Thursday 12 November 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 11th /12th November 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 11th /12th November 2020.

The UK added 33,470 cases today (no, it's not a typo) and now has reported a total of 1,290,195 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 377,608 tests yesterday. 

14,030 people were in hospital on Tuesday 10th, with 1,268 using a ventilator yesterday, 11th November. 

The official report for loss of life within 28 days of a test has not been updated yet today. Up until Friday 30th October, 61,648 people had COVID as a cause of death on their death certificate. 

Rep. Of Ireland 66,247 cases and 1,965 losses of life (not yet reported today). 

There have now been a total of 52,827,392 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,294,755. Already 36,871,346 people have recovered.

WHO New normal COVID is waiting for complacency. image of woman and child, with comedy COVID virus hiding behind a hedge

Northern Ireland’s current circuit-break regulations were due to expire at midnight on Friday – 24 hours later than was officially announced  (there's a booboo and a half), but they have this afternoon decided to extend them for one more week, until Friday 20th November. 

Bahrain, Cambodia, Chile, Iceland, Laos, Qatar, UAE and Turks and Caicos Islands will be added to the Travel Corridors list at 4am on 14 November. (No quarantine if you return after 4am Saturday). 
Greece, except the islands of Corfu, Crete, Kos, Rhodes and Zakynthos will be removed from the list at 4am 14 November (if you return from Greece after 4am Saturday, you will need to quarantine). 

I've covered 2 UK press conferences today and there's loads of useful information, so I've moved a couple of the other news stories to tomorrow's bulletin. It's a bit UK-centric, however there's loads of data there that's useful to anyone. 

The UK had a briefing today, led by Alok Sharma, the Business Secretary. Alongside him was Prof Steve Powis, of NHS England. 
Alok belted through the figures, and didn't give standard daily totals:
The 7 day average number of new cases is now 22,524 a day (brand new statistic from him, just to confuse everyone), compared to 22,398 a week ago. Cases are now doubling around every 24 days (that's really promising, growth HAS slowed a lot). There are right now 14,196 people in hospitals across the UK, compared to 12,406 a week ago. 
1,219 patients are using a mechanical ventilator, compared to 1,142 a week ago. The 7 day average loss of life is 375 people a day, up from 295 a week ago. 
While the economy grew by 15% in the 3rd quarter, it slowed in September and remains below where it was in February. 
He mentioned the £200b of support that the government have given to UK business, and the extension of the furlough scheme, self-employment scheme and cash grants to businesses forced to close. 
19,000 jobs have already been created across the country through our Kickstart scheme. 
He praises business who have adapted in response to COVID (thanks guys!). 
We have a total of 50m doses of various vaccines arranged, and we will not give anyone a vaccine until it's proven effective and completed trials, so we need to keep following social measures to prevent overwhelming the health services. 
Steve with the slides. Yesterday's in-patient official reported total was 12,730 - a month ago it was around 3,000. He also reminds us that this will continue to rise for a couple of weeks, and any vaccine news doesn't help us right now.  
(Let's not fall over just as we reach the kerb). We need to keep to the restrictions and social measures, and keep our friends and family safe right now. He thanks all of the trial volunteers who have participated, are participating, and are still signing up. I thank you too. 
Public asked about the tier system when we come out of the 'lockdown'. Yes. Clearly we will return to some restrictions in some areas. 
Steve played down the high number of cases today, but clearly most of these people became infected over the last week or so. (We won't see a big difference from the lockdown for 10-14 days, and losses of life will not go down until another week or two after that). 
Steve says we are trying our best to keep elective and non-emergency care going as best we can. There is a possibility it will be affected, and in some areas it has been, but wherever it can continue, that is the plan. 
There wasn't a clear assurance that Brexit won't hinder our ability to import vaccines. 
We've already vaccinated more people for flu this year than this time last year. Good stuff. Anyone who catches COVID and flu at the same time doubles the chance they won't survive. That still means the vast majority go home to their family, but it's not something anyone wants. 

