Sunday, 28 March 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 27th / 28th March 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 27th / 28th March 2021.

The UK added 3,862 cases today (down from 5,312 last Sunday) and now has reported a total of 4,333,042 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 1,275,285 tests yesterday.

30,151,287 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 3,527,481 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

4,560 people were in hospital on Thursday 25th (down from 6,162 a week earlier), with 615 using a ventilator on Friday 26th March (down from 830 a week earlier).

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 19 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days (down from 33 last Sunday), making a total of 126,592 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 233,937 cases and 4,653 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.)

There have now been a total of 127,519,912 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,792,568. Already 102,778,932 people have recovered.

280321 chart of reported cases by WHO region, showing peak, trough, and new rise in worldwide cases

"I keep hearing that B.1.1.7 in Austria is to blame for the increase in cases. Yes, B.1.1.7 is a bit more infectious and can lead to a slightly higher rate of severe infections. But in the end you can stop B.1.1.7 with exactly the same means as  like 'normal' SARS-CoV-2 too. The last strong wave in Great Britain was caused by B.1.1.7. And broken by stricter corona measures. So it is quite possible. You just have to take measures and the people have to stick to it."
Florian Krammer, Professor at the Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (and one of the world's leading COVID scientist folk).


In England - Step 1 of the roadmap out of lockdown has begun. From 29 March, up to 6 people or 2 households can meet outside.
Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools, will also be allowed to reopen, and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports.
The ‘stay at home’ rule will end, but many restrictions will remain in place. People should continue to work from home where they can and minimise the number of journeys they make where possible, avoiding travel at the busiest times and routes.
Travel abroad will continue to be prohibited, other than for a small number of permitted reasons. (That will be reviewed on April 12th.)
Shielding ends on 31 March.

In Scotland - People will be asked to ‘Stay Local’ from 2 April. 

I completely forgot to mention it on Friday,  but the EU did make a ruling on exports of vaccines. They announced changes to the current regulations:
"Reciprocity – does the destination country restrict its own exports of vaccines or their raw materials, either by law or other means? and
Proportionality – are the conditions prevailing in the destination country better or worse than the EU's, in particular its epidemiological situation, its vaccination rate and its access to vaccines."
Yes, this will mean the UK right now. Yes, we do also have an anticipated delay in deliveries from India too. But, don't forget we also have our own manufacturing capability now, and with every day that goes by, orders are being delivered around the globe. It's not going to be a really long delay, and we are already way ahead with vaccinating than most - and reaping those benefits. 

280321 30 million vaccinated in the UK text over image of person being vaccinated by nurse

Boris says we are still on track for his "roadmap to freedom".
Remember the UK mainly base how many restrictions are needed on how many people are in hospital, so those are the numbers to watch for clues as to what happens next.

"The general view is people have had quite a few days off, and it wouldn't be a bad thing for people to see their way round to making a passing stab at getting back into the office."
Boris Johnson there, going against his own advice, unless he is only referring to those people who cannot work from home, and have been on furlough most of the time since last March. He must have been spending time with Rishi, he seems obsessed with getting people back on the commute...

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced:
"HAULIER NEWS: From April 6, lorries visiting England from outside UK (and the Common Travel Area) for more than 2 days will need to take a Covid test within 48hrs + one every 72hrs after. This is to ensure we keep track of any future Coronavirus Variants of Concern."
He later clarified that truckers were previously doing COVID tests - they needed a negative test to leave the UK and enter France anyway. 

Boris loves his rapid tests, and it seems his dream might be about to come true. City AM are reporting that The MHRA (medicines and healthcare regulatory agency) have approved a truly rapid Saliva COVID test. Results are available in within 20 seconds. Even better, it uses cartridges which can be fully recycled.
Virolens trials show 98.1% sensitivity, (false negative), and 99.7% specificity (false positive).
Frankly that really sounds too good to be true, so there has to be something wrong with it... Well, yes. The cartridges have to be inserted into a big machine and examined by an operative. Damn...  It could be incredibly useful at ports and airports,  and some large employers or venues, but it's not likely to be affordable for schools or homes unless they develop a computer programme that can do as good a job. 

We can all make mistakes, and mishear things, especially when we are racing to be quick. That seems to have occurred in Australia with their Test & Trace team. A search for 25 guests who attended a Brisbane house party was cancelled, after it turned out to be just a household of 5, including 1 long term guest who was staying with them. 

UK Government COVID Road Map 29th March 2021

Whenever something huge happens, like a natural disaster, space race, pandemic, ultra tanker stuck in a canal, etc., it forces rapid innovation. We will benefit from some of the things COVID has pushed forward for the rest of our lives.
1. Sleep apnoea machines instead of invasive ventilation. Genius. Simple,  and genius.
2. mRNA vaccine research is decades ahead. Pre-pandemic it would have taken a while to be able to run a large scale trial - it was brand new technology and incredibly expensive, so finding people willing to co-fund any project could have taken years.
3. The scale is incredibly beneficial to future understanding of human beings. Scientists can trawl back through all of the data and learn all kinds of things about us - some of it nothing to do with actual COVID. For example, medical scientists are now examining the number of people who die from blood clots, and why it might vary depending on where you live. Data from around the world has already starkly revealed the huge discrepancies within countries, between those who are affluent, and those who are not. When you suddenly need everyone to have access to healthcare, you actually begin to care about all of the holes in the net. 

