Tuesday 23 February 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 22nd / 23rd February 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 22nd / 23rd February 2021.

The UK added 8,489 cases today and now has reported a total of 4,134,639 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 670,560 tests yesterday.

The counter says 17,916,181 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 642,788 people have had 2 doses.

16,797 people were in hospital on Sunday 21st, with 2,273 using a ventilator yesterday, 22nd Feb. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 548 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 121,305 losses of life in all settings.

Office for National Statistics report that up until Friday 12th February, 135,613 people had COVID listed as a cause on their death certificate in the UK. 

Nation / Cases / Losses of life
Wales 202,324 / 7,204
Scotland 198,839 / 9,046
Northern Ireland 111,391 / 2,672
England 3,622,085 / 116,619

Rep. Of Ireland 215,743 cases and 4,137 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 112,458,095 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,490,418. Already 88,020,066 people have recovered.

UK Government roadmap square image March 8th 2021
England Step 1

"We often hear people described as ordinary Americans. There's no such thing. There's nothing ordinary about them. The people we’ve lost to COVID-19 were extraordinary."
US President Joe Biden

Thankfully, after all of the news yesterday, today is a slower day. There's a lot of dissection of the UK roadmap online, and I'm sure more will follow, but generally it seems to be favoured by most. A snap YouGov poll this morning found 26% think it goes too fast, 46% think it is about right and 16% think it goes too slow.

Nicola Sturgeon has unveiled Scotland's plan for reopening, and the 6 main tools for achieving this:
• The quickest practical roll-out of our vaccination programme
• The most effective use of Test and Protect
• Applying proportionate protective measures (rules and guidance) to suppress transmission of the virus
• Effective measures to manage the risk of importation of the virus
• Supporting individuals, businesses and organisations to adhere to protective measures
• Providing care and support to mitigate the harms of the crisis
Scotland's roadmap is slow and cautious at first, and major changes are likely to begin towards the end of April. It includes:
- The return of more pupils (likely Primary 4-7) to in-person schooling and university
- Outdoor gatherings of up to 4 adults from 2 households.
- Non-contact outdoor sports age 12-17
First week of April at the earliest:
- Click and collect and non-essential shops restrictions lifted slightly.
- The ‘stay at home’ law lifted
- Places of worship open (max 20 people)
- Schools fully open
End of April at the earliest:
- Return to variable levels decided locally, based on the World Health Organisation advice and metrics. 

Scotlands roadmap out of lockdown in a messy text box format 230221

The first batch of vaccines for COVAX, the World Health Organisation's vaccine-sharing initiative, left the Serum Institute in India earlier today. This is the newly WHO approved Oxford / Astra-Zeneca vaccine, and the shipments are heading off to 25-30 countries. The Serum Institute will be supplying 10m doses to Africa, and 1m doses to UN Health Workers. WHO are aiming to vaccinate all healthcare workers worldwide within 100 days, and it's going well so far, but they already face a funding shortfall of around $2-3b, and vaccine production has to keep up - as well as supplying countries with their own orders. 

There is a fantastic thread on Twitter from journalist at The Atlantic, Sarah Zhang, talking about Florence Nightingale.
Florence completely revolutionised the way we treat patients and her legacy is the millions of people who have benefitted from her common sense and reasoning, but we turn to technology and forget the basics of what she taught us about ventilation. She opened up buildings and insisted on fresh air, and cut the number of soldiers dying from disease massively. Her work was so important that windows in hospitals were left open for years afterwards, in all weather, and public buildings such as the Palace of Westminster/ Houses of Parliament were designed with incredibly clever and expensive ventilation systems (now unused). The tower that holds Big Ben is almost entirely there for ventilation for the main building.
It was months into the COVID pandemic that we began to discuss ventilation, and only now is it really being taken seriously with a view to adapting buildings and behaviour in the longer term.

If you have COVID and are shedding lots of virus (days 2-6 after catching it, longer if you become seriously ill), an enclosed room will fill with virus, which you and others then keep breathing in.
A whiff that enters your lungs with just a few viral particles (which immediately start replicating) is far easier to stop and eliminate than a lung full, or an evening of lung fulls, and it's especially important when you first encounter COVID and your body has no resistance. Masks, good ventilation and distancing should be really helpful at lowering that initial 'viral load', saving lives although we would rarely ever know it. 

