Tuesday 8 December 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 7th / 8th December 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 7th / 8th December 2020.

The UK added 12,282 cases today and now has reported a total of 1,750,241 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 215,981 tests yesterday. 

14,807 people were in hospital on Sunday 6th (down from 15,438 a week earlier), with 1,271 using a ventilator yesterday, 7th December (down from 1,415 a week earlier). . 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 616 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 62,033 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Up until Friday 27th November, the ONS had recorded that 73,125 people had COVID written on their death certificate. 

Rep. Of Ireland 74,682 (+214) cases and 2,099 losses of life.

There have now been a total of 68,266,536 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,556,925. Already 47,256,030 people have recovered.

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

Less than a year since the first case was reported to WHO, the first person in the world to get the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine as part of mass immunisation was immunised this morning at 6.30am in England. She was Grandmother Margaret Keenan - Maggie - who is 91 next week. The second was a William Shakespeare from Warwickshire (if that's not poetic, nothing is). Comments have been a joy. "Taming Of The Flu" is definitely pun of the day. I also like the straight up quote: "My long sickness of health and living now begins to mend."

Nicola Sturgeon has announced the new levels for Scottish restrictions which will apply from 6pm on Friday 11th December. Very roughly most areas will drop down a level. 
In areas which are currently Level 4, inessential shops can reopen from 6am Friday morning. 

The HSJ are reporting NHS England have suggested that in areas where there are not enough vaccine doses for all people over 80, those from BAME groups and with comorbidities can be given preference if desired. (These populations are more likely to lose their life to the virus compared to same age white or fully healthy people.)
It's always correct that someone makes these decisions. How on Earth are doctors meant to choose between their own patients? 

The first full results from interim analysis (not the final analysis yet) of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine are in The Lancet, and they confirm that it's "safe and effective against symptomatic COVID-19 disease". 
Efficacy Data is from 11,636 people in the UK and Brazil - In participants who received two standard doses, vaccine efficacy was 62.1% and in participants who received a low dose followed by a standard dose, efficacy was 90.0%.
[Overall vaccine efficacy across both groups was 70.4% - but no human can take an average of both doses.]
From 21 days after the first dose, there were 10 cases hospitalised for COVID-19, all in the control arm (the placebo group); two were classified as severe COVID-19, including one person who died.
Safety Data is based on pooled analysis of phase 3 trials in UK and Brazil (11,636 people), alongside safety data from 23,745 other participants in 4 trials in the UK, Brazil and South Africa.
Participants have been followed up for an average 3.4 months so far and 3 events were classified as possibly related to a vaccine: "one in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group, one in the control group, and one in a participant who remains masked to group allocation." We know that 1 patient developed Transverse Myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord. While it can't be proven to have been caused by the vaccine, it's hard to prove it wasn't. Another patient also developed Transverse Myelitis, but was found to have Multiple Sclerosis, which can cause Transverse Myelitis - incredibly unfortunate news for the patient. All 3 patients are recovering and continue in the trial. 
Great news is that initial findings also suggest the vaccine may protect against asymptomatic infection, but that wasn't the focus of this trial. 
Further studies are still ongoing. They haven't yet managed to get enough COVID cases in older patients to be able to give a robust figure for how effective the vaccine is in this age group, and they need to properly study the 90% effectiveness with the accidental half dose / full dose in people under 55. If you can't repeat it, it's not science. 

Scottish levels from December 11th 2020

All non-urgent operations across Kent have been postponed. The pause is expected to last a month, and is in response to the recent incredibly high rates of COVID, which have put pressure on health services. New cases are coming down, but are still far higher than almost anywhere else in the UK. 

The Serum Institute of India has applied to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for emergency use authorisation for the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, or as they call it - COVISHIELD. They agreed a deal to produce 40m doses, and as if by magic, they already made them. The cost is under £5 a patient, and the vaccine needs to be stored longer term in a fridge, but can survive for short periods at room temperature,  making it far more user-friendly for India (and frankly anywhere) than the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. 
Indian companies have also requested approval for the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has now received approval in the UK and The Bahamas. An unlikely pairing at the best of times... 

