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How Covid-19 has boosted “smart healthcare”

The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of the healthcare system. As we slowly emerge, expect that trend to continue.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic upended the world in ways that are normally associated with global conflict. For many, the measures to control the spread of the virus have gone from temporary inconveniences to a new way of life – but at a huge cost. From South Africa to Portugal, the United Kingdom to Japan, doctors and healthcare officials warned of hospitals on the brink of collapse under the weight of new cases arriving each day.

However, a less discussed and more positive aspect of the past year has been the digitisation of healthcare systems around the world, driven by the transformative effects of Industry 4.0. This has manifested in the rise of “smart” frameworks; making extensive use of emergent technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) in order to create more integrated, efficient spaces that better suit the needs of their users and occupants.

For many, the term “smart” conjures images of apps, but smart healthcare is much more than that. It’s about creating a healing environment where the increasing digitisation of the building, processes and infrastructure mean that the technology works in unison to deliver benefits to the people connecting to it. As noted by Siemens, “In a smart hospital, the focus is on the digital systems and the potential they offer to the building itself to effectively become a member of the team.”

What the pandemic has done is boost existing interest and adoption of smart technology across the board. Even before Covid hit, healthcare executives were struggling with issues around the safety of their facilities, the quality of care provided to their patients and costly workflow inefficiencies that were impacting their bottom line. An additional issue these executives are dealing with is a global population that is not only getting larger, but also ageing.  By 2030, the world will have more than 8.5 billion people and by 2050, the number of people over the age of 60 will have doubled in comparison to 2015.

We have seen this smart digital adoption across several different healthcare areas.  Telemedicine already accounts for roughly ⅔ of outpatient appointments across the United States during 2020 and research from Purdue University also suggests that telehealth can reduce the amount of time people spend in the hospital itself, with no corresponding fall in the quality of care provided.  However, one of the newest and most effective technology solutions to address these mounting challenges has been the integration of Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) into hospital processes.

This development has been powered primarily by the growing appreciation and value of data, the foundation of all digital transformation and “smart” initiatives. In a world in which data is referred to as the “new oil,” it is perhaps understandable that effective use of data will be vital in tackling the resource problems facing healthcare today.  However, to make the right decisions that will fundamentally change the healthcare ecosystem, that data needs to be captured throughout a facility—as well as the insight to make changes that positively impact staff and patients.

The success of a smart hospital is based on connecting diverse data into actionable insights that lead to optimal care and increased operational efficiency. By using RTLS to identify, track, locate and monitor the condition of every patient, staff and assets in an organization, executives now have the healthcare facility business intelligence that helps deliver better outcomes for patients—as well as the hospital’s bottom line.

Practical examples of this are dotted across the healthcare landscape, over a large variety of applications. Take something as simple as hygiene management, especially crucial during the pandemic. GWA Hygiene, a leading hospital hygiene provider, found that only half of the workers in one of its partner hospitals were washing their hands properly – increasing patient risk of infection.

With the twin goals of improving infection control amongst workers, visitors, and patients; as well as streamlining existing IT processes, GWA installed cloud-based IT infrastructure in the hospital.

As Tobias Gebhardt, managing Director of GWA Hygiene noted “We should not leave infection control teams alone with outdated tools. We needed a totally new tool set for the hospital management to better understand and break infection chains.”

The response also included the incorporation of RTLS locators and tags on hand sanitiser dispensers throughout the hospital which provided valuable real-time insights into usage frequency, usage time and more. The result was significant savings in both time, money and resources – allowing the company to upgrade its dispensers, rather than having to enact a wholescale replacement program.

Elderly care is another area that has benefited from location tracking technology. With a growing number of Alzheimer’s patients in their 50 retirement centres across Austria and German, 7iD was presented with the challenge of monitoring the whereabouts of their residents and preventing them wandering off premises and running away.

