Thursday 22 October 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 21 / 22 October 2020.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 21 / 22 October 2020.

The UK added 21,242 cases today and now has reported a total of 810,467 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 310,322 tests yesterday (I think that's the second time over 300k in a day). 

7,433 people were in hospital on Tuesday 20th (up from 4,941 a week earlier), with 711 using a ventilator yesterday, Weds 21st October (up from 563 a week earlier). 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 189 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 44,347 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 53,422 cases and 1,868 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 41,734,935 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,139,647. Already 31,059,605 people have recovered.

How to self-isolate UK Government advice

"Lockdowns & 'circuit breakers' are a good way to get #SARSCoV2 cases down fast in bad situations.
But they will only lead to long-term containment if you don't commit to fixing the underlying problems that got you to high cases in the first place. 
They must come with a *plan*."
Dr Emma Hodcroft, Co-developer of nextstrain - who are real-time tracking the strains of COVID as it travels around the world.  

Greater Manchester will move to Tier 3 VERY HIGH restrictions from midnight tonight. 

Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield will move into Tier 3 VERY HIGH restrictions from midnight on Friday. 

Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough will move into Tier 2 HIGH restrictions on Saturday

Scotland's restrictions placed on the central belt (Lothian, Lanarkshire, Forth Valley, Ayrshire & Arran and Greater Glasgow & Clyde) will continue for another week until 6am on Monday 2 November.
In addition, Scotland will announce details of a new Strategic Framework for control of the virus based on a 'levels' approach (with 5 tiers) tomorrow. They are set to begin on November 2nd. 

Rishi Sunak (UK Chancellor) has announced that cash grants of up to £2,100 will be available to businesses affected by Tier 2 High Alert closures. There will be retrospective - which is excellent news for the North West especially, (who are all saying OMG could you not have just mentioned this 2 days ago?) and for everyone else who has survived weeks of closure or lack of business already:
"- open businesses which are experiencing considerable difficulty will be given extra help to keep staff on as government significantly increases contribution to wage costs under the Job Support Scheme, and business contributions drop to 5%
- business grants are expanded to cover businesses in particularly affected sectors in high-alert level areas, helping them stay afloat and protecting jobs
- grants for the self-employed doubled to 40% of previous earnings"

Sadly a 28 year old Brazilian Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine study volunteer has lost their life to COVID-19. The trial hasn't been stopped, or even paused, and sources say the gentleman was part of the control group who received a placebo, and so it appears the vaccine is definitely not at fault. 
Clinical vaccine trials have to include patients who receive a placebo, because you have to have something to compare to, in order to prove a new drug or therapy works. It's a great shame this gentleman wasn't randomly placed in the group receiving the vaccine... 

Rule of 6 Keep to 6

There are several companies and individuals developing rapid tests for COVID, and they're getting very smart. They usually use a pinprick blood test, but some use saliva (although they are overall finding it harder to get really accurate results). 
PocDoc and BioSure have just launched a 10 minute finger prick test aimed at workplaces, which is over 98% accurate for specificity and sensitivity, and there's a bloke in Buckinghamshire who has created a little pinprick gadget which clips on a smartphone and uploads the information, and you get a result back within seconds. He claims he has achieved 98.7% sensitivity (does it find the COVID?) and nearly 100% specificity (do you get false positives?), which is pretty darn good. 

UK School attendance is still going okay, it's creeping downwards, but incredibly slowly. Latest figures this week show:
"We estimate 4-5% of pupils in state-funded schools did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on Thursday 15 October. This includes:
0.1% of pupils with a confirmed case of coronavirus
0.5% of pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus
3.9-4.3% of pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus 
0.2% of pupils in schools closed for COVID-19 related reasons
On Thursday 15 October, approximately 21% of state-funded schools said they had one or more pupils self-isolating who had been asked to do so due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside the school. This is 46% of state-funded secondaries and 16% of state-funded primaries." 
"A smaller proportion (11-13%) had more than 30 pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside the school."

