The study, published in JAMA, found that surgical masks were as effective as N95 respirators at preventing the flu, which is to say, not all that effective because, of the 446 nurses who took part in this study, nearly one in four (24%) in the surgical mask group still got the flu as did 23% of those who wore the N95 respirator. And, because both groups wore masks, it’s impossible to say how they would have fared compared with not wearing a mask at all.
Basically, there is no strong evidence to support well people wearing surgical masks in public. Or as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put it: “No recommendation can be made at this time for mask use in the community by asymptomatic persons, including those at high risk for complications, to prevent exposure to influenza viruses.”
The best thing you can do to stop getting the flu is to regularly wash your hands, and try to avoid touching your face.
Britain could have been hit harder by Covid-19 than other European nations because the past two winter flu outbreaks have only been mild, according to a study.
Researchers say influenza kills the same groups of people as the coronavirus, with both illnesses posing the greatest danger to the elderly and those with underlying conditions.
Public Health England statistics show around 20,000 excess deaths – those of any cause that happen above average – occur from influenza each year.
But only 1,700 extra fatalities were recorded during the 2018/19 outbreak, said lead author Dr Chris Hope who claimed data showed the 2019/20 season was also ‘very mild’.
It means more than 30,000 people in England alone were alive at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic who would have been expected to die in the previous two flu seasons.
Only 22% of people testing positive for coronavirus reported having symptoms on the day of their test, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Note: the article deduces that this shows the importance of asymptomatic transmission. However, cases of asymptomatic transmission has been found to be very rare.
Government must take urgent action to prevent even bigger crisis in future, charity warns
Lockdown has been devastating for mental health and the worst could be yet to come, a leading charity has said.
The mental health charity Mind says a survey has revealed that lockdown has had a dramatic impact on the nation’s mental health, warning that unless action is taken now, the problem could grow.
Antibody tests on random samples of the population have so far shown much lower levels of general infection than the government’s scientific advisers claimed would be necessary to attain ‘herd immunity’. In London, for example, tests have shown that 17 per cent of the population have antibodies to Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. In New York, the figure is 21 per cent. At the beginning of this crisis, on the other hand, Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, suggested that at least 60 per cent of the population would have to be infected in order to achieve herd immunity.
Government figures have revealed that lack of money forced millions of people to go hungry or rely on food banks during the first few weeks of the coronavirus lockdown, with families and young adults worst affected.
Households with children, people with health issues and people aged 16-24 were most likely to either to skip meals or use food charities to feed themselves or their family in April and May, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) data showed.
Seeking medical help too late during pandemic was contributory factor in the deaths of nine children, Royal College research finds
People under 50 are more likely to die suddenly because of an accident or injury than from coronavirus, a leading risk expert has said. Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter said people under 25 are more likely to die from flu or pneumonia, while under 40s have a greater risk of being killed in a road accident. The Cambridge University professor looked at the average risk for different age groups dying after contracting Covid-19 and compared it with the most recent yearly data from 2018.
Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist, said he advised against such restrictions on movement because of the detrimental side effects they often entail.
“It was as if the world had gone mad, and everything we had discussed was forgotten,” Tegnell said in a podcast with Swedish Radio on Wednesday. “The cases became too many and the political pressure got too strong. And then Sweden stood there rather alone.”
A coronavirus vaccine professor at Oxford University says there is now ‘little chance’ of proving if it works due to low transmission rates in the UK.
Professor Sarah Gilbert, leading the University of Oxford vaccine trial, said that when Covid-19 transmission was high, lockdown was imposed to bring the rate down.
But since then rates have dropped, and the trial relies on a sufficient number of volunteers to have been exposed to the virus to see whether a vaccine protects them or not.
Scientists at Institut Pasteur studied 1,340 people in Crepy-en-Valois, a town northeast of Paris that suffered an outbreak in February and March, including 510 students from six primary schools. They found three probable cases among kids that didn’t lead to more infections among other pupils or teachers.
The study confirms that children appear to show fewer telltale symptoms than adults and be less contagious, providing a justification for school reopenings in countries from Denmark to Switzerland. The researchers found that 61% of the parents of infected kids had the coronavirus, compared with about 7% of parents of healthy ones, suggesting it was the parents who had infected their offspring rather than the other way around.
It is official. No 10 is too entangled in lockdown spin to do what it takes to save Britain. For the sake of our ailing economy, political clarity, and basic scientific honesty, this was Boris Johnson’s moment to declare to the nation that the overwhelming evidence suggests lockdown was a mistake – and we must never lock down again.
Professor Matteo Bassetti said he is convinced the virus is ‘changing in severity’ and patients are now surviving infections that would have killed them before.
And if the virus’s weakening is true, Covid-19 could even disappear without a for a vaccine by becoming so weak it dies out on its own, he claimed.
Professor Bassetti suggests this could be because of a genetic mutation in the virus making it less lethal, because of improved treatments, or because people are not getting infected with such large doses because of social distancing.
But other scientists have hit back at the claims in the past and said there is no scientific evidence that the virus has changed at all.
At the start of June, in response to Professor Bassetti’s claim, Dr Angela Rasmussen, from Columbia University, tweeted: ‘There is no evidence that the virus is losing potency anywhere.’
NHS doctors are prematurely ending the lives of thousands of elderly hospital patients because they are difficult to manage or to free up beds, a senior consultant claimed yesterday.
Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ‘death pathway’ into the equivalent of euthanasia of the elderly.
He claimed there was often a lack of clear evidence for initiating the Liverpool Care Pathway, a method of looking after terminally ill patients that is used in hospitals across the country.
Professor Pullicino claimed that far too often elderly patients who could live longer are placed on the LCP and it had now become an ‘assisted death pathway rather than a care pathway’.
Italian scientists say sewage water from two cities contained coronavirus traces in December, long before the country’s first confirmed cases.
The National Institute of Health (ISS) said water from Milan and Turin showed genetic virus traces on 18 December.
It adds to evidence from other countries that the virus may have been circulating much earlier than thought.
Researchers found school closures had little effect on preventing coronavirus transmission compared to that of the flu.
Under-20s are half as likely to catch COVID-19 as over-20s, making school closures less effective at stopping the spread of the virus, a new scientific study has found.
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that susceptibility to the coronavirus was low for younger people, before increasing around the age of 20.
The two-metre social distancing guidance is “not an absolute rule” and “can only remain in place as long as there is consent”, a cabinet minister has said.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, said the measure was “guidance rather than an absolute rule that will be enforced by a policeman”.
Speaking on his fortnightly Moggcast on the Conservative Home website, he added: “My view of all the restrictions is that they have happened by consent rather than compulsion.”
After years of a near jobs miracle that saw record numbers in employment, Covid-19 is taking a brutal toll.
Figures from the ONS today show that the number of staff on UK payrolls fell by 612,000 between March and May.
Claimant unemployment is already up by 1.6 million since March to 2.8 million. In the whole year after the 1929 Wall Street Crash it rose by 1.0 million.
The UK government blusters its way through excuses for its poor response to coronavirus. It must be held accountable.
Writing for the Telegraph, Professors Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson, from the University of Oxford, said there is little evidence to support the restriction and called for an end to the “formalised rules”.
The University of Dundee also said there was no indication that distancing at two metres is safer than one metre.