Tuesday 10 November 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 9th / 10th November 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 9th / 10th November 2020.

The UK added 20,412 cases today and now has reported a total of 1,233,775 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 234,078 tests yesterday. 

13,617 people were in hospital on Sunday 8th, with 1,268 using a ventilator yesterday, 9th November. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 532 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 49,770 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 65,889 (+230) cases and 1,963 (+15) losses of life.

There have now been a total of 51,598,200 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,275,122. Already 36,290,226 people have recovered.

A mask is not a political statement, it's an IQ test

"It's time to end the politicisation of basic public health steps, like mask-wearing and social distancing. We have to come together to heal the soul of this country, so we can affectively address this crisis. As one country, where hard-working Americans have each other's backs.... For the foreseeable future, a mask remains the most potent weapon against the virus."
Joe 'sounds promising' Biden, US President-elect. A mask is not, nor should it ever be, a political statement. 

We had a UK Briefing with Bozza yesterday, which I covered separately, so I won't repeat what was said, but the Pfizer Vaccine seems over 90% effective - which is excellent news. It's also the same type of vaccine as many of the other candidates coming up to their trial results, so things are looking really hopeful. 

Wales are out of lockdown - yeeeay. Instead they have a series of WELSH national measures:
"At home, including in the garden, people will only be able to meet others from their extended household, and an extended household will be limited to just two households coming together.
Anywhere else, only four people (not including those aged under 11) can meet indoors or outdoors, except where more than four people from the same household are together
Up to 15 people (not including those aged under 11) will be able to take part in an organised indoors activity and up to 30 (not including those aged under 11) in organised outdoors activities, providing all social distancing, hand hygiene and other Covid safety measures are followed.
Schools will reopen in full from next Monday.
All business premises, which have been shut since October 23 will be able to reopen on November 9.
There will be no travel restrictions inside Wales but during the month-long lockdown in England, travel will not be permitted outside Wales without a reasonable excuse."
They also have strong fines for anyone failing to self-isolate, or anyone knowingly enabling or encouraging people to work when they should be self-isolating. There is a £500 payment for eligible people who will suffer hardship as a result of isolating after being officially asked, or if they have a positive test result. 

"I’m delighted that we will now be testing all NHS patient-facing staff twice a week, helping to protect those who do so much to keep us safe.
The UK now has the largest testing capacity in Europe, a crucial part of our national effort to suppress coronavirus."
Matt Hancock, UK Health Minister. 

It's the Scottish Government's intention, whenever time allows, to announce changes in the Tuesday briefing and enact them on the Friday. Nicola announced the first changes today. 
"I can confirm that we have taken the very difficult, but in our view necessary and precautionary decision to move Fife, Perth & Kinross and Angus to level 3 from Friday."
People should not enter or leave Level 3 or 4 areas except for essential purposes. People should "not travel outside of Scotland, to other parts of the UK or overseas right now, unless it is for these essential purposes."
In better news:
"There is one restriction that we do intend to ease for people living in Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles.
From Friday, residents of these three island authorities will be able to meet with one other household inside their homes, up to a strict maximum of six people."

Look after your mental health. There is ALWAYS someone to talk to

"In the Test & Trace system, out of the 35 organisations that are listed as Data Processors, only 4 are NHS bodies, 4 are Lighthouse Labs, 4 are Public Health England bodies and another is Ministry Of Defence. The remaining 22 are private companies, including Amazon, G4S, Deloitte and Serco. So with those numbers in mind, it is quite clearly an outsourced £12b programme, with a large number of private companies running testing sites, processing samples and managing call centres. So given those numbers, do you believe it is accurate to refer to the system as "NHS Test & Trace"?"
Zara Sultana, UK MP.
"Yes I do, that is its name."
Dido Harding, Test & Trace lead. 

Production of the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine candidate has begun in Australia. They will produce 30 million doses. Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt has said it will be optional, but he expects take-up to be very high (they value science highly). 
Fingers crossed it works as well as the Pfizer Vaccine. These sort of things can be hints. Latest data from the Oxford vaccine must be looking okay. 