Trump of the Late Summer:
The Trump administration turned down ordering additional doses of the Pfizer /BioNTech vaccine in July, and aside from the USA's initial 100m dose order, all supplies are now promised elsewhere until around July 2021. 
Fox News and The New York Times are reporting that Trump is planning to issue an Executive Order on Tuesday, demanding stocks are not exported until after all US citizens are vaccinated. It's not yet known exactly how effective the order would be. 
He's just a great big bully really isn't he?
UK stocks of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are made in Belgium. 
The Trump administration has placed their faith and money in 6 different vaccine candidates, as part of 'Operation Warpspeed'. Pfizer/ BioNTech was not included in this. 2 vaccines have submitted for emergency approval to the FDA. One is Moderna and the other Pfizer /BioNTech.
Top of the U.S. priority for vaccination are frontline healthcare workers, vulnerable people, residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities. 

UK Vaccine priority order pfizer biontech

UK journalists Kay Burley and Beth Rigby (and potentially around 8 other people) have flouted COVID rules and really enjoyed themselves at Kay's 60th birthday on Saturday night. Funnily enough, most mainstream media isn't mentioning it, possibly because of the STAGGERING HYPOCRISY. 
Both of these journalists attacked Dominic Cummings and others for their breaches of lockdown. Reports vary, but it seems the 8 all went together (clearly NOT a household bubble) to a couple of different restaurants in Tier 2 London on Saturday, before 4 went back to Kay's house for drinkies and cokes. 
Kay Burley has apologised 'I didn't know' 'I didn't mean it' yada yada. You really did know - it's precisely your job to know. 

The USA, France, Germany and Russia are not part of the COVAX initiative led by the World Health Organisation, which aims to distribute 2 billion doses of vaccines fairly around the world to vulnerable people, regardless of any country's wealth or power. 184 countries have joined, including the UK, China and, well, just about everybody else. . 
COVAX aims to ensure immunisation for every Health & Social Care Worker on the planet by the end of 2021, next in their priority order are people over 65. 

250,000 doses of the Pfizer / BionNTech vaccine will arrive in Canada next week, to be ready to go as soon as official approval is given. They hope that could be within a few days.  

The vaccine will not necessarily stop you catching COVID. It is designed to give your own body the tools to fight it. We know asymptomatic people can spread COVID,  we hope that vaccinated people will spread it less, and potentially only have a tiny window of opportunity to transmit it to other people, if any at all. That's the big data which will come next. That will let epidemiologists estimate roughly what percentage of our population need vaccination before we reach safe herd immunity, and we stop losing people.

The CEO's of Moderna and Pfizer were invited to tomorrow's incredibly rare White House Coronavirus briefing, but both have declined as it's just a publicity stunt and they're scientists goddamnit. 

Asian male blood may have more antibodies consider donating

Masks work. Yep, we have (as yet not peer-reviewed) evidence from Germany which saw a whopping 47% average reduction in new cases just 20 days after masks were made mandatory.
It makes total sense. There's a virus spread most of the time by breath and aerosol particles. 100 years ago Britain didn't know the science, but even they knew to cover their faces. 
i'd love to think it was entirely that simple, but in my non-expert view, having a government who educated their population clearly, a scientific expert as Chancellor who explained everything in detail, and targets to reach to reduce restrictions, probably all helped. 

Rudi Giuliani, Trump's lawyer and the ex New York mayor, really hasn't had a good Autumn. First he was caught out by Sacha Baron Cohen and had a surprise starring role in the new Borat movie, then he had to do a press conference from Four Seasons Total Landscaping car park, then he sweats black hair dye during a press conference, and now he joins the rest of Trump's entourage in catching COVID. 
We wish you well (he actually seems like a nice guy, even if he's a little misguided at times). 

The UK's ban on going to the pub purely for a drink isn't really working. Currently you can only order an alcoholic beverage with a substantial meal. Some people have so much money, they believe a pint is well worth ten or twenty quid, and huge amounts of food is being thrown away untouched. There's probably someone within waving distance who is struggling to keep their family or themselves fed. Please only go to the pub when you're hungry - and if the UK Government could make clarification or an amendment to this ruling, that would be great. 

