To Boost or not to boost ?

U.K. has started offering booster vaccines.

People aged 50 years and over, health and social care workers and younger people at risk are being offered a booster dose of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.

Firstly, it has to be pointed out that it is not uncommon to offer booster vaccines with various other viral illnesses.

Secondly, the Data from Israel does support a role for COVID booster vaccines.

On the other hand, some people feel the case for booster is overstated.

The decision by U.K. Govt seems to be a reasonable and pragmatic one considering that the rate of new COVID infections is still high.

References

Guardian Opinion
The message from Israel is clear: Covid booster shots should be standard
David O’Connor
Mon 27 Sep 2021 11.47 BST

NEJM. Protection of BNT162b2 Vaccine Booster against Covid-19 in Israel
Yinon M. Bar-On, M.Sc., Yair Goldberg, Ph.D., Micha Mandel, Ph.D., Omri Bodenheimer, M.Sc., et al.
September 15, 2021
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2114255

U.K. Govt Guidance
COVID-19 vaccination: a guide to booster vaccination
Published 16 September 2021

BMJ. Editorials
Covid-19 vaccination: evidence of waning immunity is overstated
BMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2320 (Published 23 September 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n2320

Daily Mail. UK’s daily Covid cases rise 5% in a week to 37,960 as hospital admissions and deaths continue to fall – amid fears FOURTH wave may have already began with cases starting to spill over from children to their parents. By Emily Craig Health Reporter For Mailonline and Luke Andrews Health Reporter For Mailonline
12:35, 27 Sep 2021 , updated 16:44, 27 Sep 2021

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

COVID-19: Disease versus Vaccine

Two contrasting news about COVID vaccine and disease recently.

First, a New Zealand woman dies after COVID vaccine. Death was attributed to heart inflammation caused by the vaccine.

Second, a 40 year vaccine-sceptic dies of COVID disease and sadly, leaves behind a pregnant wife.

How to interpret this information?

Remember everyday life is full of risks. Almost nothing is risk free. People balance risks and benefits everyday for most things in life. The same approach should be used for COVID vaccines.

It is understandable that some people are worried about side effects of vaccines. These concerns are REAL There is still lot unknown about long term efficacy and side effects of COVID vaccines.

If you are worried about vaccines and yet to have the vaccine, do note that the available evidence indicates that it is in your interests to have the vaccine.

If you are a vaccine sceptic, do NOT believe everything that is said on social media. Sometimes people put wrong information on social media. Sometimes people post information that is out of context.

What to do?

Ignore information that is not directly relevant to COVID vaccines.

Do NOT mix politics with Vaccines.

Beware that social media can make you paranoid about COVID vaccines.

Read official information. Available scientific evidence now indicates that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccine far outweighs the risks for vast majority of adults.

In particular, if you are above 50 years, do consider having the vaccine as a matter of urgency without further delay.

This is because in England, the Schools and Universities are going to open this month. Data from Scotland shows that COVID cases will spike after schools and Universities open.

Be selfish and do what is right for you and your family. Do not worry about “loss of face” on social media because you have changed your mind about vaccines.

Live to post another day !

Stay safe and be careful even after vaccination. No vaccine give you 100% protection.

References

BBC News. New Zealand woman dies after receiving Pfizer vaccine.

BBC News. Staffordshire Covid sceptic Marcus Birks dies in hospital.

Daily Mail. BBC presenter Lisa Shaw, 44, died due to incredibly rare blood clot complications caused by AstraZeneca covid vaccine three weeks after she had first jab, coroner rules. By Katie Weston and Joe Davies For Mailonline.
11:29, 26 Aug 2021 , updated 13:46, 26 Aug 2021

Daily Mail. Hillsong member, 34, who tweeted ‘got 99 problems but a vax ain’t one’ dies after month-long battle with COVID-19 and final ‘pray for me’ message. By Emily Crane For Dailymail.com
14:17, 23 Jul 2021 , updated 18:41, 23 Jul 2021

Daily Record. Mum-of-three dies after suffering rare reaction to AstraZeneca vaccine
The 47-year-old developed blood clots on her brain – causing a catastrophic stroke – and her fiance Mark Tomlin has now spoken of the devastating impact her death has had on him and five-year-old son Orson.

By Dan Martin Kaitlin Easton
17:46, 27 JUN 2021

MHRA. COVID-19 vaccines: updates for August 2021.

GOV. UK Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread . Last updated
27 August 2021

CDC. Vaccines for COVID-19.

BBC News. Covid in Scotland: Return of schools ‘fuelling’ record case numbers

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

Are mind numbing jobs associated with dementia ?

Yes.

It’s the principle of “use it or lose it”.

Body muscle strength can be lost quickly if it is not used. That’s why many people try to go to Gym and exercise regularly.

The same principle seems to apply to the brain.

People who are using their brain regularly with stimulating jobs are better off than people who are doing mind numbing jobs when it comes to dementia later in life.

So if your are not using your brain that much in your job, perhaps you need a “brain Gym” outside your work !

References

BMJ Research: Cognitive stimulation in the workplace, plasma proteins, and risk of dementia: three analyses of population cohort studies
BMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1804 (Published 19 August 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1804. https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n1804

BBC. Dull jobs really do numb the mind

Daily Mail. A boring job really CAN make you brain dead: Lack of stimulation ‘affects memory and concentration later in life’

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

When will the COVID Virus go away?

The bad news is that it looks like that the virus is NOT going away any time soon.

COVID Vaccination has been tremendously successful in preventing people from getting severe disease.

A couple of months back, it was hoped that “Herd immunity” (Wide spread protection) caused by Vaccination would make the virus go away.

But recent news from Massachusetts, USA indicates that Vaccination is NOT going to produce herd immunity and make the virus go away.

Lot of Vaccinated people do get infected and the only good news is that “the vaccines offer strong protection against severe disease”

China fights to contain a new outbreak in Wuhan now. There is a possibility of further outbreaks elsewhere as well. That can create favourable conditions for new variants to emerge .

So don’t be surprised if new variants emerge in winter and COVID is still the headline news early next year !

References

BMJ. Covid-19: Delta infections threaten herd immunity vaccine strategy
BMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1933 (Published 02 August 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1933

BBC news. 3Aug 2021. Wuhan: Chinese city to test entire population after virus resurfaces
By Yvette Tan

BBC. Covid: ‘Israel may be reaching herd immunity’
By Rachel Schraer
Health reporter
Published14 April

BMJ News
Covid-19: What new variants are emerging and how are they being investigated?
BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n158 (Published 18 January 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n158

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

Why COVID Vaccine boosters may be necessary during winter ?

