Covid: Dr Hilary Jones provides update as UK infection rates rise
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One such skin infection cropping up as a result of a Covid infection is shingles.
Shingles is normally caused by the herpes zoster virus, one which remains dormant after a child experiences chickenpox.
However, a new study has found the infection can also be caused by COVID-19.
The research, published in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases, found adults over the age of 50 who have had COVID-19 are 15 percent more likely to develop shingles within the first six months after infection.
Furthermore, the risk of shingles grows to 21 percent within the first six for those who have been hospitalised with COVID-19.
Speaking about the link Doctor Kashif Pirzada said: “It [herpes zoster] never fully leaves your body. Your immune system is keeping it in check like a tug-of-war.
“If you have a big shock to your immune system like a Covid infection, or if you’re not sleeping, you’re not eating well then it could flare up and cause shingles.”
As well as Covid leading to shingles, shingles can also have its own range of complications.
This includes Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, the condition which caused the singer Justin Bieber to cancel several tour dates earlier this year.
The condition causes partial facial paralysis.
Doctor Pirzada added: “It affects your balance, your hearing, your taste, the movements of your face, even closing your eyes.
“And the recovery is long. If you start antivirals early, you can have a better course. But the recovery can take months, even a couple of years.”
Recovery for some half a million people in the UK is not an option, particularly if they catch COVID-19.
This half a million patient cohort are the immunocompromised – people with weakened immune systems who do not have any antibodies against COVID-19 despite multiple vaccinations.
However, there is a treatment available to immunocompromised patients worldwide; known as Evusheld, it provides protection for up to six months.
The medicine was developed by AstraZeneca, one of the teams behind the Covid vaccines.
While countries such as the United States have purchased doses, the UK hasn’t; this is despite evidence showing the Evusheld works against the latest variants of Omicron, BA.4 and BA.5.
In a statement, CEO of charity Blood Cancer UK Gemma Peters said: “For some time, we have been urging the Government to set out its approach to using preventative treatments for people who have not responded well to the vaccines, and it is disappointing that it has not yet done so.
“The treatment is already available to immunocompromised people in the United States and other countries but immunocompromised people in the UK are waiting for the Government to confirm whether it plans to use it and, if so, how many doses it will buy.
“Many people with blood cancer have now spent almost two years avoiding social interaction – the Government needs to do more to support them to be able to start getting back to normal. The Government, and the MHRA are currently saying that they’re waiting on further research to understand how well the treatment works against Omicron.”
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