Lateral Flow testing explained with a drawn image of a test like a pregnancy test
The English government have laid out a plan to get Uni students home for Christmas.
"The Government is asking that students return home once the national restrictions have been lifted, in a “student travel window” lasting from 3-9 December. This should be in line with specific arrangements put in place by their HE provider.
This excludes students who have tested positive or been notified by the NHS test and trace system to self-isolate.
To support all students being able to travel home in the window, face to face provision for the winter term should finish at every provider by 9 December at the latest. Those who do not return home by 9 December will be advised to undertake a further period of restricted contact either before or after returning home to minimise risk of transmission."
Basically, once lockdown ends is the safest time, so scarper quickly if you can. Waiting until after 9th risks you developing symptoms or being told to self-isolate, and not getting home in time for Santa. If you stay at uni after 9th December or are returning to England from another country, then please minimise contact for 2 weeks when you get home, so that you don't endanger the people you care about the most. 
There are plans for mass testing of students on their return in January - more details to follow. 

School and Early Years attendance in the UK has 'remained consistent': 
"Approximately 89% of pupils on roll were in attendance in state-funded schools on 5 November, the same as 15 October. Attendance in state-funded primary schools is 92% and attendance in state-funded secondary schools is 87%."
"We estimate approximately 4% of pupils in state-funded schools did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on Thursday 5 November."
"On Thursday 5 November, approximately 16% of state-funded schools reported that 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 (compared to 21% of all state-funded schools on 15 October). This equates to 38% of state-funded secondaries and 11% of state-funded primaries. Note that the vast majority of these schools remain open to most pupils.
A smaller proportion (8 to 9%) had 30 or more pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside the school."

Following on from the school attendance information, it's very apparent that some schoolchildren are getting a lot less schooling than others, and it may be another North/South divide. Salford reports around 6% of children self-isolating, which is 2,100 every day. I'm not Salford, I'm North Manchester, and my 12 year old is now on his 3rd period of self-isolation since September. His entire class were sent home today. 

Samaritans have frontline worker support

There was a UK COVID Data / Vaccines briefing yesterday with Jonathan Van-Tam (Deputy Chief Medical Officer), Dr June Raine, CEO of the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency) and Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair of the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation). Both of these bodies are independent of the Government
Jon explained how many steps are left before vaccines are ready to use, and reassured us that vaccine trials are not shorter or performed on less people because of the Public Health Emergency. 
With any usual vaccine you have development, and then the 3 different safety trials are one after the other, with gaps in between while people pour over the data and wait for results. Once results look hopeful, they need to find funding and recruit volunteers for the next phase. Because of COVID being an emergency, we have lots of funding and volunteers already, so it's the 'in-between bits' which have been rushed.
As soon as human testing was going well and found to be safe, they also started the mass-testing, without waiting to discover how well the vaccine was going to work. The trials overlap. The drugs manufacturers, at their own risk, have also started producing many of the vaccine candidates, so that part has also been expedited.
NO vaccine will be released to the UK general public before it completes all of the trials. Properly. 
There are several different types of COVID vaccine:
* mRNA- sends a coded message to the immune system to make antibodies (BioNTech / Pfizer)
* Adenoviral Vector - COVID Spike Protein inserted into a weakened common cold virus (Oxford / AstraZeneca and Janssen)
* Protein Adjuvant - Broken up pieces of COVID proteins stimulate antibody production (Novovax and GlaxoSmithKline / Sanofi Pasteur)
* Inactivated Whole Virus - The whole virus is killed. This stimulates antibody production (Valneva)
Different types of vaccine may turn out to be better suited to, or more effective for, different people, and that will help inform the final order of immunisation. 
The UK's planned order for immunisation (with no specific vaccine in mind):
1. Care Home Residents and Care Home Staff (I watched this 3 times and I didn't catch a mention of NHS staff). 
2. Older Individuals 65 and over
3. Adults with underlying health conditions
4. Adults aged 50+
This order is for 'Phase 1' and should protect 99% of the people who are most at risk of dying from COVID.
"There is absolutely no chance that we will compromise on safety or effectiveness."
Jon was asked if he'd take the vaccine - he says yes, he'd be first in the queue, but morally someone else needs it more than he does. He'd rather give it to his Mum. He got a bit emotional, bless him. 
Prof Lim says Phase 2 of vaccination may be for people who are next most at risk, or it might be better used on people who are more likely to transmit the virus to others. There is a lot of modelling going on trying to work it out, because Long COVID also has to be a consideration, you can't just go by individual risk of immediate death. 
June says we haven't yet had all of the data from the Pfizer / BioNTech trials, so we are just waiting at the moment. Jon says they are intending to carry on the trial until 164 people have caught COVID, and only then will they have a definite protection percentage. Currently they are on 94, and estimate 90% effective. 
There WILL be some mass vaccination programmes, including mobile units. (GP's have already said they can't cope with the extra work). The NHS will deliver a briefing next week where they'll discuss this further. 