Vaccine boosters may be offered to adults, particularly vulnerable adults, during this winter.

Why?

Two reasons.

1. The amount of protective antibodies produced by a person’s body after vaccination seem to fall after a few months. This may mean that that some protection is lost and that some vaccinated people may become more vulnerable to COVID infection during the winter wave. A booster would benefit.

2. The COVID vaccines may also have reduced protection against new variants. A booster using an updated vaccine may give better protection.

References

Guardian. Vaccines and immunisation.
UK scientists back Covid boosters as study finds post-jab falls in antibodies
Exclusive: Waning antibody levels are possible warning sign of lower protection in months after vaccination.
Ian Sample Science editor
@iansample
Thu 22 Jul 2021 12.45 BST

Guardian. Rates of double-jabbed people in hospital will grow – but that does not mean Covid vaccines are failing.
Ian Sample Science editor
@iansample
Thu 22 Jul 2021 16.34 BST

Daily Mail. Pfizer says booster shot of its COVID-19 vaccine extends protection and is being updated to target Indian ‘Delta’ variant. By Mary Kekatos Acting U.S. Health Editor For Dailymail.Com
22:23, 08 Jul 2021 , updated 23:32, 08 Jul 2021

Daily Mail. Are these the numbers scaring Boris? Study shows 29% of the 42 people who have died after catching the new strain had BOTH vaccinations as cases soar another 40%. By James Robinson for MailOnline
14:08, 13 Jun 2021 , updated 12:22, 14 Jun 2021

How long does covid-19 immunity last?
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1605 (Published 30 June 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1605

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

A new blood test for cancer

Cancer cells can float in a person’s blood. But finding them, in the past, used to be like “looking for a needle in a haystack”.

But new smart technology promises to detect these cancer cells easily and much early before a person develops symptoms. Detection of cancer cells at an early stage may be helpful for some patients.

A recently published study in the journal “Annals of Oncology” reports exciting results.

A Californian company called Grail has developed a blood test which seems to have a high degree of accuracy for detection of multiple cancers.

Times newspaper reports that “The NHS will begin a pilot scheme of the test with 140,000 people this year. If that is successful it will be used for millions of patients by 2025”

A word of caution though.

Just because something could be diagnosed early does not always mean that it is a good thing.

The most important thing is whether the early diagnosis can lead to better cure rates and a better quality of life.

If a test detects a cancer early but has no meaningful effect on quantity or quality of life, then it is not a good thing.

For example. Up to 80% of men have prostate cancer which can now be detected by a simple blood test called PSA. There is a good reason why we are NOT using the simple PSA test in every 80 year old.

Most 80 year old men die WITH prostate cancer rather than DUE to prostate cancer.

So why diagnose a cancer that is not causing symptoms if it is not going to make person live longer !

REFERENCES

Times. New blood test, created by Californian company Grail, detects cancers among over-50s. Kat Lay, Health Editor. Friday June 25 2021, 12.01am, The Times.

Clinical validation of a targeted methylation-based multi-cancer early detection test using an independent validation set. E A Klein et al. Ann Oncol. 2021.

Guardian. Blood test that finds 50 types of cancer is accurate enough to be rolled out.
Diagnostic tool being piloted by NHS England shows ‘impressive results’ in spotting tumours in early stages
Blood tests’ development could help the NHS further.
Nadeem Badshah and agency
Fri 25 Jun 2021 06.00 BST

Daily Mail. NHS trials ‘holy grail’ blood test that can spot 50 kinds of cancer: Ground-breaking check that can accurately detect two thirds of deadly cancers early in healthy people could save thousands of lives a year. By Victoria Allen Science Correspondent For The Daily Mail
00:00, 25 Jun 2021 , updated 10:04, 25 Jun 2021

NHS. Should I have a PSA test?

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Would COVID Vaccination become mandatory for all adults ?

It is unlikely to become mandatory in most western countries. It almost certainly would not become mandatory in USA, where Vaccination seems to become tangled with highly divisive politics.

But it is not an impossible scenario in European countries.

It is possible that more countries would follow the example of Turkmenistan, which has a policy of “no jab, no job”

Also, it does not have to a direct government policy.

If the governments change the law to allow businesses to demand vaccination proof, then indirectly vaccination becomes mandatory for most people.

Private Businesses and Travel industry may decide to make vaccination mandatory for their employees and customers so as to avoid further disruption to their business.

In countries, such as Israel and U.K., where there is already high uptake of vaccination, a change in Law may not be needed at present.

But if the present surge in infections continue, and variants emerge, Governments may change their approach.

References

BMJ. Covid-19: Turkmenistan becomes first country to make vaccination mandatory for all adults
BMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1766 (Published 12 July 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1766

Daily Mail. Get ready for Covid jab passports at busy pubs that don’t do enough to tackle infections, warns Boris Johnson. By Daniel Martin Policy Editor For The Daily Mail
23:54, 12 Jul 2021 , updated 01:47, 13 Jul 2021

Daily Mail. Pingdemic pandemonium! Chaos at airports and on the railways as key workers are ordered to go into self-isolation by controversial app. By David Churchill, Transport Correspondent For The Daily Mail
23:51, 12 Jul 2021 , updated 23:59, 12 Jul 2021

Daily Mail. It IS full steam ahead on freedom day: Boris Johnson puts faith in the public’s common sense on July 19 – even though some doctors and scientists want to delay it. By Glen Owen and Anna Mikhailova For The Mail On Sunday
22:00, 10 Jul 2021 , updated 01:52, 11 Jul 2021

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Would we be having a third dose of COVID-19 Vaccine as a Booster ?

Yes, it is a possibility that a third booster dose of COVID vaccine would be offered later this year.

Vaccination has been tremendously successful so far. But it is too early to declare victory against the virus.

Data from Israel indicates that the current Pfizer vaccine, although still highly active, offers less protection against delta variant.

In June, the vaccine was found to be just 64 percent effective in preventing coronavirus infection whereas during May, when the delta strain was less prevalent, the vaccine was 94.3% effective.

So if more variants emerge, then vaccine boosters may be particularly needed for the vulnerable people.

References

Ministry data said to show Pfizer shot blocks majority of serious Delta cases. Figures reportedly indicate vaccine less effective against contagion from variant, but hospitalizations remain low; officials said weighing use of Moderna for 2nd dose for over 18s. By AMY SPIRO
Today, 10:23 am

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Should you elect to wear masks when restrictions are lifted ?

U.K. is on course to lift almost all COVID restrictions in mid July 2021.

A U.K. minister has said that “wearing masks” would become a personal choice.

Just because there is a choice, it does not mean it is always good for you.

