News round-up (5 February)

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5th February 2021 about a 3 minute read
Another round-up of stories you might have missed: from a new NICE podcast on the Government's ambitions for digital tech... to expert predictions on how the COVID-19 vaccine could impact our summer plans.

Ensuring digital health technologies reach patients

In a new podcast from NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence)  Lord Bethell, Minister for Innovation and Meindert Bosen, NICE deputy chief executive and director of the Centre for Health Tech Evaluation, speak about efforts to ensure digital health technologies reach NHS patients.

Lord Bethell says the government is “unbelievably ambitious” about digital tech but the ambition now is less about “the vision thing’ and more about the application of new tech to delivering patient outcomes.

He adds that the government are “backing all the horses in every way we can” when it comes to digital, AI, genomics and big data technologies.

Coronavirus experts: what summer 2021 will be like

Wired website reports that looking beyond the bleak winter and into the spring and summer, there are reasons for cautious optimism when it comes to dealing with the pandemic. 

Over 11 per cent of the UK’s population have received a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and the number of new infections is falling

The shadow of the pandemic will continue to loom large, but some experts have an optimistic message. These include Professor Tim Spector, lead of the ZOE Covid-19 symptom tracking study app, who says: “I definitely think people will be able to go on holiday in the UK.” 

University of Surrey students and staff among first to get innovative new 20-minute COVID-19 test developed by the University

A new, highly accurate COVID-19 test, Virus Hunter 6 (VH6), which delivers results in under 20 minutes is being trialled across the University of Surrey.

Developed by three leading universities – University of Surrey, Brunel University London, and Lancaster University – in collaboration with commercial partner Vidiia Ltd, the test has been shown to be 99 per cent accurate in lab trials and has been developed for use as a mass point-of-care product in large settings such as universities, airports, and care homes.

NHS Digital completes NHSmail migration to the cloud

Computer weekly reports that NHS Digital, who have successfully completed the world’s largest ever enterprise email migration – with more than 2.1 million NHSmail mailboxes moved over to the cloud.

The NHSmail service is used by around 80% of the NHS, as well as many other organisations across the health and care community. In total, this equates to around 1.7 million active users.

UK ‘must learn from 5G Huawei U-turn supplier squeeze’

The BBC website is running a story on a warning from the Commons Science and Technology Committee that the UK will be left vulnerable without a new government strategy on emerging technologies.

MPs said a U-turn on using the Chinese company Huawei had left the government over-reliant on a small group of 5G technology suppliers.

Its subsequent strategy to deal with this had been too vague and too late.

And the issue could be repeated in other areas such as quantum computing and artificial intelligence (AI).

Baricitinib to be investigated as a possible treatment for COVID-19 in the RECOVERY trial

The Recovery trial website reports that they are investigating an anti-inflammatory treatment for rheumatoid arthritis–  baricitinib  – as part of the Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY (RECOVERY) trial. 

It is the world’s largest clinical trial of treatments for patients hospitalised with COVID-19/ And it is taking place in 177 hospital sites across the UK and with over 33,000 patients recruited so far.

Baricitinib will be the tenth potential COVID-19 treatment to be tested through RECOVERY.

It is believed it may block the signalling activity of cytokine molecules which contribute to the hyper-inflammatory state seen in severe COVID-19.