Thursday, 11 March 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 10th / 11th March 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 10th / 11th March 2021.

The UK added 6,753 cases today and now has reported a total of 4,241,677 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 1,554,080 tests yesterday. This is a little higher than last Thursday, but that will be due to the extra testing of secondary pupils returning to school, and catching far more asymptomatic cases which otherwise would have just spread COVID - it's actually a good thing. It's good to see the mass lateral flow testing working.

The counter says 23,053,716 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 1,351,515 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

8,977 people were in hospital on Tuesday 9th (down from 12,136 the same time last week), with 1,237 using a ventilator yesterday, Wednesday 10th (down from 1,647 the same time last week). 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 181 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 125,168 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 224,588 cases and 4,499 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.)

There have now been a total of 118,908,424 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,636,186. Already 94,395,221 people have recovered.

UK Government roadmap square image March 8th 2021

"The information available so far indicates that the number of thromboembolic events in vaccinated people is no higher than that seen in the general population."
The European Medicines Agency statement regarding the Oxford / AstraZeneca jab (also known as Covishield). More below.

Exactly 1 year ago today, the COVID outbreak was officially called a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. It was a few weeks later than a lot of us would have liked, partly because it wasn't ever really WHO's 'decision' to make. There wasn't anyone with the official role. WHO's highest warning is to declare a PHEIC - Public Health Emergency of International Concern - which they did on January 30th 2020.


Excellent news for all of you people who cannot be given a regular vaccination, possibly because of reasons that also make you more susceptible to COVID. Vir Biotech (USA) and GlaxoSmithKline (UK) have been working on an antibody therapy, and have found it to be 85% successful at preventing hospitalisation and death.
This is the 3rd antibody therapy to prove successful and they will immediately apply for licensing around the globe. Already licensed for use in several countries are two other antibody therapies from Eli Lilly and Regeneron.

UK analysis of the accuracy of lateral flow tests has found they're much better than they used to be! Each positive UK lateral flow has been backed up by a PCR test because of questions about specificity - does it only find actual COVID? False positives are at an incredibly low 1 in 1,000 - in fact, it could be as low as 3 in 10,000, so if you get a positive lateral flow result nowadays, no excuse to ignore it.
They'll never be as sensitive, or able to pick up as many cases of infection, as a PCR test you send away, but they will catch most people who are exhaling plenty of virus and likely to be at their most contagious - which is exactly when you want them to be at home. 

110321 vaccinations uk government 23 m

"The EMA (European Medicines Agency) has just recommended granting a conditional marketing authorisation for COVID19 vaccine Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) to prevent COVID19 in people from 18 years of age."
This opens up the first singe dose vaccine to bazillions of people in EU countries, and beyond.

Denmark have suspended the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for 4 weeks while they investigate a case of blood clotting. Last week 2 people in Austria had blood related issues after vaccination, and an entire batch of the jab was put on hold across Europe.
You HAVE TO investigate, and it's sensible to put things on hold at that time - it would be reckless not to.
Reassuringly the EMA (European Medicines Agency) in response to both events says that:
"EMA’s safety committee PRAC is reviewing this issue; it is investigating the cases reported with the batch as well as all other cases of thromboembolic events, and other conditions related to blood clots, reported post-vaccination. The information available so far indicates that the number of thromboembolic events in vaccinated people is no higher than that seen in the general population. As of 9 March 2021, 22 cases of thromboembolic events had been reported among the 3 million people vaccinated with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in the European Economic Area."
Many millions of people have been vaccinated now with each of the currently authorised vaccines, and several 'pauses' have happened, but so far all that I am aware of have come to nothing, and all vaccination programmes have resumed.
If you vaccinate enough people, it is inevitable that eventually someone will drop dead from other causes, while still sitting in the chair with their sleeve rolled up.

The European Council President Charles Michel defended the EU against claims of vaccine nationalism (keeping vaccines for yourself), but in doing so he accused the UK and USA of the same moral crime, saying they had banned exports of vaccines.
The UK swiftly responded that it isn't true, with Boris saying:
"Let me be clear. We have not blocked the export of a single Covid-19 vaccine or vaccine components".
Playing Devil's Advocate, he might not officially have blocked anything, but I can't see Boris sending any vaccines abroad any time soon...

Up until 8th March 2021, the UK Government had supplied 1,250,738 children and young people with a laptop or tablet so that they can carry out home-based education. 74,011 homes have been connected to the internet.
What we might consider basics are so easy to take for granted. 

UK Government roadmap square image April 2021

News media around the world are really beginning to keep watch on Brazil, as the situation there has been fairly steadily bad since last June, and over the last 2 weeks is noticeably worsening. The head of PAHO (Pan American Health Organisation) said yesterday:
"We are concerned about the situation in Brazil. It provides a sober reminder of the threat of resurgence: areas hit hard by the virus in the past are still vulnerable to infection today.
It’s important to continue to monitor the virus and let data guide our actions. But we also cannot wait until our health systems are overwhelmed to implement public health measures."
Brazilian leader Bolsonaro famously is a COVID-sceptic, leaving local leaders to make decisions about restrictions and measures against COVID, and frequently mocking them if they do so. 

Ireland have secured another 46,500 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine via the EU - who have been told they can have an extra 4m doses on top of existing orders over the next 3 months. The vaccines should be available to them before the end of March.
Republic of Ireland's total orders of doses stand at more than 18.5m, but delays to supply mean they expect the main vaccine rollout to really begin in April.
IndieSAGE are among those who have pointed out many times that a "whole Ireland" approach for vaccination would be of substantial benefit to the entire UK, not just both sides of the Irish border. 