Government decisions are often made not only with scientific facts but also with economic and political considerations. Compulsory masks may not be liked by a section of society and Government has to take that into account in a democratic society.

Personally electing to wear masks in crowded public places could be sensible for the following reasons.

– There is some debate about the extent of protection a person gets wearing masks following the Danish mask study. But no robust scientific study has shown significant harm from wearing masks. So it is better to be safe and wear masks even if the extent of protection is debatable.

Infections are rising now and luckily, vaccines seem to have protected most people from getting severe COVID. But Vaccines are not 100% effective. Moreover, when infection rates go up further and society opens up more, there is a risk of variants emerging that may be partially vaccine resistant. So wearing masks may provide some protection.

– Not all people get poorly when they get COVID. But these people with COVID can still pass infection to other vulnerable family members and people who don’t have the protection from vaccines. So wearing a mask can stop people with mild COVID from spreading the infection to others.

– Some people do not want to wear masks because they think they are not at risk of death or hospitalisation. Remember, COVID related problems affect different people in different ways. Lot of people do recover from COVID without major problems. But some people do develop long-term symptoms from COVID. So it is better to wear masks for COVID protection.

References

1. BBC news. Covid-19: Masks will become personal choice, says Robert Jenrick
By Emma Harrison & Kathryn Snowdon
BBC News

2. Bloomberg. Face Masks in England to Become ‘Matter of Personal Choice’
By Andrew Atkinson
4 July 2021, 09:47 BST
Updated on 4 July 2021, 11:14 BST

3. Daily Mail. SAJID JAVID: The economic arguments for opening up Britain are well known. But, for me, the health case is equally compelling. By Sajid Javid For The Mail On Sunday 22:02, 03 Jul 2021 , updated 23:13, 03 Jul 2021

4. BBC news. Covid-19 in the UK: How many coronavirus cases are there in my area?
By The Visual and Data Journalism Team
BBC News

5. Daily Mail. Face masks do NOT protect the wearer from coronavirus, but will stop them from infecting other people, Danish study finds. By Mary Kekatos Senior Health Reporter For Dailymail.com and Reuters
15:26, 18 Nov 2020 , updated 18:02, 20 Nov 2020

6. BMJ. Danish mask study: masks, media, fact checkers, and the interpretation of scientific evidence. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4919 (Published 23 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4919

7. NICE. COVID-19 rapid guideline: managing the long-term effects of COVID-19
NICE guideline [NG188] Published: 18 December 2020

8. Coronavirus: When can we stop wearing face masks or coverings?
By Michelle Roberts
Health editor, BBC News online

9. Science. Implications of defective immune responses in SARS-CoV-2 vaccinated organ transplant recipients. Peter S. Heeger, Christian P. Larsen, Dorry L. Segev

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Do face masks prevent COVID illness ?

Yes, good masks may help to reduce infections that are spread by airborne particles.

But not all masks are the same.

Cloth masks were promoted during 2020 when the proper surgical masks were in short supply . The effectiveness of cloth masks are not well studied and they are of varying quality depending who made them and how well they were made.

Properly manufactured surgical masks are better than home made cloth masks. But how much protection they can offer is a matter of scientific debate. Surgical masks have been found to give some protection against other respiratory viruses in past. But a recent Danish study found no significant benefit against COVID among the general public.

The high quality FFP3 masks which filter most of the inhaled air is superior to normal surgical masks. A recent study from Cambridge found that Heath care workers who used FFP3 masks had better protection from COVID compared to normal surgical masks in the Hospital.

Overall, clean, well manufactured masks are likely to of some benefit to the public rather than wearing no masks at all. In the hospital setting, FFP3 masks seem to provide superior protection to Health care staff working with COVID patients.

And most importantly people have to understand that masks are not to be used alone. Masks got to be used along with protective measures such as social distancing and Hand-washing.

References

CLOTH MASKS

BMJ. Covid-19: What is the evidence for cloth masks? BMJ 2020; 369 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1422 (Published 07 April 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m1422

DANISH STUDY- SURGICAL MASKS

Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers : A Randomized Controlled Trial
Henning Bundgaard et al. Ann Intern Med. 2021 Mar.

BMJ. Danish mask study: masks, media, fact checkers, and the interpretation of scientific evidence. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4919 (Published 23 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4919

BMJ. The curious case of the Danish mask study
BMJ 2020; 371
doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4586 (Published 26 November 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4586

Daily Mail. Face masks do NOT protect the wearer from coronavirus, but will stop them from infecting other people, Danish study finds. By Mary Kekatos Senior Health Reporter For Dailymail.com and Reuters
15:26, 18 Nov 2020 , updated 18:02, 20 Nov 2020

Spectator (magazine) https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/do-masks-stop-the-spread-of-covid-19-

Full fact.org. Danish study on mask efficacy only tells us half the story. 24 NOVEMBER 2020

Forbes. Lead Researcher Behind Controversial Danish Study Says You Should Still Wear A Mask
Leah Rosenbaum. Forbes Staff 18 Nov 2020. Critics of mask-wearing policies used a Danishstudy on mask-wearing to bolster their claims such policies are ineffective, but scientists, including those involved with the study, disagree.

JAMA Insights
February 10, 2021
Effectiveness of Mask Wearing to Control Community Spread of SARS-CoV-2
John T. Brooks, MD1; Jay C. Butler, MD1
Author Affiliations
JAMA. 2021;325(10):998-999. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.1505

CAMBRIDGE REPORT ON HIGH QUALITY MASKS

BMJ. Covid-19: Upgrading to FFP3 respirators cuts infection risk, research finds
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1663 (Published 29 June 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1663. https://www.bmj.com/content/373/bmj.n1663

BBC news. Covid: Masks upgrade cuts infection risk, research finds
By David Shukman
Science editor

Guardian. Cambridge hospital’s mask upgrade appears to eliminate Covid risk to staff
Hospital infection study shows use of FFP3 respirators at Addenbrooke’s ‘may have cut ward-based infection to zero’
Nicola Davis and Denis Campbell
Tue 29 Jun 2021 10.49 BST

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Should we continue to wear masks and be cautious in public places after July 19th ?

Yes, we should be cautious after the freedom day on July 19th and this is for the following reasons.

1. Vaccines are highly effective but they are NOT 100% effective.

2. Two doses are needed for full protection. Even though, more than two third of adults have had atleast one vaccine, only about half the U.K. population had double vaccination so far.

3. Vaccine Protection against New COVID variants may NOT be as good as it is now. For instance , vaccines are slightly less effective against the delta variant particularly after first dose.

