#AceHealthReport – Nov.28: The two sides recognised the contribution made by the UK-China Health Dialogue since its establishment in 2007 in promoting mutual understanding and trust between the UK and China. They agreed to strengthen exchanges and develop a joint health plan for collaboration in key areas.
#AceDailyNews GOVUK Joint Statement Report: UK-China Health Dialogue: Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid and China’s Health Minister Ma Xiaowei agreed to develop joint health plan for collaboration according to Department of Health and Social Care
During this meeting, the two sides acknowledged the challenges both countries had faced in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and looked ahead to cooperation in future domestic and global challenges and opportunities in the coming years.
Both sides recalled the 2020 UK-China Health Dialogue and agreed the good progress made over recent years. In particular: policy exchanges on the COVID-19 pandemic, global health collaboration, antimicrobial resistance, medicines regulations, and working together on health in Africa.
Both sides agreed to collaborate on knowledge exchange and implementing evidence based practices in providing high quality healthcare to their people in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, emerging infectious diseases, ageing populations, and the growing burden of non-communicable diseases.
Both sides agreed to cooperate on global health security through the UK-China public health agencies, specifically on infectious disease control, emerging infectious diseases, emergency response and antimicrobial resistance, food safety risk surveillance and assessment.
Both sides noted the significance of supporting opportunities for sharing and learning from addressing COVID-19 and future pandemic preparedness such as scaling up support for global COVID-19 surveillance, genomic sequencing capacity, and variant assessment capabilities to ensure a global recovery from Covid-19.
Both sides agreed to cooperate on multilateral engagement in the health space and work together to strengthen the WHO, particularly with regard to pandemic preparedness and response. Both sides agree to cooperate across the wider multilateral landscape on international protocols and with international organisations, specifically supporting countries to comply with International Health Regulations and international standards across all hazards; and taking action on global health threats such as antimicrobial resistance and the health impacts of climate change. Both sides agreed on the importance of taking concrete measures to improve pandemic preparedness and response
Both sides agreed continuing to strengthen the dialogue and exchanges on policy and enhance collaboration, specifically on health care for ageing populations, and to continue dialogue on health development in Africa.
Both sides agreed to work together to enable vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to be rapidly developed, tested and deployed both in public health emergencies and for ongoing global health challenges, including through strengthening clinical trials infrastructure.
Both sides agree to work together on medical education and training.
The two sides acknowledged the contribution made over the last year in the challenging context of the COVID-19 pandemic in sustaining UK-China relations and undertook to build on the progress made at the 2021 UK-China Health Dialogue. Both sides agreed to review progress and renew a Memorandum of Understanding on Health Cooperation between The National Health Commission of China and UK Department of Health and Social Care at the next Health Dialogue in 2022.
Signed in Beijing and London on 26th Nov 2021 in duplicate, each written in Chinese and English, both texts being equally valid.
Sajid Javid, Secretary of State, Department of Health & Social Care of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
MA Xiaowei, Minister for Health, National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China
#AceHealthReport – Nov.26: The government is taking decisive precautionary action against a new #COVID19 variant by introducing travel restrictions on arrivals from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia from midday tomorrow (Friday 26 November).
From midday Friday 26 November, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia will be added to the UK’s travel red list
Passengers arriving from 4am Sunday in England will be required to book and pay for a government-approved hotel quarantine facility for 10 days
British nationals arriving from these six countries between midday Friday and 4am Sunday, and who have been in these countries within the last 10 days, must quarantine at home for 10 days and take NHS PCR tests on day 2 and day 8, even if they already have a lateral flow test booking
Direct flights from the 6 countries will be banned from midday Friday until hotel quarantine is up and running from 4am Sunday 28 November
Precautionary move follows designation of a new variant under investigation by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA)
It comes as Variant B.1.1.529 is declared a variant under investigation (VuI) by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
The variant includes a large number of spike protein mutations as well as mutations in other parts of the viral genome. These are potentially biologically significant mutations which may change the behaviour of the virus with regards to vaccines, treatments and transmissibility. More investigation is required.
No cases have been identified in the UK. We’re taking these precautionary measures to protect public health and the progress we’ve made so far through our successful vaccination programme.
From midday on Friday 26 November, non-UK and Irish residents who have been in these countries in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England. This does not apply to those who have stayed airside and only transited through any of these countries while changing flights.
UK and Irish residents arriving between midday Friday 26 November and 4am Sunday 28 November from these six countries will be required to self-isolate at home for 10 days. They must take PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8 post-arrival. These can be NHS PCR tests and passengers should take them even if they have already booked or taken their lateral flow test.
