Friday Five

Fear for COVID-19 reinfection but a triumph against polio – this week’s Friday Five

The world’s first case of COVID-19 reinfection

This week, scientists at Hong Kong University reported the first “proven” case of a person becoming reinfected with COVID-19. The 33 year old man first contracted COVID-19 at the end of March and then almost five months later, he was found to be reinfected with the disease.

Understandably, the news sparked doubt in the wider community about the potential for humans to develop long-lasting immunity against the virus and questions are being raised about whether any vaccine will be effective.

The researchers in Hong Kong tested samples from the man from both instances of infection and determined that the viruses had different genetic sequences. Therefore they could be certain that this was a case of reinfection and not the original virus at simple resurfaced.

Read more on this story in The Telegraph.

UK flu jab rates prompt complacency warning

To prepare for winter in the face of COVID-19, the Government recently announced that they had plans to double the number of people who were eligible for the influenza vaccine.

However, in spite of this intervention, the uptake rate among vulnerable people has declined.

Experts are concerned that such “complacency” could risk overwhelming the NHS in winter and are urging all those eligible to get the vaccine.

Read the full story on BBC News.

McKinsey bags £560k to decide the “vision” for new NHS Test and Trace body

It recently came to light that the Department of Health and Social Care awarded McKinsey in £563,400 contract to decide the “vision, purpose and narrative” of the NHS Test and Trace programme. With this, the consultancy firm could have up to seven years of access to personal data, including names, addresses, biometric data and medical data.

The news came just as it was announced that Public Health England would be scrapped and merged with Test and Trace to form the new National Institute of Health Protection.

Interestingly, Baroness Dido Harding, who originally headed the NHS Test and Trace system and is now interim chair for the National Institute of Health Protection, started her career at McKinsey, and questions have been raised over the connection.

Read the full story in Digital Health News.

A “momentous milestone” for Africa as wild polio is declared eradicated

In a historic public health achievement the 47 nations of the World Health Organisation’s Africa region were declared free of wild poliovirus.

The independent body, the Africa Regional Certification Commission, made the declaration on Tuesday, which was four years after the continent reported its last case of wild poliovirus and 24 years after the Kick Polio Out of Africa Campaign was launched.

Despite this “momentous milestone” our fight against polio isn’t yet over. Wild polio is still present in Pakistan and Afghanistan and “vaccine-derived polio”, which stems from use of the cheaper oral polio vaccine, continues to cause frequent outbreaks around the world.

Read more on this story on BBC News.


Quote of the week

Following the recent publication of the NHS People Plan, one of its authors and former trust chief executive Andrew Foster criticised NHS England on its “insane secretiveness” leading up to its publication.

This intervention built on recent criticisms about The People Plan which forced NHS England to correct an error that compared being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer to having a disability or long-term condition.

Among his comments he said that “the plan is limp on equality, diversity and inclusion when this was the greatest opportunity ever to start a real sea change”.

Read his full comment in the HSJ.