Day: 15 August 2021

News Round-Up

Fall in Child Dental Checks During Lockdown Sparks Fears of Generation With Poor Dental Health

The number of child dental checks halved during the past year of lockdowns compared to 2019, sparking fears that millions of children could now face a lifetime of rotten teeth and may need operations. The Telegraph has the story.

NHS figures show the number undergoing check-ups fell by 50% during the first year of the pandemic, with the worst trends seen among the youngest age groups.

In total, the number of under-15s who saw a dentist fell from 5.8 million to 2.9 million – a fall of half in just in one year.

This means less than three in ten children underwent checks, compared with nearly six in ten the year before.

The youngest children were least likely to have had check ups, with many likely to have never seen a dentist at all, experts said.

There were just 468,000 appointments for under-5s in 2020, a 60% fall from almost 1.2 million the year before, the figures show. This means just one in seven children under the age of five saw a dentist last year – compared with one in three in 2019.

Dentists said the lack of check-ups in the early years could leave a generation at risk of tooth decay, and forced to endure hospital operations, which could have been avoided with preventive care.

Tooth decay is already the most common reason for children aged five to nine to be admitted to hospital, with many enduring surgery under anaesthetic for want of preventive care earlier.

Latest annual figures show the number of admissions are twice those for acute tonsillitis, among children aged five to nine.

The new figures show millions of children have missed basic dental checks and treatment since the start of the pandemic.

“The current situation is truly shocking.” says Dr Saul Konviser, from the charity Dental Wellness Trust.

“Even before the pandemic, tooth decay amongst children was extremely worrying but the events of the past eighteen months have exacerbated things massively.

“Amongst some of the children that needed fillings, they now need extractions. The list of emergency appointments is growing by the day as we are scrambling to catch up.”

Worth reading in full.

Florida’s Delta Surge Slows Towards a Peak

Florida’s Delta surge appears to be peaking. The chart below (from this very useful site) shows that, as of the week ending August 12th, the weekly increase in the percentage of Covid tests coming back positive has slowed almost to zero, meaning it should begin to drop soon. Indeed, the positive rate and new reported cases have already begun to fall in the north east of the state.

Since Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis has refused to impose any new restrictions at all during this surge, having allowed the state of emergency to end in June, the Sunshine State looks set to confirm once again that coronavirus surges are self-limiting and it is not necessary to impose draconian restrictions on the population to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed or ‘hundreds of thousands’ of deaths.

Having had a very low infection rate throughout the spring despite imposing no restrictions, Florida has seen a large surge in infections during the summer since the arrival of the Delta variant, adding to evidence that surges are primarily driven by new variants which disrupt the previously established herd immunity by partially evading the immune response. The end of the surge after a few weeks of renewed spread therefore corresponds to the restoration of herd immunity. If this is correct, we should see new infections drop quickly across the state in the coming weeks.

Tens of Thousands of 12-15 Year-Olds Vaccinated in Ireland as Roll-Out Extends

There have been long queues outside vaccine clinics in the Republic of Ireland this weekend, with parents waiting in the rain to take advantage of the extension of the country’s vaccine roll-out by getting their children ‘jabbed’. Sky News has the story.

While the youngsters could get a shot from Friday, the roll-out began in earnest on Saturday with long queues seen outside vaccination centres.

The Republic of Ireland joins the likes of the United States, Israel, France and a number of other nations who are inoculating young people against Covid.

The U.K. has taken a different approach, with vaccinations only offered to 12 to 15 year-olds with certain medical conditions, or to those who live with vulnerable family members.

In Ireland, about 75,000 in the age range had registered for an appointment by Saturday, with bookings having been open for 48 hours.

Parental consent is needed, with the Pfizer or Moderna jab on offer.

Bill and Sarah Shelley, aged 14 and 12, were taken by their father Michael to get a vaccine in Dublin.

The family queued in the rain to get their shots.

Michael said: “We’re very pleased, I’m delighted they’ve got their first vaccine. …

More than 80% of adults in the Republic of Ireland are fully inoculated, and some 90% have had at least one dose of a vaccine.

The Health Service Executive wants to vaccinate those in the 12-15 range “rapidly and quickly”, and that the decision marked a “very strong point” on the country’s fight against COVID.

Another 2,074 coronavirus cases were reported in the country on Saturday.

There were 229 people with COVID in hospital, 43 of whom were in intensive care.

Worth reading in full.

All 16 and 17 Year-Olds to be Offered Jab Next Week

All 16 and 17 year-olds will be offered a Covid vaccine in the next week in a bid to boost immunity before the return of schools in September. The Telegraph has more.

The new drive to offer all 16 and 17-year-olds a jab by Monday August 23rd is intended to allow antibodies to build before the start of the autumn term on September 1st.

It comes after experts said the U.K. was “running hot” in terms of living with Covid. The Government said a further 93 people had died within 28 days of testing positive as of Saturday, bringing the U.K. total to 130,894.

NHS bosses said on Saturday night that further walk-in vaccination centres would come on line in the coming days.

“I have asked the NHS in England to ensure they offer a first dose of the vaccine to everyone aged 16 and 17 by next Monday, August 23rd. This will make sure everybody has the opportunity to get vital protection before returning to college or sixth form,” Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, said.

“Please don’t delay – get your jabs as soon as you can so we can continue to safely live with this virus and enjoy our freedoms by giving yourself, your family and your community the protection they need.”

Worth reading in full.

Hard to see the logic behind this, given that 16 and 17 year-olds aren’t vulnerable to the disease and getting vaccinated will have a negligible effect on how likely they are to catch COVID-19 and pass it on to others. Being vaccinated won’t make them “safe” – they’re already safe – and it won’t make people who are genuinely at risk from COVID-19 any “safer” either.

One in 16 U.K. Businesses Could Close In Next Quarter

A million jobs are at risk due to the ending of lockdown support schemes, with a new study suggesting that one in 16 U.K. firms are poised to close permanently in the next quarter following more than a year of forced temporary closures. The Guardian has the story.

One in 16 firms say that they are now at risk of closure in the next quarter, the study by the LSE’s Programme on Innovation and Diffusion (POID) has found. While it marks a major rise in confidence since the worst depths of the pandemic in January, there are warnings that the risk to so many workers coincides with the planned end of the furlough jobs scheme and a cut to universal credit by £20 a week.

There are also concerns that some industries are still being hit disproportionately by the fallout from Covid, with the entertainment and travel industries still making heavier use of the furlough scheme than other sectors. The number of people being paid through the U.K. scheme stood at 1.9 million at the end of June and it is due to close at the end of next month.

Huge uncertainty remains over the economy’s direction in the next six months. While confidence has risen, there are warnings over complacency. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who founded the Alliance for Full Employment group to promote jobs protection and work creation programmes, said “a new jobs crisis point is approaching as furlough ends”. …

Peter Lambert, one of the authors of the POID research, said the end of the furlough scheme would be “an inflection point” where the economy could go either way. He added: “I think there will probably need to be some continuation of support in specific sectors. My bet is there’ll be more targeted support, because unless the economy really, really picks up, there’s going to be lots of people still left in the lurch in specific sectors.”

There are also concerns over the impact on families switching from furlough support to universal credit, especially as the £20-a-week increase brought in at the start of the pandemic is to be withdrawn this autumn.

Worth reading in full.

News Round-Up