There's been a big outbreak of a mystery illness in Southern India. Over 500 people have been hospitalised since Saturday afternoon, around 1 in 6 are children under 12. Over half the patients had returned home within 48 hours, but one person has died.
The condition sees patients collapse, fit, vomit and become confused, as well as give them a terrible headache. Health Officials believe it to be a case of 'neuro-toxicity' caused by heavy metals like lead and nickel. They can find evidence in the people, but as yet nothing at all in the food or water supplies - investigations are obviously continuing. 

Nottingham Christmas Market was popular. So popular in fact that the photos made me shudder, and I wasn't the only one. It was obviously a risk too far for Nottingham City Council, who intended to monitor it, but couldn't even begin to take headcounts or control the crowds. They have sadly closed it down until next year. Absolutely gutting for the vendors, who must have been so hopeful for sales over the next 3 weeks. 
Yes it's much, MUCH safer outdoors because the air blows away, but not if you are crammed in like sardines. If you can smell what they had for dinner, you can inhale their breath. We all love a Christmas Market, but it's just too easy to ruin your own Christmas, or someone else's.

COVID vaccinations start across the UK today

The big news in India today is.... the USA. 
India have a population of approximately 1,380,000,000 (1,380 million) and have managed to get new COVID infections down to around 40,000 a day, with a positivity rate just above 4%. They have done amazingly well. 
The USA have a population of approximately 331,000,000 (331 million) and have reported over 200,000 cases of COVID per day for the last 4 days. The positivity rates in some areas are over 20%. They have a hill to climb. It doesn't bode well for the coming few weeks. 

The face of the UK COVID response, Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, was on the telly this morning watching footage of the first people to get the vaccine and getting very emotional. He made out he was crying, he was clearly laughing and lucky it didn't become uncontrolled. 
Crying and laughing offer huge releases of emotion and they're very closely linked. Kids can't help but laugh when you tell them off, we can all laugh until we cry. I'd say he was massively emotional, probably absolutely shattered, and the fact the patient was called William Shakespeare just finished him off.

The US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have just now okayed the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine... 

COVID vaccinations start today photo of Maggie, the first patient giving a double thumbs up.

Prince William and Kate have spent the last 2 days travelling around the UK by train - on purpose. They've been visiting key workers and "Coronavirus heroes" to say thank you. I say thank you too. 
It's been pointed out that they have broken Scottish Coronavirus laws as they arrived in Edinburgh this afternoon. (You must not travel in to or out of Level 3 areas without essential reason.)

Word is the Queen wanted to have her usual family Christmas with the kids and grandchildren at Sandringham, but staff aren't keen to form a 4 week 'bubble' over Christmas. 
I know she's the Queen and all, but Christmas is Christmas for everyone, and being away from your own loved ones for 4 weeks, so that someone else can smash the 3 households rule and have an epic Christmas, seems a bit harsh. I'm sure you'll manage with volunteers only... just for once...

Some numbers. All very different, all very much the same. All people:

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

USA 15,424,229 (+53,642) 291,489 (+1,000)
India 9,731,858 (+27,950) 141,344 (+350) 
Brazil 6,630,949 (+2,884) 177,400 (+12)
Russia 2,515,009 (+26,097) 44,159 (+562)
France 2,295,908 not yet reported today 55,521
Italy 1,757,394 (+14,842) 61,240 (+634)
UK 1,750,241 (+12,282) 62,033 (+616)
Spain 1,715,700 not yet reported today 46,646
Germany 1,202,142 (+2,136) 19,583 (+44)
Mexico 1,182,249 (+6,399) 110,074 (+357)
Poland 1,076,180 (+8,312) 20,592 (+411)
Iran 1,062,397 (+11,023) 50,917 (+323)
Turkey 893,630 (+33,198) 15,314 (+211)
Ukraine 832,758 (+10,811) 13,928 (+195)
South Africa 817,878 not yet reported today 22,249
Belgium 592,615 (+859) 17,386 (+66) 
Indonesia 586,842 (+5,292) 18,000 (+133)
Netherlands 570,437 (+6,146) 9,775 (+71)






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