Monday 18 January 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK News and Briefing Update 18th January 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK News and Briefing Update 18th January 2021.

"The development and approval of safe and effective vaccines less than a year after the emergence of a new virus is a stunning scientific achievement, and a much-needed source of hope.
Vaccines are the shot in the arm we all need - literally and figuratively.
The recent emergence of rapidly-spreading variants makes the rapid and equitable rollout of vaccines all the more important.
But we now face the real danger that even as vaccines bring hope to some, they become another brick in the wall of inequality between the world’s haves and have-nots.
It’s right that all governments want to prioritize vaccinating their own health workers and older people first.
But it’s not right that younger, healthier adults in rich countries are vaccinated before health workers and older people in poorer countries.
There will be enough vaccine for everyone. But right now, we must work together as one global family to prioritize those most at risk of severe diseases and death, in all countries."
Dr Tedros, Head of the World Health Organisation 

Total vaccination to date carried out by the UK NHS over 4 million

Yesterday the UK Government announced a £269m boost to the Social Care sector:
- New £120million fund for local authorities to boost staffing levels
- £149million grant system to support increased testing in care homes
The £120m fund for local authorities is in addition to the £149 million announced in December, which will be used to support rapid testing of staff testing and facilitate visits from family and friends where possible. All funding will be available from next month.
"Around 40 per cent of people aged 80 and over and a quarter of older care home residents have now received their first vaccine dose. By the end of next week we aim to have offered a jab to all care home residents and staff."

The UK Government has announced the invitations to have a vaccination are now being sent out to people over 70 and extremely clinically vulnerable people. 

Today there was a UK Briefing with Matt Hancock, Health Minister for the Dept. of Smirking. He was flanked by Dr Susan Hopkins, Medical Advisor to the COVID-19 response for Public Health England, and Professor Stephen Powis, Medical Director for NHS England.
- Today the UK has reported 37,535 new cases
- There are 37,475 people in UK hospitals with COVID - the highest number ever
- Someone is being admitted to hospital on average every 30 seconds
- Today we have reported another 599 people have died from COVID
"Our approach is to save as many lives as possible, as quickly as possible, and to reduce the pressure on the NHS. We're on track to deliver our plan to vaccinate the most vulnerable groups by the end of February. The groups that account for 88% of COVID deaths."
- By midnight last night we had vaccinated 4,062,501 people
- We are vaccinating at more than double the rate (per person per day) than any other country in Europe
- Latest data shows we have now vaccinated over half our people over 80, as well as half our care home residents
- Some areas have performed astoundingly well. In Slough ALL care home residents have already been vaccinated
- From today we are moving on to include people over 70 and the extremely clinically vulnerable

The NHS WILL contact you when they are ready for you. Everyone over 80 will be vaccinated within the next 4 weeks at most.
He thanks the media for arranging volunteers, and thanks the public for being there to support our friends, colleagues and neighbours. 

uk govt shopping go alone stay apart

Public asked about protecting frontline workers - delivery drivers, teachers, shop workers etc. Matt reiterates that the UK have decided to focus on saving most lives first and foremost.
Susan says we are rolling out lateral flow tests to try and find asymptomatic cases and reduce spread. Over 37,000 individuals have already been found positive in this way. Matt reminds us that we have walk-in lateral flow testing in some areas and should use them if we are concerned.

Steve says over 15,000 people have been admitted to hospital since Christmas, and it's critical we stick to social distancing rules. Pressure on the NHS has never been higher. He thanks school and care staff who look after NHS worker's children, and shop staff who ensure they get fed.

Public asked why we can't just let everyone out once we've vaccinated the most vulnerable people. Matt explains that we don't yet know how much transmission will still occur, far more young people end up in hospital. (75% of people in critical care with COVID are under 75).
Press asked about whether we will be able to vaccinate as per the plan. Matt says the NHS are doing a fabulous job and if anything holds us up, it'll be actual physical stock of vaccines, which simply can't be made any faster than they are.
Today we officially opened 10 new vaccine centres, including Wembley.

Press asked about prioritising, and Dr Tedros' comments earlier today about fair and equitable spread of vaccines. Matt says 99% of losses of life occur in the top 9 priority groups, so once they are covered, it's really going to be more about getting back to normal life. (Except that we really can't just let COVID run through everyone else. We do need to stifle it and get levels incredibly low, or we risk more mutations over time.)
The UK is the world's biggest financial supporter of global vaccination, as well as developing the Oxford /AstraZeneca vaccine, which is the most cost-effective vaccine (under a fiver a patient, as opposed to around £20 for Russia's Sputnik, or Pfizer / BioNTech at £35-£50). We really ARE doing our bit to help the world get vaccinated.

Press asked if families can be confident to book their holidays this Summer. Matt's crystal ball is at home, so he didn't give a no, but clearly he can't say "yeah, sure". It's the hope. He's planning a trip to Cornwall himself.

Press asked an incredibly grim question regarding an open letter sent to Matt Hancock. It spoke about staff in overwhelmed hospitals having to make decisions on who to treat, and who to send home, and the legal implications of those decisions. The UK has NOT yet reached this point. It has occurred in Italy, the USA, South America and other areas, and it's the most dreadful situation for any medic to be in. It is still hoped it will not occur in the UK, and Matt says he does not see any need to change the law to protect any doctor.
The way we prevent this occurring is to stop the spread of COVID and keep people out of hospital. That's it. We ALL have a part to play. 

Myths about COVID and vaccinations and the truth thanks to the British Islamic Medical Association
Click to enlarge

Scotland have announced £5m for an NHS medicines delivery service to help prevent people struggling to reach pharmacies. It will initially cover around 1.5m people.
They have also announced £750,000 to support non-paid carers in regional centres offering support, counselling and grants.

Wales has announced £40m for university students facing hardship, with priority for the most vulnerable students.
Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams:
"Education creates opportunities, it changes lives, it makes our society fairer and is vital to long term economic prosperity... I don't want to see anybody drop out from education this year because of money problems."
I like her already... 

It was officially Blue Monday today. Generally considered the most depressing day of the year. Smile - you made it. The road is bumpy, but it shouldn't be such a relentless slog. There's more of the downhill from here on in... 

Back tomorrow with the regular update. Stay well. 


Myth-busting Information -

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