In response, the company implemented a comprehensive Bluetooth-based RTLS program. Smartwatch-style trackers were distributed to patients which monitored their actions and proximity to certain areas and staff, setting off alarms if rules were broken. Pinpoint accuracy was delivered with limited hardware requirements. The power efficiency of the technology also meant that time was saved on recharging the devices.

It allowed them to not only expand their operations to other sites, but also diversify their offering; adding support to prevent the separations of newborn babies from their mothers; a huge problem in eastern countries.

Workflow is another area that has benefited from the transition to smart healthcare and location services. This is especially egregious in healthcare as the potential benefits are so great. Research from Columbia University highlights how valuable predictive analytics can be in reducing patient waiting times.  In this scenario, data is used to better predict the number of patients that are likely to be in the emergency room at any one time so that resources can be planned accordingly.

This was the experience of Artisight, a US-based solutions provider. As noted by Chris Heddon, VP of Product, hospitals and clinics often have very complicated workflows. He noted “Cancer centre workflows can include up to four appointments, which is a big opportunity for process optimization. At peak hours, a high-volume clinic may have up to 200 people in each workflow at a given time and you need to know where each one of them is.”

“One of the most valuable resources in a cancer center is the infusion chair, which many clinics do not have great utilization metrics around. Tracking patient location with RTLS allows Artisight to build data-driven resource utilisation models that ensure the highest possible utilisation of infusion chairs and other valuable resources.”

He added “Orthopedic clinics have similar challenges – ideally appointments can be optimized to hour between when the patient arrives in the parking lot to when and when they leave. The only way to do that is to know where clinicians and patients are at all times. So how do we make them more efficient?”

By incorporating tracking systems into their existing computer vision and artificial intelligence infrastructure, they were able to create substantial revenue gains and efficiency savings for their hospital clients. Operating rooms normally cost over $100 a minute to operate, but implementing the technology meant not only an increase in on-time case starts, but also a reduction in operating room turnover time; allowing more operations to take place and maximising the space; a 16% productivity gain for one their client hospitals. Staff overtime was reduced significantly and the gains in overall case volume (from 1400 to 1800 in a single month) meant the centre did not have to build extra operating rooms to increase business.

The next decade will present new opportunities and technologies that create value and dramatically improve patient care. By integrating smart infrastructure technologies such as RTLS into hospitals, healthcare providers are going to be able to increase efficiencies, maximise patient comfort, and cope with the difficulties of tending to patients in a modern world. Ambitious goals and global change require new ways of working where staff, patients and visitors are supported throughout their journey. This requires the recognition of the vital role that technology, especially digital transformation, can play in the process. This approach heralds a new age of the smart hospital.

Source: https://www.quuppa.com/

News

Covid-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan

The government has published the ‘COVID-19 Response – Autumn and Winter Plan 2021’ setting out plans for autumn and winter 2021/22 in England.

This document outlines the government’s plans for autumn and winter 2021 for England. It includes the Government’s “Plan A” – a comprehensive approach designed to steer the country through autumn and winter 2021/22. It also outlines a Plan B which would only be enacted if the data suggests further measures are necessary to protect the NHS.

Document: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1017779/COVID-19-response-autumn-and-winter-plan-2021.pdf

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-autumn-and-winter-plan-2021

News

Consultation on mandatory vaccination for frontline health and care staff

A consultation will be launched today on protecting patients by mandating vaccination for frontline health and social care staff in England.

  • Consultation launches today on making vaccination a condition of deployment for frontline workers in health and care settings
  • Staff may be required to have coronavirus (COVID-19) and flu vaccines to protect patients from infection, serious illness or death
  • 92% of NHS staff have had their first dose and 88% both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, and ministers urge remainder to take up offer now to keep themselves and those they care for safe

The government is seeking views on plans for staff in health and care settings in England to be required to have COVID-19 and flu vaccines to protect vulnerable people.