UK and Irish residents arriving from 4am Sunday must isolate in a government-approved facility for 10 days. During their stay, they will be required to take a coronavirus test on day 2 and day 8.
A temporary ban on commercial and private planes travelling from the six countries will also come into force at midday on Friday until 4am Sunday to reduce the risk of importing this new variant under investigation while hotel quarantine is stood up. This excludes cargo and freight without passengers.
The UK government thanks the government of South Africa for its surveillance of this variant and its transparency.
Meanwhile UKHSA continues to monitor the situation closely, in partnership with scientific and public health organisations across the world, and we will offer to work collaboratively with the 6 countries that have been currently placed on the UK red list to understand the virus and possible mitigations.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, said:
As part of our close surveillance of variants across the world, we have become aware of the spread of a new potentially concerning variant, which UKHSA has designated a variant under investigation.
We are taking precautionary action to protect public health and the progress of our vaccine rollout at a critical moment as we enter winter, and we are monitoring the situation closely.
I want to pay tribute to our world-leading scientists who are working constantly to keep our country safe, and I urge everyone to keep doing their bit by the getting the jab and following public health guidance.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said:
We’ve always maintained public safety is our number one priority, which is why we’ve kept in place measures which allow us to protect the UK from new variants.
We’re taking this early precautionary action now to protect the progress made across the country, and will continue to keep a close eye on the situation as we continue into the winter.
Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA Chief Executive, said:
Scientists at UKHSA are in constant close collaboration with colleagues around the world to identify and assess variants as soon as they emerge. This is the most significant variant we have encountered to date and urgent research is underway to learn more about its transmissibility, severity and vaccine-susceptibility. The results of these investigations will determine what public health actions may limit the impact of B.1.1.529.
This is a clear reminder to everyone that this pandemic is not over, and we all have a responsibility to do what we can to limit transmission and reduce the infection rate and prevent the emergence of new variants. This means coming forward for vaccination as soon as possible and following public health advice. Wear a face covering in crowded places where it’s difficult to avoid coming into close contact with others, try to meet people in well-ventilated areas and seek a test immediately if you have symptoms.
The first genomes of this variant were uploaded to the international GISAID database on 22 November. Genomes have now been uploaded from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong but the extent of spread is not yet determined.
The government has been clear it will take decisive action if necessary to contain the virus and has taken the decision to add these destinations to the red list.
We continue to work with the hospitality sector to ensure it is ready to meet any increased demand – with hundreds of rooms on standby which can be made available to book as needed.
British nationals in these countries should check Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice and follow local guidance. The FCDO will continue to offer tailored consular assistance to British nationals in country in need of support overseas on a 24/7 basis.
The UKHSA produces risk assessments of the spread of variants of concern or variants under investigation internationally. These risk assessments cover a range of factors for each country including assessment of surveillance and sequencing capability, available surveillance and genome sequencing data, evidence of in-country community transmission of COVID-19 variants, evidence of exportation of new variants to the UK or other countries and travel connectivity with the UK.
British and Irish citizens, or those with residence rights, arriving to England from countries on the red list must book a managed quarantine hotel in advance. The quarantine package will include a managed quarantine hotel, quarantine transport and a travel test package for COVID-19 tests on day 2 and day 8 of quarantine. Read more about booking and staying in a quarantine hotel
Further information on international travel requirements can be found elsewhere on GOV.UK, including advice on transiting through red list countries.
Arrivals to the UK will need to meet the UK’s health and border requirements and comply with the relevant quarantine restrictions if coming from a red country or if not fully vaccinated. If you do not have the correct documentation ready to meet UK health and border requirements, you may delay yourself and others, be denied boarding, or face a fine.
Passengers arriving after 4am Sunday 28 November will be required to book a managed quarantine service (MQS) quarantine hotel. Bookings will open from midday Friday 26 November.
#AceHealthReport – July.22: NHS staff including nurses, paramedics, consultants, and dentists in England will receive a 3% pay rise backdated to April 2021 after the government accepted the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB) and the Review Body for Doctors’ and Dentists’ Renumeration (DDRB).
Government accepts recommendations of NHS independent pay review bodies in full for this year
3% pay rise for NHS staff including nurses, paramedics, consultants, dentists and salaried GPs
NHS staff recognised for their pandemic contribution during an unprecedented year
For the average nurse, this will mean an additional £1,000 a year, while many porters and cleaners will receive around £540.
