|NHS in danger of ‘stumbling into crisis’ as winter looms …|
|NHS Test and Trace site|
‘Early action can be less drastic action’
UK Ministers must urgently implement sweeping plan B winter measures or derail efforts to tackle the backlog of 5 million patients, the head of the NHS Confederation has warned.
Infections have been rising sharply but the government is resisting introducing extra restrictions such as masks, vaccine passports and advice to work from home.
Boris Johnson has said that if the government’s plan A – encouraging take-up of Covid booster and flu jabs – is not enough, it will roll out plan B. But Matthew Taylor, the confederation’s chief executive, said immediate action was required to prevent the NHS “stumbling into a crisis”.
As well as implementing plan B, ministers should encourage the public to use the NHS responsibly, look out for neighbours, and volunteer or re-enter the healthcare workforce, Taylor said.
Scientists are joining the call to introduce plan B: Prof Mark Woolhouse, a member of the SPI-M advisory committee, speaking in a personal capacity, said he was in favour of taking some action now “because early action can be less drastic action”.
The NHS will today launch an appeal for 100,000 new blood donors as figures reveal the number of active donors shrank last year to its lowest level since 1996. There is a particular need to recruit more black donors to treat patients with sickle cell disease
CDC: VACCINE EFFECTIVE AGAINST YOUTH HOSPITALIZATION
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been found to be 93 percent effective against hospitalization for 12- to 18-year-olds, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research from when the delta variant was predominant.
Researchers calculated the vaccine efficacy using data from 464 hospitalized patients, including 179 with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and 285 controls without the virus, across 19 pediatric hospitals between June and September.
Out of the 179 COVID-19 patients, only 3 percent were fully vaccinated, while the vast majority had not had any COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Among the unvaccinated COVID-19 patients, 77 were admitted to the intensive care unit, 29 received life support and two died. None of the six vaccinated COVID-19 patients went to the ICU or received life support care.
Significance: The CDC study sought to add to the “limited” real-world data on vaccine effectiveness among 12- to 18-year-olds. It concluded the effectiveness aligned with the results of Pfizer’s previous clinical trial that found a 100 percent efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 among 12- to 15-year-olds.
Despite the effectiveness, adolescents have the lowest vaccination rates out of the age groups eligible for the vaccine, with 46 percent of 12- to 15-year olds.
COVID-19 pill sparks global equity concerns
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Concern is growing among advocates that Merck’s promising new COVID-19 treatment pill could deepen the inequalities between rich and poor nations that were exposed during the coronavirus vaccine rollout.
The vast majority of COVID-19 vaccines have gone to people in rich nations. Vaccination rates lag below 10 percent in more than 50 poor countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while many wealthy nations boast inoculation rates above 70 percent. And experts worry the distribution of the new drug could follow a similar trend.
Merck’s antiviral pill, molnupiravir, is a treatment for people who are already infected, not a prophylactic. But the drug appears to keep infected people from being hospitalized and dying and could be another important tool for countries to use alongside vaccines.
Unlike vaccine manufacturers, Merck has already taken steps to preemptively address global access concerns by licensing its technology with five generic manufacturers in India. The move is unusual, since it comes before the brand-name drug is even authorized in the U.S.
Under the agreements, Merck will provide licenses to these manufacturers to supply molnupiravir to India and more than 100 low- and middle-income countries at a far lower price than the branded version.
Advocates and experts said the licensing agreements are encouraging, but they’re hoping for more impactful steps.