Tuesday 19 January 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 18th / 19th January 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 18th / 19th January 2021

The UK added 33,355 cases today and now has reported a total of 3,466,849 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 556,689 tests yesterday. 

The counter says 4,266,577 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night, and 456,866 had received their second dose.  

37,946 people were in hospital on Sunday 17th, with 3,916 using a ventilator yesterday, 18th January. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 1,610 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 91,470 official losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 174,843 cases and 2,616 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 96,288,013 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,056,675. Already 68,860,956 people have recovered.

British IMA COVID-conspiracy-theory-replies-halal

Face of the UK COVID response, Matt Hancock, who famously caught COVID as early as he could in the pandemic, is self-isolating after being alerted by the Test & Trace app. Remember that? Guess it's still live then. Wait. He's only got to isolate until Sunday? Guess Test &  Trace is live, but still pretty pants then.
As Matt doesn't have a frontline role and everything is shut, this may mean he wasn't careful, didn't socially distance and didn't attempt to protect the NHS. 

With the end of 2020 came a lot of 'annual data' and all the number crunchers have been debating just how bad or not COVID has been in terms of mortality. The UK ONS and Ed Conway (who does numbers for Sky News) are among those with incredibly detailed threads on Twitter.
There's no way to really get exact comparisons for 'events', because nothing starts January 1st and ends cleanly December 31st, and UK population has grown from 40m to 68m in the last 100 years.
What is clear is that when you look at sheer number of people who died, it's the worst year since 1918, which was the final year of WWII and Spanish Flu.
When you ignore military deaths, and look at anticipated loss of life based on population size and age, and 5 year averages, 2020 drops more significantly than almost any other year. It's 3rd after 1895 (The Great Freeze) and 1929 (Flu/The Great Depression - worldwide financial depression).

"In England, the number of deaths from 3 January 2020 up to 8 January 2021 was 591,988, which is 76,846 (14.9%) more than the five-year average. Of these, 82,207 deaths (13.9%) mentioned COVID-19.
In Wales, the number of deaths from 3 January 2020 up to 8 January 2021 was 38,992, which is 4,387 (12.7%) more than the five-year average. Of these, 5,417 deaths (13.9%) mentioned COVID-19."
Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford had a bit of a car crash live TV interview yesterday. He ended up saying that they weren't rushing the vaccine roll out because he didn't want staff having nothing to do. If it was a joke, it's waaaaay too early for that Mark, and it's poor taste. Get it done... 

British IMA doctors want people to make up their own minds

Scotland have announced that current restrictions will remain in place until at least mid-February. Inessential shops and schools will stay closed, and when schools reopen, it will be done gradually. 

72 tennis players will have to isolate in their hotel rooms until almost the first match of the Australian Open, after several people on special chartered flights bringing teams to Australia tested positive. Unaffected players arriving on other flights still have a 14 day quarantine, but can go out for 5 hours a day in a training bubble.
World No.1 Novak Djokovic is apparently one of the most unhappy, and he wrote an open letter of proposals with some pretty fancy requests. He's asked for better food,  access to coaches, fitness equipment, gyms, moving people to private houses with tennis courts, early release from self-isolation and a diamond tiara with "I'm the Queen' emblazoned on it. (I may have added the last one).
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrew's response was a firm "the answer is no".

The new variants are of concern because we don't really understand exactly what effect they'll have on transmission, and attempts to suppress COVID, and because a couple of them have some potential make vaccines and current antibodies less effective.
The Brazilian variant is a concern in this way, and the first case has been documented of someone in Amazonas who has previously had COVID, and then become reinfected by the new variant. We know reinfection occurs, and a small percentage of people don't develop antibodies or long lasting antibodies after having COVID, but even so, scientists are watching this one very carefully. 

The first data is back on the effectiveness of vaccines on the B.1.1.7. variant, or the 'UK Mutant' as they're calling it in India. University of Cambridge found when using the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine: 'There is a modest reduction in efficacy of vaccine sera."
"These modest changes are what we expected to see given the mutational profiles, esp del 144/145 which is a target region for our antibodies. Vaccines should be highly effective and vaccine coverage is a priority. Full results and methods on Medrxiv in the coming days."
Kicked a leg out, but still mostly effective. Good stuff. 

