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Covid-19 latest, NHS waiting lists and Ramadan and the vaccine – this week’s Friday Five

Londoners urged to get tested for South African variant

People in parts of South London are asked to get tested after 44 cases of the South African variant have been confirmed.

Surge testing has been set up with new testing sites across Lambeth, Southwark and Wandsworth. All those aged over 10 are encouraged to get tested, with or without symptoms. Professor John Edmunds, epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said “If these mass testing events don’t work that well … then it’s possible that we’ll have to impose some sort of local restrictions back in place and nobody wants to do it.”

Read the full story in the Evening Standard.

Denmark stops using AstraZeneca vaccine

Following concerns over rare blood clots, Denmark has stopped the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Director General Soren Brostrom explained “The upcoming target groups for vaccination are less likely to become severely ill from Covid-19. We must weigh this against the fact that we now have a known risk of severe adverse effects from vaccination with AstraZeneca, even if the risk in absolute terms is slight.” Despite other vaccines being available in Denmark, this will likely slow the vaccine rollout rate over the coming weeks.

Other European countries, where the vaccine was previously suspended, have largely restarted vaccinating with AstraZeneca.

Read the full story in the BBC.

Photo: Golden Shrimp /

Johnson and Johnson vaccine rollout paused in the US

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine rollout has been stopped while US health advisers consider evidence linking the vaccine to blood clots.

The news comes shortly after EU vaccine regulators reviewed the AstraZeneca vaccine and concluded that similar clots were a possible rare side effect.

Dr Grace Lee, from Stanford University, said: “I continue to feel like we’re in a race against time and the variants, but we need to [move forward] in the safest possible way.” It is hoped that the vaccine, given in just one dose rather than two, could be useful in low-income countries or for hard-to-reach populations.

Read the full story in the Guardian.

Operation waiting list of 4.7 million

The number of people waiting for routine operations is the highest since 2007, with 4.7 million people in England waiting during February 2021.

NHS England have announced a £1bn fund to help combat long waiting lists and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government would “make sure that we give the NHS all the funding that it needs… to beat the backlog”.

Surgeons are emphasising the need for investment. Tim Mitchell, vice-president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: “Although the most urgent operations, for cancer and life-threatening conditions went ahead, hundreds of thousands of patients waiting for routine surgery such as hip and knee operations, cochlear implants and vascular operations had their treatment cancelled or postponed.” According to NHS England figures, nearly 388,000 people waited more than a year for routine operations. Only 1,613 had to wait as long in February 2020, before the pandemic.

Read the full story in the BBC.


Quote of the week

Ramadan began this week for Muslims across the UK. There were concerns that the fasting period may discourage people from receiving their Covid vaccination but, with assurances from the NHS and the British Islamic Medical Associations, pop up clinics at mosques and community centres have been set up to support Muslims to get their dose of the vaccine.  GP and BIMA representative, Dr Shehla Imtiaz-Umer said:

“As Muslims we have a duty to preserve life and getting vaccinated is the most effective way to prevent illness and loss of life from Covid-19,” she said.

“We must now stand together and not allow this progress to halt during Ramadan.”

Read more in the BBC.


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