A consultation will be launched today, running for a period of 6 weeks, looking at whether requirements should apply for health and wider social care workers: those in contact with patients and people receiving care. It would mean only those who are fully vaccinated, unless medically exempt, could be deployed to deliver health and care services. The consultation will also seek views on whether flu vaccines should be a requirement for health and care workers.

There is a longstanding precedent for vaccination requirements in NHS roles. Workplace health and safety and occupational health policies are already in place requiring the Hepatitis B vaccine for those undertaking exposure-prone procedure – such as surgeons.

The percentage of NHS trust staff who have received 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is around 92% nationally, with 88% of staff having received both doses. However, there is variation in uptake with new data due to be published today showing that between NHS trusts, uptake rates can vary from around 78% to 94% for both doses.

National flu vaccination rates in the health service have increased from 14% in 2002 to 76% last year. In some settings, however, rates are as low as 53%.

Flu vaccination has been recommended for staff and vulnerable groups in the UK since the late 1960s, with the average number of estimated deaths in England for the 5 seasons 2015 to 2020 at over 11,000 deaths annually. During the 2019 to 2020 winter season, 86% of deaths associated with flu were people aged 65 and over.

As well as protecting vulnerable patients, the proposals will protect staff, which is particularly important for hospital trusts where extensive unexpected staff absences can put added pressure on already hardworking clinicians providing patient care during busy periods like winter.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:

Many patients being treated in hospitals and other clinical settings are most at risk of suffering serious consequences of COVID-19, and we must do what we can to protect them.

It’s so clear to see the impact vaccines have against respiratory viruses which can be fatal to the vulnerable, and that’s why we’re exploring mandatory vaccines for both COVID-19 and flu.

We will consider the responses to the consultation carefully but, whatever happens, I urge the small minority of NHS staff who have not yet been jabbed to consider getting vaccinated – for their own health as well as those around them.

The government recently consulted on making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for staff working in the adult social care sector. To protect care home residents, workers will now need to be double jabbed as a condition of deployment in CQC-regulated care homes in England by 11 November, unless exempt.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) Social Care Working Group has also advised there is a strong scientific case to have similar approaches to vaccination offers and support in NHS inpatient settings as there will be in care homes, given the similarly close and overlapping networks between residents or patients and workers of all kinds in both.

The COVID-19 vaccine has already had a significant impact on reducing hospitalisations and deaths, with Public Health England estimating that over 112,000 lives have been saved so far.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised this winter will be the first in the UK when COVID-19 is expected to co-circulate alongside other respiratory viruses such as flu. This could significantly contribute to the NHS’s winter pressures, with more vulnerable people expected to be admitted into hospital over the coming months.

The consultation will seek views on the proposals, its scope, and any potential impact it could have on staffing and safety such as reducing staff sickness absence. Findings will then help inform decision-making around how the change could be implemented and who could be exempt – if a decision is taken to introduce this requirement. Staff, healthcare providers, stakeholders, patients and their families are being urged to take part to have their views heard, with a final decision expected this winter.

Since the COVID-19 vaccination rollout began in December 2020, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has partnered with NHS England to make vaccines as accessible as possible for health and social care workers.

NHS England continues to put on hundreds of COVID-19 vaccination centres across the country to make vaccinations as easy as possible, and has been providing information at every turn to address concerns staff may have on vaccine safety and efficacy for different groups.

For example, extensive real-world data showing vaccines are safe and highly effective for vulnerable groups, including pregnant women – a group we know can have some hesitancy around getting the vaccine. However, research shows pregnant women are more likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19 and 98% of those in hospital due to COVID-19 are unvaccinated – while no pregnant woman who has had 2 doses of the vaccine has ever been hospitalised from COVID-19 in the UK.

Every year NHS organisations are expected make sure staff can also easily access the flu vaccine, and encourage staff to get vaccinated, for example by opening easy access drop in clinics on hospital sites, or offering 24-hour mobile vaccinations.