190121 vaccinated

There are a lot of people in public-facing roles who are "frontline" at high risk of catching COVID and rarely, if ever, mentioned. When the next phase of vaccine rollout comes around, job roles will be considered when the priority order is decided. These people really should be high priority - some of them should have been included in phase 1:
Police officers, non-NHS patient-facing hospital and healthcare staff
Prison officers and staff, security guards
Taxi drivers, people who do household repairs, meter readers.
Unpaid carers...
Teachers, shop staff, bus drivers, ticket collectors, delivery drivers.
(I'm sure there are plenty more of you I haven't mentioned - please make yourself known in the comments if so).
When everything was open, according to ONS figures, many of these groups stood out among the people most likely to catch COVID at work, and most of them are still working, so that has only gone up. 

Turns out that English and Welsh Test & Trace are STILL paying 900 Deloitte consultants a grand a day each for their shockingly poor performance. That's £900,000 a day for just one firm and none of them are even testing and tracing anything. Just imagine what your local authority or NHS test and trace team could do with that money.... 

White Ribbon Alliance supported Childbirth Choices Matter are attempting to get choice back into UK childbirth. I had my last child on my living room floor, on purpose, so I very much appreciate the importance of birth choices. Many women haven't had options or continuity over the past 11 months. A positive pregnancy and birth experience is generally safer for everyone, and has long-reaching mental health benefits. It has to be weighed up carefully. 

190121 deaths male female week 1 2021 ONS up to 8th Jan

Trump's last few hours in office are scary and adrenaline-fuelled, and some things make zero sense. His administration announced yesterday that from January 26th COVID-related travel restrictions from the UK, Ireland, Brazil and Europe will be lifted.
The incoming Biden administration White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki replied with:
"With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel.
On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26.  In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19."
So that's a firm "not flipping likely".

The British Islamic Medical Association has produced a fantastic myth-buster sheet which I tried to share yesterday (thanks Cathy), but it was a bit blurry, so I'll share some of the individual sections instead.
Muslim people seem to have become targets for anti-vaccine campaigns, and as BAME groups are at a higher risk of catching COVID AND dying from it, it's pure cruel and shrouded in very ugly racism.
The vaccines contain no meat or meat products and the Pfizer/BioNTech has already been declared Halal by most scholarly bodies worldwide. The Vegan Society say COVID vaccines are okay too.  

"The rollout of the COVID19 vaccine is accelerating, with over four million people having received their first jab.
We are now offering the vaccine at around 1,200 sites, including 17 large-scale vaccination centres."
UK Department of Health & Social Care

Thailand really attempted to sell itself as the ideal dream holiday location, with extended breaks of up to 9 months available, including a 2 week quarantine in a luxury hotel with private pool. Less than 350 people a month on average have taken up the offer to flee to a virtually COVIDless world of sun and sand.
Tourism just isn't doing well. Several nations have barred their citizens from inessential travel, and a lot of people are a teeny bit concerned they may not get home as planned...  

190121 deaths by week ONS up to 8th Jan

Lord Sumption said on the telly that the lives of people who are already ill or old are worth less, which he may feel is true personally for him at 72 with that attitude, but isn't a view shared by very many people. Thankfully.
ALL life is sacred. ALL people should be considered equal. You do not know for whom the bell tolls next.
He's a fierce campaigner against lockdowns and still seems to believe it's possible to isolate the elderly and vulnerable so that everyone else can go about their lives.
A. It's not possible - the entire world has tried and pretty much failed every time. Care homes everywhere have suffered dreadfully.
B. Long COVID. Just because you aren't locked down or don't die, doesn't mean COVID hasn't put your life on hold. We are going to have hundreds of thousands of people needing support for a long time. Adding to that is insane.
C. If you can't yet understand that you need physically healthy people to have a healthy economy, you really need to open your eyes. The UK and USA have let COVID run and have fared financially far, far worse than any country which put their foot down, and is now fully reopened. Added to which, COVID itself is costing us millions more in testing, vaccinations, medical care and job support each week...