The big news yesterday really was the Pfizer (US)/ BioNTech (Germany) vaccine candidate study news. The vaccine appears to be around 90% effective, which is brilliant for a first round vaccine. The results are good enough to vaccinate for herd immunity (the proper way!). President-elect Joe Biden released a statement explaining that although this is great, in reality it will be several months before most people will have access to the vaccine. (No filibustering or demanding to over-ride legal /health channels to speed things up! I like this guy already...). Boris held a press conference to tell the UK public the same. It will be several months before vaccine availability reaches main populations, possibly as many as 9. DON'T GET COMPLACENT. 56,000 people already died from this in the UK over the last 9 months, we do NOT want to repeat that. 
If everything continues to go smashingly, the most vulnerable people in the UK may have had their first dose (this vaccine type needs two) just in time for Christmas. 

Other BIG news today is that the NHS are being told to stand by for vaccine delivery. This isn't even new news, it's from last week, and it makes logical sense anyway. The UK's 40 million doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine were ordered months ago, we'll want them as soon as they're available, and it needs to be stored at -70 degrees. Hospitals will have to be prepared to receive it. "Clear a shelf in that freezer."

Job retention scheme extended until March 2021

The latest ONS figures are out for the UK up until 30th October: 
"Looking at the year-to-date (using the most up-to-date data we have available), the number of deaths up to 30 October 2020 was 505,834, which is 56,620 more than the five-year average. Of the deaths registered by 30 October, 56,698 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate; this is 11.2% of all deaths in England and Wales. Looking at the year-to-date for England and Wales separately, the number of deaths in England was 474,637, which is 55,310 (13.2%) more than the five-year average. Of these, 53,739 (11.3%) mentioned COVID-19. In Wales, the number of deaths up to 30 October 2020 was 30,486, which is 2,345 (8.3%) more than the five-year average; of these, 2,884 deaths (9.5%) mentioned COVID-19."

Matt Hancock has announced even more testing news, with the Lateral Flow tests (rapid/no lab needed tests):
"Test kits will be issued to over 50 directors of public health across England this week, to enable local teams to direct and deliver community testing based on their local knowledge. Each will receive a batch of 10,000 antigen lateral flow devices as part of a new pilot to enable them to start testing priority groups."
"This initial 600,000 batch will then be followed up with a weekly allocation of lateral flow antigen tests. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has now written to all upper-tier local authority leaders, confirming that all directors of public health will be offered this weekly allocation, equivalent to 10% of their population. This will build on the existing partnerships between NHS Test and Trace and local leaders."
This is really positive - local people have a far better idea of where exactly they will benefit most from testing  - and can reach those communities much more quickly. The tests will be used on people regardless of whether they have symptoms. 

OFSTED are finding that most UK school pupils have fallen behind, and deprivation has little to do with it.  In fact it depends on the support network children have while learning from home. There's a great quote in TES from Amanda Spielman, head of OFSTED, which sums it up, and places pupils into 3 main groups:
"There are those who have been, and still are, coping well in the face of restrictions; there is a group who have been hardest hit, largely because of the interplay between their circumstances and the impact of the pandemic; and there is the majority – a group who have slipped back in their learning to varying degrees since schools were closed to most children and movement restricted."
Most children are out of practise at writing a lot of text, their reading and maths is a bit rusty, and their physical health has suffered a little. Music and other skills that need to be kept fresh are also a problem area. A lot of our children do also show some signs of stress. 
Really, none of this could be called surprising. I can very clearly see it in my own children. How we move past it is the issue. We can't simply expect already stressed children to pile on extra work to "catch up" to where the school pupils before them were. 

Welsh Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, has stated that there will be NO end of year exams for GCSE, A-level and AS-level students in Wales next Summer. Pupils will instead have teacher-managed assessments. 
I'm split on this. Our kids are already stressed, they don't need massive pressure from education, however I actually think it should be optional to add on examinations as an extra. Some kids do NEED that exam result and feeling of completion. We don't want to leave them feeling 'empty'. 

