Sunday 7 February 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Weekend Update 6th /7th February 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Weekend Update 6th /7th February 2021.

The UK added 15,845 cases today and now has reported a total of 3,945,680 positive cases of COVID-19. 

The counter says 12,014,288 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 511,447 people had received both doses and are fully vaccinated. 

29,326 people were in hospital on Thursday 4th, with 3,505 using a ventilator on Friday 5th February. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 373 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 112,465 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 203,568 (+1,020) cases and 3,686 (+12) losses of life.

There have now been a total of 106,515,969 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,323,940. Already 78,183,869 people have recovered.

070221 daily update UK gov vaccination cases deaths

EE will help any UK child who is struggling to access or cannot access education, by giving them or their grown up unlimited data until July. You can access this through their teachers, so get in touch with school. Teachers can find out more by searching EE Lockdown Learning. 

UK Vaccines Minister Nahdim Zahawi has said on telly this morning that he is confident we have enough vaccines, and are vaccinating quickly enough, to meet both the Mid-February target for the first 3 priority groups, and the 'end of May' target for the first 9 priority groups - basically healthcare frontline, vulnerable and everyone over 50.
Ideally we would then go on immediately to vaccinate everyone else - but we do have a moral and humanitarian obligation to help ensure the world's healthcare workers and most vulnerable people are protected - so it's likely the UK supply of vaccines may hit a pause at this point. 

Recent data from the trials of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine supports the UK's strategy of separating doses by 3 months - for this vaccine at least:
"The primary analysis of the Phase III clinical trials from the UK, Brazil and South Africa, published as a preprint in The Lancet confirmed COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca is safe and effective at preventing COVID-19, with no severe cases and no hospitalisations, more than 22 days after the first dose.
Results demonstrated vaccine efficacy of 76% after a first dose, with protection maintained to the second dose. With an inter-dose interval of 12 weeks or more, vaccine efficacy increased to 82%."
It also looks really good regarding transmission (passing it on to others):
"The analysis also showed the potential for the vaccine to reduce asymptomatic transmission of the virus, based on weekly swabs obtained from volunteers in the UK trial. The data showed that PCR positive readings were reduced by 67% after a single dose, and 50% after the two dose regimen, supporting a substantial impact on transmission of the virus."

There is an important pre-print 'revised' study from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine looking at the UK variant B117. This is the variant which accounts for most UK cases now, and the paper has been revised to add modelling for what may happen next. This hasn't yet been peer-reviewed, but these guys are the experts. They estimate B117 is 43–82% more transmissible than pre-existing variants, and the modelling suggests that without vaccinations, we would struggle to control it enough to relax the current lockdown. 

Speaking of variants... We have some more evidence that the Oxford vaccine is less effective against the South African variant. I think we all understand now that the variants with the pesky E484K mutation are more resilient against first generation vaccines and antibodies.
The study isn't yet peer-reviewed, and no-one became seriously ill (always good), but the study mainly included young healthy people. The main take away is that vaccination only showed limited efficacy at preventing mild disease.
This mutation is also in the Brazilian and the mutated UK/Kent variants (there are very few known cases of all E484K variants in the UK).
The common regular B117 UK/Kent variant, which is found in around 40 countries and is now the most prevalent strain in the UK, is NOT SIGNIFICANTLY RESISTANT to the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine. Vaccine efficacy may be 10% less on a bad day, but that's a rough estimate, and it is still well over the 50% benchmark. 

Sooooo.... Variants Of Concern:
UK/Kent Variant B117 - 43%-82% more transmissible, slightly more patients with severe disease, 30% increased risk of death (roughly 13 cases per 1,000 instead of 10).
UK/Kent Variant Mutated B1117 - like B117 with bonus E484K - more resilient to vaccines/first generation antibodies
South African Variant B1.351- very similar to Mutated B117 (B117 with bonus E484K)
Brazilian Variant - like the South African Variant with a few cards still to play. We still don't know exactly what's happening with this. Most cases are in Brazil, and it took less than a month to cause an explosion of cases in Manaus, which was really heavily affected last year and should have a fair level of herd immunity. It could be even more catchy, but hasn't yet been studied and data released. 

england all deaths by age range chart from RPR131 on twitter

Rishi Sunak has announced UK businesses will have more time to pay back COVID loans. Options to wait 6 months before first payment, and to make repayments over 10 years, have been included for businesses who are struggling. 

Matt Hancock has asked for all firms with more than 50 employees to regularly rapid test.
"To break the chains of transmission, I want us to normalise testing and make it part of our routine."

Dr Tedros of WHO is becoming increasingly strident about vaccine equity - sharing around the world fairly.
"Vaccine nationalism is not just morally indefensible. It is epidemiologically self-defeating and clinically counterproductive."
It isn't purely about fairness, the simple fact is that wherever COVID multiplies, it risks outbreaks and more deadly mutations. While outbreaks exist, any country will risk importing it. It may be a long time before anyone spends less than 2 weeks in New Zealand again... 

Countries (and often states in larger countries) decide their own vaccine priority order, and we haven't all picked the same. Some prioritise public-facing workers, to drive down transmission. Some prioritise the vulnerable, to immediately prevent loss of life. Some have an incredibly complex mix of the two, or something entirely different.
The lack of data about the efficacy of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine with older people has made several countries re-prioritise according to supply.
Belgium are due 443,000 doses, but have decided not to use it on people over age 55, so their vaccination programme will begin with healthcare workers, residents and staff of any collective care residence, clinically vulnerable people and police officers.