UK variant B.1.1.7. is now being tracked across the UK, Denmark and the USA, and it really does appear to increase transmission by 30-50% wherever it appears. That's better than initial estimates, but still... Darnit... The tricky maths has been done by Trevor "he's becoming a wee bit famous now" Bedford, who finds it gives an increase of an estimated:
40-52% in the UK
34-44% in Denmark
42-55% in the USA (this figure is less precise as less data is available at the moment)

There have been some questions over the amount of people with severe allergic reactions to the Moderna vaccine in a clinic in Southern California. State epidemiologist Dr. Erica S. Pan called for jabs from the same batch of vaccine to be paused while it was investigated. Apparently less than 10 individuals were involved, and no other clinic seems to have found the same issue - so it really could just be fluke. 

Just breaking this afternoon, so I haven't seen all of the figures:
"On average the rate of COVID infection is 1.9 x higher amongst primary and secondary teachers than the general population. For teaching assistants, the rate of COVID infection is three x higher in primary schools." Sian Griffiths, Education Editor at the Sunday Times.
This is a bit different to the "schools are safe" message Jenny Harries gave to the Education Committee just this morning. She actually seems to have been looking at different information to everyone else:
"Schoolchildren definitely can transmit infection in schools - they can transmit it in any environment - but it is not a significant driver as yet, as far as we can see, of large-scale community infections."
Hmmmm. So... when we were seeing all those cases in kids during December, it had no relationship to the staggeringly high number of cases that continued to happen until roughly 2 weeks after we closed schools?...

uk govt shopping go alone stay apart

The Biden administration won't be having huge crowds at the inauguration tomorrow, instead they have filled the National Mall all the way to the Lincoln Memorial with 100,000 flags, laid out in thick bands of colour. It looks amazing - and it's so much more sensible than having your supporters there in person.

Trouble is possible, so keeping the fans away is a wise move in more ways than one. Let's hope for peace.

There's been massive flooding in South Yorkshire already, over 100 flood alerts have been issued around the North/Midlands/East of England, and heavy rain from Storm Christoph may continue until Thursday lunchtime. Best of luck to anyone in those areas. Stay safe. 

Some people. All look up and see the same sky as you:

Countries / Cases / Losses of life (since midnight GMT. In larger countries some states /provinces have yet to report today):

USA 24,646,327 (+19,886) 408,912 (+289)

India 10,596,107 (+13,460) 152,743 (+150)

Brazil 8,523,635 (+11,397) 210,404 (+76)

Russia 3,612,800 (+21,734) 66,623 (+586)

UK 3,466,849 (+33,355) 91,470 (+1,610)

France 2,914,725 not yet reported today 70,686

Italy 2,400,598 (+10,497) 83,157 (+603)

Turkey 2,399,781 (+6,818) 24,328 (+167)

Spain 2,370,742 (+34,291) 54,173 (+404)

Germany 2,062,450 (+3,136) 48,505 (+400)

Colombia 1,923,132 not yet reported today 49,004

Argentina 1,807,428 not yet reported today 45,832

Mexico 1,649,502 (+8,074) 141,248 (+544)

Poland 1,443,804 (+4,835) 33,698 (+291)









Myth-busting Information - https://twitter.com/BritishIMA/status/1349837782454329344






















COVID MYTHS: https://britishima.org/operation-vaccination/hub/covidmyths/#ATM



  1. I hope when they talk about immunising teachers as a priority they think about the rest of the staff that work in school's and are vital to the day to day running. Home learning in our school is currently done via Teams. Class teachers are working from home delivering the daily remote lessons. Thus it is mainly the TA's and LSA's who are going into school to support key worker and vulnerable children.

    1. I very much agree. I think cleaners and any lunch staff have to be considered too. So many if us have the luxury if working from home and barely having to mix, it's vital we respect and protect those who don't have that option.


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