Thursday 11 February 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 10th / 11th February 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 10th / 11th February 2021.

The UK added 13,494 cases today and now has reported a total of 3,998,655 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 763,311 tests yesterday.

The counter says 13,509,108 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 524,447 had received 2 doses.

25,621 people were in hospital on Tuesday 9th, with 3,132 using a ventilator yesterday, 10th February.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 678 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 115,529 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 206,801 (+862) cases and 3,846 (+52) losses of life.

There have now been a total of 108,092,884 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,370,940. Already 80,122,045 people have recovered.

ONS Mortality including 5 year average and deaths from COVID

If you are are an adult who hasn't been vaccinated and are considered to be more susceptible to COVID, you might already have received a text, call or letter asking you to book your vaccination. It appears the next stage of the rollout is already happening. Groups 5-9, your time is now. The aim is to have vaccinated virtually everyone in the top 9 groups by the end of April. 
1 Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults
2 All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
3 All those 75 years of age and over
4 All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals (not including pregnant women and those under 16 years of age)
5 All those 65 years of age and over
6 Adults aged 16 to 65 years in an at-risk group
7 All those 60 years of age and over
8 All those 55 years of age and over
9 All those 50 years of age and over

Good news from the UK's RECOVERY Trial. The use of Tocilizumab (an anti-inflammatory drug more commonly used to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis) saves around 1 in every 25 hospitalised patients who would otherwise have succumbed. Could be better, but we'll take it. It would have saved around 5,000 people in the UK if we had used it from the start, and I'm sure all of their families would tell you just how valuable that is.
Tocilizumab also appears to reduce the need for ventilation and length of hospital stay, easing pressure on critical care services.
"The data suggest that in COVID-19 patients with hypoxia (requiring oxygen) and significant inflammation, treatment with the combination of a systemic corticosteroid (such as dexamethasone) plus tocilizumab reduces mortality by about one third for patients requiring simple oxygen and nearly one half for those requiring invasive mechanical ventilation."
We haven't got the published paper yet, so it hasn't been peer-reviewed,  but it looks incredibly promising. It is however incredibly expensive, so unlike Dexamethasone, will not be an option for much of the world. 

The NHS has released figures which show for the whole of 2020, 242,307 people were treated in hospital with Covid19. During just January 2021, NHS hospitals treated 101,956 COVID patients.
The Christmas gift that kept on giving...  

The UK NHS and care system is going to get an overhaul after the pandemic. The Government have published a massive white paper blueprint for reforms to health and social care. They say the aim is to:
-  reduce unnecessary bureaucracy
-  empower local leaders & services
-  tackle health inequalities
Sounds great. I admit I haven't read it, there were not enough hours in the day. I'm sure we should start seeing feedback from those who have by this evening... 

110221 daily update PHE

The UK's more transmissible Kent/UK Variant B117 is causing havoc around Europe. Overall new cases in places like Denmark, Switzerland and France are coming down with their restrictions,  but B117 isn't showing the same pattern. Original wild COVID is dropping far faster than B117, which in some cases isn't dropping at all. The percentage of B117 found in Denmark has risen in the last 4 weeks from around 7% to 27% of new cases, according to early data. There are genuine worries cases may stop falling soon - or those worries may prove unfounded. It's one to watch closely, because it gives us some clues about what measures are going to work here in the UK. B117 accounts for over 80% of cases here in the UK. 

Data from Israel looks really promising. Over 97% of the people who succumbed to COVID in the past 30 days had NOT been vaccinated. The vaccination programme is ongoing, and they haven't finished yet, but losses of life and hospitalisations among vaccinated groups have fallen quite dramatically. More good news for the UK and the world, as Israel is also very much saturated with B117 variant. 

Scientists including the fabulously named (and well-respected) Zeynep Tufekci, have long time warned of the importance of avoiding super-spreader events, or "overdispersion". A newly released study (not yet peer-reviewed) has traced around 50,000 cases in New Orleans back to possibly a single person who attended Mardi Gras.
Repeatedly studies find that most people don't pass COVID to anyone else, but around 20% of COVID+ people (1in5) are responsible for almost all new cases. You can see how that would work in a family household setting, and it is very similar to the wider world. What we need to avoid is all situations where that spread is able to really take off. This is why measures like staying home if in doubt, random workplace testing and banning mass gatherings are so important. Last year Bolton's outbreak, which meant local pubs were shut for almost the entire year from March lockdown onwards, (except for around 2 weeks), was in large part fuelled by a single person who returned from holiday and went on a pub crawl when they should have been isolating. 

I've asked the British Dental Association for clarification, but it does appear you do have to see your dentist within 2 years, or, even with COVID, you'll be struck off. If you are worried, contact your dentist, leave a message if necessary because they have really strict rulings about how many people can be in the surgery, and it's very possible no-one will be answering phones. 

110221 Scotland vaccine 1 m doses

Michael Caine and Elton John have a new video, and it shows them both "acting", but more importantly they tell you to get vaccinated. My favourite part is that the NHS video was commissioned by Professor The Lord Darzi. Best. Name. Ever.
He's a real Professor, Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, and Executive Chair of the World Innovation Summit for Health, and I bet he always gets a nice table when he books a meal out!

