Friday 11 December 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 11th December 2020.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 11th December 2020.

The UK added 21,672 cases today and now has reported a total of 1,809,455 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 400,646 tests yesterday. 

16,136 people were in hospital on Wednesday 9th, with 1,267 using a ventilator yesterday, 10th December. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 424 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 63,506 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 75,507 (+304) cases and 2,120 (+3) losses of life.

There have now been a total of 71,169,730 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,597,073. Already 49,412,394 people have recovered.

UK Gov reducing the number of days you need to self-isolate from Monday 14th December 2020

From Monday 14th December across the whole UK, the Government are reducing the number of days you need to self-isolate from 14 days back down to 10 days. This includes:
- People quarantining on arrival in the UK
- People who test positive
- People with symptoms
- Contacts of people with COVID
If you started self-isolating already, and are still meant to be isolating on Monday, your isolation can end after you've completed 10 days. 
Self-isolation had already dropped to 10 days in Wales. 
(As luck would have it, I've written up figures on this, see below.) 

The 14 day deadline for 25th December would be today, and if people get told they need to self-isolate, they might try to ignore it. By cutting it to 10 days, it allows for arrivals and notifications over this weekend, and paradoxically a lot more infectious people are likely to actually stay home over the next week or two. 

UK Travel Quarantine Updates: Botswana and Saudi Arabia will be added to the exempt list at 4am 12 December. The Canary Islands will be removed from the list at 4am 12 December.

The number of people with hospital-acquired COVID in the UK has been climbing and is hasn't been as high since the first peak.  
I don't even blame hospitals or staff. COVID is a real bugger to contain. It loves shared accommodation, and with the best will in the world, you can't catch all of the asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic patients. Remember Trump still caught it, even though everyone who comes into contact with him is tested regularly. 
Somerset Council Coronavirus self isolating and Christmas edited to 10 day self-isolation

The UK's Royal Mail are having a nightmare, and have said they do have a backlog. The amount of online shopping this year is epic, they're working 7 days a week, and they (like everyone else) have staff off self-isolating. If you want to buy your Christmas presents on 23rd December this year, you might have to visit the local garage (or 24 hour fag shop as we used to call it). They are doing their best, please be kind, but I do understand the frustration (one of our uni kids in London has has problems for the last 3 weeks or so). 

Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, is furious (again). Newly released reports show that the government advisory group SAGE said the North needed help back in July, when we were put under more restrictions than most of the rest of the UK. He then fought for help for months, had a big fall out with Boris, and we watched Northern hospitality struggle on with take away only for months, only for help to arrive once the South needed to close. I know I'm biased, but seeing people tweeting "oh no, hospitality can't close, how will we survive?" from Tier 2 London, when I live within a spit of Bolton, who have only only been able to open pubs for about 4 weeks since March, does feel a bit sh....

Sad news from Australia regarding the CSL / University of Queensland vaccine candidate. Although it seemed around 84% effective and safe, it caused the body to create antibodies which had sections that looked really like antibodies to HIV. They knew this was a possibility, which is why they checked it. This meant several trial participants actually tested positive to HIV, even though they didn't have it. They have since tested negative, but it isn't the sort of result that makes folk feel confident. The vaccine trial has been scrapped, and the Australian Government order for 50m doses has been cancelled. They have instead agreed with CSL (CSL Behring biotech, the drug manufacturer) to produce an extra 21m doses of the user-friendly London /AstraZeneca vaccine. They already have an arrangement for 30m doses and started production in early November, so in total they will have 51m, enough for the whole population to be immunised.

At present the UK's London /AstraZeneca vaccine is the cheapest and most easily stored/transported option. It isn't as fancy or effective as more expensive options, but it's really the 'paracetamol' of COVID vaccines. Accessible to just about anyone on the planet, and does the job.  

China have already immunised over 1 million people with their Sinovac vaccine. 
Indonesia also plan to mass vaccinate with the Sinovac vaccine, with almost 2m doses due to arrive before the end of January. 

Really exciting vaccine news from Russia. They have already started mass immunising with their Sputnik V vaccine (which hasn't quite finished it's trials, but never mind eh). Last month the manufacturers, The Gamaleya Institute, made an offer of co-operation on Twitter:
"Sputnik V is happy to share one of its two human adenoviral vectors with 
AstraZeneca to increase the efficacy of AstraZeneca vaccine. Using two different vectors for two vaccine shots will result in higher efficacy than using the same vector for two shots."
AstraZeneca have said yes! The two companies will now come together to trial 1 dose of Sputnik V with 1 dose of the London vaccine, to see if combining the 2 very similarly designed vaccines offers better protection. The Gamaleya Institute seem quite keen on trialling several different combinations with other manufacturers too. These really will give interesting results... We are watching history being made and it's quite momentous at times. We are ALL in this together. 