The government committed to providing NHS staff with a pay uplift in recognition of the unique impact of the pandemic on the NHS.
The independent pay review bodies considered a range of evidence from organisations including government, the NHS and trade unions in order to reach their recommendations.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:
NHS staff are rightly receiving a pay rise this year despite the wider public sector pay pause, in recognition of their extraordinary efforts. We asked the independent pay review bodies for their recommendations and I’m pleased to accept them in full, with a 3% pay rise for all staff in scope, from doctors and nurses to paramedics and porters.
We will back the NHS as we focus our efforts on getting through this pandemic and tackling the backlog of other health problems that has built up. I will continue to do everything I can to support all those in our health service who are working so tirelessly to care for patients.
Minister for Care Helen Whately said:
I am determined to make the NHS the best place to work for all our staff and we continue to invest in recruitment and retention with over 45,300 more staff in the NHS now compared to a year ago, including nearly 9,000 more nurses and over 4,000 more doctors.
Our NHS staff have worked incredibly hard to fight the pandemic for over eighteen months and I’m glad to confirm we are accepting the pay review bodies’ recommendations in full this year, so staff in their remit will receive a 3% pay rise.
In addition, salaried GPs’ recommended minimum and maximum pay will be uplifted by 3% whilst dental contracts will be uplifted to account for the 3% uplift for dentists.
The reports will be laid before Parliament at 9:30am tomorrow morning (22 July).
The pay rise will be backdated to April 2021.
Nurses at the top of band 5 currently earn a salary of £30,600.
The DDRB were not asked to make pay recommendations for those Specialty and Associate Specialist (SAS) doctors who have transferred over to the new SAS contract, or doctors and dentists in training, as these groups are in respective multi-year pay and contract reform deals.
The SAS deal offers doctors faster progression to the top of the pay scales with meaningful increases at each progression point. The introduction of a new senior SAS grade improves opportunities for career progression. The agreement also introduces safeguards and additional annual leave to support health and wellbeing.
GPs are subject to a five-year investment agreement (to 2023/24) between NHSEI and the British Medical Association (BMA) and therefore no pay recommendation has been sought for GP contractors.
Dentists will receive a 3% uplift. This is in addition to reduced requirements on the activity they deliver for full payment of their contract, minus agreed deductions, that have been in place throughout and a renewed commitment to reforming the NHS dental contract.
Uplifts to dentists will be passed on via an uplift to their contract value.
Health spending and public sector pay is a devolved responsibility and it is up to each respective country to determine how they respond to the Pay Review Bodies and what pay uplift to provide for staff.
#AceHealthReport – July.19: Thousands of people suffering with long COVID will benefit from new research programmes backed by £19.6 million to help better understand the condition, improve diagnosis and find new treatments.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk reports that DHSC Statement on New research into treatment and diagnosis of long #COVID with an extensive programme of 15 new research studies, backed by government funding through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), will allow researchers across the UK to draw together their expertise from analysing long COVID among those suffering long-term effects and the health and care professionals supporting them.
15 new studies across UK to expand research that will support thousands of vulnerable people
Nearly £20 million for research projects will help improve understanding of long COVID and identify effective treatments
Projects include the largest long COVID trial to date which will involve over 4,500 people
The latest research shows that although many people make a full recovery following COVID-19, a significant proportion of people continue to experience chronic symptoms for months. These ground breaking studies aim to help those people affected return to their normal lives.
The projects will focus on:
Better understanding the condition and identifying it
Evaluating the effectiveness of different care services
Better integrating specialist, hospital and community services for those suffering with long COVID
Identifying effective treatments, such as drugs, rehabilitation and recovery to treat people suffering from chronic symptoms
Improving home monitoring and self-management of symptoms, including looking at the impact of diet, and
Identifying and understanding the effect of particular symptoms of long COVID, such as breathlessness, reduced ability to exercise and brain fog
Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said:
Long COVID can have serious and debilitating long term effects for thousands of people across the UK which can make daily life extremely challenging.
This new research is absolutely essential to improve diagnosis and treatments and will be life-changing for those who are battling long-term symptoms of the virus.
It will build on our existing support with over 80 long COVID assessment services open across England as part of a £100 million expansion of care for those suffering from the condition and over £50 million invested in research to better understand the lasting effects of this condition.
