Thursday 10 December 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 9th / 10th December 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 9th / 10th December 2020.

The UK added 20,964 cases today (UP from 14,879 the same time last week) and now has reported a total of 1,787,783 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 369,586 tests yesterday. 

15,242 people were in hospital on Tuesday 8th (slightly UP from 15,236 a week earlier), with 1,243 using a ventilator yesterday, Wednesday 9th (DOWN from 1,315 a week earlier). 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 516 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 63,082 officially reported losses of life in all settings. Up until 27th November, 73,125 people had COVID given as a cause of death on their death certificate. 

Country / Cases / Losses of life (by death certificate):
England 1,531,761 / 62,438
Northern Ireland 56,719 / 1.382
Scotland 103,305 / 5,634
Wales 95,998 / 3,671

Rep. Of Ireland 74,900 cases and 2,102 losses of life (not yet reported today). 

There have now been a total of 69,634,913 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,583,351. Already 48,277,159 people have recovered.

Happy Hannukah Please celebrate safely

Let's start with the bad news, get it out of the way. COVID cases and hospitalisations in the UK are already going back up slightly. Ideally they'd have continued on a downward slope or plateau for another week or so, so this is a bit of a blow, and sadly it's a similar pattern throughout Europe.
When they said COVID would really flourish in Winter, they appear to have been spot on. Buckle up, we can ride this out too. 

There was a UK Coronavirus Briefing today with Matt 'laugh til you cry' Hancock, Health Secretary, Professor Chris 'not seen you in ages' Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, and Professor Steve 'softly spoken' Powis, Medical Director of NHS England.
Matt talked about the vaccine (he didn't cry, or laugh), he was very proud.
We have a rolling weekly average of 16,236 new cases a day, this has risen over the last week.
15,242 patients are in hospital, slightly down on last week. (Not by your figures it isn't Matt.)
The number of cases has stopped dropping and flattened, and is rising in some areas, including Kent, Essex and some parts of London. It shows we have to stay on our guard. "Don't blow it now."
He thanks pharmacists. We are vaccinating at 73 hospitals, with 10 more coming. We'll vaccinate at GP sites by next week, and Care Homes by Christmas. Most people won't get jabs until next year. You will be contacted when it's your turn. 

He reminds us that we don't know if the vaccine will stop people spreading COVID, and you aren't fully safe until 7 days after the 2nd dose. Vaccinated people still have to carry on with social distancing, masks etc. You are not only protecting yourself. 

The fastest rise in cases is mostly in high school (secondary) children, and this is true in the areas where cases are increasing. We need to stop spread in school-age children in London right now. ALL secondary school age children in the worst affected areas of London, Kent and Essex will be tested in the coming days whether they have symptoms or not. Remember children are regularly asymptomatic. Mobile testing units will be mobilised. (There are constant complains from Northern leaders that we don't get the same treatment as London - which is still Tier 2 with hospitality open. This will not help that situation - and a quick look at Twitter proves me right. People are LIVID).

They are going to reduce multiple Test & Trace calls to the same households. Test & Trace is doing much better. (It actually is. It's still not great, but it's improving.)
From today, if you qualify for the £500 Test & Trace Support Payment, you can claim it directly through the app.
Public asked about vaccination meaning restrictions can be relaxed. Chris explained that it's going to be really gradual. We won't be able to just lift everything, and we can't know how many people need to be vaccinated to create herd immunity until we see how much transmission there is from vaccinated people (hopefully very little or none).
Press asked if Matt was concerned that the increase in cases in London, Kent and Essex occurred while we were in lockdown. Matt made like Boris and spluttered for a while, so I guess 'yes'. It is a concern. Chris says he's also concerned, and the whole of Europe is struggling to keep levels of new cases down.
Chris says a 3rd wave isn't inevitable, and the best way to avoid it is to be "very, very sensible” over the Christmas period. Whilst this is true, I'm not entirely confident it's real life plausible. (I'd say you've got 2 hopes, and one of them is Bob.)
We have over 30b items of PPE in stock, and are developing domestic production in case of any future crisis.
Kent hospitals are feeling the pressure. Steve reminds us we can move patients, staff and equipment around the NHS if we have reach limits. There is no plan to reopen the London Nightingale at the moment, but all of the Nightingales remain should we need them, and Manchester's has been open for some months.
Tiers will be reassessed on December 16th. 