Vew variant surge testing in the UK looking for E484K

We have more comprehensive SAFETY DATA now on the UK's vaccination programme. I reported the overall figures the other day, this is more detail.
"As of 24 January 2021, for the UK:
- 16,756 Yellow Cards have been reported for the Pfizer/BioNTech
- 6,014 have been reported for the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine
- 50 have been reported where the brand of the vaccine was not specified
- For both vaccines the overall reporting rate is around 3 Yellow Cards per 1,000 doses administered.
For both vaccines, the overwhelming majority of reports relate to injection-site reactions (sore arm for example) and generalised symptoms such as ‘flu-like’ illness, headache, chills, fatigue (tiredness), nausea (feeling sick), fever, dizziness, weakness, aching muscles, and rapid heartbeat. Generally, these happen shortly after the vaccination and are not associated with more serious or lasting illness."
There are some more serious reports:
"The MHRA has received 101 UK spontaneous adverse reactions associated with anaphylaxis or anaphylactoid reactions with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination. All patients have recovered from the anaphylaxis episode. 13 reports of anaphylaxis have been received for the COVID-19 Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine to date."
This is around what is anticipated for any vaccination, and is why patients have to wait 15 minutes before they can leave. (It's advised to avoid if you are allergic to any ingredients.)
The MHRA have also received reports, and looked into, facial paralysis and death of people shortly after vaccination. As of 24th Jan, considering the demographic who have been vaccinated, nothing is out of line with usual expectations.
"There are currently no indications of specific patterns or rates of reporting that would suggest the vaccine has played a role."

Although cases are going down in all UK Upper Tier Authorities, once you get down to Local Authorities, there are still a few areas rising against the tide. Sometimes this is because of a large outbreak in a prison, or factory, or a local illegal wedding, but sometimes it doesn't make a lot of obvious sense, and these are the areas we really need contact tracing to find out why?  The Guardian have reported that poorer authorities are seeing cases drop substantially more slowly than affluent areas.
The poorer you are, the more likely you are to live in a cramped multi-generational household, to be a carer, to still be going out to work... 

NHS England have published videos about the Coronavirus vaccine in 11 community languages. You can watch and download them on the website or send via WhatsApp to your friends and family.

England COVID Deaths chart from RP131 on Twitter

Russians are quite reluctant to be vaccinated - only 38% say they'll get the Sputnik V vaccine, and despite having masses of vaccine doses available, they are struggling to get people to roll up their shirt sleeves. The fact the vaccine was rolled out BEFORE trials were completed, and a historical distrust in the government, haven't helped.
The trial is now complete and data is out, and it's very good (I reported it last week), so hopefully that distrust will begin to change. But in the meantime, Bloomberg report that the 'Tony Shopping Centre' in Red Square, Moscow, will give you a free ice cream if you get your shot...

The news is good from the WHO team investigating the Origins of COVID in China. Peter Daszak, team member and New York-based Zoologist, has been interviewed by Bloomberg and say's they are getting access and help whenever they request it. Even at Wuhan Wet Market, which was cleaned (China sprayed disinfectant all over streets too - remember the trucks?), there was still plenty of evidence everywhere. Like the Marie Celeste, it had been left pretty much as it was when everyone fled. 

Some People. They look like numbers, but they are human beings:

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

USA 27,532,602 (+12,890) 473,735 (+204)

India 10,831,279 (+4,109) 155,078 (+50)

Brazil 9,504,996 (+7,201) 231,234 (+165)

Russia 3,967,281 (+16,048) 76,661 (+432) 

UK 3,945,680 (+15,845) 112,465 (+373)

France 3,317,333 not yet reported today 78,794

Spain 2,971,914 not yet reported today 61,386

Italy 2,636,738 (+11,641) 91,273 (+270)

Turkey 2,531,456 (+6,670) 26,797 (+112)

Germany 2,287,200 (+2,201) 61,998

Mexico 1,926,080 (+13,209) 165,786 (+1,496)

Poland 1,550,255 (+4,728) 39,087 (+93)

South Africa 1,473,700 not yet reported today 46,180

Iran 1,466,435 (+7,065) 58,469 (+57) 

Ukraine 1,244,849 (+3,370) 23,597 (+81)

Indonesia 1,157,837 (+10,827) 31,556 (+163)

Czechia 1,034,975 (+4,800) 17,235 (+61)

Netherlands 1,005,760 (+3,934) 14,403 (+48)

Canada 803,627 (+2,570) 20,756 (+54)

Portugal 765,414 (+3,508) 14,158 (+204) 

Chile 751,886 (+3,804) 18,974 (+79)

Romania 745,318 (+1,975) 18,881 (+72)

Belgium 723,870 (+2,438) 21,352 (+57)

Israel 687,492 (+1,909) 5,096 (+25)

Iraq 628,550 (+1,134) 13,120 (+9)




Charts courtesy of


  1. Have you had much info on people who have had covid and got the vaccine? x

  2. Sorry I didn't see this earlier Susan! We haven't got any data yet from the UK, but Israel have just released some, and over 97% of people who have died from COVID in the last month were not vaccinated. I've not examined the data yet, but it seems only around 45/1,536 people who succumbed had been vaccinated. I'm not sure yet of anything else, including if that includes people who had only just been vaccinated, or only people who were vaccinated at least 3 weeks ago. It's very promising.


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