Professor Nick Lemoine, Chair of NIHR’s long COVID funding committee and Medical Director of the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN), said:
This package of research will provide much needed hope to people with long-term health problems after COVID-19, accelerating development of new ways to diagnose and treat long COVID, as well as how to configure healthcare services to provide the absolute best care. Together with our earlier round of funding, NIHR has invested millions into research covering the full gamut of causes, mechanisms, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of long COVID.
The selection process for this broad range of innovative studies into long COVID involved people with lived experience at every stage and their input has been invaluable in shaping the outcome of this call and the research projects which will receive funding.
The projects include:
STIMULATE-ICP at University College London which will be the largest long COVID trial to date, recruiting more than 4,500 people with the condition. With £6.8 million of funding, the project will test the effectiveness of existing drugs to treat long COVID by measuring the effects of 3 months’ treatment, including on people’s symptoms, mental health and outcomes such as returning to work. It will also assess the use of MRI scans to help diagnose potential organ damage, as well as enhanced rehabilitation through an app to track their symptoms.
The immunologic and virologic determinants of long COVID at Cardiff University with nearly £800,000, which will look at the role of the immune system in long-term disease and whether overactive or impaired immune responses could drive long COVID by causing widespread inflammation.
ReDIRECT at University of Glasgow backed by nearly £1 million, which will assess whether a weight management programme can reduce symptoms of long COVID in people who are overweight or obese.
LOCOMOTION at University of Leeds with £3.4 million, which focuses on identifying and promoting the most effective care, from accurate assessments in long COVID clinics to the best advice and treatment in surgeries, as well as home monitoring methods that can show flare-ups of symptoms. The research aims to establish a gold standard of care that can be shared across England and the rest of the UK.
EXPLAIN at University of Oxford backed by £1.8 million, which will seek to diagnose ongoing breathlessness in people with COVID-19 who were not admitted to hospital, using MRI scans to trace inhaled gas moving into and out of the lungs to assess their severity and whether they improve over time.
UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said:
Long Covid is a terrible illness affecting thousands of people across the UK, and as it’s such a new disease, there’s still a lot we don’t know about it.
This UK Government funding, which is supporting studies led by the University of Glasgow and University of the West of Scotland, will help us make progress in understanding long Covid and hopefully improve treatment and support for patients right across the UK.
UK Government Minister for Wales Simon Hart said:
The development and distribution of the vaccine means we can now see an end to the pandemic and Wales has played a significant part via Wrexham’s Wockhardt facility where the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine continues to be produced.
Following this investment I hope Cardiff University can play a similarly important role in understanding and countering the long-term effects of the virus as we emerge from the pandemic.
Professor Amitava Banerjee, Associate Professor in Clinical Data Science and Honorary Consultant Cardiologist, University College London, Chief investigator of the STIMULATE-ICP (Symptoms, trajectory, inequalities and management: understanding long COVID to address and transform existing integrated care pathways) trial, said:
Dr Dennis Chan, Principal Research Fellow, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, Chief investigator of the CICERO (Cognitive Impairment in long COVID: PhEnotyping and RehabilitatiOn) project, said:
Cognitive impairment, referred to informally as ‘brain fog’, is a major component of long COVID that compromises people’s daily activities and ability to return to work. The aim of this study is twofold; first, to understand better the nature of this ‘cognitive COVID’ in terms of the cognitive functions affected and the associated brain imaging changes, and second, to test whether neuropsychological rehabilitation can improve people’s outcomes. If this study is successful we will not only understand much better the way in which COVID affects the brain but also provide NHS services with new tools to help people recover from their cognitive difficulties.
Professor Fergus Gleeson, Professor of Radiology and Consultant Radiologist, Oxford University, Chief Investigator of EXPLAIN (HypErpolarised Xenon Magnetic Resonance PuLmonary Imaging in PAtIeNts with Long-COVID) project, said:
Following on from our earlier work using hyperpolarised xenon MRI in patients following hospitalisation with COVID-19 pneumonia, where we showed that their lungs may be damaged even when all other tests were normal, it is critical to determine how many patients with long COVID and breathlessness have damaged lungs, and if and how long it takes for their lungs to recover.
Hyperpolarised xenon MRI is a safe scanning test that requires the patient to lie in the MRI scanner and breathe in one litre of the inert gas xenon that has been hyperpolarised so that we can see it using MRI. The scan takes a few minutes and does not require radiation exposure, so it may be repeated over time to see lung changes. Using this technique, we can see the xenon – which behaves in a very similar way to oxygen – move from the lungs into the blood stream. In this way, we can see if there has been damage to the airways in the lungs, or to the areas where oxygen crosses into the blood stream, which appears to be the area damaged by COVID-19.