4. Vaccine protection may decrease over time and Vaccines may not give the same level of protection as months pass by.

4. Being cautious now, may helps us to avoid lockdowns during Autumn and would help to save Christmas !

Of course, some people may feel strongly against any compulsory restrictions and hence it should not be made compulsory.

People, who are comfortable at being cautious, can try to wear masks and practice as much social distancing as possible in public places.

References

BBC News. Covid-19: End of England’s Covid rules still set for 19 July
By Hazel Shearing
BBC News

Daily Mail. Freedom Day ‘will see virtually ALL Covid curbs axed’: Ministers prepare full unlocking on July 19 with masks, social distancing and work from home advice dropped to save shattered businesses – but date will NOT be brought forward. By James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline
08:29, 23 Jun 2021 , updated 14:52, 23 Jun 2021

Daily Mail. Now Jacob Rees-Mogg joins the calls to DITCH masks as soon as restrictions are lifted: Three Cabinet members break ranks to urge PM to ditch face coverings amid calls for clarity. By Jack Maidment, Deputy Political Editor For Mailonline and James Tapsfield Political Editor For Mailonline
17:40, 24 Jun 2021 , updated 19:56, 24 Jun 2021

Guardian. Vaccines are not magic bullets – we’ll still have to take precautions
Zania Stamataki
To make the most of England’s vaccination rollout we may need to keep wearing masks even after restrictions are lifted
Dr Zania Sta. Tue 22 Jun 2021 06.00 BST

Public Health England. Press release
Vaccines highly effective against hospitalisation from Delta variant
New analysis by PHE shows for the first time that 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against hospitalisation from the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant. Published 14 June 2021

Public Health England (page 39).
Investigation of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern: technical briefings
Technical briefing documents on novel SARS-CoV-2 variants.
Last updated
25 June 2021

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Immune responses and immunity to SARS-CoV-2.
(last update 18 May 2021)

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Was the Kent variant more dangerous than the original Wuhan variant ?

Yes, the Kent variant who got a foothold in December was far more dangerous.

A recent study in BMJ reports that “the risk of hospital admission is higher” for people infected with the Kent variant compared with the original wild-type Wuhan variant of Coronavirus.

This higher severity seems to be specific to adults older than 30 years.

The current variant spreading in U.K. (delta a.k.a Indian variant) may not cause widespread havoc, like the Kent variant, due to the lock down and wide spread vaccination.

One has to hope that we do not get any variants that breaks the protective shield of COVID vaccines.

BMJ Risk of hospital admission for patients with SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7: cohort analysis
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1412 (Published 15 June 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1412

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Have People died after COVID-19 vaccines ?

Yes, people have died after having COVID-19 vaccines.

Recently, a BBC Radio Newcastle presenter, Lisa Shaw was reported to have died after the Astra Zeneca COVID vaccine. Her family is blaming the COVID vaccine for causing clots and ultimately her death.

In India, a Popular Tamil actor and comedian died within 48 hours of receiving a COVID vaccine. His vaccination was broadcast live on TV to encourage public uptake of vaccination but his unfortunate death after vaccination probably ended up causing vaccine hesitancy in some people.

A news article in BMJ reports that the “Pfizer-covid-19 vaccine is “likely” to have been responsible for at least 10 deaths of frail elderly people in nursing homes in Norway”.

But, the most important thing to remember is that deaths are rare after COVID-19 vaccines.

Yes, there are true distressing accounts of vaccine side effects. But what you do not hear is the benefit most people have from vaccines.

Millions of people received vaccines so far with vast majority having no major side effects.

Consider this for context. Think about plane accidents. Millions of people travel by plane without any problems. If People fly safely and reach their destination, it is not headline news. People do not go around saying that they have traveled safely by plane and that they are alive !

But a aeroplane accident which happens rarely is front page news. It would be all over the 24 hour TV news channels across the world. Plane accidents are utterly and unimaginably devastating for those individuals and families involved. But the rare plane accidents do not make most other people avoid flying. The accidents do not mean that no one should travel by plane. The travel by planes has far more benefits than risks for majority of population.

Same with COVID vaccines. Serous Side effects are headline news even if they are very uncommon and rare. The available data indicate benefits are much greater than risks.

So think carefully before you refuse a vaccine.

References

Guardian. Lisa Shaw death: BBC presenter had blood clots after AstraZeneca jab, family says
(Radio Newcastle broadcaster had severe headaches a week after vaccine and fell seriously ill days later, relatives say).
Lisa Shaw
Lucy Campbell
Thu 27 May 2021 18.36 BST

BMJ. News. Covid-19: Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is “likely” responsible for deaths of some elderly patients, Norwegian review finds
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1372 (Published 27 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1372

BMJ. Research. Effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines on covid-19 related symptoms, hospital admissions, and mortality in older adults in England: test negative case-control study
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1088 (Published 13 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1088

BMJ. News. Covid-19: Risk of cerebral blood clots from disease is 10 times that from vaccination, study finds
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1005 (Published 16 April 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1005

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

How effective are the COVID vaccines against the new Indian variant?

Everyone in U.K. hoped that we have turned the corner with this pandemic after the recent spike in infection from the Kent Variant,

But now comes the Variant from India. (the scientific name is B1.617.2 variant of concern).

The Indian variant appears to be more transmissible but no evidence yet that the Indian variant is inherently more deadly than the Kent variant.

Naturally, we are in a better place now than last year because of the vaccination.

But there is some evidence that spontaneous changes (mutations) in the B.1.617.2 variant virus may make it partially resistant to antibodies produced by vaccines.

So how effective are the current vaccines against this Variant from India?

Lab testing shows that the current vaccines can be still effective against the Indian variant but may not be highly effective as it is against the Kent/U.K. variant.

PHE data shows that after two doses, Pfizer vaccine is 88% effective against Indian variant compared to 93% effectiveness against the Kent strain.

After two doses, AstraZeneca jab is 60% effective against Indian variant compared to 66% effectiveness against the Kent variant.

But after the first dose, both vaccines were only 33% effective against Indian variant compared to around 50% efficacy against the Kent strain.

The vaccine protection is better with two doses of vaccine and that’s why the Govt is speeding up second vaccine dose in affected areas.

Fingers crossed, hope this strategy works !

References

BMJ. Covid-19: Caution urged while lockdown eases in England because of vaccine success
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1203 (Published 11 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1203

BMJ News Covid-19: UK cases of variant from India rise by 160% in a week
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1315 (Published 21 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1315

U.K. Govt. Most vulnerable offered second dose of COVID-19 vaccine earlier to help protect against variants. From: Department of Health and Social Care. Published 14 May 2021

Telegraph: Two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine provide over 80 per cent protection against Indian variant, PHE study finds.

