Sunday 28 February 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Weekend Update 27th / 28th February 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Weekend Update 27th / 28th February 2021.

The UK added 6,035 cases today and now has reported a total of 4,176,554 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 731,410 tests yesterday. 

The UK has now vaccinated over 20m people. The counter says 20,089,551 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 796,132 people had received 2 doses. 

14,808 people were in hospital on Thursday 25th, with 1,971 people using a ventilator on Friday 26th.

 In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 144 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 122,849 official losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 218,980 cases and 4,313 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 114,552,911 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,540,282. Already 90,051,580 people have recovered.

Regular rapid testing for households and bubbles of schoolchildren text box

"Anyone who took a Covid test on February 12 or 13 and has not received a result, or did not complete their test registration card, is being asked to call 119 in England or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland as soon as possible."
(If that's you, it's not great news - see below.)

Recent reporting is that 6 more cases of Brazilian Variant (with the pesky E484K) have been found in the UK, 3 in England and 3 in Scotland.
They've yet to trace one of the English cases, hence the request above, and the 3 cases in Scotland bypassed quarantine hotels by travelling from Brazil via London to Scotland.
Nicola will be furious.... 

The UK has it's Budget on Wednesday, and clearly the UK (like many countries) now owes bazillions of pounds, but people still need looking after. Money's all a made up construct anyway, and at times like these it really shows. (A £10 note works well in simple terms as an "I owe you back an equivalent hour's work", but once you get into loans and repayments, interest, back-scratching and exchange rates, it all becomes much more about gambling. Anyhoo...)
Rishi is pulling the £'s out of his behind, and helping business keep going and keep people in paid employment.
A £5billion fund has been announced to try and keep 'high street' business solvent. Around 700,000 businesses should be eligible. .
- Grants of up to £18,000 will be available to leisure, personal care, gyms, hospitality and accommodation closed by the pandemic (and still closed for a while yet).
- Grants of up to £6,000 will be available to inessential retail.
(I actually think that gives us a glimpse into how long they fear some business may be closed to the public. Sorry to any gym bunnies out there.)

280221 total vaccinated over 20m in the UK Nikki Konani

The English government are determined to keep kids in school once they go back, and have just announced:
"Whole families and households with primary school, secondary school and college age children, including childcare and support bubbles, will be able to test themselves twice every week from home as schools return from 8 March. Tests can easily be ordered and collected from local sites, or administered through workplace testing programmes."
(School teaching and support staff have already been offered twice weekly testing.)
"Twice-weekly testing will also be offered to adults working in the wider school community, including bus drivers and after school club leaders."
And in fact you will be able to book tests/collection of test kits on the website from tomorrow (Google 'Gov UK lateral flow testing for households bubbles' ). One person can collect up to 4 kits (each kit = 7 tests). Bear in mind young people at secondary/college get them already.

Lateral Flow testing is getting a lot of stick, but I actually like it, and it's worth finding out if testing schoolkids really makes a difference - but you have to bear in mind it has limitations.
These are rapid tests which work like a pregnancy test, reacting to COVID, but they can't tell you anything else.
The Lateral Flow aren't as sensitive as PCR swab testing which you send off to a lab.
Both tests look for virus, so there has to be enough virus in your system that you are actually "shedding", or breathing it out, and leaving viral particles in your nose and throat.
The PCR testing on average might find live COVID from about 2 days after you are infected, until about day 7-11, or longer if you develop severe disease - or in some people who don't get symptoms or are very mild, it'll only find virus for a shorter period.
The Lateral Flow testing isn't as sensitive, so it might only be able to see COVID when you are shedding more virus and are at your most infectious, usually from about day 2/3 to 5/6 after you are infected. Many people with mild or no symptoms will only have a couple of days where Lateral Flow can even find your COVID. It can also spot dead virus from an infection you had before, and give a false positive. It isn't 100% accurate, it's about 60-70%, which is why any positive results are backed up by a PCR test to be sure. But it catches everyone who is actively shedding lots of virus at that moment, and that has to be helpful? Right?
We'll see... Boris thinks it'll work, scientific opinion is divided. I think as long as you know what you are getting, and don't rely on a single Lateral Flow to prove you aren't infectious, it's worth a shot.

Get help with your Mental Health text Shout to 85258 - image of person sitting in chair in corner on laptop

Auckland has gone into a 7 day Level 3 lockdown after a case of COVID in the community. No leaving home without an essential reason, work from home if you can. The rest of New Zealand has gone to Level 2 lockdown, restricting gatherings.
It comes roughly 2 weeks after the 3 day lockdown, and hopefully will be the end of it for them, but I can't help feeling that while so much COVID exists elsewhere in the world, it is going to be a tough battle to stay clear. 

Infectious diseases & genomics person, Kristian G. Andersen, gives names to all of the current mutations. He refers to 'Nelly' when talking about the more transmissible and deadly mutation N501Y (which is the troublesome factor in the UK variant B117), and the pesky E484K mutation (that evades antibodies and makes vaccines less effective) he calls called 'Eek'. 

The US FDA has signed off on the Johnson&Johnson single dose vaccine. This is fairly similar to the UK's Oxford vaccine, fridge-friendly, single dose and has excellent results against the pesky E484K mutation. Around a tenner per person, it's an excellently affordable option, which is ideal for remote populations - because health workers or citizens won't have to travel twice. 

The effects of the vaccination programme and the lockdown on preservation of life are very clear. Allow yourself a smile. We aren't there yet, but once general population (all of those people who actually leave the house) begin to get vaccinated, we should see the case numbers fall very quickly, and stay down. Then Test & Trace has a chance, and it should all work together to mean we have a great chance of getting that Summer we're all hoping for. We aren't there yet, and as Jon Van Tam says, we can't take our eye off the ball until that final whistle goes, but it is, overall, definitely all heading in the right direction. We SHALL get there... 

Some numbers. All understand what it feels like to close your eyes and feel the sun on your face:

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

USA 29,210,342 (+7,518) 524,843 (+174)

India 11,112,012 (+15,572) 157,193 (+106)

Brazil 10,517,232 not yet reported today 254,263

Russia 4,246,079 (+11,359) 86,122 (+379)

UK 4,176,554 (+6,035) 122,849 (+144)

France 3,736,016 not yet reported today 86,332

Spain 3,188,553 not yet reported today 69,142

Italy 2,925,265 (+17,455) 97,699 (+192)

Turkey 2,701,588 (+8,424) 28,569 (+66)

Germany 2,446,063 (+1,886) 70,625 (+36)

Colombia 2,248,135 not yet reported today 59,660

Argentina 2,104,197 not yet reported today 51,946

Mexico 2,084,128 (+7,246) 185,257 (+783)

Poland 1,706,986 (+10,099) 43,769 (+114)

Iran 1,631,169 (+8,010) 60,073 (+93) 




Variants Of Concern (VOC - this seems a bit concerning)

Variants Under Investigation (VUI - lets just check that)

Variants of Interest (VOI - seems it doesn't do anything, but keep an eye out in case it's fooling us)

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