May 2, 2020 by Community Manager 0 Comments

COVID-19, NHS and the UK – How our healthcare system is battling the pandemic

Month 4 into the COVID-19 pandemic and here’s a quick look at how the NHS, and several other bodies, are tackling the novel virus.

Harnessing the Power of Data

The NSHX – the health service’s digital innovation unit, has teamed up with several Tech Giants (including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Palantir, and Faculty AI) to analyze data around COVID-19 patients and tests. The analysis will help follow the progression of the virus, track hotspots, and efficiently manage the use of resources like ventilators and test kits.

Contact-Tracing App

The NHSX is also developing a smartphone app that works over Bluetooth. The app will work to keep track of who has COVID-like symptoms, and who they might have come into contact with, and dispense isolation advice based on that. The app is being tested at the RAF facility in North Yorkshire and is expected to be available to the general public sometime in May.

Drive-Through Testing

Drive-through testing is being administered in several areas in southern England (and expanding), mostly targeting healthcare service members. Though the UK is still not where it should be with tests and testing kits, this aims to bridge the gap somewhat.

Vaccine Trials

Oxford University has just begun human trials for a possible vaccine for COVID-19 / Coronavirus. Over a thousand people are expected to take part in this trial where they test if a healthy individual could be made immune to the deadly and contagious Coronavirus.

Even as the NHS (and other auxiliary services) battle the pandemic to help keep us safe, they advise that our general health should not be neglected. Going to a hospital to receive necessary medical care (even if non-COVID related) is a valid reason to step out of the house. Talk to a GP to understand if it’s necessary for you. Our general practice doctors at Gogodoc are available for online video consultations through the week and can see a patient from the comfort of your home in as little as one hour (visit the website or download the Gogodoc app to book an appointment).

We will get through this together. But until then, Stay Home, and Stay Safe.

Book an appointment today!

April 29, 2020 by Community Manager 0 Comments

COVID-19 Updates from WHO and NHS

With the deluge of news around the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be difficult to discern the real from the fake, the recent from the outdated. Here is a quick summary of updates from the two trusted sources leading the fight – the World Health Organisation and the NHS. 

WHO’s situation report shows that the COVID-19 illness has taken over quite a few lives – as of April 28, 2020 the coronavirus has affected over 2.8 million people and claimed over 198,000 lives. In the UK, the highly contagious illness has taken over 21,000 lives with daily reports continuing to document new cases and deaths.

Amid the debate and controversy on the UK’s testing targets and the availability of test kits, we also learned that there are now drive-through test centers for healthcare and allied workers. And that the NHS is partnering with several companies in the IT and digital sectors to collect, collate, and analyze information on COVID-19 and be able to diligently and efficiently use resources. A soon-to-be-released contact-tracing app may be able to tell us if we have come into contact with someone that has developed COVID-19 symptoms. A vaccine trial is also underway at Oxford University though it will be a while before we are able to ascertain its effectiveness.

The NHS has also updated its advice for those that think they may have the coronavirus – in order to not inundate the 111 phone line, NHS has created a 111 online service where people can answer a questionnaire about their symptoms – this will serve as a first-line triage and additional advice is offered based on the answers. For those with symptoms, NHS recommends self-isolating for at least 7 days, and for those that have come in contact with someone that has symptoms, they recommend a 14-day isolation period to see if any symptoms develop.

Regardless of the updates around us, it is important to continue to practice social distancing rules, stay indoors, sanitize our hands and common surfaces frequently, and remember to take care of our general health. For any questions related to your health, talk to your GP. Or reach out to us at Gogodoc – an online-video consultation appointment can be booked in as early as an hour and our NHS-certified GPs can offer you expert medical advice on what to do, all over a video consult so you don’t have to leave your house. Now more than ever, be aware, and stay safe.

Book an appointment today!

March 11, 2019 by Community Manager 0 Comments

Danish study shows MMR vaccine does not cause autism

A new large-scale Danish study concluded that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine does not increase the risk of autism, even in susceptible children. Once again, no links are found.

 

The study that sparked the storm

Andrew Wakefield’s famous study, published in 1998, first described a link between autism and the MMR vaccine. A flurry of fear among the public has since found no rest.

However, the evidence of that study is poor and circumstantial at best. There is no attempt made to show a proven mechanism of how the vaccination process could or did lead to the degeneration of behaviour observed. While there is undoubtedly a trend in their data, the authors are vastly overstating the likelihood that this could be a true causal association.

Importantly, this study does not include controls, such as patients with autism that were not vaccinated, neither does it suggest that this type of even-handed study should be done. It appears that the authors have ‘chosen’ a set of patients with autism to reach a presupposed conclusion. This is clear bias and should be accounted for.

Further, the paper was soon retracted as Wakefield was found guilty of fabricating data and violating ethical protocols. The confidence of the authors in their conclusions is thus unjustified.

Despite there being no convincing evidence that the MMR vaccine causes autism, there is an underground faction of concerned parents who believe that it does. One reason for this may be that ∼50,000 children per month, in Britain alone, receive the MMR vaccine between ages 1 and 2 years. This is at a time when autism typically presents. Thus, coincidental associations are inevitable.

 

The data are in, again

A new large study yet again found no association between the MMR vaccine and autism.

The researchers followed 657,461 Danish children born between 1999 and 2010 and compared autism rates in those who had received the MMR vaccine against those who did not.

In emphatic language they write, ‘The study strongly supports that MMR vaccination does not increase the risk for autism, [and] does not trigger autism in susceptible children’.

In further analyses, they also looked for links between vaccinations other than MMR and autism; again, they found none.

One of the study’s main strengths is the large number of individuals included in the analysis. As the authors write, the study’s size allowed them to conclude that ‘even minute increases in autism risk after MMR vaccination are unlikely’.

 

So, what causes autism? 

The aetiological basis of autism is predominantly genetic, and the apparent rise in diagnosis has more to do with increased awareness of the condition and changes in the diagnostic criteria. Nevertheless, while mutations in some genes are strongly implicated in autism, most associated variants confer modest increases in risk.

These genetic variants of small effect sizes can have a significant impact when present in certain combinations, or even lower the threshold of one acquiring the condition with exposure to environmental risk factors.

The answer to what causes autism is unlikely to reside solely in genetics. Recent studies suggest that environmental factors can cause autism, but this is most likely to occur in utero (during pregnancy). This is important because some parents are concerned that things such as high pollution or vaccines cause autism postpartum.

Regardless, the heritability of autism is estimated to be more than 90%. This means that more than 90% of the cause of autism is due to genetics.

 

Conclusion

With the continued generation of high-quality empirical evidence, the fears surrounding vaccines might, one day, be eradicated once and for all.

The bottom line is that whatever the cause of autism may be – genetic or environmental – it is likely to take effect during foetal development. Thus, a person with autism is born with autism.