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A big step forward for tracing and treatment – this week’s Friday Five

New test and trace system launched across England and Scotland

Yesterday, we saw the launch of the Covid-19 test and trace system across England and Scotland which should help to lift blanket lockdown restrictions and move towards more localised, targeted measures.

The new system will involve 25,000 ‘contact tracers’ making phone calls and sending emails to try and track down people who have been in contact with those that have tested positive with coronavirus.

NHSX are intending on launching the contact-tracing app, which is currently being trialled on the Isle of Wight, in the coming weeks.

Read the full story on the BBC News.

A leap forward for Covid-19 therapy

An anti-viral drug called Remdesivir has been authorised on the NHS to treat patients with Covid-19. Early results from clinical trials have shown that the drug, which has also  been used against Ebola, has the potential to cut Covid-19 recovery time by about four days.

For the time being and due to limited supplies, it will go to those most likely to benefit.

Read the full story on the BBC News.

Is it ethical to deliberately infect vaccine volunteers with Covid-19?

Dr Adair Richards from the University of Warwick has developed a set of guidelines that would enable researchers to ethically infect volunteers in the Covid-19 vaccine trial with the virus.

Currently there are several vaccine candidates going through human clinical trials, but to find out whether they protect against Covid-19, volunteers have to naturally come into contact with the virus – something that could take some amount of time.

Dr Richards concluded his research saying; “My research shows that it is incorrect to rule out human challenge experiments as unethical in relation to COVID-19 vaccine development. I argue that you can apply the same standards of ethics, but that they lead us now to a different conclusion because the facts are different.”

Read the full story in PharmaField.

Boosting flu vaccine coverage will reduce pressure on the NHS, at no extra cost

In Sam Everington’s latest comment in the HSJ, he speaks about the devastating impact of last winter’s flu season and highlights a need to change the strategy behind flu vaccinations.

As it stands, the NHS can only afford to offer the vaccine to NHS staff and patients that are considered at-risk patients, and any kind of goal towards herd immunity is simply not possible.

But it is clear that increasing the coverage of vaccinations would save thousands of lives and significantly reduce the suffering caused by flu. And, in the long-run the economic costs of increasing vaccination rates would be countered by a savings made on flu treatment and on the costs of flu for businesses.

Read the full story in the HSJ.


Quote of the week

In his latest comment in the HSJ, Graham Kendall, director of the Digital Healthcare Council, calls for immediate changes in the way data is collected, so that we can reliably count online appointments, and measure availability and demand.

“Without data we can rely on, transparency is minimal and we’re left guessing.” 

Read the full story in the HSJ.


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