The projects were funded following a UK-wide research call for ambitious and comprehensive research into understanding and addressing the longer term physical and mental health effects of COVID-19 in non-hospitalised people and will build on the existing research already commissioned to look at long COVID.
In February 2021, 4 projects funded by NIHR and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) were announced, following the first research call.
The UK began the commissioning of long COVID research in 2020 and some projects are already producing results that are informing the understanding of long COVID. This research call adds to the existing investment of over £30 million of research funding taking the total investment to £50 million.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued official guidance on best practice for recognising, investigating and rehabilitating patients with long COVID. According to NICE guidance, ‘long COVID describes signs and symptoms that continue or develop after acute COVID-19. It includes both ongoing symptomatic COVID-19 (from 4 to 12 weeks) and post-COVID-19 syndrome (12 weeks or more).’
In October 2020, NHS England and Improvement launched a 5 point plan for long COVID. There are now 89 specialist post COVID-19 clinics operating in England.
On 15 June 2021, NHSEI published a new 10 point plan and announced an additional £100 million expansion of care for patients with long COVID.
Annex A: Study summaries
Developing and testing the best ways to diagnose, treat and provide rehabilitation for people with long COVID
Dr Amitava Bannerjee, University College of London – £6.8m The wide-ranging symptoms of long COVID are debilitating and need coordinated care from specialists, hospitals and community services. The STIMULATE-ICP (Symptoms, trajectory, inequalities and management: understanding long COVID to address and transform existing integrated care pathways) trial, developed with the help of patient organisations, will be the largest long COVID trial to date, recruiting more than 4,500 people with the condition. This project will test the efficacy of existing drugs to treat long COVID, and measure the different effects of three months’ treatment on patients with regards to their symptoms, mental health and outcomes such as returning to work. It will also assess the use of MRI scans to help diagnose potential organ damage in those recovering from the coronavirus, as well as enhanced rehabilitation – the provision of joined-up specialist care centred around an app for patients allowing them to track their symptoms.
Optimising standards of care for long COVID in hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and at home
Dr Manoj Sivan, University of Leeds – £3.4m Although there are 83 long COVID clinics in England, most people have not had access to them, and face long waiting times to be seen. The LOCOMOTION (long COVID multidisciplinary consortium: optimising treatments and services across the NHS) project focuses on identifying and promoting the most effective care, ranging from accurate assessments in these clinics to the best advice and treatment in surgeries, as well as home monitoring methods that can show flare-ups of symptoms. Drawing from the experiences of current long COVID patients and NHS professionals, the research aims to establish a ‘gold standard’ of care that can be shared across England and the rest of the UK. Analysis will be conducted in 10 long COVID clinics, at home and in doctors’ surgeries, and the study will track referrals and evaluate different services through patient interviews to make sure they are efficient, accessible and cost-effective. Specialists in healthcare inequality will also ensure that views are sought and recorded from people who are not visiting clinics.
Explaining why long COVID patients experience breathlessness and a reduced ability to exercise
Professor Fergus Gleeson, University of Oxford – £1.8m One of the most prevalent and persistent symptoms among long COVID patients has been discomfort in breathing following physical activity. The EXPLAIN (Hyperpolarised xenon magnetic resonance pulmonary imaging in patients with Long-COVID) project will seek to diagnose ongoing breathlessness in coronavirus patients who were not admitted to hospital, using MRI scans to trace inhaled gas moving into and out of the lungs. A 15-minute scan using low levels of xenon gas will display lung function and – if abnormalities are found – comparisons of data across different groups of participants recruited from Oxford and Sheffield can help assess their severity and whether they improve over time. Some EXPLAIN patients will also have a separate scan to see if heart damage can be identified. If the MRI scans separate patients with and without lung disease, further CT scans can be analysed, using artificial intelligence and blood samples to identify associated conditions and inform the development of treatments.
Understanding and treating ‘brain fog’
Dr Dennis Chan, University College London – £1.2m Up to three quarters of people who experience long-term symptoms after COVID-19 report problems with memory, attention or other cognitive functions – symptoms known collectively as ‘brain fog’. The CICERO (Cognitive Impairment in long COVID: PhEnotyping and RehabilitatiOn) project will first determine which elements of brain function are most affected in people with long COVID. The relationship between brain function and other symptoms of long COVID, such as fatigue and anxiety, will be explored, and MRI scanning will be used to identify the affected brain networks. The researchers will then develop and test a new rehabilitation strategy to help people recover from the cognitive aspects of long COVID and return to normal life and working ability. This will support production of a freely available COVID-19 Cognitive Recovery Guide on how best to offer the new rehabilitation approach depending on the patient’s symptoms.