We continue to do all we can to protect NHS patients and prevent hospital transmission. As part of the £5.4 billion package announced on Monday to support the NHS over the next six months, £2.8 billion will cover costs for enhanced infection control measures to keep staff and patients safe from the virus.

Background

See the consultation on Making vaccination a condition of deployment in the health and wider social care sector.

The consultation will consider 3 risks in clinical settings and how they can be mitigated by vaccination:

  • the level of interaction in a clinical setting between staff, patients and visitors
  • the vulnerability of patients
  • high-risk procedures

Some individuals have an allergy or condition where the Green Book or the JCVI advises on whether the individual should be exempt or seek medical advice before proceeding with vaccination.

We will ensure that any regulations allow for exemptions on medical grounds. Any future regulations will be in line with the Green Book on Immunisation against infectious disease (COVID-19: the green book, chapter 14a) and the JCVI which reflect clinical advice.

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/consultation-on-mandatory-vaccination-for-frontline-health-and-care-staff

News

Additional £5.4 billion for NHS COVID-19 response over next six months

Includes £1 billion to help tackle COVID-19 backlogs, delivering routine surgery and treatments for patients

  • Additional £5.4 billion cash injection to NHS to support COVID-19 response over next six months
  • Includes £1 billion to help tackle COVID-19 backlogs, delivering routine surgery and treatments for patients
  • Total government support for health services in response to COVID-19 at over £34 billion this year alone

The NHS will receive an extra £5.4 billion over the next six months to support its response to COVID-19 and help tackle waiting lists, the Prime Minister and Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid have announced today.

The funding will immediately go towards supporting the NHS to manage the immediate pressures of the pandemic. This includes an extra £1 billion to help tackle the COVID-19 backlog, £2.8 billion to cover related costs such as enhanced infection control measures to keep staff and patients safe from the virus and £478 million to continue the hospital discharge programme, freeing up beds.

The additional £5.4 billion brings the government’s total investment to health services for COVID-19 so far this year to over £34 billion, with £2 billion in total for the NHS to tackle the elective backlog.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

The NHS was there for us during the pandemic – but treating Covid patients has created huge backlogs.

This funding will go straight to the frontline, to provide more patients with the treatments they need but aren’t getting quickly enough.

We will continue to make sure our NHS has what it needs to bust the Covid backlogs and help the health service build back better from the worst pandemic in a century.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:

The NHS has been phenomenal as it has faced one of the biggest challenges in its history.

Today’s additional £5.4 billion funding over the next 6 months is critical to ensuring the health service has what it needs to manage the ongoing pandemic and helping to tackle waiting lists.

We know waiting lists will get worse before they get better as people come forward for help, and I want to reassure you the NHS is open, and we are doing what we can to support the NHS to deliver routine operations and treatment to patients across the country.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said:

This funding provides welcome certainty for the NHS, which has pulled out all the stops to restore services, while caring for thousands of seriously ill Covid patients requiring hospital treatment during the toughest summer on record.

This additional investment will enable the NHS to deliver more checks, scans and procedures as well as helping to deal with the ongoing costs and pressures of the pandemic as the NHS heads in to winter.

The government has been clear that the NHS will get what it needs to recover its usual services and deliver quality care to patients.

The waiting list for routine operations and treatments such as hip replacements and eye cataract surgery could potentially increase to as high as 13 million. While today’s extra £1 billion funding will go some way to help reduce this number, waiting lists will rise before they improve as more people who didn’t seek care over the pandemic come forward.

£478 million of this new funding has been dedicated to continue the hospital discharge programme so staff can ensure patients leave hospital as quickly and as safely as possible, with the right community or at-home support. This will free up thousands of extra beds and staff time to help the NHS recover services. The government has also invested £500 million in capital funding for extra theatre capacity and productivity-boosting technology, to increase the number of surgeries able to take place.