A UK led study into the effects of 'Long COVID' has found some pretty grim results. This isn't yet peer-reviewed, so it may have errors, but it seems to back up evidence which is beginning to come in from around the world. 
They studied 201 individuals who are affected by Long COVID, 105-160 days after their initial symptoms. This is a young, fit group, with an average age 44 (70% female, 87% white, 31% healthcare workers), and a low level of pre-existing conditions (obesity 20%, hypertension 6%; diabetes 2%; heart disease 4%). Only 18% had been ill enough with their COVID infection to actually be hospitalised.
"Fatigue (98%), muscle aches (88%), breathlessness (87%), and headaches (83%) were the most frequently reported symptoms. Ongoing cardiorespiratory (92%) and gastrointestinal (73%) symptoms were common, and 42% of individuals had ten or more symptoms.
There was evidence of mild organ impairment in heart (32%), lungs (33%), kidneys (12%), liver (10%), pancreas (17%), and spleen (6%). Single (66%) and multi-organ (25%) impairment was observed, and was significantly associated with risk of prior COVID-19 hospitalisation. 
Interpretation: In a young, low-risk population with ongoing symptoms, almost 70% of individuals have impairment in one or more organs four months after initial symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection. There are implications not only for burden of long COVID but also public health approaches which have assumed low risk in young people with no comorbidities."
Remember that this isn't a percentage of everyone who had COVID, it is just people who are still suffering 3-5 months later. It shows clearly that they have a genuine illness, which can be seen if you examine them. It's still expected and hoped that most people will eventually fully recover, and in many cases won't even realise, for example, that their liver isn't running at 100%. 

Scottish Govt free meals for school kids

Trump Of The Day:
A Dutch 'ethical hacker' has screenshots to prove that last week he guessed Mr Trump's Twitter password and was able to log in and use the account. He says 2-step verification wasn't turned on, and the password was so obvious that we could all have guessed it - MAGA2020! 
Give. Me. Strength. 
Luckily for Donald the information was passed on to him, and government services, and his account is apparently now more secure. (He's probably changed his password to 'JoeBidenSmellsOfWee'.)

The Czech Republic really do seem to be struggling. Around a quarter of their COVID tests are coming back positive. The WHO recommendation is that anything over 5% positive means you are missing cases. At 25% positive, they really can only be testing people who are ill, meaning they have lost any control over spread right now. 
They have closed schools and made mask-wearing mandatory. Bars and restaurants are take away until 8pm only, and drinking outside the home is barred. Doctors who left to work abroad have been asked if they'll consider returning, and agreements have been put into place with the German states of Bavaria and Saxony in case hospitals become overloaded. 

Wales are going to nationalise their railway in order to ensure it continues to run. They've obviously seen a massive drop in passenger numbers due to COVID, and bringing it back under public control ensures it has a future. Unions are asking for the move to be made permanent. (Go on, do it.)

COVID Transmission BMJ article Colourblind version
English schoolchildren in receipt of free school meals will NOT get this extended to cover more school holidays. Sadly all but about 5 Tory MP's voted against bringing in an extension. Those who voted against included the ministers in charge of Universities, Apprenticeships and school standards. The Education Minister and, somewhat unbelievably, the Children's Minister. The Minister in charge of safeguarding didn't vote. 
I despair.
#eatnowttohelpout has been a trending hashtag on Twitter all day. 

Scotland, who often lead the way when it comes to caring for our future generation, WILL be providing all eligible children with a free lunch throughout the school holidays, at least until after Easter break 2021.

NASA have a message: 
"We will be revealing a new discovery about the surface of the Moon from our airborne SOFIA Telescope observatory, and YOU are invited. 
12pm ET on Monday, Oct. 26!"
I tried to work out what time that'll be in the UK, but gave up because of BST/GMT and the clocks going back, but I think it'll be 4.30pm. We had genuine UFOs earlier this year (no-one seemed to notice), but actual aliens would be good. Preferably alien sloths. Everyone likes sloths.... 

Some people. They all have names, but they're shown here as numbers:

Countries / Cases / Losses of life (some states /provinces yet to report):

USA 8,607,785 (+22,966) 227,696 (+287) 
India 7,756,206 (+51,048) 117,277 (+624)
Brazil 5,303,520 (+2,871) 155,500 (+41)
Russia 1,463,306 (+15,971) 25,242 (+290)
Spain 1,046,641 not yet reported today 34,366
Argentina 1,037,325 not yet reported today 27,519
Colombia 981,700 not yet reported today 29,464
France 957,421  not yet reported today 34,048
Peru 876,885 not yet reported today 33,937
Mexico 867,559 (+6,845) 87,415 (+522)
UK 810,467 (+21,242) 44,347 (+189)
South Africa 708,359 not yet reported today 18,741
Iran 550,757 (+5,471) 31,650 (+304)
Chile 497,131 (+1,494) 13,792 (+73)
Italy 465,726 (+16,079) 36,968 (+136) 


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