Co-designing personalised self-management for patients at home
Professor Fiona Jones, Kingston University – £1.1m Long COVID describes more than 200 different symptoms that can interact and fluctuate. Although fatigue and problems with brain function are the most common symptoms, each patient can experience a different set of symptoms. The LISTEN (Long COVID Personalised Self-managemenT support – co-design and EvaluatioN) project will work in partnership with people who have long COVID to design and evaluate a package of self-management support that can be personalised to individual needs. The researchers will first work with people living with or recovered from long COVID, plus a social enterprise with expertise in reaching seldom heard populations, to design the package and associated patient and training resources. The team will then test the self-management package alongside up to six one-to-one virtual coaching sessions from trained rehabilitation practitioners, to test whether the treatment improves how people with long COVID feel and how they cope with everyday activities. The researchers will also evaluate how the package could be implemented more widely, with the aim that self-management for people with long COVID can be delivered at scale.
ReDIRECT: Remote Diet Intervention to Reduce long Covid symptoms Trial
Dr David Blane, University of Glasgow – £999,679
The immunologic and virologic determinants of long COVID
Professor David Price, Cardiff University – £774,457
Quality-of-life in patients with long COVID: harnessing the scale of big data to quantify the health and economic costs
Dr Rosalind Eggo, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – £674,679
Percutaneous Auricular Nerve Stimulation for Treating Post-COVID Fatigue (PAuSing-Post-COVID Fatigue)
Dr Mark Baker, Newcastle University – £640,180
Immune analysis of long COVID to inform rational choices in diagnostic testing and therapeutics
Professor Daniel Altmann, Imperial College – £573,769
Understanding and using family experiences of managing long COVID to support self care and timely access to services
Professor Sue Ziebland, University of Oxford – £557,674
Development of a robust T cell assay to retrospectively diagnose SARS-CoV-2 infection and IFN-γ release assay as diagnostic and monitoring assay in Long COVID patients
Dr Mark Wills, University of Cambridge – £372,864
Using Activity Tracking and Just-In-Time Messaging to Improve Adaptive Pacing: A Pragmatic Randomised Control Trial
Professor Nicholas Sculthorpe, University of the West of Scotland – £317,416
Impact of COVID-19 vaccination on preventing long COVID: a population-based cohort study using linked NHS data
Professor Daniel Prieto-Alhambra, University of Oxford – £224,344
Long COVID Core Outcome Set (LC-COS) project
Dr Tim Nicholson, King’s College London – £139,619
#AceHealthReport – June.23: Further emails show civil servants had concerns about the timeframe and whether it was in line with the rules: The government said due diligence was followed in awarding the grant:
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – Dominic Cummings tried to bypass rules over £530k grant, emails suggest in an email, the PM’s ex-top aide told civil servants to “immediately” issue the cash with “no procurement, no lawyers, no meetings, no delay” and in a series of emails detailing discussions of the grant requested by Our World in Data were leaked to the BBC’s File on 4, the Guardian and Source Material.
Mr Cummings, who left his role in No 10 in November 2020, has been contacted for comment.
By File on 4 BBC News
“We take these checks extremely seriously to ensure our contracts deliver results and value for money,” the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
The grant was eventually issued to the project: Our World in Data, a research project run by a charitable organisation with academics at Oxford University, in four instalments from summer 2020:
They begin with an email sent by the founder of the project, Max Roser, to William Warr, the prime minister’s health adviser, who had requested details on the funding it needed.
The organisation said it had to retain key members of staff who were generating data on the pandemic. It also wanted to hire extra contractors and needed financial support for the rising costs of servers and technical infrastructure.
The request was passed to Health Secretary Matt Hancock and a minute after he received the email he emailed Matthew Gould, the CEO of NHSX – the unit tasked with the NHS’ digital transformation – saying he supported the grant.
An email from Mr Cummings to Mr Gould followed a couple of hours later, saying: “Someone please ensure that they have the 530k within 24 hours from now and report back to me it’s been sent.
“No procurement, no lawyers, no meetings, no delay please – just send immediately.”
Further emails suggested this caused disquiet among the civil servants because of the request to pay out the grant money much faster than was normal.
