Rachel Schraer
Rachel Schraer
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Covid: Positive antibody tests doubled since autumn

Covid: Positive antibody tests doubled since autumn

About one in 10 people across the UK tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies in December, roughly double the October figure, data has shown.Estimates from the Office for National Statistics suggest between 8% of people in Northern Ireland and 12% of people in England showed signs of past Covid infection. In October, antibody positivity ranged from 2% to 7% around the UK.And 6,586 Covid deaths were .That brings the total registered so far close to 96,000.Nearly a quarter of deaths were people living in care homes - a disproportionate impact on a group of people which accounts for less than...

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Rachel Schraer
2d ago
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Covid-19: Brazil virus already in UK ‘not variant of concern’, scientist says

Covid-19: Brazil virus already in UK ‘not variant of concern’, scientist says

One of two coronavirus variants first detected in Brazil has been found in the UK, says a leading scientist advising the government.But the version discovered is not the "variant of concern", Prof Wendy Barclay clarified.The "variant of concern" from Brazil, detected in travellers to Japan, is thought to be more infectious. It led to travellers from South America and Portugal being banned from entering the UK on Friday. Prof Wendy Barclay, who is heading a newly-launched project to study the effects of emerging coronavirus mutations called the G2P-UK National Virology Consortium, said:...

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Rachel Schraer
5d ago
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Covid-19: Packed hospitals raised death risk by 20%

Covid-19: Packed hospitals raised death risk by 20%

Covid-19 patients in England's busiest intensive care units in 2020 were 20% more likely to die, .The increased risk was equivalent to gaining a decade in age. By the end of 2020, one in three hospital trusts in England was running at higher than 85% capacity. Eleven trusts were completely full on 30 December, and the total number of people in intensive care with Covid has continued to rise since then. The link between full ICUs and higher death rates was already known, but this study is the first to measure its effect during the pandemic. Tighter lockdown restrictions are needed to prevent...

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Rachel Schraer
Jan 14
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Long Covid: Virus 'like Russian roulette' for young and healthy

Long Covid: Virus 'like Russian roulette' for young and healthy

The risks of long Covid mean catching the virus is like "playing Russian Roulette" for the young and healthy, a leading immunologist has said.A panel of health workers suffering with the long-term effects of the virus described pain, fatigue and debilitating nerve damage. They warned against a "black and white" view of Covid as an illness that was either mild or deadly.An estimated 5-10% of patients remain ill two months after being infected. It's true that, for the majority of people, Covid is relatively short and mild. But a sizeable minority are left with symptoms from the annoying to...

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Rachel Schraer
Jan 12
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Covid: Eyesight risk warning from lockdown screen time

Covid: Eyesight risk warning from lockdown screen time

An eye health charity is recommending people learn the "20-20-20" rule to protect their sight, as lockdown has increased people's time using screens. Fight for Sight advises looking at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes you look at a screen.Out of 2,000 people, half used screens more since Covid struck and a third (38%) of those believed their eyesight had worsened, a survey suggested.Opticians remain open for those who need them, the charity said. The representative survey of 2,000 adults suggested one in five were less likely to get an eye test now than before the...

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Rachel Schraer
Jan 12
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Covid cases 'up almost a third in week after Christmas'

Covid cases 'up almost a third in week after Christmas'

Covid infections rose by almost a third between 26 December and 3 January, reaching 70,000 new cases a day .In a different piece of research, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated 1.2 million people in total had Covid over a similar time period.Daily infections are understood to have risen to about 150,000 since then. That would bring daily coronavirus cases above the first peak.The R or reproduction number for the virus is now , reflecting the sharp rise in cases in recent weeks.Separate suggests just under half (44%) of British adults formed a Christmas bubble.These temporary...

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Rachel Schraer
Jan 8
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Covid: Urgent cancer ops cancelled in parts of London

Covid: Urgent cancer ops cancelled in parts of London

Potentially life-saving cancer operations have been put on hold at a major London NHS trust because of the number of beds taken by Covid patients.King's College Hospital Trust has cancelled all "Priority 2" operations - those doctors judge need to be carried out within 28 days. Cancer Research UK said such cancellations did not appear to be widespread across the country.And surgery has not been stopped on the same scale as during the first wave. Rebecca Thomas, who has had her bowel cancer surgery at King's College Hospital "cancelled indefinitely", told the BBC she felt like she had been...

