Friday 19 March 2021

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

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

The UK added 4,802 cases today and now has reported a total of 4,285,684 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 1,437,257 tests yesterday.

The counter says 26,263,732 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 2,011,070 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

6,544 people were in hospital on 17th March, with 879 using a ventilator yesterday, Thursday 18th.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 101 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 126,026 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 229,306 (+510) cases and 4,576 (+10) losses of life.

There have now been a total of 122,662,807 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,707,166. Already 98,862,774 people have recovered.

WHO it is always COVID safer to: (small images) blow into an elbow, use a mask, stay apart, open a window

"The available data do not suggest any overall increase in clotting conditions such as deep venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism following administration of COVID-19 vaccines. Reported rates of thromboembolic events after COVID-19 vaccines are in line with the expected number of diagnoses of these conditions. Both conditions occur naturally and are not uncommon. They also occur as a result of COVID-19.  The observed rates have been fewer than expected for such events."
The WHO statement regarding the Oxford / AstraZeneca Vaccine.
They add that "very rare and unique thromboembolic events in combination with thrombocytopenia, such as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), have also been reported".
"The EMA’s Pharmacovigilance and Risk Assessment Committee has reviewed 18 cases of CVST out of a total of more than 20 million vaccinations with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Europe. A causal relationship between these rare events has not been established at this time."

"We strongly back the call for a public inquiry, as soon as possible, certainly by June, to ensure that lessons are learnt.
We have, so far, in excess of 125,000 reported deaths from COVID19.
We have a very much larger number of people with Long COVID. These are people whose lifespan is going to be significantly reduced by having had COVID.
And we also know that the economy has been very badly hit by this whole episode.
All of this could, we believe, have been avoided with a proper procedure to isolate those with the disease from those who are healthy. If that had been put in place very early on, then an enormous saving to the country in terms of deaths, and finance, would have occurred.
We need to see that lessons are learnt, and learnt quickly.".
Sir David King, Chair of Independent SAGE, ex Chief Medical Officer for England. 

The Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine and 'no greater danger' from blood clots situation seems to be resolving, with several countries already restoring the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccinations, including Germany, France, Indonesia, Spain, Italy etc etc... Ahhhhh, and relax. 

Meanwhile the USA have announced they are loaning 4m doses of Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine - 2.5 million will go to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada. The vaccine isn't yet approved by the US FDA, so can't be used there until their own trials have completed. 

190321 Vaccinations UK stand at 26m text over image of person being vaccinated

Researchers in Denmark have looked at reinfection, and found most people still have immunity 6 months after they first catch COVID. This is the first large scale study and covers 4m people (69% of the Danish population) who had PCR COVID tests (the tests you send to a lab) and at the time Denmark almost entirely had the original wild COVID (no variants).
Denmark had 2 clear waves of cases in 2020, during March to May and September to December. Researchers looked at who tested positive during those waves. 72 people tested positive during both periods of time (poor souls!). They also looked at an 'alternative cohort' of people who had tested positive during the second wave, and tested positive at any other time. Their findings were:
"Protection against repeat infection was 80·5%. The alternative cohort analysis gave similar estimates of 78·8%. In the alternative cohort analysis, among those aged 65 years and older, observed protection against repeat infection was 47·1%. We found no difference in estimated protection against repeat infection by sex (male 78·4% vs female 79·1%) or evidence of waning protection over time (3–6 months of follow-up 79·3% vs ≥7 months of follow-up 77·7%).
So the good news is most people still have immunity after 6 months and it doesn't appear to fall off at all during that time, and the bad news is that it is only most people, it's not as effective if you are older, and it may not help if you catch other variants. 

We would all really love to know just how 'catchy' COVID is, and at times it seems possible it's REALLY catchy.
New Zealand, possibly the most cautious of countries, had an outbreak at a quarantine hotel. A not-yet-peer-reviewed study has concluded that:
- at least 1 person contract COVID during the flight - where everyone wore masks and the plane was only 1/3 full with passengers spaced out
- 2 people caught COVID when an infected person's door was opened for testing first, and 50 seconds later, their door was opened for their testing.
An Icelandic not-yet-peer-reviewed study has found that a returning traveller who had tested negative, but later tested positive, had managed to infect 2 people who lived in the same building, presumably by using the same stairwell, as they had no direct contact with each other. 