The DHSC’s internal guidance, seen by the BBC, says that directly awarding grants without any form of competition is discouraged. But ministers – such as Mr Hancock – have wide-ranging powers to do so.
The guidance is also clear that all grants should be subject to a series of timely checks and criteria. It says in some instances grants of more than £100,000 should be referred to an advice panel in the Cabinet Office.
These safeguards are in place to ensure value for money for taxpayers and to guard against corruption.
PA MediaHealth Secretary Matt Hancock gave his support to the grant
The following day, Mr Gould said his team could meet the request through the DHSC “and have the money in place by tomorrow”, but it would mean “waiving the normal grant-giving process”.
“I don’t want to do anything untoward, but given the secretary of state’s and Dom Cumming’s strong steer I’d really welcome your help/advice/green light,” he wrote to a colleague.
‘Processes weren’t followed’
A more junior civil servant responded saying the team needed to make the appropriate checks “to avoid leaving the accounting officer overly exposed”.
Then, more than 24 hours later, the same civil servant suggested possible solutions, setting out the minimum criteria that needed to be met if the grant was to be paid.
But he wrote: “Matthew [Gould], I need your help please to progress this to a point where there is enough air cover to justify a decision to proceed.”
Peter Smith, a former government commercial director and former senior adviser to the National Audit Office, said the “air cover” reference “means you’re doing something that… is going to go down badly with the media or the public so you need to have some backup, some explanation”.
The civil servant’s final email said: “I’m sorry I couldn’t just ‘make this happen’, but I share your concern about doing anything untoward.”
In fact, the organisation that had been looking for the money then put the brakes on the application. Our World in Data asked for more time to understand the implications of accepting government money and to consult its trustees.
It went on to receive the grant in instalments and the project said it complied with its own procedures.
Max Roser, the founder and director of the project, told the BBC a full grant application was submitted on 25 March 2020 and this was followed by an agreement dated 30 April 2020.
“I have no way to know the internal processes inside the government,” he said.
The project said its work had added value in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, with its testing and vaccination data web pages receiving about 65 million visitors.
Whitehall source told the BBC they had been instructed not to share information about the grant discussion: In my view that’s because it is so damaging to the NHSX: Dominic Cummings, Matt Hancock… everyone is just being very blatant that due process, and procedures, are being thrown out the window,” the source said.Speaking after being shown the leaked emails, Mr Smith said it was “quite clear that processes weren’t followed”, saying: “The attempt was to do it so quickly, clearly there was no time to do a proper due diligence.”He said senior people had put colleagues in the DHSC “into a very difficult position”.”So I think it was unethical, immoral, really, and yes, it was an abuse of power.”
Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project, said: “The government guidance talks about extra safeguards for sums above £100,000. This was well above £100,000.”There was no process that I can see before the decision was made to award this very substantial sum.”
The DHSC said: “Officials carried out due diligence and followed appropriate processes before this grant was awarded.”Every contract agreed by the government with partners has proper due diligence carried out on it.”Mr Warr has been contacted for comment.Reporting by Anna Meisel, Paul Connolly and Emma Harrison.
#AceHealthReport – Mar.27: This new funding will help local authorities continue to support those who are isolating as we begin to cautiously ease restrictions, going towards access to food, help with caring responsibilities and support for people’s wellbeing:
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – Government increases support for those self-isolating: ‘To help people overcome the practical challenges of being asked to self-isolate, government has today (Friday 26 March) announced an extra £12.9 million a month in additional funding to local councils to help them provide people with more support’
Improved support includes a free medicines delivery service backed by an extra £3.2 million per month, new practical support funding and enhancements to Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme
New ONS survey reveals nearly 90% of people are self-isolating when asked to
On top of this, £3.2 million per month has been allocated to a free medicines delivery service for people who are self-isolating and don’t have access to help in collecting their prescription. Community pharmacies and dispensing doctors are already funded to provide a medicines delivery service in instances where shielding advice is in place, and this system is being replicated to cover people who need to self-isolate.
This investment comes on top of increased funding of £20 million per month for local authorities, which covers the cost of discretionary support payments through the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme (TTSP) for people on lower incomes, or facing financial hardship, who cannot work from home.
The TTSP scheme has also recently been expanded to cover parents or guardians who are unable to work because they are caring for a child who is self-isolating. To date, the government has provided more than £176 million of funding to local authorities to meet the costs of the scheme. This will allow local authorities to continue supporting those on low incomes to stay at home and self-isolate when required to do so.