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Rachel Schraer
Jan 5
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Covid: Rapid tests 'useful public health tool'

Covid: Rapid tests 'useful public health tool'

Rapid tests for coronavirus are a "useful" public health tool despite only picking up half as much virus as tests done in a lab, a group of scientists has said.The 30-minute test has been criticised for how it measures up to the tests processed in the government's mega-labs. But the scientists cautioned against comparing them directly.The tests serve different purposes in different contexts, they explained.And rapid tests may be a better guide to who is currently infectious. During a testing pilot in Liverpool, the devices picked up two-thirds of the most infectious cases - all people who...

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Rachel Schraer
Dec 23
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Covid: Post-exposure antibody protection trialled

Covid: Post-exposure antibody protection trialled

Ten people have been given antibodies as a form of emergency protection after being exposed to coronavirus, in the first trial of its kind.The experimental jab is being offered to people who have been in close contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case within the past eight days. If it proves effective, it could protect vulnerable people who have not yet been, or cannot be, vaccinated.And it could help to contain outbreaks.The trial, run at University College London Hospitals (UCLH) NHS Trust, is looking at whether an injection of two different antibodies could prevent someone who has been...

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Rachel Schraer
Dec 25
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Covid: New variant found ‘due to hard work of UK scientists’

Covid: New variant found ‘due to hard work of UK scientists’

A new variant of the virus causing Covid-19, first spotted in Kent, could already be circulating - or have originated from - outside the UK.But it was spotted here because of the strength of the UK's surveillance system, scientists have said.The Covid-19 Genomics Consortium (Cog-UK) has tracked the genetic history of more than 150,000 samples of Sars-Cov-2 virus.That equates to about half the world's genetic sequencing of coronavirus.Prof Sharon Peacock, head of Cog-UK, said the UK's high level of genomic surveillance meant "if you're going to find something anywhere, you're going to find...

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Rachel Schraer
Dec 22
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Coronavirus: UK R number back above one

Coronavirus: UK R number back above one

The UK's R - or reproduction - number is now estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.2, meaning the coronavirus epidemic is growing once again. Covid-19 cases have risen to an estimated 660,000 infections across the UK between 6-12 December. In England, the rise was driven by sharp increases in London, plus rises in the South East and East Midlands.But the proportion of people testing positive in the North West and Yorkshire has continued to fall. Roughly one in every 95 people had the virus across Britain last week. The previous week's figures suggested about 560,000 people had the virus across...

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Rachel Schraer
Dec 18
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Coronavirus: Health checks recommended for ethnic minorities from age 25

Coronavirus: Health checks recommended for ethnic minorities from age 25

Health checks should be offered to people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds from the age of 25, a report has recommended.MPs examined the disproportionate impact of the Covid pandemic on people from black and Asian backgrounds.They said NHS checks, currently available to 40-70-year-olds in England, could pick up conditions which are linked to severe coronavirus.The role of inequalities in employment and housing was also emphasised. The report, produced by the Women and Equalities Committee, said the government should act to tackle these wider causes of poor health.The...

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Rachel Schraer
Dec 15
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Covid: UK isolation period shortened to 10 days

Covid: UK isolation period shortened to 10 days

Self-isolation for contacts of people with confirmed coronavirus will be shortened from 14 to 10 days across the UK from Monday. The change will also apply to people instructed to quarantine after returning from high-risk countries.And it means anyone who has been self-isolating for 10 days or more will be able to end their quarantine on Monday.The announcement comes as data shows Covid cases falling in most of England and Northern Ireland. But the that in the week to 5 December, there were increases in coronavirus case numbers in London and the east of England.Meanwhile, new data shows the...

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Rachel Schraer
Dec 11
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Covid: Greater Manchester stops care home tests over accuracy fears

Covid: Greater Manchester stops care home tests over accuracy fears

Greater Manchester councils have become the latest to pause rapid testing for care home visitors over concerns they fail to detect enough infections. Data suggests the rapid kits miss about a third of the most infectious cases picked up by conventional lab tests.Lateral flow tests are being used in England so residents can see family indoors for the first time since March.The government has described rapid testing as way of reducing, rather than eliminating, risk.The rapid lateral flow tests work by taking a nose and throat swab, shaking it in fluid until any viral particles come off, and...

