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News round-up (July 9)

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9th July 2021 about a 3 minute read

Stories this week range from how and why people are dying too young to predictions that we will be living to 130 by the end of the century. New Covid-19  data has prompted the question  why don’t clinical trials report genda data? Plenty of food for thought!

Dying too young: Maps show little has changed in 170 years

Experts say the problems of crowded housing, insecure work and poor underlying health are echoing down the centuries.

Though healthcare in the UK has vastly improved since Victorian times, yet the geography of coronavirus deaths closely follows the pattern of poor health in the 19th Century.

A succession of studies has found a link between Covid-19 and poverty, with the latest describing a “jaw-dropping” fall in life expectancy in Greater Manchester due to the pandemic.

Lifespans of 130 years could be possible this century.

Some of us will be “spercentanarians” living to 130 by the end of the century according to a new study published June 30 in Demographic Research, which uses statistical modelling to examine the extremes of human life.

The number of people over the age of 100 has increased over the decades, reaching nearly 500,000 worldwide.

“People are fascinated by the extremes of humanity, whether they go to the moon, how fast someone can run at the Olympics, or how long someone can live. This work quantifies how likely it is that some individuals will reach different extreme ages during this century,” says Michael Pierce, the lead author, a PhD student at the University of Washington.

COVID-19 affects men and women differently. So why don’t clinical trials report gender data?

Cathleen O’Grady writes a thought-provoking article in the Science website, pointing out COVID-19 doesn’t strike the sexes equally.

Globally, for every 10 COVID-19 intensive care unit admissions among women, there are 18 for men; for every 10 women who die of COVID-19, 15 men die. In the United States, a gender gap is emerging in vaccination rates, with women ahead of men by 6 percentage points, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And rare adverse effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine appear to strike women more frequently, whereas those from the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines more often affect young men.

Blood-Brain Barrierr on a Chip for Neuro Drug Testing

New technology has brought the mysterues of the blood brain barrier a step closer to being unravelled.

Researchers at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, have engineered a blood-brain barrier on a chip using human-derived stem cells.

The device closely mimics the blood-brain barrier and allows the researchers to study its function and the effect of drugs without having to use experimental animals. By incorporating sensors, the chip can monitor barrier function in near real time.

Statistics for Medicines used in mental health England

Five groups of drugs are analysed in the report including antidepressants; hypnotics and anxiolytics; antipsychotics; central nervous system (CNS) stimulants and ADHD and dementia.

In the period since the implementation of lockdown restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, between March 2020 and March 2021:

  • There were 803,000 more antidepressant prescription items issued than expected based on historical trends. However, this was not a statistically significant increase for the period; (meaning although usage increased, it was already on an upwards trend before the pandemic)