No evidence to show Covid vaccines increase deaths in young people – ONS
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have previously been linked to higher rates of heart conditions myocarditis and pericarditis in young people who received the injections. While these conditions are rare, a second Covid jab appeared to increase the likelihood of these conditions occurring. Symptoms would include chest pain, a fluttering heartbeat and breathlessness, these usually occur within two days of vaccination. It was noted by the UK medicines regulator that cases are often mild and do not require treatment.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has analysed death registrations to identify levels of mortality in younger age groups. They found no significant difference in death rates from a cardiac event in the six weeks following vaccination, when the side effect risk is highest, compared to seven to twelve weeks after vaccination.
Julie Stanborough, deputy director at the ONS said: “We have found no evidence of an increased risk of cardiac death in young people following Covid-19 vaccination.”
Read the full story in BBC News.
Stomach bugs dropped during the UK’s first lockdown
The number of stomach bug cases recorded in the UK during the first six months of the pandemic are reduced by more than half compared to the usual rates. Norovirus can cause a sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhoea, and the virus can be contracted through contact with those who have it or by touching contaminated surfaces. The reduced number of cases at the start of the pandemic is thought to be due to people becoming increasingly germ-conscious, combined with a reduced ability of the virus to spread due to decreased contact between people.
Prof Saheer Gharbia, from the UK Health Security Agency and one of the authors of the BMJ study, said: “Norovirus, commonly known as the winter vomiting bug, has been at lower levels than normal throughout the pandemic but, as people have begun to mix more, the numbers of outbreaks have started to increase again.”
Although still below the level of cases usually seen this time of year, cases of norovirus have started to increase once again. A person who has contracted norovirus is advised to stay at home until 48 hours after their symptoms are no longer present.
Prof Martin Marshall, from the Royal College of GPs, said: “This study makes clear that as we’ve seen with other contagious diseases, such as colds and flu, prevalence of gastro-intestinal infection was lower during the pandemic. This is likely to be in a large part due to restrictions that were implemented to stop the spread of Covid, and greater adherence to public health measures. As we move to the next stages of the pandemic, severe restrictions have been, and continue to be, lifted to allow a more normal way of life, but practising good hygiene measures is something that can and should continue, and really can help people keep well.”
Read the full story in BBC News.
More women getting tested for autism after previously being ‘overlooked’
It has been revealed women and girls are routinely overlooked by health professionals as autism is wrongly thought as a male disorder. The number of women seeking autism testing has increased. According to statistics seen by The Independent, approximately 150,000 women took an online test verified by health professionals to test for autism last year, in 2020 this was only about 49,000. Data from mental health care provider Clinical Partners, showed that 56% of those using their autism tests in 2021 were women, this is a 10% increase from the 46% of female users in 2020.
Hannah Hayward, neurodevelopmental specialist at Clinical Partners, who provided the data, said: “The women I work with are often diagnosed because their children are being diagnosed and they recognise similar traits in themselves. Others seek a clinical diagnosis after experiencing mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, self-harming, or eating disorders.”
“Diagnosis is crucial – without which, women and men can be susceptible to symptoms of mental health conditions including anxiety and depression and it is common for them to be misdiagnosed with or develop other conditions such as anxiety, anorexia, depression or Borderline Personality Disorder,” Dr Hayward added. “Receiving a formal diagnosis can be pivotal for so many. Many women I work with often report a diagnosis feels almost like wearing glasses for the first time.”
Read the full story in The Independent.
20-minute treatment for enlarged prostate symptoms by new NHS steam therapy
One in three men over the age of 50 suffer with enlarged prostates which cause uncomfortable symptoms. Current standard treatments, including surgery, can cause side effects which leads to men putting up with symptoms for decades. However, a new 20-minute steam treatment will now be offered to thousands of middle-aged men who suffer from enlarged prostates under an NHS drive to offer speedier and more efficient care.
The 20-minute treatment ‘Rezum’ will be made routinely available on the NHS following health officials selecting it due to its potential for efficiency savings and shorter hospital stays. This is particularly important at a time when hospitals are facing record backlogs.
The procedure involves injecting an enlarged prostate with jets of steam. Any man eligible for the treatment with be able to receive it as it has been selected under a ‘Medtech Funding mandate’ which means hospitals are automatically reimbursed for all such treatments. The NHS national medical director, Prof Stephen Powis said: “Rezum, which uses bursts of steam to shrink the prostate instead of men needing more invasive surgery, is just one of the cutting-edge techniques the NHS will roll out this year that will make a huge difference to the lives of patients”.
Currently, around 18,000 men a year have surgery to relieve the problem. But, many more put up with the symptoms due to the fear of suffering side effects following surgery. Kasra Saeb-Parsy, a consultant urological surgeon from Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “What we offer has to be good for the patient and financially kind to the NHS”. Experts said after the new 20 minute treatment, symptoms improve over two to three months, during that time patients can live a normal life.
Read the full story in The Telegraph.
Quote of the week
A rise in Covid cases has left the NHS under pressure with increasing numbers of people needing hospitalisation, according to Prof Chris Whitty.
Prof Chris Whitty said: “Covid cases are now rising quite rapidly – from quite a high base – and this is driven by a number of different factors, of which BA.2, the new Omicron variant is a large part. Rates are high and rising in virtually all parts of England.”
“If we look at hospitalisations, there are now quite significant numbers of people in hospital,” he explained. “They are now rising again, and I think will continue to rise for at least the next two weeks – so there is pressure on the NHS. It is currently being driven by Omicron rather than new variants, but we need to keep a very close eye on this because at any point new variants could emerge anywhere in the world, including the UK, as happened with the Alpha variant.”
Read the full story in The Guardian.