Friday 8 January 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 8th January 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 8th January 2021.

The UK added 68,053 cases today and now has reported a total of 2,957,472 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 619,941 tests yesterday. 

31,624 people were in hospital on Wednesday 6th, with 2,929 using a ventilator yesterday, 7th January. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 1,325 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 79,833 officially reported losses of life in all settings. Today's figure still includes people who succumbed over Christmas, so is artificially high for a single day. 

Rep. Of Ireland 127,657 cases and 2,307 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 88,893,141 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,913,630. Already 63,807,780 people have recovered.

080121 we are not having a normal bad winter

Yesterday Sussex and Surrey declared a 'Major Incident' due to the numbers of COVID patients in hospital. London Mayor Sadiq Khan this afternoon has also declared a Major Incident. The ONS study estimates that 1 in every 30 Londoners currently has COVID, with ratios as high as 1 in 20 in some areas. The NHS is really struggling to cope with demand, not only upon the hospitals themselves and their staff, but also the Ambulance crews and everyone else involved in the chain of care. 

From next week passengers arriving in England by boat, plane or train will have to take a COVID test no more than 72 hours before departing the country they are in, "to help protect against the new strains of coronavirus such as those seen in Denmark and South Africa".
(Denmark? you ask. Well, yes. Denmark is finding a worrying increase in cases of the, erm... UK variant...)
Scotland have said they'll also have the same measures, and it's anticipated Wales and Northern Ireland will also make negative tests mandatory. 

There are some changes to the UK travel corridors in response to known cases of the South African COVID variant.
"British and Irish Nationals, longer-term visa holders and permanent residents who have travelled to all countries in southern Africa, Seychelles and Mauritius in the last 10 days will have to self-isolate along with their household."
Israel (and Jerusalem), Mauritius, Seychelles and Botswana will be removed from the travel corridor list from Saturday morning 9th Jan 4am.

Good news from Pfizer - they've looked at whether the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine is effective against the UK variant, and it all looks fine. They have no concerns. This isn't yet peer-reviewed, but very trustworthy - the odds were always pretty darn safe. As the Ugur from BioNTech said back on 22nd December “The vaccine contains more than 1270 amino acids, and only 9 of them changed, so that means 99% of the protein is still the same.”
The South African variant hasn't yet been fully examined. 

And good vaccine news from Moderna. The MHRA has approved the US developed vaccine for use in the UK. It is already in use in several countries, and wasn't one of the vaccines we originally bought into, so we don't have stocks waiting. We have ordered 17m doses, which should be ready for us by late Spring / early Summer. 

080121 international travel rules UK

indieSAGE today was quite sombre. The situation in the UK is grim. We all know this. The headline was "Things are very bad and will get worse for at least a few weeks."
Cases have just been shooting upwards since the beginning of December. We are still too early to see the effect of this lockdown, but it does look like there could be the very beginnings of a plateau. People requested less tests over Christmas and New Year, so some of what we see now is lag. It means we can't really judge how big growth in cases truly is at the moment.
Northern Ireland's case numbers are going up incredibly quickly, even compared to the rest of the UK. They aren't sure why that could be. N.I. did have a short period before Christmas where restrictions were relaxed, but it seems harsh.
Cases are going up among all age groups, with school-aged children the smallest. People from ethnic minorities are still most at risk and most likely to test positive.
We now send far fewer people to intensive care than we used to (best treatments have changed as we've learned about COVID), so the increases in numbers of people needing mechanical ventilation are really even worse than they first appear.
We are attempting to vaccinate as many people as possible aged over 75, however, 75% of people in intensive care are under 75.
We have reached almost 4,000 hospital admission a day - higher than at any other point. We have 28,246 people in English hospitals with COVID, at the April peak we had 18,974.
Surge capacity and how it affects "spare beds" was explained (see images).
We are vaccinating about 300,000 people a week, hopefully increases in vaccination centres and availability will speed that up by x7 - losses of life in care homes are going up again. Speed is really vital.
A WARNING: Remember this - We are focussing on vaccinating the over 75's. They aren't the big spreaders, younger people are. Vaccinating this group will have a swift effect on loss of life and hospitalisations, but will have a slower effect on case numbers.
A BIG WARNING: Estimates show that the last lockdown took the R (reproductive) number down to 0.6. The new variant is estimated to raise the R by 0.4-0.7, so this lockdown may not be enough alone to bring the R below 1. This lockdown isn't quite as restrictive as the March lockdown either, so it depends on human behaviour, and exactly why the new variant is more catchy, and how much that is affected by lockdown. Only time will tell. Studies are obviously ongoing. 

080121 adult critical care bed capacity

We have more important WARNINGS, this is from Action Fraud UK:
"In the UK, coronavirus vaccines will only be available via the NHS. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, a local GP surgery or pharmacy, to receive your vaccine. Vaccinations are free of charge and you will not be asked to pay."
There are already tons of scammers preying on scared people.
Don't even click on any links in unexpected email or text messages, it could incur a fee, and definitely don't enter details, especially financial details or passwords.
Sussex Community NHS:
"The NHS will never ask you to press a button on your keypad or send a text to confirm you want the vaccine, and will never ask for payment or for your bank details."