Guardian. India Covid variant: is it a threat to the UK’s reopening plans?
Ian Sample Science editor
@iansample
Fri 14 May 2021 11.19 BST

Daily Mail. UK is in a ‘very good position’ against Covid variants as Pfizer says there is NO proof current jab needs updating to fight mutant strains. By Luke Andrews Health Reporter For Mailonline
16:30, 10 May 2021 , updated 18:12, 10 May 2021

Daily Mail. How deadly is India’s Covid variant and is it REALLY behind explosion of cases? Scientists say ‘perfect storm’ fuelled nation’s crisis and mutant strain just had a ‘head-start’ – as study shows vaccines DO work against it. By Connor Boyd Assistant Health Editor For Mailonline
16:26, 27 Apr 2021 , updated 08:17, 28 Apr 2021

Collier, DA et al. SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 sensitivity to mRNA vaccine-elicited antibodies. Nature; 11 March 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03412-7

BBC. What is the India Covid variant and will vaccines work?
Soutik Biswas
India correspondent

BBC. Covid: Increasing confidence jabs work against Indian variant
By Doug Faulkner
BBC News

ONS. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK: 21 May 2021 (“early signs of a potential increase in the week ending 15 May 2021”)

BBC. Covid: Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs effective against Indian variant – study
By Dulcie Lee
BBC News

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

How effective is a single dose of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine?

UK government wanted as many people have “some” degree of protection against the COVID-19 rather a only few people having “full” protection against COVID-19.

So the U.K. government delayed the second dose of Covid vaccine for 12 weeks.

Some people have now been offered two vaccines but still there are many people who were yet to have the second dose. They would be wondering how effective a single dose of the vaccine is. How much protection they have now.

A recent paper published in BMJ provides very encouraging news .

With Pfizer vaccine, vaccine effectiveness reached 61% after 4 to 5 weeks of the first dose.

With AstraZeneca vaccine, vaccine effectiveness reached 73% after 5 weeks of first dose.

This data is very reassuring

But the data also stresses the importance of having the second dose for further protection.

Please do make a note that (a) vaccines do take a few weeks to be become effective after the first dose (b) no vaccine is 100% effective and (c) we also do not know how long this protection from vaccine will last.

BMJ. Effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines on covid-19 related symptoms, hospital admissions, and mortality in older adults in England: test negative case-control study
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1088 (Published 13 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1088

BMJ. Public health impact of delaying second dose of BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273 covid-19 vaccine: simulation agent based modeling study
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1087 (Published 12 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1087

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Delaying second vaccine dose leaves cancer patients vulnerable to coronavirus

How effective is a single dose of Pfizer Vaccine in cancer patients?

Single dose is not very effective in cancer patients.

An UK study has now been peer reviewed and published in the esteemed Lancet oncology journal. The study showed inadequate protection after first dose.

More than half of the cancer patients receiving a single dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine have been left with little protection against the virus.

Two doses are critical and the second booster ideally need to be given on time at 21days.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Here we go again – another new variant that can derail the plans to return to normality in U.K.

The UK is coming out of lockdown and the infection rates, hospital admissions and deaths are reassuringly low.

The vaccination rates are rapidly going up and understandably many people are hoping for some sort of normality very soon.

But a new variant has been detected across the country. The scientists are worried about this new variant of coronavirus- called India variant. This variant can derail government plans in UK.

The current vaccines seem to offer somewhat less protection against this new variant . If this variant takes a strong foothold in UK , then we have to wait a bit longer for normality.

References:

Guardian: India Covid variant: is it a threat to the UK’s reopening plans?
Ian Sample Science editor
@iansample
Thu 13 May 2021 15.35 BST

BBC. Covid: Three cases of Indian variant found in Leicester
Published 28 April.

BBC. Covid: Targeted testing in Nottingham after Indian variant rise. 11 May.

BBC. Covid: Boris Johnson ‘anxious’ about Indian variant
By Hazel Shearing & Joseph Lee
BBC News. 13 May.

BBC. Covid vaccine: How many people in the UK have been vaccinated so far?
By The Visual and Data Journalism Team
BBC News

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Can someone die due to COVID-19 infection even after having the full course of protective vaccination?

Yes, rarely it can happen.

COVID vaccines are very highly effective in preventing serious infections that would result in hospitalisation. Even a single dose of the vaccine has very good efficacy.

But vaccines are not 100% effective.

So until the pandemic is under full control, older adults, particularly those over 60 years, should be cautious even after full vaccination.

It also has to be said that the risk is dramatically small after full vaccination. Only a tiny minority of people get serious COVID-19 infection after full vaccination.

In USA, about 5800 “breakthrough” COVID-19 infections has been reported so far among the roughly 77 million people who had been fully vaccinated. That’s less than 0.008% cases.

A much more smaller minority among this minority group had serious infections. Among the 5800 cases, 396 patients were admitted to hospital and 74 patients died from COVID-19. That’s less than 0.0001% deaths.

So unless new viral mutations dramatically reduce vaccine efficacy, it looks very promising.

References:

1. BMJ News. Covid-19: Infections fell by 65% after first dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine, data show BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1068 (Published 23 April 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1068

2. BMJ news. Covid-19: US reports low rate of new infections in people already vaccinated
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1000 (Published 16 April 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1000

3. Sun News. DOUBLE TROUBLE ‘Concerning’ Indian Covid variant now in UK has two ‘escape mutations’ that could dodge antibodies
Vanessa Chalmers, Digital Health Reporter
12:22, 16 Apr 2021Updated: 12:25, 16 Apr 2021

4. BBC news. Coronavirus: ‘Double mutant’ Covid variant found in India. Published 25 March

5. Daily Mail. Could the Indian ‘double mutant’ coronavirus derail Britain’s roadmap out of lockdown? Experts warn variant could ‘scupper our escape plan’ and urge Boris to put country on red list. By James Robinson for MailOnline
01:49, 17 Apr 2021 , updated 11:08, 17 Apr 2021

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

COVID-19 infection affects brain and mental health

A recent paper published in Lancet Psychiatry reports that at least 1 in 3 patients , who have recovered from severe COVID, have substantial neurological and psychiatric problems during the next six months .

This report is very worrying .

If study findings are confirmed by other studies, this would be yet another substantial reason to consider getting the vaccine as soon as it is offered.

