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Vaccine approval, lab grown meat and innovative blood tests: This Week’s Friday Five

Close-up of man being vaccinating by a doctor Free Photo

Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine judged safe for use in UK from next week

The UK has become the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, paving the way for mass vaccination. The UK’s medicine regulator, MHRA, has confirmed the vaccine which offers 95% protection against Covid-19 illness, is safe to be rolled out.

The first doses are currently on their way to the UK, with 800,000 due in the coming days, say Pfizer. Elderly people in care homes and care home staff have been placed top of the priority list, followed by over-80s and health and care staff.

As hospitals already have the facilities to store the vaccine at -70C, which is required for the Pfizer vaccine, the initial vaccinations are likely to take place within hospitals.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ”It’s the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again.”

Read the full story in the BBC.

Nuggets on wood background Premium Photo

Singapore approves ‘meat’ grown from animal cells in the lab for use in restaurants

Chicken meat grown from animal muscle cells in a lab, without the slaughter of living animals, is being made available for the first time after the government of Singapore gave its approval.

The meat which will be in the form of chicken nuggets, will be served in Singapore restaurants soon, according to Eat Just, an American company which is developing alternatives to meat from slaughterhouses.

”Singapore’s regulatory approval of Eat Just’s cultured chicken as food paves the way for the product to be served to consumers in a restaurant setting soon,” said Josh Tetrick, chief executive of Eat Just.

Apart from avoiding the killing of animals, the lab grown food eliminates the need for antibiotics and the risk of faecal disease such as e-coli, which can proliferate in animal farms.

Read the full story in The Times.

View under a microscope, blood-red blood cells in a living body, 3d illustration. Premium Photo

NHS to trial an innovative early detection blood test which may be able to detect more than 50 types of cancer 

The Galleri blood test, developed by GRAIL, will be piloted with 165,000 patients in a world-first deal stuck by NHS England. The test, which checks for molecular changes in blood, has already been shown to pick up multiple types that are traditionally difficult to diagnose early, such as head and neck, ovarian, pancreatic, oesophageal and some blood cancers.

If the NHS pilot programme shows the test to work for people without symptoms,  it will be rolled out to become routinely available, NHS England said. If successful, the blood test could help meet the NHS Long Term Plan goal of boosting the proportion of cancers caught early, which is vital to reduce cancer mortality.

“Early detection – particularly for hard-to-treat conditions like ovarian and pancreatic cancer – has the potential to save many lives. This promising blood test could therefore be a game-changer in cancer care, helping thousands more people to get successful treatment,” said NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens.

Read the full story in PharmaTimes.

3d illustration artificial insemination, fertilisation, injecting sperm into egg cell. assisted reproductive treatment. Premium Photo

Baby girl born from record-setting 27-year-old embryo

Molly Gibson was born in October 2020, but her embryo was frozen in October 1992. Molly is believed to have set a new record for the longest-frozen embryo to have resulted in a birth.

National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC), a non-profit organisation stores frozen embryos that in vitro fertilisation patients decided not to use and chose to donate instead.

Families like the Gibsons can adopt one of the unused embryos and give birth to a child that is not genetically related to them. There are an estimated one million frozen human embryos stored in the US right now, according to the NEDC. Founded 17 years ago, the NEDC has facilitated more than 1,000 embryo adoptions and births, and now conducts around 200 transfers each year.

Read the full story in the BBC.


Quote of the week

The first phase of a review by England’s Care Quality Commission has found that Do-Not-Resuscitate orders were wrongly allocated to some care home residents during the Covid-19 pandemic, causing potentially avoidable deaths.

Dr Rosie Benneyworth, Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care at the CQC, said: “It is unacceptable for clinical decisions – decisions which could dictate whether someone’s loved one gets the right care when they need it most – to be applied in a blanket approach to any group of people.”

Read the full article in the Guardian.

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