The announcement comes as a new set of statistics published by the Official of National Statistics (ONS) show that 86% of people testing positive for coronavirus are fully complying with self-isolation guidance for their full isolation period.
Data showed 90% of the contacts reached by NHS Test and Trace are fully adhering with the rules, and 97% of NHS COVID-19 app users started to self-isolate within 24 hours of receiving a notification.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
I am delighted that today’s statistics show the vast majority of people in this country are doing the right thing and following the rules to help protect the NHS, and save lives.
The government has increased funding for local authorities by over £30 million a month to give financial and practical support to those who have to self-isolate, helping them to avoid spreading the disease to their communities.
Around one in three have the virus without symptoms, so it is vital those who are asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace do so to turn the table on this terrible virus.
The statistics demonstrate that the majority of respondents also fully understood the self-isolation guidance. Of people who did not fully-comply, the most common breaches were to buy food, collect medicines or to attend medical appointments, which today’s funding will help Local Authorities to address.
Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace, Baroness Harding said:
It’s extremely encouraging to see that 86% of people testing positive for Covid-19 and 90% of contacts are fully complying with the self-isolation guidance, which is imperative to the success of NHS Test and Trace as we are reaching more people than ever before. The increased support is important to offer additional reassurance to people to come forward for testing and keep breaking the chains of transmission.
Local councils have a fundamental role to play in tackling outbreaks and we are supporting them by giving people the tools they need to stay at home.
It is vital that there are strong local, regional and national partnerships to support people to understand and comply with the guidance and regulations in place that protect their health and save lives.
This survey was specifically designed to obtain information on people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and who are at the end of their 10-day self-isolation period.
Estimates presented in this release are based on the 2,552 responses received and are not representative of the population testing positive for COVID-19 on the day of being sampled. Respondents were randomly sampled through the Contact Tracing and Advice Service (CTAS) database, held by NHS Test and Trace. This list was created by NHS Test and Trace to record information about people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their contacts.
The statistics presented are experimental statistics, so care needs to be taken when interpreting them. While the sample was stratified to be regionally representative of the population being sampled, people who did not respond to the survey may have been less adherent than those who did, leading to bias in the results. This has an impact on the level of certainty of this research.
Future waves of the survey will provide statistics that are weighted to be representative of the population testing positive in the month prior to the survey.
Funding unveiled today was set out in the roadmap.
It is a legal duty to self-isolate if you have been instructed to do so by NHS Test and Trace. Any breaches of self-isolation may result in a Fixed Penalty Notice, ranging from £1000 to £10,000.
We are working with England’s 314 local authorities to monitor the effectiveness of the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme – including any impact on groups who may be ineligible for it.
In conjunction with the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme, local authorities can make additional discretionary payments to anyone facing financial hardship. Local authorities are responsible for the criteria used for discretionary payments in their area.
Four million people could be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment, which is a targeted scheme to help people on low incomes who cannot work from home, if they are required to self-isolate when they test positive or are identified as a contact.
To be eligible under the expansion to a parent or guardian, applicants must need to take time off work to care for a child who is self-isolating. They do not need to have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, but they must meet all the other eligibility criteria for a Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment.
If an individual is eligible for either the Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment, they will receive the £500 payment as an up-front lump sum on top of any benefits and Statutory Sick Pay that they are currently eligible for.
When the scheme launched, the government made an initial £50 million available to local authorities to cover the cost of administering the scheme. This included £15 million for discretionary payments to people who fall outside the scope of the main scheme but who will still face hardship if they have to self-isolate. To date, we have released a total of £176 million to local authorities to enable them to continue administering the scheme. This includes £75 million for discretionary payments.
People who are not eligible for a Test and Trace Support Payment may be eligible for other forms of support such as Universal Credit or New Style Employment and Support Allowance.
The Test and Trace Support Payment scheme is for England only. There are equivalent schemes in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and we are working closely with the devolved administrations to share learning and monitor the impact of the financial support that is available.
We need all employers to act responsibly to help their employees work from home wherever possible, and where it isn’t to ensure workplaces are COVID-secure. We are also rolling out rapid-testing helping workers who need to leave home for work during lockdown to continue to do so, while quickly identifying those who may be carrying the virus to stop the spread.
The Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) provides funding to local authorities (LAs) in England to be used for test, trace and contain activity in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus in their area.
This funding, worth over £225 million per month during the National Lockdown, can be used by English local authorities to fund local coronavirus response public health activities, such as additional contact tracing, testing for hard-to-reach groups, non-financial support for those self-isolating and public health communications.