Friday Five

UK close to herd immunity, wellbeing back to pre-covid levels and one million NHS face masks fail safety tests – this week’s Friday Five

UK close to reaching herd immunity

As weekly cases of Covid continue to fall, scientists believe that the UK may be on the cusp of herd immunity.

The current threshold for herd immunity is believed to be 93% and this week experts at University College London calculated that the UK population’s total immunity is at 87%. Data from the Department of Health on Wednesday revealed that infection rates are falling in every age group in England, dropping the fasted amongst under 30s.

Dr David Matthews from the University of Bristol said: ‘In terms of herd immunity – by which we mean the virus has managed to reach everybody and therefore most people will have a level of immune memory – I suspect we’re very close to it. Assuming nothing truly spectacularly leftfield happens then this pandemic is pretty much over for the UK. I suspect we will not see a major surge in winter, or any serious levels of fatalities’

Read the full story in the Metro

A third of middle-aged adults in the UK suffer multiple chronic health conditions

New research has suggested that some 34% of people aged 46-48 have two or more long-term health conditions such as chronic back problems, mental illness, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, and heavy drinking.

The research further suggests that those from poorer backgrounds were 43% more likely to have multiple long-term health problems in their late 40s than those who were wealthier. A link was also found between those who suffered issues in childhood and chronic health issues in midlife.

Professor George Ploubidis, from UCL, said: ‘We found that adults from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, those who had been overweight or obese as children and those who had experienced mental ill-health as teenagers were all at increased risk of poor health later on. If these links reflect causal effects, policy and practice targeting these core areas in childhood and adolescence may improve the health of future generations and alleviate potential pressures on the NHS.”

Read the full story in The Independent.

Mental-health and wellbeing levels rise back to pre-pandemic figures

According to Stormont’s statistics agency Nisra, people’s wellbeing – worthwhile, happiness, and anxiety – ratings are similar to levels they were in 2019/20, before Covid-19.

People’s mental health has also improved, according to the survey, with one in five people reporting a possible mental health problem compared to a high of one in three in January 2021.

Between April and June 2021, just over 50% of those surveyed said they were worried about how Covid 19 was affecting their lives. Despite life satisfaction rates remaining “significantly lower compared to pre-pandemic periods, the number of people worried about coronavirus has dropped “considerably” in the past three months.

Read the full story in the BBC.

One million NHS masks failed safety tests

Tests have found that a million masks supplied to the NHS as high grade, FFP3 type did not meet the correct level of protection. They were also found to have invalid CE safety marking, the emblem used to signify compliance with European standards.

The public services union Unison told the BBC the incident showed why they believed a public inquiry into the pandemic should be launched without delay.

Dr Vishal Sharma, consultants committee chair with the BMA doctors’ union said: ‘Even though they were eventually recalled, to know that more than one million masks were not providing the lifesaving protection they should have been shows what little regard has been given to the quality of some PPE and the procurement process it goes through”

Read the full story in the BBC.


Quote of the week

Amid what has been described the ‘pingdemic’ a previous user of the Covid-19 app has explained why she felt compelled to delete it.

“When I had symptoms that could have been Covid I did a home test [lateral flow] and ruled out infection this way. If it had been positive, I would have stayed at home, isolated and told other parents privately, but would not have let test and trace know… I am trying to be responsible but my kids and the kids they go to school with have suffered enough. They missed out on many months of teaching and socialising, which has affected them hugely… Everything derails when you get pinged constantly and entire classes are sent home every time a child coughs. It’s just not sustainable I’m afraid”

Find out more from The Guardian.