Dr Anne Armstrong said “Not all breast cancers respond well to immunotherapy…trialling the use of a drug like aspirin is exciting because it is so widely available and inexpensive to produce. We hope our trial will show that, when combined with immunotherapy, aspirin can enhance its effects and may ultimately provide a safe new way to treat breast cancer.”

Read the full story in the BBC.

JCVI sources say UK booster jabs are highly unlikely to begin soon

According to the JCVI, a committee that advises ministers, a plan to start offering Covid booster vaccinations in the UK from early September is extremely unlikely to happen given concerns over the clinical benefits and potential wider risks to vaccine confidence.

No formal date has been set for booster vaccinations as clinical trials continue, but the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS have talked about it starting early next month after results from a series of clinical trials due this month.

A government spokesperson said: “We are preparing for a booster programme to ensure those most vulnerable to Covid-19 have protection extended ahead of winter and against new variants…Any booster programme will be based on the final advice of the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. Until we receive the independent JCVI advice no decisions can be made on wider requirements for those who receive booster jabs

Read the full story in The Guardian.

The number of children waiting for eating disorder treatment has reached a record level

Experts have called for urgent action to tackle the growing problem of eating disorders among young people in the UK, with waiting times for urgent cases tripling in a year. The Royal College of Psychiatrists have said that services were struggling to provide timely treatment in the face of “overwhelming” demand linked to the Covid pandemic.

For those starting urgent treatment, the number of patients being seen hit a record 852 compared with 328 a year ago. The number of children starting routing treatment almost doubled from 1,347 to 2,600 patients – the highest level on record.

Dr Agnes Ayton, the chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Faculty of Eating Disorders Psychiatry, said: “The pandemic has had a huge impact on children and young people with disruption to their schooling, social lives and home lives. Many young people have not received support early enough, causing their eating disorders to become much worse and harder to treat. Services are struggling with soaring demand, fewer beds because of social distancing and an ongoing shortage of specialist doctors.”

Read the full story in The Independent.


Quote of the week

The tourist hotspot, Newquay has experienced the highest rates of Covid at 1123.8 per 100,000 people in the week leading up to 13 August.

Jess Parkin, a shop owner on a busy street in Newquay spoke about the difficulties this has brought:

“We were nearly forced to close over the busiest weekend of the year because three of four staff were off, having tested positive or awaiting PCR results. Fortunately a member of staff came back negative at 16:00 BST on Friday when I was all set to close at 17:00 and not open until Monday just to give us a rest. We were very lucky. Every single business has had people off, had to struggle and shuffle staff around, to close, or close for a day a week. Everyone has been affected in one way or another.”

Find out more from the BBC.