This funding is for England only. The devolved administrations will receive up to £1 billion in Barnett consequentials in 2021-22. The final amount will be confirmed and allocated at Supplementary Estimates 2021-22.

On top of this funding, the NHS recently launched a £160 million initiative to tackle waiting lists. This is looking to accelerate the recovery of routine treatments and operations by trialling new ways of working, including a high-volume cataract service, one stop testing facilities where people can get tests done quickly and efficiently, to speed up the time to treatment, greater access to specialist advice for GPs and pop-up clinics so patients can be seen and discharged closer to home.

This government is committed to delivering the greatest hospital building programme in a generation with 40 new hospitals by 2030, backed by an initial £3.7 billion.

Today’s announcement is in addition to the £3 billion announced at Spending Review 2020 to support the NHS. It is also additional to the historic long-term settlement for the NHS, which is enshrined in law and will see NHS funding increase by £33.9 billion by 2023 to 2024 as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.   The government will continue to support the NHS respond to COVID-19. The government made available £63 billion in 2020 to 2021 and over £34 billion so far this year to support health services, and increased the NHS core non-COVID budget from £130 billion to £136 billion.

Notes to editors

The £5.4 billion funding is broken down into:

  • £2.8 billion for COVID-19 costs including infection control measures;
  • £600 million for day-to-day costs;
  • £478 million for enhanced hospital discharge; and
  • £1.5 billion for elective recovery, including £500 million capital funding.

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/additional-54-billion-for-nhs-covid-19-response-over-next-six-months

Waterless
News

Whole Body Antimicrobial Skin Cleanser – For Patients and Staff

Nilaqua skin cleansing foam is a wonder for washing incontinence and all over the body without water. This is not an aerosol that dries the skin, but a kind and gentle water-based solution that really removes, dirt, faeces, urine, blood and iodine – without additional water or rinsing! In 2016 Nilaqua further developed this product to include antimicrobial properties that are effective against a huge number of pathogens including spores, bacteria and all enveloped viruses. Ideal for washing in isolation, staff before and after shifts, those with low immunity and wounds pre and post-op care. 

To use simply apply directly to the area of the body i.e. leg, leave to activate for 30 seconds; gently massage to combine with the blood etc, then wipe off. Leaving soft clean skin. 

These products are wonderful and already on the supply chain, please see codes: MRB1086  this is 200ml, 20 per case. 

Visit https://nilaqua.co.uk/wash-skin-without-water/ for more information

Weiss Technik
Blog, Blog Posts, Company, Coronavirus

Weiss Technik: Specialists in Infection Control, Containment and Bio-Safety

The Coronavirus crisis may be dominating the current news but for Weiss Technik, the task of controlling and containing viruses and bacteria started approximately 50 years ago when they introduced their first “Ultra Clean Ventilation” system (UCV). Originally developed for hospital theatre applications to contain airborne particles, Weiss Technik’s innovative UCV systems are now specified around the globe for situations where infection control and containment are critical health factors.

Rupert Mack is Weiss Technik’s director of strategic business area Mediclean and is a member of German DIN 1946 as well as European WG 18 TC 156 committee. Rupert has overseen the continuous development of a range of industry-leading products and solutions that help to combat the spread of viruses in commercial settings.

He commented, “The main source of microbial aerosols in enclosed spaces can be deemed to be from human and animal organisms. Indoor air pollution is an important problem because people inhale between 6–10 litres of air per minute, which amounts to 15,000 litres of air per day. The health risks from exposure to poor indoor air quality is therefore significant because we spend around 90% of the day in indoor environments, of which approximately 25%* is spent at work (*during normal circumstances).

“Ironically, traditional air conditioning systems can actually increase the potential for bacteria and viruses to survive over a long period of time and distance. As we have witnessed, there is a propensity for viruses to increase during the colder months, natural ventilation is reduced when the population typically spends more time indoors and utilises additional heating sources. Whilst these situations are well known, in the event of a pandemic, as we are experiencing now, one needs to focus on solutions that provide an exceptional level of protection.

