Friday Five

Cases rise, the app launches and the COVID-19 ‘challenge’ is announced – this week’s Friday Five

COVID-19 deaths triple since the start of September

As cases of COVID-19 skyrocket and the Government clamps down with tougher restrictions, there’s now a worrying concern that the running seven-day total for covid-related deaths is also on the rise.

In the week beginning 14 September, the total number of deaths hit 117, which matches the figures from 23 July. This is the first consistent increase since the peak of the first COVID-19 wave in April and stats now show that the number of deaths are doubling once every 10 days.

Let’s hope this week’s new restrictions help to cap the trend.

Read the full story in The HSJ.

UK to test COVID-19 vaccine with live virus challenge

Healthy volunteers in the UK could soon be deliberately infected with COVID-19 in the world’s first human challenge trial to find out which COVID-19 vaccines work.

The government-funded studies are expected to begin in January at a secure quarantine facility in east London. Volunteers will be inoculated with a vaccine and then be given a “challenge” dose of Sars-Cov-2 under controlled conditions.

Volunteers will receive up to £3750 in compensation but risk the unknown consequences of long-covid complications. Is it worth it?

Read the full story in the Financial Times.

COVID-19 app launched but without proof of efficacy

It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for! The NHS COVID-19 app is finally here. But what does this mean for the general public and will it help curb the spread of the virus?

The NHS contact tracing app is based on APIs from Apple and Google and uses Bluetooth technology to track time and distance between smartphone devices. It also offers a QR code check-in capability designed to aid NHS Test and Trace in contacting customers of bars, restaurants and other venues with public health advice if there is a COVID-19 outbreak.

However, despite the launch, the Government is yet to release the results of pilots that took place in August on the Isle of Wight and Newham in east London and health experts are urging the Government to publish them to confirm the app’s overall effectiveness and show that it won’t exacerbate health inequalities.

Read the full story in The BMJ.

Fifth of people likely to refuse COVID-19 vaccine

A fifth of people are likely to refuse a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available, according to a survey of 70,000 people by University College London.

Since the vaccine does not yet exist, the researchers explored attitudes and behaviours towards vaccines to find out some of the underlying reasons. These included; anxieties about the side-effects of the current vaccines, concerns about future problems that are not yet known and the belief that natural immunity is better than immunity from vaccines.

In the summary of their survey findings, the researchers at UCL said that the results “suggest substantial levels of misinformation amongst the general public about vaccines” and concerns have been raised about whether there will be sufficient uptake of any vaccine to induce herd immunity.

Read the full story in The Guardian.


Quote of the week

In John Keith’s latest article in the National Health Executive he reflected on The Health Foundation’s recent work examining key areas for action on digitally enabled care. He said: “Ensuring technology-enabled health care works for everyone requires a health and care system focused on continual learning and improvement.” 

Read the full article in the National Health Executive.