We are being asked to look after ourselves after vaccination. If you do experience any worrying side effects, please contact your doctor. A headache is normal (boo), as is feeling rough for a few days (mostly 48 hours), but watch out for a headache which lasts more than 4 days.
If you have a persistent and worsening headache that is unusual for you, you should NEVER ignore it. Trust me - my partner survived meningitis 8 years ago with most of his brain intact. He'd have died within 48 hours. You know yourself, and you know your loved ones. You know when something is normal, and when something is just not right. 

190321 UK latest R rate 0.7-0.9 bold text on bright background

A look at the latest 'Variants Distribution Of Cases' shows that aside from our UK B117 and wild COVID, around 20 of the South African and other variants have been detected in the last week, plus one to watch out for.
Variant B1525 shows 164 confirmed and probable cases in total, including 26 in the last week. That could mean it's infiltrated a workplace, prison or a couple of large families, or it could be a little out of control. It might be the variant they keep chasing in London? Bad news is, it does have that pesky antibody-escaping E484K mutation. Good news is that it doesn't have the N501Y mutation which increases risk of death and makes our UK B117 variant so transmissible. Bad news is that it has some other mutations, including an interesting one which has occurred several times elsewhere, but we don't yet know what they do. Currently it's listed as a Variant Under Investigation, rather than a more worrying Variant Of Concern. 

Today's indieSAGE strapline is "A mixed week".
Deaths and hospitalisations ARE going down, cases are a bit flatter. The effect of vaccinations on hospitalisations and losses of life is incredibly clear. It's definitely working.
Now schools have been reopened to all pupils, we are beginning to see a rise in cases among children, and there is a corresponding flattening off for other age groups. We do need to see what happens there, and by next week we'll have a far better idea of whether this is a bump due to mixing new people, a bump due to all the lateral flow testing of school pupils, or a genuine increase that's going to keep rising. If you only look at lateral flow tests, it seems twice as many pupils tested positive this week than last. It could be more pupils are back at school and being tested, it could be delayed reporting, it could be genuinely in-school transmission, or in-community transmission. We have no idea.
Over 98% of cases in England are the UK / Kent variant B117. Across Europe, it is taking over, and as it does, each country it affects is having a disaster and having to impose more restrictions. We can't become complacent.
California have a variant which is battling it out with the UK's B117 for dominance.
France have discovered a new variant which isn't detected by standard COVID tests. (Nasty...)
The Philippines variant is mentioned
B1525 (above) is mentioned, as is B11318, which no-one seems to know anything about.
The Chair of indieSAGE, Sir David King, talked about next steps, and where indieSAGE believe the Government's focus should be.
Variants are likely to be our big story over Summer, so we need to keep going with vaccinations, but we can't get complacent. We need to remember our other suppression strategies to keep down levels of virus, prevent more mutations and protect everyone, including those who aren't vaccinated. Test and Trace needs to get sorted - change to a locally-based Find, Test, Trace, isolate and Support system - which checks people really are in isolation. We need to LEARN from what has already happened. We know we need to suppress COVID everywhere in order to succeed, and as indieSAGE have warned time and time again, the disease continues at a higher level in deprived areas, and these people often need to be supported in order to isolate

WHO Chief Scientist says we need a global approach photo of her smiling alongside quoted text

Although travel to and from the UK is currently banned for everyone except for essential reasons, we do still update the travel lists. Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores) and Mauritius are removed from Red List (meaning travellers are no longer banned), and Ethiopia, Oman, Qatar and Somalia have been added to Red List (travellers are banned).

France is in a bad place. They've reported around 20,000 cases on average each day since early January, and now that's risen to around 30,000. The sustained pressure has mounted up, with more and more people filling hospitals each day.
Paris hospitals are reaching capacity, and over this week evacuated around 100 intensive care patients to other areas. The whole Île-de-France region (Paris is right in the middle) has been under a curfew and shopping centres have been closed, but it's not helped. By mid-February they crossed the threshold of 'maximum alert' at 250 cases per 100,000 population, and yesterday reported 446 cases per 100,000 citizens (1 in every 224 people currently has COVID), so officials were left with little choice.
From midnight tonight around 21 million people in 16 areas of France will be placed under lockdown measures for 1 month.
There are more details being promised today, but inessential business will close, although schools and hairdressers will be able to stay open (with strict observance of rules). There will be a 6 mile limit on travel for exercise, and movement restrictions within France. 

Public Health England very quietly (as Sky News rightly point out) published a study this week looking at the effect of Travel Corridors from June to September last year. It found that over half of the UK's imported cases were from just 3 countries which were all on the travel corridors list, meaning people returning did NOT have to quarantine... oops. That didn't really work very well then, did it?
21% of imported cases came back from Greece, 16% from Croatia and 14% from Spain. Young people aged 16-20 were most likely to bring COVID home, and they passed it on to most contacts too. (You devils....)