References

Guardian. One in three survivors of severe Covid diagnosed with mental health condition
Study finds 34% developed psychiatric or neurological conditions after six months
.
Sarah Marsh
@sloumarsh
Wed 7 Apr 2021 06.00 BST

BMJ. Covid-19: One in three has neurological or psychiatric condition diagnosed after covid infection, study finds
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n908 (Published 07 April 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n908

Taquet M, Geddes JR, Husain M, Luciano S, Harrison PJ. 6-month neurological and psychiatric outcomes in 236379 survivors of COVID-19: a retrospective cohort study using electronic health records. Lancet Psychiatry 2021 (published online 6 Apr). doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(21)00084-5. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(21)00084-5/fulltext.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe in cancer patients having immunotherapy?

Yes, Pfizer vaccine is safe.

A recent study published in the esteemed Lancet Oncology Journal shows that the vaccine is well tolerated in patients having immunotherapy.

Unlike cancer chemotherapy, immunotherapy works differently. It works by releasing the in-built brakes holding down the immune system thereby boosting the body’s immune system against cancer.

There has been some theoretical concerns whether this might lead to COVID vaccine causing more side effects.

Reassuringly, the Vaccine side effects were NO different from those seen in people not having immunotherapy. The Vaccine also did NOT increase the immunotherapy side effects.

Immunotherapy is increasingly used widely in treatment of cancer are often better tolerated than chemotherapy.

So the study is good news for tens of thousands of patients on immunotherapy and any cancer patient who has hesitated before, should seriously consider having the vaccine now

COVID infection could be very nasty in cancer patients and all evidence points to the benefits of vaccine far outweighing any risks from the Vaccine.

References

Short-term safety of the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in patients with cancer treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors
The Lancet Oncology. Published: April 1, 2021
Barliz Waissengrin et al. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(21)00155-8

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

COVID pandemic: finally, the end is in sight !

The latest good news about Oxford vaccine is hugely encouraging and denotes the end of pandemic is in sight.

The latest positive results show that even a single dose of the vaccine is highly effective.

The vaccine offered 76% effective protection from a single dose for three months”. This validates the UK decision to prioritise first dose of the vaccine and delay the second dose of booster vaccine.

Most importantly the Vaccine was shown to reduce spread of the virus causing the COVID.

It is the first time a vaccine has been shown to reduce transmission of the virus

If all the vaccines now in use continue to be safe and highly effective in real world population, then it is only a matter of months before the pandemic comes to an end and normal life returns in 2021 !

A separate study also reports very positive news. The study reports that 9 out of 10 people who had an actual COVID infection will have protective antibodies for at least six months.

Vaccines work by tricking the body into thinking that there is a real infection and hence the body produces antibodies. So this study indirectly indicates the protection from vaccines will also last longer and yet another reason to be hopeful about the end of pandemic in 2021.

BBC news. Covid-19: Study showing Oxford vaccine slows virus spread ‘superb’ – Hancock.

BBC news: Covid: Antibodies last at least six months in most.
By Rachel Schraer
BBC Health reporter

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Where can I find official detailed information about the three COVID vaccines (Pfizer, Astra Zeneca and Moderna)

You might have read information about the COVID vaccines on various news outlets and social media messages.

If you want complete summary information about vaccines approved by the regulatory authorities, click on the links below.

Two types of information leaflets accompany all licensed medicines.
– One is meant for health professionals and has lot of clinical information. (called SPC)
– The other is meant for patients and public and provides a summary of facts using lay terms.(called PIL).

The leaflets provide information about all common side effects observed in the trials.

Oxford Astra Zeneca: Professionals Version .

Oxford Astra Zeneca: Patient Version

Pfizer. Professionals Version

Pfizer. Patient Version

Moderna. Professionals Version

Moderna. Patient Version

FDA USA: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine prescribing informationexternal

FDA USA: Moderna COVID-19 vaccine prescribing informationexternal

The above links reproduced below with longer titles and date of publication.

Please note when new significant information comes to light, the company and regulatory authorities are likely to update the information leaflets.

Oxford Vaccine : Information for Healthcare Professionals on COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca
Updated 7 January 2021.

Oxford Vaccine: MHRA. Information for UK recipients on COVID 19 Vaccine AstraZeneca
Updated 7 January 2021.

Pfizer Vaccine. MHRA. Information for Healthcare Professionals on Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
Updated 31 December 2020

Pfizer Vaccine. MHRA. Information for UK recipients on Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
Updated 31 December 2020

Moderna. MHRA. Information for Healthcare Professionals on COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna
Updated 8 January 2021.

Moderna. MHRA. Information for UK recipients on COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna
Updated 8 January 2021.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

A third Vaccine approved for protection against COVID-19 Coronavirus infection

Pfizer Vaccine and Astra Zeneca/Oxford Vaccine were approved last month by the UK regulatory authorities.

Now the regulatory authorities have approved a third vaccine. The third vaccine from Moderna along with two other vaccines should help to bring the pandemic to an end.

The Moderna vaccine is a new technology like the Pfizer Vaccine. (based on mRNA technology).

Like the two vaccines, the short term data for Moderna vaccine is very encouraging.

Over long term, one hopes that the protective effect of all the three vaccines is long lasting and that they remain effective against any new variants of coronavirus that might emerge in the coming months.

Overall, there is certainly ‘light at end of the tunnel’ and the world can emerge out of this horrific pandemic in a short period.

BBC. Moderna becomes third Covid vaccine approved in the UK
By Michelle Roberts
Health editor, BBC News online

BBC.Covid-19: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine judged safe for use in UK
By Michelle Roberts
Health editor, BBC News online
Published2 December 2020

BBC. Covid-19: Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine approved for use in UK
By James Gallagher and Nick Triggle
BBC News
Published30 December 2020

MHRA. Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine approved.

MHRA. Moderna vaccine becomes third COVID-19 vaccine approved by UK regulator.

MHRA. UK medicines regulator gives approval for first UK COVID-19 vaccine.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

New drug treatments for COVID-19

More good news in fight against COVID-19 pandemic !

Steroids were previously proven to be effective against severe Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. The steroids are believed to work by dampening the inflammation caused by coronavirus.

Dexamethasone and Prednisolone are the commonly used steroids.

Now two other drugs have been reported to work in COVID-19 infection. (yet to be published).

Both the anti-inflammatory drugs are not entirely new drugs as they are already routinely used for treatment of various arthritis.

The BBC reports: “The anti-inflammatory medications, given via a drip, save an extra life for every 12 treated, say researchers who have carried out a trial in NHS intensive care units”.

The two drugs “tocilizumab and sarilumab” may become available for treatment of severe COVID-19 shortly.

All these additional drug treatments are needed ONLY for severe Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. Mild COVID-19 infections do NOT need these drug treatments.

