Bill Gates revives interest in developing a universal flu vaccine
At a recent conference, Bill Gates revealed his plan to entice innovative thinkers across a number of industries to develop a universal flu vaccine, STAT News has reported.
The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation are set to offer up to $12mn in seed money to entice innovators across machine learning, AI and all fields of healthcare to develop the vaccine which will cover all various strains of the virus. Whilst the Foundation would provide half the money, Larry Page, co-founder of Google, is set to fund the second half.
The website has stated that funding will be issued in two parts, with grants of up to $2mn for individual projects for those which are deemed to harness significant potential. The money would enable researchers to undertake required tests and essential data accumulation. However, applicants would have to undergo such feats at a rapid pace, with the aim to have a vaccine ready to be tested on humans by 2021.
The news comes a century after the Spanish Flu pandemic, recorded as one of the worst in history. Responsible for the deaths of up to 100mn people, numbers would be universally higher today, and spread quicker as a result of booming tourism figures.
Gates has openly stated that such a pandemic of equal severity today would kill up to 33mn people within the first six months, despite modern medical advances, The Atlantic reports.
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However, many have stated that $12mn is not enough to cover such research into a potential vaccine. The National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease spent over $60mn solely on universal flu vaccine research in 2017, leading to questions as to whether such a timeline, and funding, is somewhat optimistic.
“Sometimes I’m over-optimistic,” reflected Gates when asked directly. “There’s no guarantee we’d have one in 10 years, but I think there’s a reasonable chance that we will.”
Upon recently meeting with President Trump, Gates’ passion to drive the development of a potential vaccine led Trump to directly call Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb regarding its potential.
Paul Radspinner, President and CEO of FluGen has also reacted positively to the news. “Having the Gates Foundation throw its weight behind the search for a universal flu vaccine is fantastic news,” he informed The Verge.
“We’re not concerned about the size of the investment as I’m sure this is just the first of many announcements by the Foundation about how they will play a significant role in this area.”
A third of UK patients prefer mobile apps to doctor visits
A third of UK patients prefer using mobile healthcare applications to having face-to-face consultations, a new report has found.
The research, commissioned by Mobiquity and conducted by Censuswide, surveyed 100 doctors and 1,003 patients in the UK during COVID-19 to understand their experiences with digital healthcare technology and its impact on patient care.
It found that as a result of COVID-19, 33% of patients would rather use a mobile app than visit the doctor.
Additionally over a third of doctors said that using mobile healthcare applications made it easier to prescribe the right treatment for patients remotely. However respondents cited technical issues and privacy concerns as barriers to using mobile healthcare apps.
The survey's other findings include:
* 56% of UK patients plan to use mobile healthcare applications in the future after using them during COVID-19.
* 71% of doctors plan to adopt mobile healthcare applications in the future
*52% of doctors experienced technical issues, with device compatibility problems being the most frequently reported technical issue
*28% of patients cited privacy concerns when using mobile healthcare applications during COVID-19
Commenting on the report, Teun Schutte, Managing Consultant at Mobiquity said that the COVID-19 pandemic had been transformational for digital healthcare. "The pandemic has shown the importance of digital health solutions and the need for increased adoption in the future, while at the same time highlighting the benefits around ease of access to care for patients and lower costs for healthcare providers.
“The challenge that exists, however, is how to solve frictions in the delivery of mobile healthcare applications and other types of digital health in the future. Our research highlighted the main barriers to adoption for patients and practitioners, and the areas we need to optimise to ensure digital innovation is scaled successfully to improve patient outcomes. Indeed, technical issues and privacy concerns need to be solved by aligning stakeholder concerns before digital health products are launched" he added.
“By aligning the digital innovation process and creating a blueprint for scaling the next generation of digital health technologies, as an industry we can scale digital health products or services across disease areas, and across hospitals, markets and regions, ensuring that patients receive personalised, quality care through digital health technologies.”