UK COVID-19 Update: 1 in 12 Experience Jab Side Effects, Pandemic Mental Health Impact on ICU Staff

Tim Locke

July 21, 2021

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

1 in 12 Experience Jab Side Effects

The University of Dundee's Vac4Covid study found 7.9% of around 12,000 participants reported significant side effects in the week following their COVID-19 jab.

The most common side effects were fever, headaches, and fatigue.

Those having the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine were more likely to report headaches and fatigue after the first dose than the second.

Those who had the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had more side effects after the second dose.

Forty-five percent felt better after receiving their vaccination.

Dr Amy Rogers from the study group said: "The side effects of COVID-19 vaccination have been a talking point, but the figure of 7.9% is very much in line with what we expect from any vaccination, such as seasonal flu.

"That should make these results very reassuring for anybody still concerned about the possibility of side effects from their COVID-19 vaccination."

Pandemic Mental Health Impact on ICU Staff

Mental health conditions were experienced by 48% of ICU staff, according to Imperial-led research published in the British Journal of Nursing.

The study involved 515 self-slected healthcare staff working in seven countries, including 73 in the UK, and results of questionnaires and clinical scoring revealed depression, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Senior author, Dr Matthieu Komorowski, said: "Work-related stress is well documented in healthcare workers and this has been worsened by the COVID-19 crisis.  The results of this study suggest that all ICU staff should have access to early and effective mental health assistance as part of a wider staff health and wellbeing strategy.   This is especially pressing as hospitals and governments prepare their workforce for potential further surges of COVID-19 patients."

Antibodies

Office for National Statistics (ONS) fortnightly data on SARS-CoV-2 antibodies from vaccination or infection for the week beginning 28 June continue to show coverage for around 9 in 10 adults:

  • 91.9% of adults in England would have tested positive for antibodies

  • 88.6% of adults in Scotland would have tested positive for antibodies

  • 92.6% of adults in Wales would have tested positive for antibodies

  • 90% of adults in Northern Ireland England would have tested positive for antibodies

Long COVID 

ONS issued data on 6.2% of adults who may have experienced long COVID:

  • 39% said it negatively affected their ability to exercise

  • 30% said it had negatively affected their work

  • Personal well-being levels were lower with long COVID

  • 30% experienced moderate to severe depressive symptoms in the last 2 weeks

Tim Vizard from ONS said: "Although no single definition of long COVID exists it is likely it affects people in different ways and research is already showing the potential impacts on physical health."

He added: "We’ve found more people who may have had long COVID report negative impacts, however more work is needed to disentangle the effects of long COVID from a variety of factors such as age, sex, or disability."

Kids' Long COVID

The clinical definition of long COVID in children is poorly understood by doctors, according to a University of Bristol-led report.

Views were collected from a small number of children and their families, four GPs, and three paediatricians between March and April this year.

The doctors said it may be difficult to distinguish between long COVID and other conditions. 

One of the lead authors, Professor Caroline Relton, said: "There are added complications of studying long COVID in children, when it is sometimes difficult to disentangle what might be the result of experiencing infection from what might result from the wider impact of experiencing the pandemic.

"Isolation, school closures, disrupted education and other influences on family life could all have health consequences. Defining the extent of the problem in children and the root causes will be essential to helping provide the right treatment and to aid the recovery of young people who are suffering."

High Risk Aerosol Generating Procedures

Bristol University research suggests that too many anaesthetic procedures are classed as high risk aerosol generating procedures (AGPs), and changes could help tackle the NHS surgical backlog.

Results come from the AERATOR study and are published in Anaesthesia.

The study found that supraglottic airway insertion and removal "produced <4% of the aerosol compared with a single cough".

Study co-author, Professor Tim Cook, said: "This new research paves the way for more efficient anaesthesia and surgery. Supraglottic airways are normally used in more than half of all anaesthetics but have been avoided by many anaesthetists during the pandemic. Our research shows that use of these devices does not lead to high levels of aerosols and thus the procedure is not an AGP. Anaesthetists can return to using them and precautions around their use needs to be reviewed and relaxed."

He added: "For more than a year concerns that basic airway procedures during anaesthesia put staff at risk have led to reduced theatre efficiency and surgical activity. Our research adds to growing evidence of the safety of these procedures and can hasten the return to efficient operating which is essential as we seek to address the backlog of patients awaiting routine surgery."

Backlog Inquiry

The Commons Health and Social Care Committee is launching a new inquiry into England's NHS backlog.

Chair, Jeremy Hunt, said: "With waiting lists in England projected to more than double in the coming months, we need to consider whether a more fundamental change will be needed in how we deliver NHS treatment.

"While additional funding will be critical, we also need to evaluate the way services are set up and organised in order to meet demand for non-COVID care as well as treatment for conditions related to the pandemic, such as long-COVID.

"This inquiry will consider what more can be done to ensure we have the right organisation to meet the huge challenge presented by the backlog, and make it possible for patients to get the care and treatment they need."

Collaboration

A new briefing by NHS Providers and the At Scale Primary Care Networking Group points at primary and secondary care working together to help tackle the pandemic care backlog.

Chief Executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said: "This briefing marks an important first step in capturing some of the learning and enablers for that collaboration to succeed and we look forward to expanding our work with key partners to better support the interface between primary and secondary care."

Myocarditis 

US analysis of CDC adverse reaction data found the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the risks of developing myocarditis.

  • Most patients with suspected myocarditis presented with chest pain, usually 2-3 days after a second dose of  mRNA vaccination

  • Some with suspected myocarditis experienced fever and muscle pain the day after vaccination

  • Those requiring hospitalisation for suspected myocarditis were mostly young males (ages 12-19) without a prior history of COVID-19 or other health conditions

The Baylor College of Medicine research is published in Circulation .

'Pingdemic' App Deletions

YouGov polling of 1761 British adults suggests 10% of people have deleted NHS COVID apps from their phones.

Deletions were at 17% in those aged 18-24.

Among those who have kept the apps, 20% disabled contact tracing or Bluetooth.

Another 14% of current app users have turned it off in the past.

Many businesses have complained of an app 'pingdemic' as cases rise, causing staff shortages as workers go into self-isolation.

Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer is now self-isolating after one of his children tested positive for COVID-19.

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

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