101220 7 day rolling average new cases UK by age

2 UK NHS staff members who received the Pfizer / BioNTech COVID vaccine on the first day of mass immunisations developed anaphylactoid reactions soon afterwards. This is what you'd know as 'anaphylactic shock' and is caused by an over-reaction from the body. Blood pressure drops suddenly, airways narrow and breathing becomes difficult. It can easily be fatal without treatment, but fortunately hospitals are exactly the place to be, and with epinephrine recovery is almost always swift.
Both of these patients have a history of allergic reactions, severe enough that they carry an epi-pen. If you have a history of significant reactions or are the kind of person who carries an epi-pen on medical advice, then for now at least, you are advised NOT to take up the offer of vaccination with the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine (there's nothing yet to suggest this could occur with other vaccines). It could be a fluke response that never happens again, but while they check it out, it's better to err on the side of caution. 

Schools in England have been allowed to use a training day to close a single day early. One day. Apparently it's only being done so that teachers aren't spending Christmas Day trying to contact parents and tell them their child needs to self-isolate.
This particularly annoys me, as I have 3 returning uni students who are doing everything in their power to return home COVID-free, to a house where their 12 year old brother is still going to school in a bubble of 210. Teaching staff themselves are entitled to a good break, and they may have older parents and vulnerable family. After a year where we've all gone above and beyond. It really feels a bit mean... 

Scottish Higher, Advanced Higher and National 5 exams will not take place in Summer 2021.
Wales have already said they will be working from Teacher Assessed Grades.  Exams in England and northern Ireland are planned to go ahead with an extended timetable and other concessions. 

Canadian Health regulators have approved the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine. 249,000 doses will be available before the end of the month,  4m before the end of March. and a minimum of 20m doses by the end of the year.
PM Justin Trudeau has a LEGO Millennium Falcon on his shelf. I'm so impressed. 

£600m to refurbush NHS hospitals

The US FDA are expected to approve the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine for use in the USA any second now... 

Trump of the Yesterday:
"At 10:00 P.M. on Election Evening, we were at 97% win with the so-called “bookies”."
"No candidate has ever won both Florida and Ohio and lost. I won them both, by a lot! SupremeCourt."
You get the picture, there are loads of these. He is the perfect example of why surrounding yourself with people who say "yes" to whatever you say is a bad idea. Eventually they simply cannot make it happen for you, and you have to grow up and face reality. 

"The number of patients in England waiting more than a year for routine surgery has risen again - to nearly 163,000 in October, the highest since May 2008. In February, before the COVID crisis hit the NHS it was just 1,600."
Hugh Pym. BBC News Health Editor and telly bloke. 

People from the UK will effectively be barred from inessential travel within the EU from January 1st for COVID reasons. Anyone surprised? No, me neither. There is a polite travel agreement within the EU, allowing certain travel with quarantines, but once BREXIT happens, we aren't within that agreement any more. 

Hospitality has had an incredibly rough year, and they're still really struggling to even open. Please, please, please. If you book a table and change your mind or can't make it, even at the last minute, ring and let them know so that they can give your table to someone else. They can only have a fraction of the customers, but still need to pay full price for most of their bills. They need all the trade they can get.

Scottish levels from December 11th 2020

"As hard as it is - and I know how much love has gone into setting up the mulled wine stands and waffle stalls - this is not compatible with the agreement we made to only take food away to eat at home. I'm sorry, I really am sorry from the bottom of my heart. But if the price we pay is 590 deaths a day, then that is unacceptable in my view.
And when scientists are practically begging us to reduce our contacts for a week, before we see Grandma and Grandpa, grandparents and older people at Christmas, then perhaps we really should think again about whether we can't find a way to start the school holidays on the 16th instead of the 19th. What will we say when we look back on this once-in-a-century event, if we weren't able to find a solution for these three days?
And it may be the case that sending children home is the wrong thing to do, if so then it will have to be digital lessons or something else. I don't know, this is not my area of expertise and I don't want to interfere. I only want to say: if we have too many contacts now, in the run up to Christmas, and it ends up being the last Christmas with our grandparents, then we will have done something wrong. We should not let this happen."
Angela Merkel, German Chancellor and Doctor of Physics, with an amazingly powerful speech which really gave a very clear message. She IS an orator. 