We are ready to vaccinate UK NHS

The US FDA have approved the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine which is being used in the UK to immunise people. They have yet to 'sign off' and are working to complete this as soon as possible. Vaccinations should begin within a few days. 

Some scientists are predicting that a 3rd UK wave of COVID infections in early Spring will be horrific. Some not so much. You can look at any historical Northern Hemisphere viral epidemic and see a clear pattern, and scientists have long warned a 3rd wave will be likely. 
The population is jaded, we've missed our loved ones for a long time. We're tired, it's cold and miserable, and it's Christmas. It's a recipe for a lot of cases in the new year. Hold tight and don't give up now. We've come this far, we know it may not be pretty, but we can get through this. If we get any more waves after Spring, once vaccinations are well underway, they really will just be ripples. Next Autumn and Winter will NOT be like this one.

Trump of the April 17th, 2017:
"Biden/Obama were a disaster in handling the H1N1 Swine Flu. Polling at the time showed disastrous approval numbers. 17,000 people died unnecessarily and through incompetence!"
Crikey. That didn't age well. The USA are now losing over 3,000 people a day to COVID.  

Reuters have looked at all of the data about the genomes of COVID and have a really nice report about how it's evolved. Each time it passes from person to person, it can acquire tiny mutations. Since borders closed, it's easier to see now that there are 7 distinct strains running around the world. 
"The original strain, detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, is the L strain. The virus then mutated into the S strain at the beginning of 2020. That was followed by V and G strains. Strain G mutated yet further into strains GR, GH and GV. Several other infrequent mutations were collectively grouped together as strain O."
The G strains are hoped to be more receptive to the vaccines, as they have more 'spike proteins' for a vaccine to target. 

Chris Whitty yesterday said:
"A third wave is not inevitable, but the way we prevent is by all of us coming together and deciding we want to try and stick to the guidance that's there."
I personally felt he was being a bit....erm.... overly positive. General consensus among people with scientific letters after their name is that he was offering some false hope there. Do your own best, but we will be really REALLY lucky if we don't get a 3rd wave. When I said in August you should hibernate until March, I stand by it. 

Trump of the Day:
"The Swine Flu (H1N1), and the attempt for a vaccine by the Obama Administration, with Joe Biden in charge, was a complete and total disaster. Now they want to come in and take over one of the “greatest and fastest medical miracles in modern day history.” I don’t think so!"
Errrr. Okaaaaay. To be honest Donald, we weren't giving you credit for the vaccines, and we won't give it to Joe either, okay?

Scottish levels from December 11th 2020

A lot of people are right now trying to work out incubation periods - how long does it take before you are infectious/how long before you show symptoms/ how long before you aren't infectious. Here's what we know: 
Most commonly, your average person catches COVID on Day 1, is most infectious from Day 3 to Day 9, shows first symptoms on Day 5, and will have recovered from symptoms by Day 12. 
Few of us are ever actually completely average - this is all 'can', not 'will': 
The day you catch the virus is Day 1. 
- You can be infectious and shedding virus by Day 2 or 3, or 1 to 3 days before you develop symptoms.
- Your most infectious period, when you shed most virus, is from 1-2 days before you show symptoms, until day 4-6 of having symptoms.
- After Day 10 it seems that most people who are healthy and recovering are unlikely to shed virus and infect others. (On average this will be around 5 days after symptoms start). However people who still have symptoms will continue to shed virus after this time. 
- You may develop symptoms as early as Day 2, or as late as Day 14, the average is Day 5. 
- Around just 1% of people develop symptoms after 14 days. 
- By the end of Day 11, 97.5% of people have developed symptoms - if they are going to develop symptoms. 
- Around 30-60% of infected people never develop noticeable symptoms. (The US CDC say 40%).
- If someone still has symptoms after 7 days of being ill, keep a close eye on them as they are at risk of having severe COVID. 
- COVID infection regularly causes people to feel better, then worse, then better etc. Allow yourself time to recover. 

The UK wide 5 day Christmas break runs from December 23rd. Bear in mind this is just ON AVERAGE: 
If you catch COVID after 18th December, you're less likely to show symptoms by 23rd. 
To be absolutely certain you couldn't possibly develop COVID symptoms by 23rd December, you'd need to have been isolating for the past couple of weeks. 
To be 97.5% certain, you'd need to isolate from 11th December.
To be averagely certain, you'd need to isolate from 18th December.
To be averagely certain you weren't shedding virus and infectious on 23rd (as long as you were well), the last day to catch COVID would be 12th December.  
I am not advising you to take these averages and test them on your precious Granny, and I won't advise you to do anything less than the UK Government will advise you to do. Please don't take any risks you won't be comfortable living with afterwards, and abide by local law/guidance.

