Thursday 28 January 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 27th / 28th January 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 27th / 28th January 2021.

The UK added 28,680 cases today (DOWN from 37,892 a week earlier) and now has reported a total of 3,743,734 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 771,710 tests yesterday. 

7,447,199 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 476,298 people are fully vaccinated (2 doses). 

36,931 people were in hospital on 26th Jan, (DOWN from 38,176 a week earlier), with 3,937 using a ventilator yesterday, 27th January (DOWN slightly from 3,953 a week earlier).  

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 1,239 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 103,126 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 191,182 cases and 3,120 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 101,700,539 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,191,160. Already 73,526,780 people have recovered.

UK total people vaccinated up until 27th January 2021

Michael Gove was on telly this morning, insisting that the UK vaccine supply is secure, despite some mumbles from the EU that they want to restrict it (as we have already vaccinated more people than they have and it's likely we have enough supply, in hand or pending, to vaccinate everyone over 50 by Summer).
The EU's supplies of Pfizer / Biontech and Moderna vaccinations aren't quite going to arrive at the planned speed, and last week AstraZeneca announced they had manufacturing problems and needed to cut the EU's planned delivery by 60%. If I was the EU, I'd be frustrated too. Government Inspectors have even been sent into the Belgian AstraZeneca plant to check they aren't hiding vaccines.
There are calls across the EU for limits on exports, and I honestly wouldn't be at all surprised if it happens. Who can really blame them? We're all a bit scared right now. There are already 2 manufacturing plants churning out the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK, so we do not rely solely on imports. 

Meanwhile in Germany, the confusion over the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine continues. First it was mistakenly announced as only 8% effective in the elderly, then it was retracted, and now the 'Standing Vaccine Commission' at the Robert Koch Institute (German medicines regulator) have said that there is “insufficient data currently available” to determine the efficacy in patients 65 and older. They recommend it is only used for people aged 18 to 64.
Before you panic, this isn't negative, it's neutral - and to be honest they're right. There were very few elderly people in the Oxford vaccine trials, partly because the populations where trials took place don't have very many older people.
Safety data is fine - but in 1 main study only 1 vaccinated person over 65 caught COVID, so it tells you nothing about how well it works (100% survival rate). It is very likely that efficacy in older people is reduced by up to 1/3 compared to younger people, that's pretty normal (they move at a more leisurely pace), but there's nothing to say it won't work.
The UK's very oldest people will mainly have had the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccination (the super cold one), as that was available to use first.

Valneva begins large-scale vaccine manufacturing at its Livingston site in West Lothian today. The Valneva vaccine hasn't yet quite finished trials and handed over the data, but the UK have pre-ordered 60 million doses. Subject to approval, they should be ready before the end of the year, and we have an option to buy another 130 million "if the vaccine is proven to be safe, effective and suitable". With an investment like that, they're clearly happy with early data so far... 

Boris is on a jolly up to Scotland today to encourage a 'United' Kingdom. Sadly it's off to a bad start, as Scotland's borders are closed without 'essential reason', so you aren't allowed to just visit. Leader Nicola Sturgeon has made it very clear she doesn't believe this is an essential visit, and it appears he's been reported to the police for breaches of Coronavirus restrictions by very many people. (Go on Nicola, arrest him!! Lolz)
To be honest it's not so much the fact Boris himself has gone to Scotland, but he'll have a chuffing great entourage. Security detail, advisors, personal assistants, and massive amounts of media etc etc. It's a bit rude really. Maybe a better option, if he wanted to speak to the Scottish people without offending them, would have been a Q&A on social media? How many actual humans will turn out to see him in person? They can't even shake his hand. Is it really worth it? Lead by example... 

uk govt shopping go alone stay apart

The World Health Organisation have published guidance for the Moderna vaccination, and due to the fact they simply have no trial data for that group, they have similar recommendations to the other vaccines regarding pregnant ladies:
"While pregnancy puts women at a higher risk of severe COVID-19, the use of this vaccine in pregnant women is currently not recommended, unless they are at risk of high exposure (e.g. health workers)."

ONS (Office for National Statistics) report that more people are working from home again than at any point since the first wave (48%), and a whopping 96% of people wear a mask when out of the home. 

