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What has Boris Johnson announced in his social care plan?

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What has Boris Johnson announced in his social care plan?

Boris Johnson has given the first outlines of what Downing Street is billing as a once-in-a-generation shake-up of adult social care plan  and how it is funded, which will also help pay for a post-Covid catch-up programme for the NHS.

What has been announced?

In brief: a plan to finance adult social care through tax changes, and to modernise the social care system and ensure it is better integrated with healthcare. In the short term, much of the money being raised will finance the NHS to catch up with elective surgery and other appointments delayed due to Covid. While the financing plan is UK-wide, the actual implementation of health and social care is run by each UK nation.

How is it being paid for?

From April 2022, national insurance contributions for employees, employers and the self-employed will rise by 1.25 percentage points, and there will be the same rise in dividends tax. From April 2023, while the rises will stay the same, the tax rise will be rebranded as a health and social care levy, which will appear separately on people’s tax records.

How much will be raised and what will it be spent on?

How much is raised depends, obviously, on revenues, but Downing Street says that for the next three years the tax rise will give an additional £12bn a year for health and social care plan . Of this combined £36bn, £5.4bn over the three years is earmarked for social care in England, with about £500m of this earmarked for training; £16bn will be used for direct NHS England funding; £8.9bn will go on what is termed a “health-based Covid response”, seemingly the NHS England catchup; and £5.7bn will go to devolved nations, to cover both health and social care. It is not clear what proportion will be allocated to social care once the first three years are up.

What will people have to pay for their social care?

Currently in England, if people have assets worth more than £23,250, they have to pay for their social care, and there is no cap on costs, meaning some people have to sell their homes to cover these. Under the new system, anyone with assets below £20,000 will not have to pay anything from these, although they might have to make a contribution from any income.

Those with assets from £20,000 to £100,000 and above will have to contribute, on a sliding scale, although the details are set out, and it depends on contributions from local authorities, which deliver much of social care. However, people in this bracket will not contribute more than 20% of their assets each year, and once their assets are worth less than £20,000, they would pay nothing more, although they might still contribute from any income.

Those with assets above £100,000 must meet all fees until their assets fall below £100,000. There is a maximum payment towards care of £86,000, which ministers say is about the equivalent of three years of full-time care.

This new means test system comes into force in October 2023 – until that point some people will still have to pay more than £86,000 in total.

What other changes are planned for social care?

Beyond the promise to bring the health and social care systems together, there is little detail so far on the overhaul of social care, beyond the prospect of a white paper to develop longer-term plans. The current plan does pledge £500m over three years for social care workforce training and recruitment, and extra money set aside to local authorities to help deliver social care, and to deliver the integration, though without any specific sums for these.

Is this a UK-wide system?

National insurance is a UK-wide system, although rates and thresholds can differ. The income from the new levy will be distributed across the four UK nations. The government says that by 2024-25, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will benefit from an extra £1.1bn, £700m and £400m respectively. However, health and social care are devolved and differ significantly, meaning issues such as the cap and floor for people’s personal outgoings on care will also vary.

How much will the higher NI rates cost people?

According to Downing Street figures, someone earning £24,100 a year would pay an extra £180 a year. A person on £67,100 would pay £715 more. Those earning less than £9,500 a year, the threshold for national insurance, will still pay nothing. Although people above the state pension age who still work do not normally pay national insurance, once the rise is rebranded as a health and social care levy from 2023, they will pay this.

Why is the NHS getting so much of the money?

Because, Downing Street says, routine NHS work has been so badly hit by Covid, with a waiting list in England for elective treatments of 5.5 million people, which ministers say could reach 13 million by the end of the year. The extra money is intended to fund 9m more appointments, operations and treatments.

Will the money ever be moved from the NHS to social care?

Time will tell. Downing Street insists that after the coming few years the exceptional demands on the NHS will reduce, and there will be more money free for social care. However, NHS budgetary demands have rarely, if ever, gone down in the past, and this could prove quite a political challenge.

Does this solve the social care crisis?

No – this is just a first step on how a plan may be financed, with almost all details of how care and health can be better integrated still to be worked out. And while the government’s 32-page plan pledges that councils will have access to sufficient funds to meet their social care demands, local authorities have long complained that they are left short.

This article was amended on 8 September 2021. An earlier version gave two different figures in the text and a graphic for the amount of money set aside for social care workforce training over three years: £500,000 and £500m. The latter is correct. Also, another graphic indicated that the state completely funds the care of people with personal assets below £23,250; this figure is £14,250.

