News round-up (29 January)

man looking at online news headlines
29th January 2021 about a 4 minute read
Here's our weekly selection of health and care stories in the news... In a week with some very gloomy headlines, it's good to see that the innovation sector has continued to offer up some glimmers of hope in these dark times.

App launched to support people with long COVID

A COVID recovery app has been launched to support people experiencing the longer term effects of coronavirus.

The bilingual app has been developed by the NHS Wales respiratory health group, on behalf of the Welsh Government, and is designed to offer people a ‘personal coach’ to help them on their road to recovery.

With more than 100 videos and links to advice, app users will be able to record their symptoms, track their progress and learn to manage their condition at home with support. 

It includes advice from therapists, psychologists, dietitians and consultants. The developer is the Institute of Clinical Science and Technology.

Immune system mounts a lasting defense after recovery from COVID-19, researchers find

Nature reports that study participants continued to improve their antibodies months after initial infection, potentially due to exposure to remnants of the virus hidden in the gut

As the number of people who have fought off SARS-CoV-2 climbs ever higher, a critical question remains: How long will their immunity to the novel coronavirus last?

A new Rockefeller study suggests that those who recover from COVID-19 are protected against the virus for at least six months, and likely much longer.

The researchers found that ‘improved antibodies’ are produced by immune cells that have kept evolving, apparently due to a continued exposure to the remnants of the virus hidden in the gut tissue.

Regeneron study shows antibody cocktail effective in preventing COVID-19 infection

Reuters reports that Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. claims its antibody cocktail was found effective in preventing COVID-19 in people exposed to those infected with the new coronavirus in an ongoing late stage trial.

The two-antibody cocktail, REGEN-COV, caused a 100% reduction in symptomatic infection and roughly 50% lower overall rates of infection, based on an early analysis of 400 participants in the trial who had a household member with COVID-19.

In comparison, rival Eli Lilly and Co has reported its antibody drug, bamlanivimab, cut the risk of COVID-19 infection by 80% for nursing home residents in a trial.

Research shows ultra-grip shoes can reduce staff injuries caused by workplace falls

A high number of NHS staff injuries caused by slips and falls at workp could be prevented if staff were recommended to wear ultra-grip shoes as part of their uniform, according to NIHR-funded research.

Slips and falls result in nearly one million days taken off work.  The health and social care sector has the highest number of cases, partly due to smooth floors that can become slippery.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of York, in collaboration with the Health and Safety Executive, Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust and the University of Leeds.

The results of the study, published in the BMJ’s journal for Occupational and Environmental Medicine,  showed a 37% reduction in slipping at work, and a 49% reduction in falls for those staff members wearing HSE 5* grip rated shoes.

The West needs to respond to China’s bid for technology dominance

Western countries urgently need to develop a coordinated response to China’s growing dominance in the development of new technology.

So says a new report from LSE IDEAS, a foreign policy think tank based at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

In the new report, Protect, Constrain, Contest’, academics and China watchers set out the important policies needed to put Western relationships with China on a firmer and more manageable footing.

UK Parliament AI and healthcare research briefing

A new government briefing gives an overview of the various applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare, such as helping clinicians to make decisions, monitoring patient health, and automating routine administrative tasks. 

It summarises the challenges to wider adoption of AI in healthcare, including those relating to safety, privacy, data-sharing, trust, accountability and health inequalities. 

It also outlines some of the regulations relevant to AI, and how these may change. 

The POSTnote focuses on regulations and policies relevant to England.

All health and social care bodies required to appoint Caldicott Guardians

More areas of the health and adult social care sector are set to have a Caldicott Guardian under new government guidance.

Caldicott Guardian is a senior person responsible for protecting the confidentiality of people’s health and care information.

Under the new guidance all health and adult social care bodies that handle confidential information about patients or service users will be required, by law, to have a Caldicott Guardian in place.

This includes organisations contracted by public bodies to deliver health or adult social care services that handle such information.

The National Data Guardian is now seeking feedback on the guidance before it is finalised later this year.