Tuesday, 9 February 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 8th / 9th February 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 8th / 9th February 2021.

The UK added 12,364 cases today and now has reported a total of 3,972,148 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 616,718 tests yesterday. We have carried out over 75 million tests in total. 

The counter says 12,646,486 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 516,392 people were fully vaccinated (2 doses). 

26,723 people were in hospital on Sunday 7th, with 3,230 using a ventilator yesterday, 8th February. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 1,052 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 113,850 losses of life in all settings.

The Office for National Statistics record deaths with COVID listed as a cause.  Up until Friday 29th January this included 121,674 people. 

Nation / Cases /Losses of life
Wales 197,021 / 6,674
Scotland 187,542 / 8,343
Northern Ireland 107,438 / 2,447
England 3,480,147 / 104,165

Rep. Of Ireland 204,397 cases and 3,687 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 107,198,328 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,342,375. Already 79,032,605 people have recovered.

How the Who's COVAX initiative works, priority groups

There were a lot of concerns regarding BAME people in the UK being fairly vaccinated, because we didn't seem to be catching a very high percentage of them. As we've added people aged 70-80, the gap has thankfully shrunk. It appears the very oldest people in BAME groups may be missing out because of problems accessing healthcare - a problem that needs to be addressed, and now it's visible,  hopefully it can be. 

Matt Hancock definitely implied yesterday that no more cases of E484K mutations had been found in the UK. He either didn't know or told a bit of a porky, as within an hour media were reporting new cases of a variant with the E484K mutation in Moss Side,  Manchester. 10,000 people will be tested after 4 cases were found in 2 unrelated households. We're being reminded there's no blame here, no-one seems to have done anything wrong - which is why we don't suddenly have hundreds of cases. 

Today Matt Hancock announced that from Monday 15th February ALL PASSENGER ARRIVALS to the UK will have to take 2 mandatory COVID tests - on days 2 and 8 after they arrive. Arrivals from the banned Red List/Zone countries will have to stay in a designated Quarantine Hotel, other arrivals can quarantine at home.
Just to rub in extra salt for airlines, the cost of a 10 day Quarantine Hotel stay, with transport and testing, is £1750 per person. This only applies to people returning from banned countries for now, so pretty much mainly UK nationals returning home.
Thinking of sneaking in? I wouldn't bother.
- There will be a £1,000 fine for anyone who fails to take a mandatory test.
- A £2,000 fine for any international arrival who fails to take the 2nd mandatory test (and quarantine extended to 14 days).
- The fine for arrivals not quarantining in designated hotels when required is £5,000 rising to £10,000.
- Anyone who lies on a passenger locator form to conceal the fact they have recently visited or arrived from a Red List country will face a prison term of up to 10 years.
Yeeeeeeouwch! These are strong measures - the UK Government don't want those E484K mutations to get in the way of our vaccination strategy. And they've been taking advice from Australia and New Zealand... 

This morning the World Health Organisation's team in China took part in a long press conference to share what they've learned so far. They were looking into 4 hypotheses:
1. Direct zoonotic spillover
e.g. bat to human. They believe this is unlikely.
2. Spillover from an intermediary host species that might have allowed the virus to adapt more
e.g. bat to rabbit to human. Bats (and other creatures) in many areas naturally carry all kinds of virus, including coronavirus, and some other animals from these areas could have become infected and then brought to Wuhan for sale. So far it seems this is the most favoured option. 
3. Introduction via food chain, for example from frozen products.
Seems less preferred and still raises questions about origin, and why an outbreak didn't occur in that place? There is some evidence COVID may have been spreading around Wuhan quite successfully by the end of December, and the 'wet market' was simply a place it was able to infect a lot of people and cause a visible breakout. The same has happened in factories and food preparation facilities the world over. Still being considered.
4. A lab-related incident
They have spent hours at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, interviewed staff, checked security measures and they believe any 'lab-related incident is "extremely unlikely". They will no longer pursue this line of enquiry. 

090221 daily update UK Gov COVID text only

UK Health Secretary Edward Argar said on LBC Radio that anyone who is in the UK illegally can register with a doctor for the COVID jab and won't have action taken against them, nor will they have immigration status checked if they require treatment for the virus. 

California has it's own VOC (variant of concern). It's called CAL.20C, and it appears to have a lot of similar characteristics to the UK Variant B.117 and the South African Variant B.1.351. Not great news for them, and it does appear possible it's causing a recent surge in cases. I have mentioned this before, but I've seen the (not yet peer-reviewed) study from Cedars-Sinai Hospital now.
First spotted in Summer, it was very quiet until Autumn, when case numbers in general started to rise. Study of the genome suggests by December it accounted for around 24% of cases in Southern California, and 36.4% of cases in Los Angeles itself.
"Unlike clade 20G, which is currently the largest reported clade (branch of the virus family tree) in North America, this clade is defined by multiple mutations in the S protein (similar to B.1.1.7/B.1.351) and represents a separate subclade of 20C. Currently the CAL.20C strain is primarily found in Southern California, however we have detected multiple recent isolates in Northern California, New York and Washington DC. Additionally, our analysis reveals a small number of cases found outside of the US in Oceania in the past month."
Fingers crossed it's more of the B117 UK style variant, than the more slippery B1351 South African type of variant.

There are more mutations and variants being found all the time, and the same as with humans, most virus mutations don't do a lot. Whenever the virus copies itself it risks 'making an error', and some errors work in the virus's favour. Times that by billions of billions of viral particles, and you can see it's unavoidable. 

