Tuesday 2 February 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 1st / 2nd February 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 1st / 2nd February 2021.

The UK added 16,840 cases today and now has reported a total of 3,852,623 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 643,204 tests yesterday. 

The counter says 9,646,715 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night, with 496,796 fully vaccinated (2 doses). 

32,466 people were in hospital on Sunday 31st Jan, with 3,726 using a ventilator yesterday, 1st February. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 1,449 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 108,013 losses of life in all settings.

ONS report that up until 22nd January, 112,660 people had COVID as a cause on their death certificate. 

Rep. Of Ireland 198,424 (+871) cases and 3,418 (+101) losses of life.

There have now been a total of 104,158,113 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,255,156. Already 75,971,288 people have recovered.

020221 additional £50m for uni students

Scotland's lockdown will be extended:
"Lockdown restrictions have been extended following this week's review.
Current lockdown measures will stay in place across mainland Scotland and some island communities until at least the end of February."

You know how we didn't really want mutations on top of mutations? And that could be a not very good thing? I have some bad news... 

Matt Hancock has said that the UK has discovered more 'variants of concern', with 11 cases in Bristol and 32 in Liverpool. The enhanced door-to-door testing of everyone (whether they have symptoms or not) will be extended to cover these areas as well as the postcode areas identified yesterday over the South African variant.

At least 11 samples of the UK variant B117 have been found to have a very familiar additional mutation - E484K (these could be the 11 in Liverpool, that's unclear at the moment).
E484K is also present in the South African and Brazilian variants, and is the mutation which, in a lab, is more resilient to vaccines and antibodies. Vaccine trials by Johnson & Johnson and Novovax in South Africa were also less effective, which annoyingly supports the lab work.
As far as we are aware, current vaccines and antibodies will still be effective enough to make the difference, but some could be reduced to around 60% efficacy rather than 90%. Tweaks are already being developed in labs worldwide - they are already on it because it's a known mutation already - and this is the 3rd time it's happened independently.

The UK Government were told about this B117 plus E484K mutation on 14th January. This variant was designated as VOC (variant of concern) 202012/01 on 18 December 2020.
They don't really move very quickly, do they? 

The benchmark for a COVID vaccine being worthwhile doing is about 50%, and a standard vaccine contract includes a clause about the minimum efficacy result from completed trials. Before any vaccines were ready, the UK Government committed to any of their chosen favourite 6 which hit the 50%, and we've now added Valneva to that list (as well as Moderna, which has already been authorised).
Pfizer / BioNTech was the first to present data and stunned pretty much everyone with their 95% efficacy a week after the second dose. (12 days+ after the first dose, efficacy is assumed to be around 52%, but this was only measured up until 3 weeks). 

022221 ONS Mortality COVID excess graph

We have excellent news from Oxford today which will see Matt Hancock, SAGE and everyone else relax a bit. They looked at whether the UK's plan of giving a single vaccine dose, and then a 2nd dose at 3 months interval, is working:
"Analyses reveal single standard dose efficacy from day 22 to day 90 post vaccination of 76% with protection not falling in this three-month period"
(So 1 dose, as promised, does offer a very good level of protection for 3 months.)
"After the second dose vaccine efficacy from two standard doses is 82.4% with the 3-month interval being used in the UK."
(It is also anticipated that giving the second dose will mean that protection lasts a long time.)
"Data supports the 4-12 week prime-boost dosing interval recommended by many global regulators."
(It does. Remember this is data for the Oxford / BioNTech vaccine only.)
"Analyses of PCR positive swabs in UK population suggests vaccine may have substantial effect on transmission of the virus with 67% reduction in positive swabs among those vaccinated."
Fingers very much crossed, but this looks really good. 