Italy yesterday marked their first Day Of Remembrance. Prime Minister Mario Draghi visited Bergamo, which suffered so incredibly badly. 100 trees have been planted in parkland within sight of the main hospital,  to represent the loss of over 100,000 people to the pandemic in Italy.

The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Moderna / Pfizer) contain polyethylene glycol (PEG), which a very small percentage of people are allergic too. This is a generally safe substance which can be used to replace water (so things won't dry out). It is found in stuff like toothpaste and laxatives.
Excitingly it's really useful in preservation - the Terracotta Warriors in China, and the Swedish warship Vasa, were both painted with PEG when they were exposed to the air, to prevent them from crumbling to dust.
The point of this is that some hoaxers are claiming mRNA vaccines contain antifreeze - errrr, no. That's ethylene glycol, it's something else. Scientific names might be very similar, but it doesn't mean the actual thing is. Trees, humans, coal and diamonds are all mostly made of the same chemical, Carbon. Obviously I bear many similarities to a diamond, but we are all actually quite different.

UK Government roadmap square image March 8th 2021

Remember last year the whole "nature is healing" thing included goats straying into Llandudno and taking over the town while everyone was locked down. Excitingly the COVID pandemic has prevented their usual contraception injections over the last year. They're back, they are in massive numbers, they're hungry, and they're in the mood for love...
Drivers and businesses in and around Llandudno are asked to be extra careful, and please report any goats you come across which are looking distressed or ill, or otherwise need help to return home to the fields. (Exhausted probably...)

Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure park plan to reopen on April 30, 2021. Reservations are strictly limited, and current state guidelines only allow Californian residents to visit, so you'll probably have to wait a bit.

Corvo, the smallest island in The Azores, is presumed to be the first place to have vaccinated the entire population. All 400 people. Well done guys.

COVID Vaccines are considered safe for pregnant women, and recommended in certain cases, after discussion with a medical professional. The first known baby has been born to a vaccinated Mum, a frontline healthcare worker in the USA. She was vaccinated with the Moderna jab at 36+3 weeks and gave birth at 39+3 weeks.
Her new daughter is of great interest to the world, and I'm delighted to say that not only is she fit and healthy, but they took blood from her umbilical cord and found COVID antibodies - so Mum did pass some of her immunity on. (Obviously this isn't yet peer-reviewed - it's brand new news.)
We don't yet know how much protection it will offer, but other antibodies passed to babies in the womb can be incredibly effective, so this is everything we'd wish for, and it will hopefully be a very long time before we find out just how long those antibodies last.

It's the weekend! You made it through again (I had no doubt). Have a good weekend and get outside if you can, Spring has sprung and the birds are going wild (and the goats). Remember that treat - just for you, not for them.

I have an 11th birthday - his 2nd under lockdown. Last year it was on the Thursday as we were locking down and all a bit scared, so any get together wasn't happening. This year, he totally understands. He wants a zoom with his big siblings and sweets on his cake... I think we can manage that...

Last year, we didn't have any vaccines, we didn't know ventilation wasn't going to save as many people as CPAP apnoea machines would. Now we have Dexamethasone and Tocilizumab. We know for sure COVID is airborne, children do catch it and pass it on, but masks and distancing both help stop us breathing in lungfuls of virus and becoming very ill. We understand better how to protect our most vulnerable. We know to open the window.

We've come a long way. None of that trudge was in vain. Every second bought us time.

Remain A Lert, Avoid Horny Goats, Save The NHS.

Some numbers. All were once a giggle from their Mum, and a wink from their Dad:

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

USA 30,369,989 (+11,109) 552,626 (+156)

Brazil 11,787,600 not yet reported today 287,795

India 11,554,764 (+40,819) 159,593 (+188)

Russia 4,437,938 (+9,699) 94,267 (+443)

UK 4,285,684 (+4,802) 126,026 (+101)

France 4,181,607 not yet reported today 91,679

Italy 3,332,418 (+25,735) 104,241 (+386)

Spain 3,212,332 not yet reported today 72,910

Turkey 2,971,633 (+21,030) 29,864 (+87)

Germany 2,636,725 (+8,096) 74,977 (+99)

Mexico 2,182,188 (+6,726) 196,606 (+698)

Poland 2,010,244 (+25,998) 48,807 (+419)

Iran 1,786,265 (+7,620) 61,649 (+68) 





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