References . BBC news. Two more life-saving Covid drugs discovered. By Michelle Roberts. Health editor, BBC News online. Published 7 Jan 2021.

BBC news. Coronavirus: Dexamethasone proves first life-saving drug. By Michelle Roberts. Health editor, BBC News online. Published 16 June 2020

BBC News. Tocilizumab: Arthritis drug may treat severe Covid. By James Gallagher. Health and science correspondent. Published 19 November 2020

BMJ. Dexamethasone in management of covid -19. BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2648 (Published 03 July 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m2648

BMJ. Rapid Recommendations. A living WHO guideline on drugs for covid-19. BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3379 (Published 04 September 2020). Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3379

BMJ. Covid-19: Arthritis drugs improve survival in intensive care patients, shows study
BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n61 (Published 08 January 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n61

eMC. Sarilumab is a human monoclonal antibody selective for the interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor, produced in Chinese Hamster Ovary cells by recombinant DNA technology. (Sarilumab, administered as a subcutaneous injection is routinely used for treatment of arthritis and is not an entirely new drug).

eMC. Tocilizumab is a recombinant humanized, anti-human monoclonal antibody of the immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) sub-class directed against soluble and membrane-bound interleukin 6 receptors. (Tocilizumab, as a intravenous or subcutaneous formulation, is routinely used for treatment of various arthritis and is also not an entirely new drug).

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Can a Vegan diet help weight loss?

Yes, Vegan diet can help weight loss.

Lot of diets promoted by Magazines, Social Media Influencers and Celebrities do not have strong scientific evidence in favour of them.

A scientifically sound trial published by the medical journal JAMA ( Journal of American Medical Association) recently, found the Vegan Diet helped weight loss and promoted Good metabolism.

The trial involving 244 participants found that over 16 weeks, body weight decreased on average by 5.9 kg in those having a Vegan Diet. That’s very impressive!

References: Effect of a Low-Fat Vegan Diet on Body Weight, Insulin Sensitivity, Postprandial Metabolism, and Intramyocellular and Hepatocellular Lipid Levels in Overweight Adults: A Randomized Clinical Trial
Hana Kahleova et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2020.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.
The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

New oral medication approved for Prostate Cancer

Advanced Prostate cancer can be successfully controlled for many years by hormone therapy.

Until now, the hormone therapy, which is widely used widely used, involved either hormone injections or hormone implants.

The FDA in USA has recently approved a new novel oral medication for prostate cancer. It acts quickly and has been proven to be highly active. It is taken as a daily oral medication. It is reasonably well tolerated.

It is not known when the medication would be approved in UK and Europe.

References

(1) NEJM. Oral Relugolix for Androgen-Deprivation Therapy in Advanced Prostate Cancer

(2) FDA approval. FDA approves relugolix for advanced prostate cancer.

(3) Information about Relugolix. FDA: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. and FULL PRESCRIBING INFORMATION.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Is the new vaccine against COVID-19 causing CoronaVirus safe and effective ?

Yes, the available short term data indicates the vaccine is safe and effective in vast majority of people.

The big unknown is the long term efficacy and side effects.

Normally medicine progresses slowly and carefully like a big train turning slowly on sharp uphill bend .

But due to pandemic emergency, the vaccines are being introduced to the the general public more more earlier than it would have done, well before availability of more mature data.

Long term, there are some uncertainties. For instance, there is a possibility of loss of efficacy if vaccine effect is not long lasting. But there is no evidence to suggest at present this would happen. As regards long term side effects, once more data is collected and more patients are followed up after vaccination, there will more mature data on side effects.

The available data suggests that very high groups who are a high risk of death from COVID , have good odds of benefitting from vaccine.

The trial data published so far, UK Medicine regulator conclusions , Pfizer data sheet and UK govt Guidelines has been positive so far.

It may be that low risk groups such as people in 20s, who have less chance of dying from COVID, may opt for more long term data before having the vaccination.

References:

NHS Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine

MHRA Regulatory approval of Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19

Information for UK recipients on Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Updated 16 December 2020.

Information for Healthcare Professionals on Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Updated 16 December 2020.

Public Health England. COVID-19 vaccination programme. Information for healthcare practitioners. Published December 2020. Version 2.1

The Green book chapter 14a COVID-19-SARS-Cov-2.

PHE. Confirmation of guidance to vaccination centres on managing allergic reactions following COVID-19 vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. 9/12/2020.

British Society for Rheumatology. Guidance for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.


The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Is the new variant of Coronavirus more dangerous?

Yes and No

The new mutant is more dangerous because it is more easily transmissible from person to person. The new variant is now spreading very rapidly in London and South East of England.

But, so far, the new variant has NOT been found to be more deadly than the original version. The new variant does NOT seem to have substantially increased the risk of hospitalisation and death anymore than the original version of coronavirus.

Emergence of this new mutant (called variant VUI-202012/01 fall) is a certainly a worrying development in this pandemic.

The mutations has made the new strain 70 per cent more transmissible but scientists do not expect these mutations to reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.

Tests are being carried out to confirm that the existing vaccines would still have a high degree of protective affect.

It is an evolving area and we have to hope that the new variant doesn’t make things worse than they are now !

Covid-19: New coronavirus variant is identified in UK. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4857 (Published 16 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4857

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Cancer treatment delays during the pandemic

The Staff at National Health Service in UK are doing an admirable job during the pandemic. In the particular, the frontline staff (“patient-facing”) are showing great courage in face of great difficulties and are primarily driven by altruism.

But the pressures of pandemic means many routine scans and hospital clinic appointments have been cancelled particularly during the first wave. There is a great worry about delayed diagnosis of cancer and delayed treatment of cancer.

A paper in BMJ reports that cancer patients survival can be significantly compromised.

But, as with everything else in life, things are not always what they look like at first impression. Even things that are logical and common sense at first glance do not turn out to be simple and clear.

Firstly, delays and cancellations of scans paradoxically could have psychologically benefited some cancer patients . This might seem counterintuitive or even an outrageous statement.

But there are some cancers which are being over diagnosed. A Cancer diagnosis does not always mean a death sentence. Some cancers do not cause problems for a long time or never in the life time of a person. These cancers do not need to be diagnosed promptly. Not being diagnosed with these cancers prevents the psychological burden of a cancer diagnosis. This “over diagnosis” would be expectedly less during pandemic.

Secondly, treatment delays could be caused by a cancer that is advanced and the need for time consuming additional investigations and procedures. Sometimes delays are caused by patients needing to see many medical specialists for the treatment. So it’s the aggressive cancer and the complex patient care that would cause the delay and is responsible for poor outcome rather than the delay by itself.