Remember,  having the vaccine doesn't only mean you have far less chance of becoming seriously ill or dying of COVID,  it means if you do catch it, you are likely to pass it to less than half the people you would have done - on average - which for the vast majority is likely to be none. Several countries with much lower case numbers than the UK have decided this is their priority with vaccination, including people like taxi drivers, ticket collectors and teachers. 

China and the USA are sniping at each other about the origins of COVID. The WHO team have ruled out "lab accident", and the USA said they wanted to see the evidence themselves. Now China have said that the USA should let the WHO team go there and see if they can find the origins of COVID in America. (To be fair, at this point, we still can't 100% rule out pretty much any country worldwide.)

The UK's exciting array of variants may have it's origins in one chronically ill person in Kent, and Wired have a really good article about it.
In someone who is ill for a long time, there's been a 'to and fro' battle between the body and the virus. Each round only the strongest or unrecognised virus survive. The longer it goes on, the more chance you have that a mutation with an evolutionary advantage will become dominant. Whenever the virus is in charge, the sick person will exhale virus, and if it is passed on, you have a new variant.
As a general rule, we shed most virus 2-6 days after becoming infected - before any symptoms are evident. Unless your body struggles to fight off COVID, you're unlikely to pose much of a risk after this point, and by 11 1/2 days most people have stopped shedding any virus and are all better. 

Canada is among the latest countries to announce hotel quarantine for arrivals. Passengers take a test at the airport and stay at a Quarantine Hotel for a minimum 3 days until they get a negative result, then they can go home to self-isolate. If they test positive, they stay in the hotel for a full 2 weeks.
Canada are really trying to deter people from travelling for Spring break, and flights to the Caribbean and Mexico have been suspended until the end of April. 

CDC mask advice shows images of people drawn with different masks

The US CDC released a report yesterday that confirms wearing a 'tight-fitting masks', or 2 masks, is better than 1. In the most part with 2 masks, they're referring to the idea of wearing a medical grade mask underneath a pretty cloth one. If you watch US news, it's been common practice among their governing bodies for a while now.
"In lab tests with dummies, exposure to potentially infectious aerosols decreased by about 95% when they both wore tightly fitted masks."

Taiwan have agreed a deal to buy 5 million doses of Moderna's jab. They should be available mid-year. Around that time Taiwan is hoped to also have their own vaccine manufacturing start production too. The United Biomedical Asia /COVAXX vaccine 'UB-612' has started large scale human clinical trials and it's hoped should be ready for approval by July. This is another brand new and exciting type of vaccine, which targets specific parts of the virus, and they claim has so far out-performed all other known vaccines. Their phase 1 study found 100% efficacy with no adverse events. This is another one which can be stored in a standard fridge, so it's good for the whole world.
Fingers crossed they find the same results with the larger trials. Best of luck. 

New Zealand have approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and are due first deliveries towards the end of March. Priority groups include those 'most at risk', which in New Zealand include quarantine personnel, frontline health workers and airline staff.

One year later, 7 Chinese Journalists are still 'missing' after reporting on the original Wuhan COVID outbreak. Some illegally shared videos and reports with the world, and some attempted to archive material they knew would be deleted. Crimes include "Picking quarrels and provoking troubles", and "inciting subversion of state power". They are not the only people worldwide to have been silenced, often by Governments panicking to keep their reputation clear and their citizens calm. Remember the unfortunate Russian doctors who fell from windows? Dr Anthony Fauci, dropped from US coronavirus press conferences? Chris Whitty has visibly bitten his lip when he's wanted to say more than he was allowed. It has led to mixed messaging, and hasn't really helped with trust, at a time when we all really need everyone to be able to trust the people in charge.  

Today is International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Clearly this is something I am passionate about, and when we think back over the past year, women have very much proven themselves to be just as good at science as men.
The amount of science we've all picked up because of COVID is astounding. Reproductive R rates, herd immunity, the importance of flattening the curve, viral mutations, genome sequencing. A year ago for most of us, that would have just been words. Never think you're too old to learn.

Some numbers. All were their parent's most precious gift:

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

USA 27,922,062 (+24,848) 483,892 (+692)

India 10,879,826 (+8,766) 155,476 (+77)

Brazil 9,671,832 (+9,527) 235,185 (+240)

Russia 4,027,748 (+15,038) 78,687 (+553)

UK 3,998,655 (+13,494) 115,529 (+678) 

France 3,406,685 (+21,063) 80,803 (+360)

Spain 3,023,601 not yet reported today 63,704

Italy 2,683,403 (+15,146) 92,729 (+391)

Turkey 2,564,427 (+7,590) 27,187 (+94) 

Germany 2,316,721 (+5,424) 64,248 (+269)

Mexico 1,957,889 (+11,138) 169,760 (+1,328)

Poland 1,570,658 (+7,008) 40,177 (+456)

Iran 1,496,455 (+7,474)58,751 (+65) 



New Orleans

UK Health and Social Care reforms -

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