Up until 18th March, the French National Medicine Safety Agency say:
"9 cases of thrombosis of the large veins, atypical by their location (mainly cerebral, but also digestive), which may be associated with thrombocytopenia or coagulation disorders were reported, including 2 deaths" from 1,430,000 doses of AstraZenca vaccine administered.
That is 1 in 158,000, and therefore the recommendation is that the benefits of the vaccine in preventing COVID19 far exceed the risk of for blood clots. 

The Ever Given container ship is still stuck blocking the Suez Canal, and it seems almost every other vessel in the queue has decided to gamble on waiting, rather than embark on a 10 day, $1,000,000 detour around Africa.
It isn't only how long the Suez is blocked, this has ripple effects for weeks after it's reopened. The Ever Given alone has 20,000 containers on board, and there are now hundreds of other ships and tankers held up. Shipyards need their containers back. It can take a week to offload a ship, and containers need time to be delivered, filled, collected, and then put on another ship. Goods and ships are backing up.
The good news is that they have managed to free the back end of the ship, and everything seems to work. They need to free the front from where it has dug into the edge of the Suez Canal, without damaging it, and it should be able to continue up the canal to the next "passing place".
The lowest tide of the month is coming up, and if the Ever Given survives that without cracks, it's immediately followed by what might be the highest tide of the year, and possibly the best chance of refloating the vessel.
Today the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has ordered the canal authorities to begin preparations for removing the Ever Given's cargo.
Every salvage expert ever seems to be on the way or there already, as well as the US Navy, and all the tugs in Egypt. One 400m ship blocking the quick route between Asia and Europe is a truly worldwide issue. 

UK Government roadmap square image March 8th 2021

Cases are rising across Europe, and sadly it's not the only place. Parts of South East Asia and the Americas are really suffering. Brazil is eye to eye with a national disaster, with many regions at 90% hospital occupancy, and shortages of oxygen. They have reported 492,129 new cases in the last week. In another week a lot of those people will also need to be in hospital. 

Professor Steve Powys is among the people warning English folk not to go crazy from tomorrow.
You can only meet outside, and you should still follow COVID-safe guidelines. Protect each other, care for each other.
Always bear in mind that even if you have been fully vaccinated and your body might be great at fighting off COVID, you can still catch it - and while that defence is launched, some of you will have a small window of opportunity where you can pass it on. COVID hasn't gone away. What happens next depends on all of us. But we CAN do this... 

Some numbers. Each number is a person very much like you:

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

USA 30,925,958 (+8,816) 562,089 (+76)

Brazil 12,490,362 not yet reported today 310,694

India 11,990,353 (+19,349) 161,730 (+144)

Russia 4,519,832 (+9,088) 97,740 (+336)

France 4,508,575 not yet reported today 94,465

UK 4,333,042 (+3,862) 126,592 (+19)

Italy 3,532,057 (+19,611) 107,933 (+297)

Spain 3,255,324 not yet reported today 75,010

Turkey 3,179,115 not yet reported today 30,923

Germany 2,778,434 (+5,740) 76,434 (+30)

Colombia 2,375,591 not yet reported today 62,790

Argentina 2,301,389 not yet reported today 55,368

Poland 2,250,991 (+29,253) 51,884 (+131)

Mexico 2,224,767 (+4,922) 201,429 (+567)

Iran 1,855,674 (+8,751) 62,397 (+89)

Ukraine 1,644,063 (+11,932) 31,954 (+203) 

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Sources:

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

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

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

https://twitter.com/florian_krammer/status/1376139768631820291

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021/covid-19-response-spring-2021-summary

https://www.thebrickcastle.com/2021/03/covid-19-coronavirus-uk-and-world-news_21.html

https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-england-still-on-course-for-roadmap-to-freedom-out-of-lockdown-says-pm-12258089

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/25/eu-leaders-push-back-against-blocs-plans-to-halt-covid-vaccine-export

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_1352

https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/boris-johnson-enough-days-off-work-from-home-lockdown-easing/

https://www.cityam.com/20-second-covid-test-to-be-distributed-across-the-uk-and-europe/amp/

https://twitter.com/grantshapps/status/1376111703360950275?s=19

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-28/covid-case-brisbane-man-house-party-allegation-mistake/100034116

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/ever-given-suez-canal-sisi-lightening-b1823542.html

https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/weekly-epidemiological-update-on-covid-19---23-march-2021

https://ansm.sante.fr/actualites/point-de-situation-sur-la-surveillance-des-vaccins-contre-la-covid-19-periode-du-12-03-2021-au-18-03-2021





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