Read the BMJ article and make your views known.

Mortality due to cancer treatment delay: systematic review and meta-analysis
BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4087 (Published 04 November 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4087

Overdiagnosis in Cancer
H. Gilbert Welch, William C. Black
JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 102, Issue 9, 5 May 2010, Pages 605–613, https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djq099

Disparities in head and neck cancer: assessing delay in treatment initiation
Urjeet A Patel et al. Laryngoscope. 2012 Aug.

Khorana AA, Tullio K, Elson P, Pennell NA, Grobmyer SR, Kalady MF, et al. (2019) . Time to initial cancer treatment in the United States and association with survival over time: An observational study. PLoS ONE 14(4): e0215108. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0215108

Does intensive follow benefit Bowel cancer patients?

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

The old adage “prevention is better than cure” is mostly true with regards to cancer if you can do it.

If you can’t prevent it , at least catch it early, has been the prime motive behind screening tests for breast, cervical, bowel, lung and prostate cancers. (“early is better”). Cancers that are detected at an early stage can offer a better chance of curative treatment.

So one might logically expect that intensive monitoring and early diagnosis of a cancer relapse or a secondary cancer after initial treatment can be immensely helpful.

But the evidence for intensive hospital follow-up visits and investigations is weak for most cancers except for some cancers such as Testicular Cancers which are highly curable.

Intensive monitoring after bowel cancer treatment can detect treatable cancers. To confirm the benefit of early detection of relapse by intensive monitoring , a trial was conducted comparing intensive follow up versus routine follow up ( in France and Belgium).

Data presented at ESMO ( European Society of Medical Oncology) shows that the intensive follow with scans can detect cancer recurrences which can be treated by further surgery. But unfortunately the intensive follow up did NOT lead to longer life expectancy.

The results might be counterintuitive but after an average follow up more than six years, this trial demonstrates that intensive follow is NOT always best. Scans might be done for psychological reassurance but they could end up causing significant anxiety.

When there are resource constraints (e.g low economic countries) , one has to be careful about frequents routine scans for those without symptoms.

During COVID-19, even in rich countries such as UK where there might be huge waiting lists, one has to consider prioritising scans for those who need most.

References

1. ESMO Daily reporter: INTENSIVE FOLLOW-UP INCREASES FREQUENCY OF CURATIVE INTENT SECONDARY SURGERY IN COLORECTAL CANCER.

2. DRE is useless for follow up of prostate cancer patients. https://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/11/03/dre-useless-follow-prostate-cancer-patients

3. Cancer patients follow up and a new role for GPs. https://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/11/03/cancer-patients-follow-and-new-role-gps

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

New treatment for Advanced Uterine Cancer

Women with advanced uterine / endometrial cancer are usually treated with chemotherapy.

Those who failed chemotherapy or those who are fit for chemotherapy are sometimes treated with hormone treatment.

Letrozole is one such hormone treatment for those patients with hormone sensitive cancer.

In breast cancer, Letrozole efficacy can be improved by a treatment called Palboclicib.

A trial was done to check whether the same improvement can be observed in uterine cancer when the combination of Letrozole and Palboclicib is tried.

The trial data presented at the ESMO ( European Society of Medical Oncology) is very promising.

If large trials confirm this finding, the combination would be standard treatment in future.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Is Honey a better treatment for coughs and colds ?

Possibly yes, in some cases of viral infections , according to a paper published a BMJ group journal ( BMJ Evidence Based Medicine) .

The paper has been widely quoted in various newspapers today.

The BMJ group journal authors report: “Honey was superior to usual care for the improvement of symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.

It provides a widely available and cheap alternative to antibiotics…….but further high quality, placebo controlled trials are needed.”

A word of caution: Honey has high sugar content. Diabetics need to be careful. People will allergies need to take care. Of course bacterial infections need antibiotics particularly in old and vulnerable!

References

1. BMJ Evidence Based Medicine. Effectiveness of honey for symptomatic relief in upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis .

Abuelgasim H, Albury C, Lee J Effectiveness of honey for symptomatic relief in upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine Published Online First: 18 August 2020. doi: 10.1136/bmjebm-2020-111336.

2. Guardian Newspaper:

3. Daily Mail.

4. BBC paper review .

5. Evening Express

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of publication and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Are Routine blood tests essential during follow up of low grade Lymphoma?

Bloods tests have the potential to pick up various abnormalities including cancer related abnormalities during follow up of cancers.

But , many patients would be surprised to know that there is ongoing debate about usefulness of routine blood tests atleast in some cancers !

In a recent study, Australian investigators assessed the role of routine blood tests during monitoring of patients with low grade lymphoma.

They found that routine blood tests rarely found or detected disease progression in patients who did not have any symptoms.

References

Routine Blood Tests in Asymptomatic Patients With Indolent Lymphoma Have Limited Ability to Detect Clinically Significant Disease Progression. DOI: 10.1200/JOP.19.00771 JCO Oncology Practice – published online before print June 25, 2020. PMID: 32584701

Effectiveness of Routine Blood Testing in Detection of Disease During Active Surveillance for Indolent Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. By Matthew Stenger. Posted: 7/16/2020 1:40:00 PM . Last Updated: 7/29/2020 1:59:00 PM

Utility of Routine Surveillance Laboratory Testing in Detecting Relapse in Patients With Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma in First Remission: Results From a Large Single-Institution Study. DOI: 10.1200/JOP.19.00733 JCO Oncology Practice – published online before print May 5, 2020. PMID: 32369413

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of publication and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Can you get Coronavirus infection more than once?

If you are one of the unlucky ones to have already been infected with Coronavirus infection but recovered from it, can you become unlucky again and get another Coronavirus infection later this year ?

Unfortunately, the answer is a YES.

Some Viral infections can sometimes lead to life long immunity. For example, most people who had chicken pox as a child tend to have lifelong immunity and it would be uncommon to get chicken pox again. (except in some circumstances).

But infection with ‘Coronavirus causing COVID-19’ doesn’t seem led to long lasting immunity or resistance to a second Coronavirus infection.

A Newspaper report on a study by a team from King’s College London suggests that susceptibility to a second infection may occur as short as 3 months in some patients. This because the level of antibodies produced by the immune system after first infection start to fade away within a few months in some patients.

If confirmed, this is probably one of the most worrying news during this pandemic.

This study result could also affect Vaccine development and how frequently it may need to be administered.

References

Guardian Newspaper: Coronavirus outbreak. Immunity to Covid-19 could be lost in months, UK study suggests. Ian Sample. Science editor. @iansample. Sun 12 Jul 2020 17.31 BST

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of publication and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.