Russia has announced that their Sputnik V vaccine is 92% effective at protecting people from covid-19. Like the Pfizer / BioNTech announcement earlier this week, these are also interim trial results, we're only part way through, and they're based on 20 cases of covid-19 among the trial volunteers. The Pfizer trial interim report was based on 94 cases of COVID, which feels like a stronger result, but we don't yet have all of the details of either trial. 

It's grim up North. It really is. A report by the Northern Health Science Alliance has found that from March to July, the 'Northern Powerhouse' area (including Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield) lost significantly more people to COVID than the UK average, which is frankly bad enough.The Northern swathe lost an extra 12.4 people per 100,000 of the population, and that gap has only increased since then. .

The Mail were reporting that the Pfizer /BioNTech vaccine will cost £15 per dose, so £30 per patient, whereas the Oxford vaccine could cost as little as £2.23 per person. Yowch. These are guesses, and the story appeared to have been retracted when I looked again. The pricing hasn't been officially announced, but if it's true, it'll make the Oxford vaccine even more attractive. The Oxford vaccine can be stored at room temperature, whereas the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine needs -70 degrees, so it can only last about 48 hours without specialist cold storage. It's not the most user-friendly option. 

Samaritans are open day or night 116 123

Texas has become the first US state to report over 1 million cases of COVID. 

Manchester University and the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health (NCISH) have released a study showing that suicide figures in the UK have NOT significantly increased since the first lockdown. They looked at several areas, totalling around 9 million people, and found that the average number of people lost to suicide per month Jan-March was 84.0 (pre-lockdown) and April-Aug it was 85.4 (post-lockdown). 
It isn't peer-reviewed and they make it clear there are caveats. It is always hard to collect data on suicide until many months later, as there can be delays in all stages of reporting. We don't yet know any longer term effects the job losses, loss of money etc. might have, and we don't know if figures from other areas will be higher, or if specific population groups are more severely affected. This is purely an initial finding, but it is an incredibly hopeful one. 
Bizarrely the release of this study has led to people re-sharing old memes saying suicide has gone up by 200%. NO IT DEFINITELY HASN'T. 

It's been announced that the UK will be getting a 4 day bank holiday in June 2022 to celebrate the Queen's platinum jubilee - at 96 years old, she'll have served 70 years as Queen.... 
Erm.... Ah... Ummm...  
I know we're all thinking the same thing there. Maybe pop that one in the diary with a pencil. Your good health Ma'am, I'm looking forward to it. 

Some numbers. All of them represent people, with people who love them: 

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

USA 10,749,383 (+40,655) 247,681 (+283)
India 8,723,270 (+39,231) 128,559 (+394)
Brazil 5,751,485 (+2,478) 163,492 (+86)
France 1,865,538 not yet reported today 42,535
Russia 1,858,568 (+21,608) 32,032 (+439)
Spain 1,484,868 (+19,511) 40,461 (+356) 
UK 1,290,195 (+33,470) 50,365 
Argentina 1,273,356 not yet reported today 34,531
Colombia 1,165,326 not yet reported today 33,312
Italy 1,066,401 (+37,978) 43,589 (+636)
Mexico 986,177 (+7,646) 96,430 (+588)
Peru 928,006 not yet reported today 35,031
South Africa 742,394 not yet reported today 20,011
Germany 739,686 (+13,510) 12,182 (+100)
Iran 726,585 (+11,517) 40,121 (+457)
Poland 641,496 (+22,683) 9,080 (+275) 


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