Scammers aren't only working online. A woman in Surbiton let someone into her house because he said he was there to vaccinate her. He jabbed her in the arm with something, then charged her £160. She is thankfully fine.
If it doesn't seem right then don't go along with it. They don't have time to vaccinate everyone at home, it won't be done as a surprise by a stranger.
Remember you can always say you have a policy of ringing, then use the correct number to ring the surgery/hospital/pharmacy or your employer etc. to check it's legitimate - don't press 'call back' or use a number on a card someone is holding. Google is your friend. 

Today Public Health England released the data from their latest technical briefing. The UK variant is really taking over, and accounts for over 50% of cases in all areas of England except Yorkshire and The Humber. In the South East, East and London it accounts for over 80% of cases.
15% of contacts of people with the variant become infected vs 11% of the contacts of the regular/wild-type virus. In all regions, across all age groups. That is an estimated 30-50% higher attack rate. 

080120 atttack rate for wild and UK variants

Matt Hancock visited a GP Surgery yesterday for a press visit. Sadly the expected vaccine delivery hadn't turned up, so there were no live telly shots of him grinning beside pensioners getting stabbed in the arm.   

You know what would be great right now? Universal free broadband. Anyway,  BT have said they offered to supply incredibly low cost unlimited broadband to disadvantaged families back in Spring, so that kids could get online and maintain school work, and the government turned them down. Yowch.

On Tuesday Gavin Williamson, the Education Minister (played by the same guy who played the child-catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), gave us an update on accessibility to education for all:
"Our delivery of laptops and tablets continues apace. We have purchased more than one million laptops and tablets and have already delivered over 560,000 of these to schools and local authorities, with an extra 100,000 this week alone. By the end of next week we will have delivered three quarters of a million devices.
We are also working with all the UK’s leading mobile network operators, to provide free data for key educational sites. We are very grateful to EE, Three, Tesco Mobile, Smarty, Sky Mobile, Virgin Mobile, O2 and Vodaphone for supporting this offer. We have also been delivering 4G routers to families who need to access the internet."
(Good stuff on the laptops and routers, and the free data for lessons, but what was your problem with the offer from BT 9 months ago??)

080121 indieSAGE new cases by country

More information on Tocilizumab and Sarilumab - those lifesaving drugs Boris mentioned on Wednesday. They are already being trialled/used in other countries too:
"Results from the government-funded REMAP-CAP clinical trial published today showed tocilizumab and sarilumab reduced the relative risk of death by 24%, when administered to patients within 24 hours of entering intensive care.
Most of the data came from when the drugs were administered in addition to a corticosteroid, such as dexamethasone – also discovered through government-backed research through the RECOVERY clinical trial – which is already provided as standard of care to the NHS.
Patients receiving these drugs, typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, left intensive care between 7 to 10 days earlier on average. The rollout of these treatments could therefore contribute significantly towards reducing pressures on hospitals over the coming weeks and months."
Blooming marvellous. 

The UK published a bright colourful image today to highlight the latest R rate...erm... 'be scared, but in a happy way!'
"Statistics for England as of 8 January.
R Number: R 1.1 – 1.4
Growth rate: +1% to +6%"
Ouch. Nothing to be so proud of really chaps. I think you should have gone for darker colours there... 

Trump of the Day:
You thought 2020 was the year anything could happen, bring on 2021:
"I would like to begin in addressing the heinous attack on the American capital. Like all Americans I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem... "National Guard"... "defiled seat of American democracy"... "you do not represent our country"... "my campaign vigorously pursued every legal route"... "my focus now moves to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation. 2020 has been a challenging time for our people. A menacing pandemic has upended the lives of our citizens, isolated millions in their homes, damaged our economy and claimed countless lives." .... "all of us working together"... "one national family"... "my honour of a lifetime"... "our incredible journey is only just beginning."
Wow. Nice one. Am I the only person wondering if Donald has been replaced by a human, sorry, obviously I mean robot, to keep the peace through these last 2 weeks?

080120 latest growth rate r number UK

Today we had a lot of good news regarding vaccines, and treatments. We also had bad news, but we are on the right track towards that situation improving too. You ARE being a hero every minute you don't risk passing COVID to someone else. We WILL get there. 

Have a good weekend. I hope you do something for yourself, especially if you've had school-at-home and not enjoyed it, or you are having to work extra shifts under exhausting conditions. Use those fancy toiletries from Christmas, have a Baileys in your hot chocolate, read a book in bed until noon, whatever floats your boat. But have a treat and look after your head - you've more than earned it. 

Stay Apart. keep Hope. Save The NHS. 

Some numbers. All created from the same stars as you:

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

USA 22,190,492 (+53,483) 374,988 (+791)

India 10,430,330 (+16,286) 150,800 (+194)

Brazil 7,961,673 not yet reported today 200,498

Russia 3,355,794 (+23,652) 60,911 (+454)

UK 2,957,472 (+68,053) 79,833 (+1,325)

France 2,727,321 not yet reported today 66,841

Turkey 2,307,581 (+11,479) 22,450 (+186)

Italy 2,237,890 (+17,533) 77,911 (+620)

Spain 2,050,360 (+25,456) 51,874 (+199)

Germany 1,881,377 (+12,049) 39,721 (+463) 

Colombia 1,737,347 not yet reported today 45,067

Argentina 1,690,006 not yet reported today 44,122

Mexico 1,493,569 (+13,734) 131,031 (+1,044)

Poland 1,365,645 (+8,790) 30,574 (+332)



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