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Covid Vaccines Saved 20 Million Lives In First Year – Study

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Covid Vaccines Saved 20 Million Lives In First Year – Study

Covid vaccines prevented nearly 20 million deaths in the first year after they were introduced, according to the first large modelling study on the topic released Friday.

The study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, is based on data from 185 countries and territories collected from December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021.

It is the first attempt to estimate the number of deaths prevented directly and indirectly as a result of Covid-19 vaccinations.

It found that 19.8 million deaths were prevented out of a potential 31.4 million deaths that would have occurred if no vaccines were available.

It was a 63 percent reduction, the study found.

The study used official figures — or estimates when official data was not available — for deaths from Covid, as well as total excess deaths from each country.

Excess mortality is the difference between the total number of people who died from all causes and the number of deaths expected based on past data.

These analyses were compared with a hypothetical alternative scenario in which no vaccine was administered.

The model accounted for variation in vaccination rates across countries, as well as differences in vaccine effectiveness based on the types of vaccines known to have been primarily used in each country.

China was not included in the study because of its large population and strict containment measures, which would have skewed the results, it said.

The study found that high- and middle-income countries accounted for the largest number of deaths averted, 12.2 million out of 19.8 million, reflecting inequalities in access to vaccines worldwide.

Nearly 600,000 additional deaths could have been prevented if the World Health Organization’s (WHO) goal of vaccinating 40 percent of each country’s population by the end of 2021 had been met, it concluded.

“Millions of lives have probably been saved by making vaccines available to people around the world,” said lead study author Oliver Watson of Imperial College London.

“We could have done more,” he said.

Covid has officially killed more than 6.3 million people globally, according to the WHO.

But the organisation said last month the real number could be as high as 15 million when all direct and indirect causes are accounted for.

The figures are extremely sensitive due to how they reflect on the handling of the crisis by authorities around the world.

The virus is on the rise again in some places, including in Europe, which is seeing a warm-weather resurgence blamed in part on Omicron subvariants.

AFP

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WHO considers declaring monkeypox a global health emergency

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WHO considers declaring monkeypox a global health emergency

As the World Health Organization convenes its emergency committee Thursday to consider if the spiraling outbreak of monkeypox warrants being declared a global emergency, some experts say WHO’s decision to act only after the disease spilled into the West could entrench the grotesque inequities that arose between rich and poor countries during the coronavirus pandemic.

Declaring monkeypox to be a global emergency would mean the U.N. health agency considers the outbreak to be an “extraordinary event” and that the disease is at risk of spreading across even more borders. It would also give monkeypox the same distinction as the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing effort to eradicate polio.

Many scientists doubt any such declaration would help to curb the epidemic, since the developed countries recording the most recent cases are already moving quickly to shut it down.

Last week, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the recent monkeypox epidemic identified in more than 40 countries, mostly in Europe, as “unusual and concerning.” Monkeypox has sickened people for decades in central and west Africa, where one version of the disease kills up to 10% of people. In the epidemic beyond Africa so far, no deaths have been reported.

“If WHO was really worried about monkeypox spread, they could have convened their emergency committee years ago when it reemerged in Nigeria in 2017 and no one knew why we suddenly had hundreds of cases,” said Oyewale Tomori, a Nigerian virologist who sits on several WHO advisory groups. “It is a bit curious that WHO only called their experts when the disease showed up in white countries,” he said.

Until last month, monkeypox had not caused sizeable outbreaks beyond Africa. Scientists haven’t found any major genetic changes in the virus and a leading adviser to WHO said last month the surge of cases in Europe was likely tied to sexual activity among gay and bisexual men at two raves in Spain and Belgium.

To date, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed more than 3,300 cases of monkeypox in 42 countries where the virus hasn’t been typically seen. More than 80% of cases are in Europe. Meanwhile, Africa has already seen more than 1,400 cases this year, including 62 deaths.

David Fidler, a senior fellow in global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, said WHO’s newfound attention to monkeypox amid its spread beyond Africa could inadvertently worsen the divide between rich and poor countries seen during COVID-19.

“There may be legitimate reasons why WHO only raised the alarm when monkeypox spread to rich countries, but to poor countries, that looks like a double standard,” Fidler said. He said the global community was still struggling to ensure the world’s poor were vaccinated against the coronavirus and that it was unclear if Africans even wanted monkeypox vaccines, given competing priorities like malaria and HIV.

“Unless African governments specifically ask for vaccines, it might be a bit patronizing to send them because it’s in the West’s interest to stop monkeypox from being exported,” Fidler said.

