Wednesday 10 February 2021

UK News and COVID Briefing 10th February 2021

UK News and COVID Briefing 10th February 2021

Cases: 3,985,161 (+13,013)
Losses of life: 114,851 (+1,001)
In hospital: 26,684 (on 8th Feb)
Using a ventilator: 3,164 (on 9th Feb)
First dose vaccine: 13,058,298
Second dose vaccine: 519,553

ALL passenger arrivals to Scotland HAVE TO quarantine in hotels. You don't need to quarantine if arriving from "the Common Travel Area (CTA) a long-standing arrangement between the UK, the Crown Dependencies (Bailiwick of Jersey, Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Isle of Man) and Ireland").
The penalties will be equally harsh to the whole UK penalties if anyone tries to cheat this, including by arriving in England and travelling overland to Scotland.
We are reminded that even aside from the international travel, it's actually not legal for you to travel within the UK right now unless you have good reason. 

Lambeth is the latest area which has surge testing after discovery of a new person with South African variant.
Even if your area doesn't have surge testing, over 70% of councils (more than 230 local authorities) are now offering rapid testing for anyone with symptoms or not - and it has caught over 44,000 cases so far. 

100221 UK Briefing chart showing estimated percentage positive in England

The pesky E484K mutation is the one which helps COVID escape the vaccines and antibodies (only around half the time) in the South African and Brazilian variants. The UK's very own B177 variant has now managed to mutate in this way in Bristol, with at least 14 cases found so far. We really don't want to encourage this mutation, which is why surge and door-to-door testing is happening whenever we find it. You lucky people of Bristol now have your own "Variant of Concern" or VOC - the Bristol Variant.
Another mutation of the B117 variant in Liverpool is still a Variant Under Investigation, or VUI. 

The World Health Organisation have been meeting to discuss the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and today recommended it for use with all adults aged 18+.
Safety was never the issue, but there's limited data to show exactly how protective it is in elderly people, and South Africa have paused their rollout after studies showed it wasn't as effective at preventing cases with the South African variant. However ALL evidence suggests it has massive benefits at preventing serious illness and death, and transmission to other people, whichever variant you have. At £2.50 a dose, it's literally going to be a lifesaver in many countries. 

100221 UK Briefing Hospital inpatients UK

UK Briefing today with Bozza De Pfeffel and he arrived with a robot voice and looking quite bald, which was quite an exciting entrance. I guess we now know why he ruffles his hair. Beside him was Patrick Vallance, UK Science Chief.

All people in the first 4 groups should be offered a vaccination by next week. Already we have vaccinated:
13m people in the UK
1 in 4 adults in England
Over 90% of everyone over 75
Over 90% of eligible residents of care homes.

Over 2m people still need to be vaccinated. No-one will be more than 10 miles from a vaccination centre. If you are in the first 4 priority groups, and haven't received a letter or had your jab, ring 119 and they'll help you book an appointment. If you work in social care and haven't been vaccinated or offered an appointment, talk to your employer.

Boris talks about the World Health Organisation supporting the use of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, AND ALSO the 12 week wait between doses. All data suggests this is actually MORE effective. (You lucky, lucky jammy buggers. Honestly, that really paid off. Also it wouldn't surprise me if they try and extend this even further now.)

We are now hoping to vaccinate everyone in groups 1-9 (basically everyone at higher risk or over 50) by the end of April.

Patrick with the slides. We are back down to around the early December levels nicely. A good decrease, but still very high. The ONS random study thinks we're a little further down, which is great.
Hospital admissions have come down. We are still above the maximum we had in hospital during the first peak, but it is going the right way. (The last 3 days have been a bit of a plateau. Keep an eye on that.)

Public asked if infection rates and losses of life are coming down already in vaccinated groups? It is a bit early, you aren't really covered for about 2-3 weeks after you've been jabbed, and any change takes a while to filter through. Israel's data for vaccinated groups looks great though (it really does), so we are hoping to see some evidence in the next week or two. 

Press asked about lateral flow tests, and Boris drifted back to his 'daily testing' dream. Patrick later explained they are good, but never as accurate as a PCR test because they simply aren't as sensitive. They do however always give a positive if you are shedding plenty of virus, which is when you're most likely to infect other people and really need to be immediately sent home, whether you have any symptoms or not.

The same boring press said "are we nearly there yet", in a brand new way, by asking if we should be booking our Summer holidays (Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, suggested earlier today that we shouldn't.)
Boris reminded her it's illegal to go anywhere for a jolly right now (even Barnard Castle). "It's too early for people to be certain about what they can do this Summer." 

Patrick mentioned the Bristol Variant, and the E484K mutation. He says it's vital we bring numbers down to avoid any more mutations, and prevent any which do arise from spreading. E484K is clearly a mutation that COVID favours, and it is beginning to spring up in more and more places - it WILL happen again. 

Press asked about travel apps., reopening, travelling abroad etc. The answers were all the same. We need to drive down numbers and get into a far better position, then all kinds of possibilities are open to us. 

Press asked about additional costs incurred by high street pharmacies. They have remained open and frontline throughout, and an absolute lifeline for a lot of people, but some are now in danger of closing because COVID measures are too costly for them to bear. Boris says he wants to ensure they are reimbursed as soon as possible, they are vital. He sounded completely genuine, so we'll watch out for some action on that swiftly.
Sometimes, you just have to make yourself known... 

Back tomorrow with the regular report... Stay warm and well! 


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