UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid has greenlit a series of AI-based projects that aim to tackle racial inequalities in the NHS. Racial inequality continues to be rampant in healthcare. Examining the fallout of COVID-19 serves as yet another example of the disparity between ethnicities. In England and Wales, males of Black African ethnic background had the highest rate of death involving COVID-19, 2.7 times higher than males of a White ethnic background. Females of Black Caribbean ethnic background had the highest rate, 2.0 times higher than females of White ethnic background.
As a charity says thousands of tenants fell into debt during the pandemic, one woman tells us about her constant fear of eviction. StepChange says 10% of private renters have fallen into arrears, owing nearly £800 each on average, and is calling for emergency support as the furlough scheme and Universal Credit uplift end. The government says unprecedented action has helped keep people in their homes and it's right for measures to be lifted as the economy reopens.
New biotech Antiverse has raised seed funding of £1.4 million ($2 million) to develop its artificial intelligence-based platform for discovering therapeutic antibodies. The Cardiff, Wales startup is combining machine learning and phage display techniques to model antibody-antigen binding and says it can cut the time it takes to develop a drug candidate. It's one of the few AI drug discovery companies operating in the antibody category, as most are focused on small molecules. Antiverse – which was co-founded in 2017 by engineers Murat Tunaboylu and Ben Holland – says it will use the cash injection to build a new laboratory in Cardiff and expand its technical team through recruitment of specialist machine learning engineers, laboratory scientists and structural biologists. Antiverse's platform uses next generation sequencing and AI to provide diverse antibody candidates for any given target, according to the company, which reckons its approach is quicker than existing antibody discovery methods which are effective but can be limited and costly.
It's been over four months since the NHS Covid-19 contact-tracing app launched across the UK, and since then the health services have been short of updates on the performance of the technology, to say the least. Now, some statistics have been revealed to the public, finally shedding light on the scope of the app's contribution to the fight against Covid-19 – and despite the technology's initial shortcomings, the results are encouraging. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced that the app has been downloaded 21.63 million times, a steady increase since the technology was released in September. In total, over 1.7 million users across England and Wales have been advised to isolate by the app, after 825,388 positive test results were logged in. Researchers calculated that this has potentially prevented up to 600,000 positive cases.
The NHS Covid-19 app has been upgraded to detect close contacts more confidently, meaning that users can now expect more high-risk notifications to be issued. Due to the app's improved accuracy, users who are notified to self-isolate should take warnings even more seriously, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said as it announced the changes. The Covid-19 app, which was built by the NHS to anonymously track and warn people who are at risk of having been infected by the disease in England and Wales, relies on a Bluetooth-enabled API developed by Apple and Google for health services to develop decentralised, privacy-preserving contact-tracing tools. Phones that are fitted with the app regularly generate random, anonymous IDs that are exchanged via Bluetooth whenever two devices that have downloaded the app come into prolonged contact. If someone later tests positive for Covid-19, they have the option to submit their results to the app, which in turn triggers alerts to contacts deemed to be at risk of infection by the algorithm.
Eight people have now been fined up to £10,000 after an illegal rave that attracted 3,000 people, with arrests also made for public order offences and driving under the influence of drugs. The unlicensed event at Banwen, on the edge of the Brecon Beacons, started Saturday night. There were still 400 people at the site on Monday morning. South Wales Police Assistant Chief Constable Dave Thorne said drone footage would help identify organisers. A student who attended the rave admitted being taken aback by the scale of the event and likened it to a festival.
With a large backlog of appointments caused by coronavirus, some hospitals in England and Wales have started using algorithms to prioritise patients most urgently in need of care and to help clear the mounting numbers. Multiple companies are vying to get into this space from Babylon's AI services which provide health information, to DrDoctor, which recently released a new AI software adopted to collate and automatically rate patient's responses with digital questionnaires. Tom Whicher, CEO of DrDoctor estimates that if every hospital in the country adopted his technology, the time needed to get through the backlog would be dramatically reduced from four years to ten months. DrDoctor has also stressed that the tool will not decide anything for patients, it does not make clinical suggestions or rule out any patients form receiving care. The platform will present the data and the clinician ultimately makes the decision.
Armed police were called after a man dressed as a medieval knight with a 3ft sword was spotted out for his daily exercise. Three members of the firearms unit were sent after a family saw Lennon Thomas walking at Hendre Lake in St Mellons, Cardiff. Onlookers said he was confronted at gunpoint and looked shocked when told to put down the blade. "Perhaps it was a little stupid of me to bring the sword as from a distance it does look realistic," said the 20-year-old Dungeons and Dragons fan. "However the rest of my outfit was simply me practising for a hobby of mine. "Life is a lot more fun when you don't care how weird you are.
A drone company that had to abandon its fast-food delivery tests has partnered with Ireland's health authority to deliver prescriptions instead. Manna Aero is working with the Health Service Executive to deliver medicines and other essential supplies to vulnerable people in the small rural town of Moneygall. The company's trial uses autonomous drones made in Wales. And it is looking at the possibility of testing in the UK within weeks. The UK has already announced a test of drones to carry supplies to the Isle of Wight during the pandemic.