“Whilst the issues are complex, there are two fundamental types of airflow when considering how airborne particles spread: we differentiate unidirectional airflow (laminar flow) and dilution mixing airflow (there’s a direct flow top-down scenario and also a head-to-head situation). So, for example, in a hospital operating theatre air purification is a must. Our UCV systems actually cleanse a specific part of the room; typically directly above and around the operating table. The process is enhanced through our “Weiss Mediclean” traffic light system which provides a clear visual reference to air flow and virus content. This links to a dynamic system that automatically adjusts the air flow to ensure continuous protection.

“Our systems offer a high level of sophistication in their design and functionality. They feature a highly effective HEPA filtration system, combined with UVC light.  A HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Absorber) filter is a specific type of high-quality air filter that meets the HEPOA filter standard, which is to remove at least 99.97% of particles (aerosols) from the air down to at least 0.3 microns in size. The UVC radiation is a known disinfectant for air, water, and nonporous surfaces. UVC radiation has effectively been used for decades to reduce the spread of bacteria, such as tuberculosis.

“The truth is that all indoor confined spaces now pose a potential threat. Businesses need robust, proven and reliable solutions that offer an unprecedented level of protection for their employees. Our product range has recently been augmented with the introduction of new products and solutions for every room or situation where people are working or living.

“Vindur® Top is an important development of our cooling system with HEPA filtration and UVC light and offers businesses the opportunity to easily retro-fit a unit into a building refurbishment situation or to have a complete building air purification system specified at the design and build stages. Vindur® Top is programmed to achieve 3 to 5 kilowatt cooling capacity that helps to counteract equipment that generates heat.

“We have just unveiled our latest product called Vindur® Pure. This is a mobile air purification system without cooling.  This “plug and play” unit provides effective virus and bacteria control in rooms up to 70m2 capacity. It includes two filters (efficiency and high efficiency) and a UVC light. It can easily and simply be installed in a room, in ether a mobile floor standing or wall-mounted situation. Plus, when required, the unit can be switch to UCV operation only, to save energy. Vindur® Pure is an ideal solution for businesses looking for a fast and effective method of protecting their employees.

“As I have mentioned, Weiss Technik has almost five decades experience in developing bio-safety products and solutions. We are experts and help our customers specify precisely the right system for their circumstances. The factors are many and complex. Determining how to avoid infection from one person to another means calculating the correct level and type of air flow based on the number of people in a room and their movements. It means calculating how temperature changes influence these circumstances and how the type of flow of air is consequently affected.

“I am proud of the exceptional team here at Weiss Technik – a team of specialists who have developed a remarkable range of air purification products that meet the HTM 0301 UK accreditation and continue to set new and innovative standards of technical excellence”.

Rupert Mack – Director of Strategic Business Area – Mediclean, Weiss Technik
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said reopening schools should be the government's priority over the next few weeks
Coronavirus, News

Prime Minister pushes for schools to reopen as ‘peak of infections passed’

Boris Johnson is pushing for schools to reopen as soon as possible after being told by the chief medical officer that the “peak of infections has passed”, according to reports.

The Prime Minister has told ministers to prioritise children’s education as the government’s most immediate focus, with extra funding earmarked to help students falling behind.

Johnson announced last week that schools in England would remain closed until at least 8 March after being pushed back from an original reopening date of mid-February. 

On a visit to a vaccination centre in West Yorkshire yesterday, the Prime Minister said restoring children’s education was the “biggest challenge” the government currently faces.

“We want to repair any damage or any loss, any detriment to kids’ education as fast as possible,” he added.

It comes after Professor Chris Whitty is understood to have told the PM that the peak of infections had been passed last week, according to the Telegraph.

