Friday Five

COVID-19 vaccine, NHS test and trace programme and mental health on the rise – This Week’s Friday Five

Data indicates Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is 90% effective

Early data suggests that American pharma giant Pfizer and Germany-headquartered BioNTech have developed a potential COVID-19 vaccine resulting in 90% effectiveness. The phase III trial of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate – named BNT162b2 – involved 43,538 individuals, who received two doses of the vaccine or a placebo. In an announcement earlier this week, Pfizer and BioNTech said that their vaccine achieved an efficacy rate of over 90% seven days after receiving the second dose.

Read the full story in PharmaTimes.

Scheme failed to predict demand, says Dido Harding

Dido Harding, the head of the NHS’s test and trace programme has acknowledged that it failed to predict the scale of demand for coronavirus testing as schools and universities returned this autumn. Appearing at a joint meeting of the health and social care committee and science and technology committee, Dido Harding said that the demand for testing in September took the service by surprise.

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Psychiatric patients 65% more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19

One in every 17 people who have had COVID-19 could be diagnosed with anxiety, depression or insomnia for the first time, a study of millions of US patient health records suggests. Researchers say this is double the risk of other illnesses and have unexpectedly found that existing psychiatric patients were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 which could be linked to their physical health or drugs prescribed to treat disorders.

Read the full story in the BBC.

NICE set to review its methods of drug evaluation

The UK’s National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is set to review its methods on the evaluation for drugs, medical devices and diagnostics. Currently, NICE uses the Quality-Adjusted Life Year (QALY) measure to determine whether or not a treatment is cost-effective, with the current threshold set at approximately £30,000 per QALY. Last week, the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) agency launched a public consultation on a proposal for changes to the methods NICE uses to evaluate potential medical treatments.

Read the full story in PMLiVE.


Quote of the week

In Lord Ara Darzi’s recent article in the HSJ, he discusses how post-covid mental health services must be fundamentally different than before, suggesting that only when the storm has passed, will we see the true extent of the damage. Mental health services have seen a huge spike in demand since the first wave of the pandemic with lockdowns, curbs on economic activity and bans on households mixing dramatically increasing isolation, financial distress and loneliness.

He said, “Mental health services have seen a massive spike in demand, leading to a huge gap between the need for mental health care and its availability – that can only be met by a revolution in the way it is delivered.”

Read the full article in the HSJ.