Update: COVID, Skin Cancer Screening and business information01 February 2022 Newsletter
In this newsletter, we will update you on four topics:
- COVID-19 pandemic update
- Skin cancer screening
- New prices and indexing
1. Update COVID-19 pandemic
According to the most recent figures from the WHO, by the end of January 2022 more than 400 million coronary infections had been diagnosed worldwide, resulting in a total of 5.7 million deaths (average mortality of almost 1.5%). The Dutch situation is as follows: In the Netherlands, by the end of January 2022, at least 4.5 million infections have been diagnosed, in which more than 21,000 people have died (average mortality of almost 0.5%). Most infections occur in the 20-24 year age group. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been over 400,000 documented infections in this age group. The majority of all coronary infections worldwide are now caused by the omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Due to the many mutations in the spike protein, the virus is more contagious than earlier variants, but it also seems that an infection with the omicron variant has a milder course of disease. However, the exact explanation for this is unfortunately not so simple, because immunity has been built up in the population by natural infection with (earlier variants of) the coronavirus, because there are also protective effects of vaccinations and booster vaccinations, and because the treatment options of COVID-19 disease have greatly improved, which of course also contributes to less severe outcomes.
However, the course of an infection with omicron may be milder than an infection with earlier virus variants, such as the delta variant, but that does not mean that an infection with the omicron type is merely harmless. The first scientific studies to look at this for the omicron variant show that just over 1% of patients with an omicron infection still need to be admitted to hospital; 0.16% become so ill that they have to be admitted to intensive care and 0.06% of those infected die.
A striking finding is that after a new infection with omicron the body does produce some antibodies, but on average this is three times less than after a booster shot. In itself this is not
In itself this is not strange because an infection with omicron usually causes mild symptoms and the immune system is apparently less activated than in the case of a serious illness.
With the advent of omicron, the proportion of reinfections has also risen sharply. From the summer until mid-December 2021, an average of 3 percent of the reports concerned a reinfection (with the delta variant), whereas today the figure is at least 12 percent. The risk of re-infection with omicron is more than five times higher than with the delta variant; a previously acquired infection protects only 20 percent against re-infection with omicron. This seems to be because the antibodies in the body are much less capable of rendering virus particles of the omicron type harmless, as the spike protein of the omicron type has been rather modified by the many mutations. Research has shown that forty times more antibodies are needed to neutralise the omicron variant than for the original virus. This is also the basis for the advice to get a booster vaccination (the booster vaccination rate for people aged 18 and over in the Netherlands is almost 60%, so not everyone has had this booster vaccination yet) because the antibody concentration then increases significantly. To illustrate, two corona shots offer at most 20% protection against infection with omicron. After a booster shot, the protection increases to 55-80%.
Despite some early studies suggesting that current vaccines might be less effective against omicron, it seems very likely that vaccines still protect against hospitalisation and serious illness/death and therefore still make a difference.
There are no worrisome developments for the diagnosis of the omicron variant. The omicron variant is easily detectable with our PCR tests as well as the antigen rapid tests.
2. Corporate Travel Clinic takes up the fight against skin cancer
Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer worldwide. It is expected that the incidence of skin cancer will only increase further due to the increasing growth of the world population, the aging of the population, but also due to cumulatively higher exposure to UV radiation, among other things as a result of climate change. Too much sunlight and the related exposure to UV radiation directly on the skin is seen as one of the most important risk factors. Especially people who have an outdoor job or work in the tropics for a long time have an increased risk of skin cancer for this reason. It has been shown that outdoor workers often work during UV peak hours and therefore on average have a 3 times higher risk of skin cancer. In addition, the UV radiation that a person is actually exposed to is also increased by reflections from surfaces. Reflection on water surfaces can increase the UV exposure by a factor of 30. Pilots and stewardesses, for example, also have an increased risk of melanoma and basal cell carcinoma due to a higher average exposure to UV radiation. The National Skin Cancer Action Plan that was presented to the Lower House last year also recommends that skin cancer, which in principle can be prevented by targeted screening and preventive measures, should be recognised as a UV-related occupational disease, as is already the case in Germany.
In cooperation with the tech start-up SkinTwin, we want to run the skin cancer screening programme at our location. Broadly speaking, this screening programme consists of a personal risk inventory in terms of work situation and UV exposure. This is followed by a digital screening using whole body imaging, focusing on the presence of UV-related skin damage and suspicious skin abnormalities, after which a dermatologist checks the skin again for the presence of suspicious skin abnormalities, just to be sure. After this, a report is drawn up with their findings and possible advice or even a referral to a dermatologist’s consultation for an operation. As a digital image of your skin is recorded, repeating the whole-body imaging during the follow-up allows for accurate periodic monitoring, which is especially focused on early detection of skin cancer.
Ingrid Rombouts, our commercial manager, has resigned from her job on 1 February 2022 after almost 25 years of service to look for new challenges. We wish her every success and thank her for her commitment and involvement in our organisation. We are now working hard to fill her vacant position in the short term.
4. New prices and indexation
As of 1 January 2022, our prices will be increased by 3.4%.
Should you have any further questions as a result of this newsletter or if you would like more information on any of the subjects mentioned, you can always reach us via the secretariat of the Corporate Travel Clinic Erasmus MC (telephone 010-8201120) or via firstname.lastname@example.org.