Covid infections falling, millions dying from antimicrobial resistance, ‘nocebo’ effect


ONS says Covid infections falling across UK

The number of people infected with coronavirus in the UK is showing the most significant fall since the start of the Omicron wave, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates.

In the week to 15 January, 3.5 million people tested positive – down from 4.3 million the week before. Positive tests also fell in all age groups except young children. The figures mirror the steep fall in Covid cases shown in government data since early January, which are dependent on people carrying out tests and reporting the results.

Prof Sir Ian Diamond, the national statistician, said the figures marked “a major turning point” and were “encouraging news”, with marked reductions in infections right across age groups. But he added the UK was still in the midst of an Omicron wave and could not be certain whether the sharp falls would continue.

Read the full story in BBC.


Lancet analysis shows millions are dying from drug-resistant infections

Health leaders have warned that antimicrobial resistance poses a significant threat to humanity as a study has revealed that it has become a leading cause of death worldwide and is killing about 3,500 people every day.

More than 1.2 million – and potentially millions more – died in 2019 as a direct result of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, according to the most comprehensive estimate to date of the global impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). It says AMR is killing more people than HIV/Aids or malaria. Many hundreds of thousands of deaths are occurring due to common, previously treatable infections, the study says, because bacteria that cause them have become resistant to treatment.

Professor Chris Murray, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington said: “These new data reveal the true scale of antimicrobial resistance worldwide, and are a clear signal that we must act now to combat the threat…We need to leverage this data to course-correct action and drive innovation if we want to stay ahead in the race against antimicrobial resistance.”

Read the full story in The Guardian.


Two thirds of Covid vaccine side effects are imagined, study suggests

Two thirds of side effects associated with the Covid-19 vaccine are likely to be caused by the “nocebo effect” – where people become ill because they expect to, scientists believe. Experts said that people should be warned they could experience nocebo symptoms in order to lessen fears.

US researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre (BIDMC) in Boston studied the rates of adverse events reported by 22,000 vaccine trial participants who received a real jab, compared with a similar number who received a dummy injection. Analysis suggested that the nocebo effect accounted for 76 per cent of side effects after a first dose, and 52 per cent after a second, meaning that overall, around two thirds of symptoms were imagined.

The senior author Ted Kaptchuk, director of the Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter at BIDMC and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School said: “Nonspecific symptoms like headache and fatigue are listed among the most common adverse reactions following Covid-19 vaccination in many information leaflets… Evidence suggests that this sort of information may cause people to misattribute common daily background sensations as arising from the vaccine or cause anxiety and worry that make people hyper-alert to bodily feelings about adverse events.”

Read the full story in The Telegraph.


An artificial pancreas has proven “life-changing” for very young children with Type 1 diabetes, experts have said. The device, created by scientists at the University of Cambridge, is more effective at managing blood sugar levels than current technology.

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the app-based technology also requires less input from parents. The app was developed by Professor Roman Hovorka from the Wellcome-Medical Research Council Institute of Metabolic Science at the University of Cambridge.

He said: “CamAPS FX makes predictions about what it thinks is likely to happen next based on past experience. It learns how much insulin the child needs per day and how this changes at different times of the day… It then uses this to adjust insulin levels to help achieve ideal blood sugar levels. Other than at mealtimes, it is fully automated, so parents do not need to continually monitor their child’s blood sugar levels.”

Read the full story in Sky News.

 

Quote of the week

The British Dental Association has said that NHS dentistry is “hanging by a thread” with some patients facing two-year waits for check-ups. One woman, Sharon Grey, described how she had resorted to filing down and supergluing her own teeth:

“I’ve filed them down with a metal file, I’ve superglued them back in and managed to superglue most of my mouth as well… I’ve used Fixodent to try and hold a bridge onto my teeth that doesn’t work either. I think I must have covered most things by now…I’ve worked my whole life. I’ve paid my national insurance. I’ve worked for the NHS even, and I was left in this situation. I think it’s diabolical.”

Read the full story in BBC News.