Rachel Schraer
Rachel Schraer
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Covid patients 'less likely to die than in April'

Covid patients 'less likely to die than in April'

Coronavirus patients admitted to intensive care have a better chance of surviving now than they did in April, according to the dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine.But these gains levelled off over the summer, Dr Alison Pittard said. The proportion of patients admitted to critical care who die fell by almost a quarter from the peak and as much as half in hospitals overall.It is too soon to know the survival rate for patients admitted this autumn.A better understanding of the disease has allowed doctors to treat patients better, including using the steroid dexamethasone and less...

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Rachel Schraer
Oct 16
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Covid: NHS staff testing 'dismantled' in virus hotspots

Covid: NHS staff testing 'dismantled' in virus hotspots

A number of NHS trusts stood down in-house coronavirus testing for staff in the summer, ahead of a surge in virus cases, a health leaders' body says.This followed assurances from government about the capacity of the centralised system, it is understood.But it left some staff, including in virus hotspots, unable to access testing when the national system came under strain earlier in the autumn.The government has since said it has increased testing capacity.The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is also extending regular testing to some NHS staff without symptoms.At the start of the...

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Rachel Schraer
Oct 15
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Doctors fear vital NHS tests could run out 'in days'

Doctors fear vital NHS tests could run out 'in days'

Doctors are being told to "think carefully" before ordering any tests for their patients, amid shortages caused by a supply chain failure at a major diagnostics company. Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche said problems with a move to a new warehouse had led to a "very significant" drop in its processing capacity.A spokesman said Covid-19 tests would be prioritised.But the backlog could affect tests including for cancer and heart disease. One NHS trust in the south west has already advised its GPs to stop all non-urgent blood tests.A memo seen by the BBC, sent to clinicians within a large...

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Rachel Schraer
Oct 7
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'Loss of smell clearer sign of Covid than cough'

'Loss of smell clearer sign of Covid than cough'

Loss of a sense of smell may be a more reliable indicator of Covid-19 than cough or fever, research suggests. A study by University College London (UCL) of 590 people who lost their sense of smell or taste earlier in the year found 80% had coronavirus antibodies.Of those people with antibodies, 40% had no other symptoms. The research only looked at people with mild symptoms, however. Evidence that loss of smell and taste could be signs of coronavirus began to emerge from about April, and they were added to the official list of symptoms in mid-May.Current guidance states anyone who...

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Rachel Schraer
Oct 1
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Faith groups' singing studied for coronavirus risk

Faith groups' singing studied for coronavirus risk

Faith communities are being invited to take part in a study of the role singing plays in spreading coronavirus. Participants will be asked to sing at different volumes, and lasers will be used to detect and measure the droplets they produce.Researchers will then look into how many droplets are blocked by different types of face covering.The hope is this can inform guidance to allow worshippers to return to communal singing safely. The team will also collect information about how Covid-19 has affected the experiences of prayer for different faith groups.Prof Laurence Lovat, professor of...

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Rachel Schraer
Oct 3
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What do scientists think of the PM's Covid-19 plan?

What do scientists think of the PM's Covid-19 plan?

After dangling the possibility of a mini-lockdown to break coronavirus's chain of transmission, Boris Johnson has opted for a much softer strategy.The new Covid restrictions for England - which allow pubs and restaurants to remain open and households to continue mixing - have been met by scientists with responses ranging from praise to despair.Dame Anne Johnson, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London, said it was essential to act quickly to stop the growth in the epidemic. She is "pleased" to see the government acting now, and says the change in...

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Rachel Schraer
Sep 26
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Coronavirus testing system 'falling over'

Coronavirus testing system 'falling over'

People across England have told BBC News they are struggling to access coronavirus tests. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last week that no-one should have to travel more than 75 miles for a test, after the BBC revealed . But dozens have now reported being unable to book a swab at all.The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said testing capacity was targeted at the hardest-hit areas.A significant rise in demand for testing led the government to reduce the number of appointments available in areas of lower prevalence, to prioritise areas with outbreaks.This in turn led to people...

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Rachel Schraer
Sep 12
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Behind the rise in Covid cases in five charts

Behind the rise in Covid cases in five charts

Officials are alarmed by the latest rise in coronavirus cases. Newly diagnosed cases have topped 2,000 for the past three days. The average rate of new infections is now four times higher than it was in mid-July. The rise is real, but is it quite as sharp as it looks? Here are five things to consider.The confirmed cases chart is one we have all got used to. It shows the number of positive Covid-19 tests a day. In April, there were days when 6,000 new cases a day were recorded, so the level of infections in the past few days appears to be some way towards that peak.But at the start of the...

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Rachel Schraer
Sep 9
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Covid tests 'could be picking up dead virus'

Covid tests 'could be picking up dead virus'

The main test used to diagnose coronavirus is so sensitive it could be picking up fragments of dead virus from old infections, scientists say. Most people are infectious only for about a week, but could test positive weeks afterwards.Researchers say this could be leading to an over-estimate of the current scale of the pandemic.But some experts say it is uncertain how a reliable test can be produced that doesn't risk missing cases. Prof Carl Heneghan, one of the study's authors, said instead of giving a "yes/no" result based on whether any virus is detected, tests should have a cut-off point...

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Rachel Schraer
Sep 5
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