It appears the UK Government's rapid action against importing new variants is going to take a couple of weeks... *sigh*
For reasons unknown, they haven't been able to organise Quarantine Hotels for arrivals from 30 of the more risky 'Red List' countries (it's literally a pandemic - they can pretty much pick any hotel and demand it). It's likely this measure will come into place on Feb 15th.
As if that wasn't enough, the Jan 21st SAGE advisory group meeting report shows the government were told in plain English they NEED to use quarantine hotels to ensure ALL arrivals isolate, and prevent new variants entering the country. 

Tentative 'whoot' everybody. The news coming in from Israel is good. They have vaccinated about 80% of over 60's with 1 dose, and 60% with 2 doses. Over 34% of the entire eligible population have now had at least 1 dose. There are clear differences that didn't occur during their earlier lockdown.
In the past 2 weeks:
~35% drop in cases
~30% drop in hospitalizations
~20% drop in critically ill
The cases are dropping well with the current restrictions, and the numbers of people becoming very ill and going to hospital are dropping almost as fast. This is early days, the official data is a bit sporadic and not yet finalised or peer-reviewed, but this is exactly what we'd hope to see. 

Over 50% of over 70's vaccinated

The UK Government have announced an extra £50m for uni students who have incurred extra charges or faced financial difficulties:
"Thousands of students will benefit from an additional £50 million to support them with financial pressures during the pandemic.
For example, if they face additional costs for alternative accommodation, loss of employment, or extra costs to access their teaching online."
(Maybe I should start charging my 22 year old rent.... muhahaha).

"Influencers" have been getting a slating over the past few weeks for taking a bit of an entitled stance, regarding "having" to travel and go abroad 'in order to give their followers nice pictures to look at'. Interviews with young people on Dubai beaches have gone viral, as they attempt to justify the fact they're enjoying the high life, while the rest of us are stuck indoors in the plague capital of the world.
I'm actually living it up myself. I've tipped a bag of play sand on the kitchen floor, turned on ALL the spotlights and put the heating on 28 degrees. I'm typing this in my bikini while holding a margarita.

Lost Their Fight:
100 year old NHS hero Captain Sir Tom Moore. 

In possibly the worst PR stunt idea ever, British Airways flew Captain Tom to Barbados with his extended family over Christmas as a treat. There really is nothing more to say here. I am truly sorry we've lost him. 

The Falkland Islands may be remote, but they have not managed to escape COVID, and nor have they been forgotten. The UK on Monday flew over 3,000 doses of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine.
41 cases of COVID have been discovered on the islands since the beginning of the pandemic, with 7 people currently ill. The total population is 3,542 (includes children).

The Isle Of Man has been able to lift all COVID restrictions, including social distancing. They had an outbreak of about 60 cases around the Christmas period, so locked down for 25 days, and have reported only 2 new cases in the last fortnight. Well done, and very best of luck guys. 

The Guardian have reported on 19 year old Joseph Flavill from Burton-On-Trent. He was hit by a car on March 1st last year and is just beginning to wake from a coma. His family can't visit in person, and haven't yet been able to really explain COVID to him. It must have been strange enough for the German Big Brother household last year, young Joseph has a lot of catching up to do. I suggest he starts with Tiger King, and some home made banana bread... 

Some numbers. All people very much like you:

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

USA 26,930,931 (+19,556) 455,022 (+809)

India 10,778,031 (+10,825) 154,629 (+107)

Brazil 9,230,865 (+849) 225,159 (+16)

Russia 3,884,730 (+16,643) 74,158 (+539)

UK 3,852,623 (+16,840) 108,013 (+1,449) 

France 3,201,461 not yet reported today 76,512

Spain 2,881,793 (+29,064) 59,805 (+724)

Italy 2,570,608 (+9,660) 89,344 (+499)

Turkey 2,492,977 (+7,795) 26,237 (+120)

Germany 2,234,728 (+2,412) 58,692 (+296)

Colombia 2,104,506 not yet reported today 54,272

Argentina 1,933,853 not yet reported today 48,249

Mexico 1,869,708 (+5,448) 159,100 (+564)

Poland 1,520,215 (+4,326) 37,476 (+253)


























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