Latest figures showed the virus has fallen to pre-New Year levels in every region of England, with the UK yesterday recording 18,607 new infections — a 30 per cent drop compared to the previous Monday.

The number of new infections in London has halved over the past 12 days, from 63,949 on the 15 January to 31,822 on the 27 January.

Ministers have insisted that Britain is on track to achieve its target of vaccinating the four most vulnerable groups by 15 February, and all over-18s by May.

Almost 9m people have been given their first dose of the jab so far, with a further 487,756 vaccines administered yesterday alone.

The NHS will start sending vaccine invites to around 3m people aged between 65 and 69 from next week.

However, the discovery of the South African variant cases around the UK has cast fresh doubts on the timeline of the UK’s return to normality.

Door-to-door testing for the new strain will launch from today for residents in the London boroughs of Ealing, Haringey and Croydon amid government plans to “snuff out” the variant, which is understood to me around 70 per cent more transmissible than the original strain.

Around 80,000 people in other areas around the country including Guildford, Maidstone, Walsall, Preston, Mitcham, Woking and Broxbourne will also be part of the surge testing plans.

Read more: Tokyo 2020 Olympics will happen this year regardless of Covid-19, organisers insist

It comes after a “small number” of people were found last week to be infected with thenew mutation despite having no travel links. 

Gene sequencing has so far found 105 cases of the variant, with 11 infections unlinked to foreign travel, prompting concerns the South African variant is now spreading in the community.

Source: https://www.cityam.com/prime-minister-pushes-for-schools-to-reopen-as-peak-of-infections-passed/

lockdown Ipswich
Coronavirus, News

Ipswich’s Covid infection rate remains above the national average

Coronavirus cases have continued to fall in Suffolk and north Essex – but the infection rate in some districts remains higher than the national average.

Ipswich has the highest seven-day infection rate in Suffolk at 315.5 cases per 100,000 people in the week up to January 28 – though this represents a drop in cases from the week before.A Flourish chart

West Suffolk has the second-highest rate at 203.9, followed by East Suffolk’s rate of 184.4.

The rate in Mid Suffolk is 162.7, while Babergh’s infection rate is the lowest in the county at 148.9.

Infection rates remain comparatively high over the border in north Essex, with the seven-day rate recorded at 382.8 in Tendring in the same timeframe.

Source: https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/health/ipswich-covid-infection-rates-above-national-average-7299462

New coronavirus variants accelerate race to make sure vaccines keep up
Coronavirus, News

New coronavirus variants accelerate the race to make sure vaccines keep up

The scientific and pharmaceutical race to keep coronavirus vaccines ahead of new virus variants escalated Monday, even as a highly transmissible variant first detected in people who had recently travelled to Brazil was discovered in Minnesota.

Moderna, the maker of one of the two authorized coronavirus vaccines in the United States, announced it would develop and test a new vaccine tailored to block a similar mutation-riddled virus variant in case an updated shot becomes necessary.

The effort is a precautionary step. Evidence released Monday suggested that the Moderna vaccine will still work against two variants of concern that emerged in the United Kingdom and South Africa. The plan highlights that the scientists who responded with unprecedented speed and success to develop coronavirus vaccines are already moving to address new challenges. It also amplifies the urgency of getting as many people immunized with current vaccines as quickly as possible.

“We need to double down on public health measures. The less a virus spreads, the less it’s going to mutate,” said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “We need to get as many people vaccinated with the current vaccine that we have as we possibly can … and prepare for the potential eventuality that we might have to update this vaccine sometime in the future.”

The success of two remarkably effective coronavirus vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech in record time last year provided breathing room and hope, even as the pandemic surged. But the detection of variants in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil in recent weeks raised immediate concern.

Those variants, each with a different assemblage of mutations, spread much more easily. But some of the mutations in each variant drew special concern because they sit in the spiky proteins that dot the outside of the coronavirus and have been the key target for vaccines and therapeutics.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/01/25/covid-vaccine-virus-variant/