India haven't yet found any cases of any variant with that pesky E484K mutation, and are very happy with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. The government just ordered another 10 million doses. They have options to order up to 200m doses at about £2 each, but are only ordering as quickly as they can actually use it, and being mindful of shelf life. They have already vaccinated around 6.3m frontline workers. 

UK dentists are struggling to keep up. I hadn't even realised they were allowed to reopen for check ups last September, as my family are now 10 months late for our appointments and I haven't heard anything. I actually removed my own tooth last week. Although they can open, obviously enhanced measures against COVID are in place, and cumulatively they're over 20m appointments behind, so best of luck..

2 lockdown breakers who decided to camp at Red Screes in the Lake District got into difficulties and had to call for help. During the rescue a member of Patterdale Mountain Rescue slipped, fell 150ft and has massive life-changing injuries.
Mountain Rescue was a big part of my childhood because my parents were involved with the Derby team. Like lifeboat teams, they are mainly volunteers who drop everything, usually in the evening when people don't turn up as planned, often in the worst weather, and a lot of their kit/experience/training is at their own expense. I'm sure this incident will feel far more infuriating and demoralising than most.
The 2 campers were fined £200 for breaking lockdown restrictions. 

The world doesn't stop. A large part of a Himalayan glacier has broken off in Uttarakhand, India. It caused a massive river surge, and water and debris poured down the valley, washing through villages and destroying 2 hydro-electric dams. A lot of people have died and hundreds are still missing.
Global warming reminding us it didn't go away... 

090221 Wales gov shared this chart showing national vaccinations. Wales performing best of the 4

We are being reminded that working from home doesn't mean crippling yourself. Sitting hunched over a screen in an inappropriate chair, with less than ideal lighting, for hours on end, is no good for anyone. Make sure everyone takes regular breaks, a meal break, and try to get up and walk around each hour. You'll feel better, you'll creak less, and you'll sleep better. 

Talking of sleeping better, you'll no doubt be ecstatic to learn the UK Terror Threat Level has been lowered from "Severe" to "Substantial". Phew... there's a relief. I'm guessing "moderate" is next, followed by "getting on okay" and then "all bezzies"...  

I haven't really mentioned the USA much recently, partly because it's turned back into the real world over there. They are getting along nicely with vaccinating. According to Our World In Data, they're 4th in the world at around 13 doses per 100 people (remember most vaccines need 2 doses). The UK are 3rd, at around 19 doses, with the United Arab Emirates in 2nd place at almost 50 doses per 100 people. Israel are 1st, and supplying regular data to the world, at 66 doses per 100 people.
The European Union are in 5th place, at around 4 doses per 100 people.
Around the entire world, 1 dose of a vaccine has been administered for every 50 people. That's pretty darn impressive...

Some numbers. Each one has a unique and irreplaceable personality:

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

USA 27,709,917 (+9,248) 476,658 (+250)

India 10,854,353 (+6,563) 155,234 (+39)

Brazil 9,560,362 (+10,061) 232,431 (+183) 

Russia 3,998,216 (+15,019) 77,598 (+530)

UK 3,972,148 (+12,364) 113,850 (+1,052)

France 3,341,365 not yet reported today 79,423

Spain 3,005,487 (+16,402) 63,061 (+766)

Italy 2,655,319 (+10,630) 92,002 (+422)

Turkey 2,548,195 (+8,636) 26,998 (+98)

Germany 2,298,389 (+2,063) 62,862 (+265)

Colombia 2,161,462 not yet reported today 56,290

Argentina 1,985,501 not yet reported today 49,398

Mexico 1,936,013 (+3,868) 166,731 (+531)

Poland 1,556,685 (+4,029) 39,360 (+227)

Iran 1,481,396 (+7,640) 58,625 (+89) 

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Sources:

Thank you to https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/

https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-south-africa-halts-rollout-of-astrazeneca-jab-due-to-limited-protection-12211970

https://twitter.com/i/events/1358327118564716545?s=09

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2021/01/quarantine-giving-you-headaches-back-pain-and-more/617672/

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/thousands-people-around-moss-side-19795599

"Dozens dead and scores left missing after glacial breach causes mass floods in Indian state" https://twitter.com/i/events/1358327118564716545?s=09

https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/covid-19-isnt-interested-immigration-status-health-minister-lbc/

CAL.20C https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.01.18.21249786v1.full.pdf

https://news.sky.com/story/lake-district-mountain-rescuer-seriously-injured-after-falling-150m-trying-to-help-lockdown-breaker-12212114

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/feb/08/nhs-dental-patients-told-to-go-private-as-watchdog-warns-of-crisis-covid

https://twitter.com/i/events/1358710307745456128

https://twitter.com/GMB/status/1358695949560905731

https://twitter.com/PaulNuki/status/1358766339779878914?s=19 

OpenSafely project: BAME https://t.co/W8Ohqg1plx

https://metro.co.uk/2021/02/09/hotel-quarantine-to-cost-passengers-from-red-list-countries-1700-14049253/

Thanks to Kai Kupferschmit https://twitter.com/kakape/status/1359087997157863426?s=19

https://twitter.com/talkRADIO/status/1359124247088689153

https://twitter.com/PaulBrandITV/status/1358868752641757189?s=19

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-55992464

https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/covid-19-isnt-interested-immigration-status-health-minister-lbc/

https://twitter.com/WHO/status/1359069241480081408

https://twitter.com/WHO/status/1357625743103176704

BMJ E484K https://www.bmj.com/content/372/bmj.n359

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/india-backs-astrazeneca-covid-19-shot-despite-south-africa-halt-2366806

Thank you to:

https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations




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