Trump ACTUALLY tweets about COVID:
"Germany has consistently been used by my obnoxious critics as the country that we should follow on the way to handle the China Virus. So much for that argument. I love Germany - Vaccines on the way!!!"
He made this comment in response to Angela Merkel's passionate speech (above), and the current increase in COVID cases in Germany.
Thing is Donald, it really would have been great if you had followed their lead. Germany literally just spent 9 months with substantially less cases and losses of life per head of population, right now they are in a far better position, and they aren't going to suddenly catch up with you.
Per million of their population, Germany have lost 247 people. The USA have lost 894. By that reckoning, if Trump had followed Germany, he might have saved around 215,000 people's lives.
No, you don't fool or distract us, although I honestly think you fool yourself. 

UK person, don't be smug. We have lost 919 people per million of our population. If we had followed Germany, we might have saved over 46,000 people. Hindsight eh... Although actually, if we'd just quarantined everyone who returned from Italy after February half term break, we'd have started from a far better position... 

The FDA report on the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine (the one people in the UK are currently being immunised with) is really beautifully written and crammed with easily understood information. The study included small populations of young people and HIV+ people, and at least 23 participants have become pregnant, and no adverse events have (as yet) occurred that could be attributed to the vaccine.
I've included an image below which shows exactly when people in the study were diagnosed with COVID, both the vaccine group, and the placebo group. You can clearly see that the vaccine seems effective from 10 days after the first dose. 

Pfizer BioNTech vaccine incidence of COVID in placebo and vaccine group

This vaccine really is cutting edge technology, which gives your body a blueprint for making COVID antibodies, and it could change vaccinations in the future. It isn't very stable, and having to be kept at -70 degrees is a real inconvenience, but it's a problem they can work on for the future. The Turkish creators are really high up the queue for a Nobel Prize with this one. 

Venezuela have held an election. The opposition supporters boycotted because there was a substantial belief the election would be rigged, and voter turnout was a mere 31%. The ruling President Nicol├ís Maduro got the support of 81% of those who did vote, and has claimed the victory. The EU and USA (oooh, the irony) have already written statements to the effect of "sorry mate, we're not accepting that". 

California is the first US state to risk running out of Intensive Care beds. It's not a joke. People need to stay home and start listening to medical and scientific advice, and stop peddling misinformation. Every single person who says "it's a hoax" needs a sharp prod with a dirty stick. They really, really need Trump to start taking this seriously. In the last week, the USA has had at least 5 of it's most deadly days in history - outstripping most of the battles of the Civil War. This is how easily it can go wrong. 

COVID was never a huge threat because of the regular mortality rate, which does seem to be far below 1% on average with medical care. COVID has always been a huge threat because of the quantity of people that can become ill. It fills your hospitals and cripples your health system. It's the perfect weapon for disabling an enemy.
Estimates suggest the mortality rate for COVID in Italy's Lombardy was around 14% when they had no capacity left to even give people oxygen. That is almost 1 in 6 and utterly devastating to the community involved. Not only that, but people died from other causes because they had to be turned away. Sharp stick for anyone who says the word hoax. 

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been assessing the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine and have announced they find it to be 86% effective with no serious safety concerns, and it has been given 'official Registration'. 

the NHS will contact you when it's your turn to be vaccinated

China are already mass immunising citizens with the Sinopharm vaccine, and it's believed Morocco will start over the next few days. Morocco intends to vaccinate around 80% of it's population in total, and they have also committed to purchase stocks of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine. 

ASDA, M&S, Waitrose, John Lewis, Aldi, Wickes, Home Bargains, Homebase, Pets at Home, Poundland and The Entertainer will all be CLOSED on Boxing Day so that staff can spend at least 2 days with their families. Good, good, good. Thank you all. I hope more follow suit. I'm sure we can all survive for 2 whole days without the big shops. 

Some people. They're shown as numbers because I don't know how to spell all of their names: 

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

USA 15,893,995 (+72,381) 298,011 (+1,291)
India 9,795,572 (+33,246) 142,212 (+477)
Brazil 6,735,373 (+5,255) 179,063 (+31)
Russia 2,569,126 (+27,927) 45,280 (+562)
France 2,324,216 not yet reported today 56,648
UK 1,787,783 (+20,964) 63,082 (+516)
Italy 1,787,147 (+16,999) 62,626 (+887)
Spain 1,725,473 not yet reported today 47,019
Argentina 1,475,222 not yet reported today 40,222
Colombia 1,392,133 not yet reported today 38,308
Germany 1,258,238 (+15,985) 20,994 (+290)
Mexico 1,205,229 (+11,974) 111,655 (+781)
Poland 1,102,096 (+13,749) 21,630 (+470)
Iran 1,083,023 (+10,403) 51,496 (+284) 



"Health Canada officially approves the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine"

UK Graphs daily from:

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