The UK Government are in trouble AGAIN, this time over failure to publish details of where they are spending the money. Jolyon Maughan QC has a piece in yesterday's Guardian:
"In a legal filing in the case, dated 30 October, government lawyers revealed that £17bn had been spent by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on Covid-related goods and services since the start of the financial year in April. However, to date civil servants in Hancock’s ministry have only released details of £12.4bn in Covid-related contracts for that period – leaving £4.6bn unaccounted for."
He does say that some contracts are for things like the rapid tests being used in Liverpool, but we really do need to know where the rest of the cash is going.

liverpool first pilot of mass testing

Hundreds of relatives of NHS and Social Care staff who have died from COVID haven't yet claimed the £60,000 bereavement payment. So far 205 claims have been accepted, but It's estimated that 620 front-line health workers in England and Wales have died from coronavirus since March. 
I've been bereaved myself, and it's impossible to function. If you are in a position to remind or help any of these people, please do. They're entitled to this money, and once they get over the initial pain of losing their loved one, they'll be very grateful for it. 

Scotland have a way better acronym than anything Boris has come up with: 
Wear face coverings
Avoid places with crowds of people
Clean your hands, and hard surfaces regularly
Keep 2 metre distance from people in other households.
And self isolate, and get tested, if you have any of the symptoms of Covid.

As good as his word, Joe Biden on Monday announced his Biden-Harris Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board:
"Dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts."
If you listen carefully, you can hear scientists, financial and pandemic experts worldwide, dancing a little happy dance. 
The panel is really diverse and clearly aims to make healthcare inclusive for all, and cover all aspects of people's personal health and well-being. COVID doesn't just affect the physical health of those who become ill. It affects everyone's mental and social health very much:
Dr David Kessler, professor of Paediatrics, and Epidemiology and Biostatistics. FDA Commissioner 1990-1997
Dr Vivek Murthy, 19th Surgeon General of the United States - has worked extensively with drugs/alcohol and mental health, and has a lot of experience with 'public health threats'. 
Dr Marcella Nunez-Smith - healthcare equity specialist (fairness and accessibility)
Dr Luciana Borio - specialises in Biodefence, Emerging Diseases, Medical Development and Complex Health Emergencies. Director of the FDA's Office of Counter-terrorism and Emerging Threats. 
Dr Rick Bright - now. This guy is an interesting choice. He was director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) from 2016-2020, but in May 2020, he filed a complaint against the Trump administration, saying they ignored his warnings about COVID-19 and illegally retaliated by demoting him. He resigned. He's got a good job now... 

got symptoms get tested

Now that the vaccine news is headline, things like 'Thalidomide' are getting a mention. That is the past. It was 50 years ago, and the reason that hasn't happened again, is because we learnt not to be so stupid. Thalidomide changed the way drugs were tested FOREVER. The Pfizer / BioNTech Vaccine has already been tested on 44,000 live human people, Thalidomide was tested mainly on rats. There is no comparison to current vaccine trials. 

It's Remembrance Day tomorrow. Don't forget to pause at 11am. The world loses a lot of people to war, and most of those fighting never wanted to be in that position. Many of the lost fought for freedoms, and for the right to be able to live at peace. Only by remembering those people, and by teaching our children, can we learn.

Some numbers. They all represent real human people:

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

USA 10,455,013 (+32,987) 244,849 (+400)
India 8,632,410 (+41,335) 127,554 (+450)
Brazil 5,679,212 (+3,446) 162,672 (+34)
Russia 1,817,109 (+20,977) 31,161 (+368)
France 1,807,479 not yet reported today 40,987
Spain 1,443,997 (+17,395) 39,756 (+411)
Argentina 1,250,499 not yet reported today 33,907
UK 1,233,775 (+20,412) 49,770 (+532)
Colombia 1,149,063 not yet reported today 32,974
Italy 995,463 (+35,098) 42,330 (+580) 
Germany 699,002 (+10,030) 11,756 (+99)
Poland 593,592 (+25,454) 8,375 (+330)
Estonia 6,376 (+128) 76
Hong Kong 5,390 (+9) 108 (+1)
Iceland 5,114 (+13) 24 (+1)
Thailand 3,844 (+4) 60
Lesotho 2,026 (+59) 44
New Zealand 1,987 (+1) 25
Vietnam 1,226 (+11) 35
Liechtenstein 846 (+45) 4



Pdf - compulsory vaccination UK GOVERNMENT advice 

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