UK COVID-19 Update: Tributes to 'Quiet, Dedicated' Anaesthetist

Tim Locke

November 13, 2020

These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.

Tributes to 'Quiet, Dedicated' Anaesthetist

Dr Krishnan Subramanian Credit: UHDB

Tributes have been paid to consultant anaesthetist, Dr Krishnan Subramanian, who died with COVID-19 at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester. University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust announced his death "with deep sadness".

Chief Executive Gavin Boyle said: "This is a very sad day for the UHDB family. Krishnan was a hugely valued member of the team who had worked tirelessly this year to support those who needed care."

Dr John Williams, clinical director of anaesthetics and theatres, added: "Krishnan was a quiet and dedicated colleague. Hugely committed to his work, he stood out for his tireless patience with trainee doctors, for his professionalism and for his characteristic grin. He was a calm and reliable presence in what is often a busy working environment and I know many colleagues valued the qualities he brought to the role.

"He came here in his first consultant post and in the subsequent 6 years went on to lead some innovative anaesthetic techniques, presenting nationally and internationally his work on anaesthesia for breast surgery." 

According to PA Media data, at least 200 frontline health and care workers have died during the pandemic.

Staff are invited to observe a minute’s silence for Dr Subramanian at the main entrance of Royal Derby Hospital at 11am on Monday.

In Memoriam: Healthcare Workers Who Have Died of COVID-19.

Infections Slowing?

This week's Office for National Statistics infection survey data suggest a slower rate of increase than in recent weeks.

ONS says 654,000 people in England had coronavirus, equating to around 1 in 85 people.

The highest infection rates were seen in secondary school children, older teenagers, and young adults. 

There were 8.75 new infections for every 10,000 people per day, equating to around 47,700 new cases per day.

In Wales, 35,300 people had COVID-19, equating to 1 in 85 people.

In Northern Ireland, 17,800 people had COVID-19, equating to 1 in 105 people.

In Scotland, 39,700 people had COVID-19, equating to 1 in 135 people.

Katherine Kent from ONS commented: "In general, across the UK we are seeing slower increases in the number of people with COVID-19. While infections in Northern Ireland appear to have levelled off, in most areas we are still reporting high levels of infection which are continuing to increase. In Wales too we are still seeing rising levels of infections which have continued throughout the last month."

The UK's R number is now down to 1.0-1.2 from 1.1-1.3 last week.

The growth rate is +1% to +3% per day.

Daily Data

Yesterday saw a spike in daily positive cases to 33,470, the highest so far, from 22,950 the previous day. Experts said the rise may reflect increased testing, and cases contracted before England's national lockdown was put in place.

One of the recent high profile deaths was the serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, known as the Yorkshire Ripper. The 74 year old was said to have died in hospital after refusing treatment.

In today's daily data another 27,301 UK positive tests were reported and 376 deaths.

There are 14,714 COVID-19 patients in hospital and 1275 ventilator beds are in use.

School Clusters

SAGE expert advisers say more than a thousand coronavirus case clusters and outbreaks have taken place in schools and educational settings since September.

However, they wrote: "There is no current direct evidence that transmission within schools plays a significant contributory role in driving increased rates of infection among children, but neither is there direct evidence to suggest otherwise (low confidence)."

Interferon Beta-1a 

University of Southampton led research found hospitalised COVID-19 patients who received an inhaled form of interferon beta-1a (SNG001) were more likely to recover, and less likely to develop severe symptoms, than patients given a placebo.

The study involved 98 patients in nine UK hospitals and the results are published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Lead author, Professor Tom Wilkinson, sain a news release: "The results confirm our belief that interferon beta, a widely known drug approved for use in its injectable form for other indications, may have the potential as an inhaled drug to restore the lung’s immune response and accelerate recovery from COVID-19. Inhaled interferon beta-1a provides high, local concentrations of the immune protein, which boosts lung defences rather than targeting specific viral mechanisms. This might carry additional advantages of treating COVID-19 infection when it occurs alongside infection by another respiratory virus, such as influenza or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) that may well be encountered in the winter months."

Northern Ireland Extends Lockdown

Northern Ireland is extending its current lockdown measures for another 1-2 weeks in a compromise after disagreement between the Stormont parties.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) wanted restrictions to end when they were due to expire today. But Sinn Fein, the SDLP, and Ulster Unionists wanted the lockdown extended due to high infection rates.

PPE Approval Pressure

The BBC reported how Health and Safety Executive officials were put under political pressure to approve PPE suits from a new manufacturer, PestFix, which hadn’t been properly tested.

It said emails from the watchdog obtained under the Freedom of Information Act  reveal how officials came under pressure from Government over the summer to release the suits to the NHS.

"I have been contacted by [name redacted] today requesting a statement to the effect that HSE were provided with the required documentation…” an email said "This is not factually correct."

A Government spokesperson said: “All PPE products are quality assured and only distributed if they are safe to use."

PestFix said its products complied with specifications and regulations: "After delivery, there was some delay while the product was re-categorised as a PPE product and further testing was carried out to confirm that the product was PPE compliant."

Fridge Poster for New Parents

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has teamed up with GPs and other groups to produce a fridge poster for new parents worried about babies' health under lockdown.

The initiative followed reports over the summer of a small number of children becoming seriously ill because of delays in accessing health services. 

EMA Farewell

The European Medicines Agency's Executive Director Professor Guido Rasi leaves the job today "in the middle of the biggest public health emergency in a century".

He said Emer Cooke takes over as vaccines undergo scientific assessment: "This is a vitally important step as the time spent in conducting the review will not only ensure that our stringent regulatory standards are met but will also serve to reinforce public confidence in the vaccines."

Cummings Going

Boris Johnson's senior adviser Dominic Cummings is leaving his Downing Street job by the end of the year.

His 260 mile road trip from London to his parents' home in Durham during lockdown was condemned by doctors and scientists for undermining Government's rules.

He also drove to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight before attempting to drive back to London.

See more global coronavirus updates in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Centre.


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