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The latest research into COVID-19 outcomes – this week’s Friday Five

Public Health England to review impact of ethnicity on COVID-19 outcomes

For weeks now it has been apparent that there is a disparity in the outcomes of COVID-19 depending on ethnicity and gender.

Now, Public Health England is going to analyse thousands of existing health records of patients who have had coronavirus, in an attempt to establish why some people have been disproportionately affected.

It has been suggested that social influences may be a reason behind differences in outcomes, but it is crucial that we analyse the full scale of the issue so can protect those that may more vulnerable in the future.

Read the full story in

New partnership to sequence human genomes in fight against coronavirus

Alongside Public Health England’s research into the impact of COVID-19 on different patient populations, Genomics England has announced they have partnered with the GenOMICC consortium, Illumina and the NHS to research the genomic influences on COVID-19 outcomes.

As part of their research, thousands of patients severely ill with coronavirus will have their genetic code studied to help scientists understand whether a person’s genetics play a role in how susceptible they are to the virus.

It is hoped that the results will help scientists understand the human response to coronavirus infection, leading towards new treatments and ways to control infection transmission.

Read the full story in the PharmaTimes.

COVID-19 antibody test offers a glimmer of hope about immunity

Public Health England has approved the first antibody test which can determine whether people have been infected with coronavirus in the past.

The antibody test is developed by Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche, and involves detecting antibodies in an individual’s blood to see if they have already had the virus and might have some immunity.

Despite being able to show whether or not someone has already had the virus, the test cannot prove that the individual will be totally protected in the future as the long-lasting immunological effects of coronavirus still remain unknown.

Experts in the field are optimistic of the news and are hoping to roll out the testing in the near future. Prof John Newton, national coordinator of the UK coronavirus testing programme, said: “This is a very positive development because such a highly specific antibody test is a very reliable marker of past infection.

Read the full story on BBC News.

Care home deaths starting to decline

The latest figures suggest that the number of coronavirus deaths in care homes across the UK is starting to decrease.

A review of death certificates showed there were 2,800 deaths linked to the virus in the most recent week, which was a decrease of more than 12% on the week before.

Although this shows a step in the right direction, ministers have warned that all the work has not been done, and there are still so many more improvements to be made.

Read the full story on BBC News.


Quote of the week

As we begin to see a decline in the number of cases and deaths from COVID-19, health officials are becoming increasingly worried by the consequential implications on the health system, and are urging non-covid elective surgeries to start again.

A spokesperson for the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, which represents private healthcare providers nationally, said: “Our members have been delivering a significant amount of urgent NHS elective care, particularly cancer care, but as per the directive from NHS England, from mid-April, routine elective procedures have been suspended in all providers.”

Read the full story in the HSJ.


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