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Covid latest: India variant update, booster jabs and NAO criticisms – this week’s Friday

Test and trace fail may have helped India variant spread

The government has confirmed a delay tracking cases of the Covid variant first found in India.

Due to a software failure, more than 700 infected people and their contacts were not to self-isolate as quickly as they should have been.

There are concerns this may have contributed to outbreak hot spots in areas particularly affected by the IT error. In Blackburn, where the variant is spreading, 300 people were not traced as a result of the system failure. Other local authorities affected include Blackpool, York, Southend-on-Sea, Thurrock, Bristol, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset.

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Clinical trial to test third doses begins

A UK clinical trial has begun to test the safety and effectiveness of a third dose booster jab.

This will be the first study in the world to examine the effect of a third dose vaccine. Based at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, the research has £19.3 million of government funding and will take place at sites across the UK. The Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, Valneva, Janssen and Curevac vaccines will all be tested in the trial.

Read the full story in the PharmaTimes.

NAO report criticises government handling of pandemic

The government was not prepared to deal with scale of coronavirus, according to an initial report by the National Audit Office (NAO).

The report highlighted a lack of plans for shielding, schooling and employment schemes. The NAO also noted that guidance on personal protective equipment changed 30 times before the end of July 2020.

An extract from the report concluded that: “While the response to the pandemic has provided new learning from both what has worked well and what has not worked well, it has also laid bare existing fault lines within society, such as the risk of widening inequalities, and within public service delivery and government itself.”

Read the full story in the BBC.

‘Sharp’ increase in children’s mental health problems

Children aged 11 to 12 years old experienced an increase in symptoms of depression during the pandemic, research by King’s College London has found.

The study compared emotional and behavioural problems of 202 children before and during the pandemic. Researchers found that the greatest increase in behavioural issues was in the group with no previous mental health problems.

Nicola Wright, from the department of biostatistics and health informatics at KCL, said “What’s not yet clear is whether COVID-19 exposure has simply ‘brought forward’ the first episode of depression in children who would have become depressed later in its absence.”

Read the full story in the PharmaTimes.


Quote of the week

We heard this week that victims of the PIP breast implant scandal will receive compensation. Thousands of women suffered long-term side effects from unsafe implants. Breast cancer survivor, Jan Spivey was given the implants following a mastectomy, and said:

“It’s been a very long journey. We’ve been in and out of court, and that’s been really difficult for women. We’ve got health issues and we’ve got lots of other responsibilities too – PIP has had an impact on the whole of our lives.”

Read the full story in the Guardian.

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