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Rachel Schraer
Dec 4
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Covid: Adults with learning disabilities 'miss out'

Covid: Adults with learning disabilities 'miss out'

People with learning disabilities have been "at the back of the queue" during the coronavirus pandemic, a panel of MPs has been told.Those living in supported accommodation were left waiting weeks for guidance on testing and visits. MPs were also told long-term social factors were likely to be more important than biology when it came to ethnic divides in the virus's impact.The panel focused on what lessons could be learned. James O'Rourke's brother Tony lives alone in a one-bedroom flat in a block of supported-living accommodation.He said the family had been unable to visit him, even though...

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Rachel Schraer
Dec 1
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Covid infections in England fall by 30% over lockdown - React study

Covid infections in England fall by 30% over lockdown - React study

Coronavirus infections in England have fallen by about a third over lockdown, according to a major study.Some of the worst-hit areas saw the biggest improvements - but, despite this progress, cases remained relatively high across England. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the data showed the country could not "take our foot off the pedal just yet".The findings by Imperial College London were based on swabbing more than 100,000 people between 13-24 November.The is highly respected and gives us the most up-to-date picture of Covid-19 in the country.Its researchers estimated had fallen to...

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Rachel Schraer
Nov 30
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Covid: PPE price rises cost taxpayers £10bn, report says

Covid: PPE price rises cost taxpayers £10bn, report says

Personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpiles in England were inadequate for the Covid pandemic and price rises earlier this year cost taxpayers about £10bn, the spending watchdog has said.The there had been a particular shortage of gloves and aprons.The government said the NAO's report recognised that NHS providers had been able to get what they needed in time.Almost £12.5bn was spent on 32bn items of PPE between February and July 2020.During the same period in 2019, 1.3bn items were bought at a cost of £28.9m. Each item had been "substantially" more expensive in 2020, because of very...

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Rachel Schraer
Nov 25
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Covid: Jab for people who cannot be vaccinated trialled

Covid: Jab for people who cannot be vaccinated trialled

A possible alternative to a vaccine, for people without functioning immune systems, is entering its final stage of trials.The injection was developed using antibodies - made by the immune system to fight infection - produced by a single Covid patient in the US. It is hoped it could provide at least six months' protection for patients who cannot receive vaccines. Trials involving 1,000 UK participants begin in Manchester on Saturday.A further 4,000 people are involved in the trial globally, which is being organised by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. Participants will be given either an...

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Rachel Schraer
Nov 21
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Covid antibodies 'last at least six months'

Covid antibodies 'last at least six months'

Coronavirus antibodies last at least six months and offer protection against a second infection, a study of healthcare workers suggests.Staff at Oxford University Hospitals were regularly tested both for Covid-19 infections and for antibodies revealing a past infection.The more antibodies people had, the lower their chances of re-infection.A separate study found pre-existing immunity from other coronaviruses also protected against Covid.Infection consultant Dr Katie Jeffery described the Oxford findings as "encouraging news" ahead of forthcoming Covid vaccines.They indicated that having the...

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Rachel Schraer
Nov 20
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Covid: Children more likely to be infected in second wave

Covid: Children more likely to be infected in second wave

The number of school-age children with coronavirus has risen "significantly" in the second wave compared with the first, according to the government's scientific advisers.Children are now more likely than adults to be the person bringing a Covid infection into a household. But families with children are at no higher risk of severe illness.The National Education Union (NEU) said it was "troubled" by the number of children testing positive.The exact role children play in transmitting coronavirus has long been an open question. It's clear young people as a group are at very low risk of...

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Rachel Schraer
Nov 13
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Earwax test could reveal stress levels

Earwax test could reveal stress levels

Your earwax could be a window into your mental health, researchers have suggested.A study of 37 participants has shown a build-up of the stress hormone cortisol can be measured from the oily secretions around your ear canal.This could open the door to better ways of diagnosing psychiatric conditions including depression, according to lead author Dr Andres Herane-Vives.He has also developed a new type of swab which won't damage the eardrum. Cortisol is known as your "fight or flight" hormone. When it sends out alarm signals to the brain in response to stress, it can influence almost every...

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Rachel Schraer
Nov 4
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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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