Healthcare fraud rampant during Covid-19 pandemic

The ability of healthcare systems to provide services to Covid-19 patients has been severely impacted by fraud and may in turn have contributed to deaths. A new study from NEMEXIS, an international anti-fraud consulting firm based in Berlin, finds that, “Fraud and corruption led to deaths in every third country surveyed, to strikes of medical personnel and whistleblowers in every second.” So widespread is the problem, whistleblowers exposed fraud in half of the 58 countries that were surveyed. Eighty one percent reported fraud involving personal protective equipment (PPE), 62% black market activity, 58% embezzlement of healthcare funds, 46% cyber-attacks on healthcare systems and 22% bribery. Suppression of whistleblowers was found to be the single most important fraud-related factor in the spread of Covid-19.

AYUSH India promotes research into natural therapies to combat pandemic

The Indian Ministry of AYUSH has issued a notification seeking input from manufacturers, practitioners and research institutions to support research into potential natural treatments for SARS-CoV-2. The notification focuses on a call for research to be carried out on Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani and homeopathic treatments. The Ministry has come under fire over recent months for sharing information to help support people’s immune resilience in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. In related news, the Keralan government is reported to be taking a proactive stance against Covid-19 by distributing homeopathic medicines to support its residents’ immune systems. Four and a half million people are purported to have received remedies to date.

Cycling booms in popularity during lockdown

Lockdowns around the globe have resulted in historic low levels of traffic. As a result, the popularity of cycling has soared as people take advantage of quiet roads to get out and get fit. Cycling hasn’t been this popular since the 1970’s. Sadly the hopes of cyclists in the ‘70’s for networks of cycling lanes fell by the wayside as planners prioritised motorised vehicles. With the focus on climate change increasing, calls for dedicated cycling lanes are increasing. In the UK, the Government Committee on Climate Change is advising that there should be a focus on low-carbon strategies as the economy revives itself. As we start to emerge from lockdown this could be the perfect time to reduce reliance on cars in a bid to reduce pollution and congestion whilst improving health and fitness.

Statins implicated in development of type 2 diabetes

Taking statins may more than double your risk of developing types 2 diabetes (T2D). Researchers from Ohio State University used health records from patients in a private insurance plan to get a real-world perspective of the relationship between statin use and T2D. The new study published in Diabetes Metabolism Research and Reviews, found that those taking statins for more than two years had more than triple the risk of developing T2D, which echoes the findings of previous research. Despite the very real risks exposed by the study, the lead author maintains the importance of the role of statins in “…preventing heart attacks and strokes”, seemingly forgetting the risk of such health issues to those who are both obese and suffering from T2D. The study underlines the importance of patients being given information on all risks, as well as potential benefits of this overused class of medications so they can make an informed decision about their use.

Vitamin D not on list of potential guidelines to protect BAME NHS workers

The UK’s NHS is developing guidelines to protect the health of NHS workers from black and ethnic minority backgrounds (BAME) given the disproportionate effect of Covid-19 on their risk of dying. It’s thought that one of the factors at play is the increased risk for BAME individuals to experience low circulating levels of vitamin D at the end of the winter. It’s of no surprise sadly that the powers that be don’t appear to have given consideration to the role of nutrient deficiencies, particularly vitamin D, either in regard to increased risk of dying or to the use of supplementation to improve immune resilience and mitigate risk in this population. In Canada, the Canadian Integrative Medicine Association is calling for supplementation with vitamins C and D and zinc to be recommended to support the immune function of all Canadian citizens. Whilst in France the Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire alimentation, environnement, travail (ANSES) is recommending vitamin D supplementation for all French citizens to support immune function. With the UK death rate outstripping that of other European countries, the reluctance of authorities to consider all potential treatments is nothing short of criminal. When the number 1 priority should be saving lives, now is the time to put aside politics, patents and profits in favour of people.