WHO has also proposed creating a vaccine-sharing mechanism to help affected countries, which could see doses go to rich countries like Britain, which has the biggest monkeypox outbreak beyond Africa — and recently widened its use of vaccines.

To date, the vast majority of cases in Europe have been in men who are gay or bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, but scientists warn anyone in close contact with an infected person or their clothing or bedsheets is at risk of infection, regardless of their sexual orientation. People with monkeypox often experience symptoms like fever, body aches and a rash; most recover within weeks without needing medical care.

Even if WHO announces monkeypox is a global emergency, it’s unclear what impact that might have.

In January 2020, WHO declared that COVID-19 was an international emergency. But few countries took notice until March, when the organization described it as a pandemic, weeks after many other authorities did so. WHO was later slammed for its multiple missteps throughout the pandemic, which some experts said might be prompting a quicker monkeypox response.

“After COVID, WHO does not want to be the last to declare monkeypox an emergency,” said Amanda Glassman, executive vice president at the Center for Global Development. “This may not rise to the level of a COVID-like emergency, but it is still a public health emergency that needs to be addressed.”

Salim Abdool Karim, an epidemiologist and vice chancellor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, said WHO and others should be doing more to stop monkeypox in Africa and elsewhere, but wasn’t convinced that a global emergency declaration would help.

“There is this misplaced idea that Africa is this poor, helpless continent, when in fact, we do know how to deal with epidemics,” said Abdool Karim. He said that stopping the outbreak ultimately depends on things like surveillance, isolating patients and public education.

“Maybe they need vaccines in Europe to stop monkeypox, but here, we have been able to control it with very simple measures,” he said.

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NMA urges NCDC to step up fight against Monkeypox

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NMA urges NCDC to step up fight against Monkeypox

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has urged the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to step-up its efforts in educating and protecting Nigerians from the increasing cases of the ravaging Monkeypox disease.

It stressed that the Agency, which is saddled with the responsibility of disease prevention and control, must not lose sight of other infectious diseases like monkeypox, even as it focuses on COVID-19.

The doctors’ association, while urging Nigerians to adhere strictly to the preventive measures of personal hygiene, especially hand hygiene because like monkeypox, COVID-19 is still very much in the country, and the situation can become worse if not handled properly, implored religious institutions – churches and mosques – to take up the responsibility of sensitising their followers about the disease.

Recall that yesterday the NCDC announced that the country has recorded 21 confirmed cases of the Monkeypox disease in the last five (5) months, with one death. Also, in the month of May, a total six (6) new confirmed positive cases were reported from four (4) states – Bayelsa (2), Adamawa (2), Lagos (1), and Rivers (1).

Globally, according to reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), as of 26 May, there have been a cumulative total of 257 laboratory confirmed cases, with around 120 suspected cases reported, from 23 non-endemic countries. However, no deaths have been reported.

Speaking with The Nation, the newly elected President of the NMA, Dr Uche Ojinmah, said: “We have the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) that has the responsibility of not just monitoring and controlling COVID-19, but every infectious disease. Therefore, they should step up to the plate. It is the business of the NCDC; they can link up with the Ministry of Information and get people aware.

“They need to start giving us data on this Monkeypox as it happens across the country. With the current awareness coming from a reputable government institution like that, people will sit up. We need to start directing our calls to the appropriate institution, which is the NCDC. We don’t expect President Muhammadu Buhari to give us information on this. Let the NCDC step up to the plate and do their job.

“The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control needs to understand that it is not only COVID-19; it is important. It is however necessary to be combined in the sensitisation of the people. The media also have a role to play in sensitisation. The government needs to bring the will, but we all in our little ways can contribute.

“We have a bit of a problem in this country; we initiate measures, achieve a positive response, and we drop our guards. In 2015 when Ebola came, we took it on as a nation, and we got rid of it, and everybody went back to their normal lives. COVID-19 has come and with us, if you check even in flights now, you force people to wear their masks. Nigerians, therefore, need to be serious and the government needs to play a role.

“Monkeypox is here now and everybody pretends they don’t know – until it becomes a problem. I also expected that the government, civil society, and non- governmental organisations should have started spreading the message by now. Our churches and mosques should take up this course now that it has not become a disaster.

“Doctors should also start to educate patients they see that do not have it. We need to start now to prepare the minds of our people; it may not be as bad as Ebola or COVID-19, but it is still a problem. So, the earlier we start preventive measures, the better we will be.”

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