Friday Five

Patient discharge ‘madness’, a new Covid treatment trial and Brazil variant – this week’s Friday Five

Plan to discharge Covid patients to care homes in England is ‘madness’

Care home providers have branded the plan to discharge Covid patients from hospitals into care homes without tests as “madness”, warning the move risks a repeat of last spring’s crisis, which was partly fuelled by pressure to relieve the NHS.

The Department of Health and Social Care issued guidance that Covid positive patients in England who have been in isolation in hospital for 14 days “are not considered to pose an infection risk” and do not have to be retested. If they are not showing new symptoms or have had fresh exposure to the virus, they can be moved directly to care homes from hospital.

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Large trial of new treatment begins in UK

A large-scale trial of a new treatment has begun in the UK, offering the potential to help stop Covid-19 patients from developing severe illness. It involves inhaling a protein called interferon beta which the body produces when it gets a viral infection, with the first patient receiving the treatment at Hull Royal Infirmary on Tuesday afternoon.

The hope is it will stimulate the immune system, priming cells to be ready to fight off viruses. Developed at Southampton University Hospital and produced by Southampton-based biotech company, Synairgen, early findings suggested the treatment cut the odds of a Covid-19 patient in hospital developing severe disease – such as requiring ventilation – by almost 80%.

Read the full story in BBC.

Gut Microbiome May Influence COVID-19 Severity and Immune Response

The variety and volume of bacteria in the gut, known as the microbiome, may influence the severity of Covid-19 as well as the magnitude of the immune system response to the infection, suggests research published online in the journal Gut.

Imbalances in the make-up of the microbiome may also be implicated in persisting inflammatory symptoms, dubbed “long COVID,” the findings suggest. Covid-19 is primarily a respiratory illness, but the evidence suggests that the gut may also have a role.

Read the full story in SciTechDaily.

virus background - coronavirus mutation stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Brazil variant already in UK, scientists say

One of two coronavirus variants thought to have emerged in Brazil has already been detected in the UK, says a leading scientist advising the government. The variant is distinct from those detected in the UK and South Africa, however does share some key mutations.

Prof Wendy Barclay, who is leading on the G2P-UK National Virology Consortium, a newly launched project to study the effects of emerging coronavirus mutations, confirmed one Brazilian variant of coronavirus has been detected in the UK. She said: ”There are two different types of Brazilian variants, one of them has been detected and one of them has not.” Barclay added the Brazilian variant was likely introduced ”some time ago”.

Read the full story in BBC.


Quote of the week

In a letter to its members, the chair of the British Medical Association, Chaand Nagpaul, stressed the need for doctors and other health workers to be vaccinated as soon as possible, saying:

“It is only if the NHS workforce is kept fit and well that we will be able to meet the unprecedented surge in demand that the coming weeks and months will bring as well as delivering the vaccine programme that remains our only hope to end this dreadful pandemic.”

Read the full story in The Guardian.