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has been a staunch COVID-denier since the start, and (as far as official reports go), any new cases in Tanzania suddenly stopped last May. In June last year Magufuli declared the country COVID-free.
It's been clear for a while that this wasn't true, and last month they were forced to admit they haven't beaten COVID, after the vice-president of Zanzibar died from it, and travellers arriving all over the world from Tanzania were testing positive.
Last month the Catholic Church urged Tanzanians to take COVID more seriously, and reported that they had lost 60 nuns and 25 priests in the last two months.
Two weeks ago the Finance Minister appeared on TV to say he was fine after 2 weeks in hospital, but coughed and spluttered throughout the appearance, so all that did was show how ill he still was. It would be comical if it wasn't so serious.
Now President Magufuli hasn't been seen since February 27th, and there are rumours he is seriously ill in Nairobi Hospital in Kenya. There are denials, but without an appearance by Mr Magufuli I don't think many people are likely to believe it.

UK Government Safe Behaviours

The 11 countries with the largest orders for vaccines have secured or optioned 2.9b full vaccinations more between them than their total populations. At some point vaccines are going to be sitting idle, and we need to work out plans for redistribution now, so that none go to waste when they are still needed elsewhere.
Top of the table for amount of people they can vaccinate with the doses they have on order or as options they can take (according to UNICEF) are:
Canada - 37m population, with spare vaccines for another 188m people
USA - 329m population, spare vaccines for 1,490m people
Italy - 60m population, spare vaccines for 193m people
UK - 68m population, spare vaccines for 218m people
Germany - 84m population,  spare vaccines for 247m people
The UK Government have already made it quite clear that we will donate 'spare' vaccines once we're done (which reminds me of "got any spare change?" "I don't know yet, come back when I'm finished".)
Some of these orders are for vaccines that won't be ready until 2022. 

We are being reminded that the NHS is there for everyone, and they don't just do COVID.
NHS England says 1.3 million patients received non-COVID care in January 2021. This compares with 847,000 in April 2020, when COVID admissions first peaked. (They must be shattered.)
The backlog is still growing though. We need to keep bringing down those COVID cases, and free up space and staff for everything else. If we keep adding to the backlog, then within a few weeks we could be at average waiting times of a year for elective surgeries.  

Stephen Fry got his COVID vaccination in Westminster Abbey - some of the venues are pretty darn amazing. If your venue wasn't amazing, remember one of President Trump's final official press conferences was held in the car park of Four Seasons Total Landscaping (which wasn't even open), opposite an adult shop. Just about anywhere beats that for glamour...

Congratulations. You've panic bought toilet roll, mastered one-handed masking, apologised for being on the same pavement as someone else, and shuddered every time you heard coughing, and you've survived a year during a pandemic. I promised a year back that it would never look like 28 Days Later, and I admit some photos have been close, but thankfully without all the rubbish blowing around, and obviously less zombies. In fact most of us got to spend more of the year sitting quietly at home, something they never do in your usual pandemic story. Give yourself a hug, and allow yourself a smile - we are winning... we WILL win.

Some people. They look like numbers, but each one has a face:

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

USA 29,873,007 (+10,883) 542,477 (+286)

India 11,305,877 (+21,566) 158,325 (+112)

Brazil 11,205,972 not yet reported today 270,917

Russia 4,360,823 (+9,270) 90,734 (+459)

UK 4,241,677 (+6,753) 125,168 (+181)

France 3,990,331 (+27,166) 89,830 (+265)

Spain 3,178,442 not yet reported today 71,961

Italy 3,149,017 (+25,673) 101,184 (+373)

Turkey 2,835,989 (+14,046) 29,290 (+63)

Germany 2,537,043 (+4,188) 73,364 (+88)

Colombia 2,285,960 not yet reported today 60,773

Argentina 2,169,694 not yet reported today 53,359

Mexico 2,144,558 (+6,674) 192,488 (+699)

Poland 1,849,424 (+21,045) 46,373 (+375)

Iran 1,723,470 (+8,308) 61,016 (+88) 

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Sources:

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

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

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-11/glaxo-vir-biotechnology-covid-treatment-reduces-risk-of-death

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-analysis-of-lateral-flow-tests-shows-specificity-of-at-least-999

https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/news/ema-recommends-covid-19-vaccine-janssen-authorisation-eu

https://twitter.com/EMA_News/status/1370002324605853701

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/11/denmark-suspends-use-astrazeneca-vaccine-blood-clot-fears/

https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/news/covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca-prac-preliminary-view-suggests-no-specific-issue-batch-used-austria

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-eu-britain/uk-says-it-has-not-blocked-any-covid-19-vaccine-exports-idUSKBN2B1249

 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-eu-michel/eu-rejects-accusations-of-vaccine-nationalism-idUSKBN2B11YM

https://www.ft.com/content/6d28903d-3723-45cc-878a-21e1f2d39493

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-56347716

https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/laptops-and-tablets-data/2021-week-10

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/ireland-to-receive-46-500-extra-doses-of-pfizer-biontech-vaccine-through-eu-deal-1.4506263

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/ireland-has-ordered-enough-vaccines-for-10-3m-people-minister-1.4493876

https://twitter.com/kakape/status/1369617387868336130?s=09

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-56347756

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/10/tanzanian-opposition-demands-answers-on-presidents-health

https://twitter.com/Jadwong/status/1364438639883800581

https://twitter.com/stephenfry/status/1369590807339106305?s=19

https://twitter.com/Jamesillman/status/1369953151823003653

https://twitter.com/pahowho/status/1369686877024968704

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-52966016




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