Maggie First UK patient vaccinated against COVID Pfizer BioNTech

Those naughty UK journalists who held a birthday party and after-drinks have all been taken off air for an extended holiday. 
Kay Burley will be off for 6 months after hosting the gathering. Beth Rigby and Inzamam Rashid will be off air for 3 months after attending. 
Beth Rigby said: "I've covered the guidelines throughout the pandemic and I should have known better." Yes you should. 

Trump of this afternoon:
"I just want to stop the world from killing itself!"
Me too Donald! Over 6,000 Americans have been lost to COVID in the last 48 hours, and bizarrely lots of people hang off your every word.  Would it be too much to ask you could just tell them to wear a mask? Please? 

Wearing a face mask and social distancing definitely help to protect people from catching COVID, and if they do still catch it, they are likely to receive a smaller amount of virus, which is easier for their body to fight off, so there is some evidence beginning to accumulate which suggests masks and distancing may also lead to a lower mortality rate overall.  
Never forget the importance of free and effective, simple measures, including opening windows, and washing your hands.
One of our regular readers, Lindsey, the other day commented:
"I can confirm that masks work, I am recovering from covid currently and my work colleagues who have had to isolate as a result are all well thankfully and have no symptoms of covid. I wear a mask in work and regularly sanitise and/or wash my hands. It works. It keeps people safe so it’s a no brainier to me!" (I hope you are all feeling much improved now and can enjoy this weekend!) 

Trump of the Just Now:
"Now that the Biden Administration will be a scandal plagued mess for years to come, it is much easier for the Supreme Court of the United States to follow the Constitution and do what everybody knows has to be done. They must show great Courage & Wisdom. Save the USA!!!"
By jove I think he's got it!! He said "Biden Administration" yeeeay. Yes Donald, save the USA, or at least some of them - tell them to wearing a flipping goldarnit %7!$@ mask! 

Some countries with no COVID are having a ball. Buzzfeed have spoken to people from around the globe who are living their normal lives. Mostly they are Southern hemisphere, in the Australian / Asian Pacific area, although most of Africa really has done a stupendous job and so far escaped the worst of COVID. New Zealand, Vietnam, Singapore, Fiji and Taiwan have all done incredibly well. They mostly locked down hard and fast (Australia locked down millions of people over 17 cases), or focussed heavily on quarantines and contact tracing, and they are reaping the rewards. 
Waaay back at the very start, the World Health Organisation stressed "Test, Test, Test", and told us you cannot separate health and economy. At the time they often seemed slow to make anything official, but if you had listened to everything they said, and heeded their words, you'd have been ahead of the rest. It's now very clear you cannot separate health and economy, and the longer you try to focus on economy, the more time and money you spend on health. 
People in Wuhan, where the first outbreak started, still wear their masks, and they're still a little cautious, but life is 'normal'. 
We'll get there too...

Have a good weekend. Stay Well, Open The Windows, Save the NHS. 

Some numbers. They all once believed monsters hid under their bed:

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

USA 16,121,091 (+81,698) 300,991 (+1,299)
India 9,826,031 (+29,0390 142,618 (+396)
Brazil 6,794,910 (+11,367) 179,897 (+96)
Russia 2,597,711 (+28,585) 45,893 (+613)
France 2,337,966 not yet reported today 56,940
Italy 1,805,873 (+18,727) 63,387 (+761) 
UK 1,809,455 (+21,672) 63,506 (+424) 
Turkey 1,780,673 (+32,106) 15,977 (+226)
Spain 1,734,386 not yet reported today 47,344
Germany 1,290,135 (+19,703) 21,638 (+405) 
Mexico 1,217,126 (+11,897) 112,326 (+671)
Poland 1,115,201 (+13,110) 22,174 (+544)
Iran 1,092,407 (+9,384) 51,727 (+232)
Ukraine 872,228 (+13,514) 14,755 (+285)
Indonesia 605,243 (+6,310) 18,511 (+175)
Belgium 600,397 (+2,754) 17,692 (+89)
Netherlands 594,523 (+8,838) 9,966 (+64)
Czechia 569,205 (+5,864) 9,341 (+57)
Romania 545,567 (+6,460) 13,116 (+168)
Canada 445,630 (+3,561) 13,207 (+98) 
Pakistan 432,327 (+3,047) 8,653 (+50)
Morocco 394,564 (+3,035) 6,542 (+50)

"Australian government terminates deal to purchase 51 million doses of the University of Queensland’s potential COVID-19 vaccine"
wuhan almost 1 year on

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