The ONS year end mortality reports are really telling us a lot. There will always be some "missing or delayed data", but up until 15th January 2021:
- the UK had reported the loss of 10 babies and children under age 15 to COVID (regardless of frailty, comorbidity or perceived risk, your child personally is in very little danger).
- 962 adults under the age of 45 had lost their lives.
- 9,808 adults under age 65.
The most dangerous professions include nurses, nursing auxiliaries and Social Workers, and being a chef, manager or owner of a restaurant. (Eat Out To Help Out wasn't only reckless if you were the one eating.) Retail workers, construction, manufacturing and food processing workers came high up the table (factories, especially cold units, have regularly seen outbreaks), as well as local government administration.
Huffington Post have a brilliant article looking at this and other available data, to see exactly who has been most at risk of dying from COVID - and they point out the staggering lack of clear information regarding ethnic background. BAME groups have a substantially higher risk of serious illness, but death certificates don't contain ethnic group, and the NHS only have ethnic data for patients who died in hospital after ticking a box on a form, so we can't accurately assess what that actual risk is.

Always bear in mind that over 377,000 people of all ages have been actually admitted to hospital in the UK because of COVID - the vast majority of them were under 65, and they ALL needed to be there. If we hadn't had hospital available, and basic simple oxygen, then we would have lost far, far more people.  

Act like you've got it 1 out of 3 no symptoms

A new report from Ofsted has found that "pupils' engagement and motivation remains a significant challenge for schools providing remote education".
I think any parent doing school-at-home at the moment appreciates that. (Although I have to say my kids are really very engaged most of the time, so I can't grumble.)

Florian Krammer has a fantastic thread on Twitter where he discusses new variants and vaccines. All evidence so far does suggest that we don't need to panic. The B117 UK variant shouldn't be an issue. The South African variant shouldn't be an issue. The Brazilian variant is far more of an unknown, but it seems likely it won't be an issue.
He warns that what is an issue is allowing conditions for more variants to evolve, or for these to mutate further. We need to get cases as low as possible worldwide, and we need to be careful in using ideas such as spreading vaccine doses out - which may mean immunity is short lived, and soon would leave people with a weak level of protection. Having a weak level level of protection can be like showing the enemy your weapons without using them. 

Chinese people are very concerned about imported foods bringing COVID. There have been many cases worldwide where outbreaks have occurred among people who handle frozen and chilled foods, and subsequent swabs have found COVID on imports, but to date the World Health Organisation still reports not even a single case where someone was definitely infected by food or food packaging. Nonetheless, imported foods in China are suffering, with more people choosing local and domestic goods instead. 

The USA will aim to buy an extra 200m doses of vaccines by Summer - 100m each of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. They had already said they'll buy 400m, so their total commitment is 600m doses. 2 doses per person, but it's enough to vaccinate every eligible adult and then some. 

New Zealand have announced they will keep their borders closed until the population is vaccinated and protected - so, for most of 2021 then. Approval on a vaccine is expected next week, and it's likely they'll form travel corridors with Australia and other pacific nations if they remain free of COVID, but they don't have it, and they certainly don't want it. I don't blame them. 

COVID vaccine get involved

The UK Government have, to date, delivered 876,013 devices (laptops) to schoolchildren struggling to access education at home. 313,592 have been sent out since 4th January.
Universal free broadband really would have been very handy this past year...

Squishy Flump of the Day:
Fear not Olympians. If Japan falls through and the re-arranged 2020 Tokyo Olympics can't take place this year, Florida Official Jimmy Patronis has written to the International Olympic Committee to say Florida can do it instead. Errrrrm... yeaahh.
You may or may not have noticed,  but Olympics tend to take a bit more than 3 months organising, and frankly if it's not going to be safe in Tokyo, it's definitely not going to be safe in Florida. But thanks Jimmy, that's a really kind offer, and very sweet.... 

The international team working to understand the origins of the COVID19 virus completed its 2-week quarantine in Wuhan, China today. It's a fantastic multinational team of real-life adventurers and scientists who often search for things in less urban locations. Their work starts tomorrow. WHO say they have an open mind, "All hypotheses are on the table". Best of luck. 

Some numbers. All born on the same rock as you:

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

USA 26,194,177 (+27,754) 440,282 (+761) 

India 10,712,036 (+10,005) 153,969 (+84)

Brazil 9,011,822 (+11,337) 220,435 (+198)

Russia 3,793,810 (+19,138) 71,651 (+575)

UK 3,743,734 (+28,680) 103,126 (+1,239) 

France 3,106,859 not yet reported today 74,456

Spain 2,774,014 not yet reported today 57,291

Italy 2,515,507 (+14,372) 87,381 (+492)

Turkey 2,457,118 (+7,279) 25,605 (+129)

Germany 2,186,314 (+6,635) 55,695 (+337)

Colombia 2,055,305 not yet reported today 52,523

Argentina 1,896,053 not yet reported today 47,435

Mexico 1,806,849 (+17,944) 153,639 (+1,623)

Poland 1,496,665 (+7,156) 36,443 (+389)



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