As a reminder of just how fortunate we are here in the UK, Malaysia will receive its second batch of 182,520 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine tomorrow. Their Covid-19 Immunisation Programme has three phases:
Phase 1 - 500,000 frontline workers
Phase 2 - April to August, 9.4m people aged 65 and over, high-risk groups and disabled people
Phase 3 - May 2021 to February 2022 general population

Egyptian University students are protesting the government decision to have exams continue in person and as usual. Egypt only partly recovered from their second peak, and cases are on the rise again from quite a high level. Egypt actually has around 103m people, with an average age of under 26 years, and has so far reported 178,174 cases of COVID, and lost 10,404 people - which implies they've probably actually had somewhere between 1 and 2 million cases in total, and possibly even more if their vulnerable populations haven't been heavily affected. 

yougov poll bar chart showing we aren't confident restrictions will be lifted in june

The poorest paid may be the ones most likely to still have to go out to work, but they are also the most likely to have lost their jobs in retail and hospitality. Most minimum wage earners really can't win. The loss of part-time work has hit students hard, and French university students are among those heavily relying on food handouts.

There is a hoax going around that an allergy to penicillin means you can't have certain vaccines. NOT TRUE. Anaphylaxis dot org:
"Allergy to penicillins is not a contraindication to the Pfizer/BioNTech or AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine or Moderna vaccine."
You only need to avoid vaccines if you are allergic to any of the ingredients. This is more likely to happen with the mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, so you may be advised to wait for the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine. 

Religious groups of several denominations, and other groups including those concerned with animal rights, have looked into the ethics surrounding the vaccines. It is a huge topic.
Obviously every vaccine has been tested on animals, but even Peta and the Vegan Society say it's for the greater good. They say without advocates animals can't be looked after, so you should preserve life where you can, and continue to support animal-friendly options.
The Oxford / AstraZeneca,  Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines DO NOT contain anything of animal origin - no pork, beef, egg or gelatine etc. 
The Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, like many other vaccines, was developed using cells grown from a sample that was originally taken from an aborted foetus in 1983.
Due to the length of time that's elapsed and the number of human beings dying now, major religious groups feel this is by far greater good.
The Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine contains "a very small amount of alcohol (0.002 g of alcohol (ethanol) per dose of 0.5 ml). This is not enough to cause any noticeable effects". For reference 0.002g would fit 25,000 times into a teaspoon.
The British Islamic Medical Association has confirmed that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is accepted in the Muslim faith.
The Catholic Church have said:
"Catholics may in good conscience receive any of these vaccines for the good of others and themselves."
The Church of England have said:
"...we believe that all clinically recommended vaccinations can be used with a clear conscience...”
The head of the Board of Deputies of British Jews has just gone right ahead and said how awesome the vaccine rollout is, so that's also a hearty "all good". 

Reuters is reporting on Singapore's attempts to keep the business world turning, including trialling 'business bubbles'. They have plexiglass screens running down the middle of the table, separate ventilation and entrances. Cleverly they also have UV light boxes set into the walls, so that documents can be sanitised and handed back and forth safely.
Remember kids, UV light can kill COVID, but not inside humans, and you can't drink it or inject it.  

Sadly America has now lost over half a million people to COVID, and President Joe Biden has spoken on it very freely. He's a better orator than Boris:
"This nation will smile again.
This nation will know sunny days again.
This nation will know joy again.
And as we do, we'll remember each person we've lost, the lives they lived.
We will get through this, I promise you.
But my heart aches for those of you who are going through it right now."

Some people. Never just a number:

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

USA 28,838,481 (+12,174) 513,214 (+624)

India 11,028,937 (+13,074) 156,594 (+96)

Brazil 10,197,531 not yet reported today 247,276

Russia 4,189,153 (+11,823) 84,047 (+417)

UK 4,134,639 (+8,489) 121,305 (+548)

France 3,609,827 not yet reported today 84,613

Spain 3,161,432 (+7,461) 68,079 (+443)

Italy 2,832,162 (+13,314) 96,348 (+356)

Turkey 2,655,633 (+9,107) 28,213 (+75)

Germany 2,402,485 (+2,985) 68,990 (+218)

Colombia 2,229,663 not yet reported today 58,974

Argentina 2,069,751 not yet reported today 51,359

Mexico 2,043,632 (+2,252) 180,536 (+429)

Poland 1,648,962 (+6,310) 42,436 (+247)

Iran 1,590,605 (+8,330) 59,663 (+91) 


















Florence Nightingale: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2021/02/bad-air/618106/













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