Tuesday, 30 March 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 29th / 30th March 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 29th / 30th March 2021.

The UK added 4.040 cases today and now has reported a total of 4,341,736 positive cases of COVID-19.

30,680,948 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 3,838,010 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

4,153 people were in hospital on Sunday 28th March, with 583 using a ventilator yesterday, 29th March.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 56 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 126,670 losses of life in all settings.

Up until Friday 19th March, 149,168 people had COVID listed as a cause on their death certificate. 

Nation / Cases / Losses of Life:

Wales: 209,285 / 7,741
Scotland: 217,890 / 9,880
Northern Ireland: 117,166 / 2,885
England 3,797,395 / 127,616

Rep. Of Ireland 235,078 cases and 4,667 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.)

There have now been a total of 128,522,353 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,808,803. Already 103,673,162 people have recovered.

300321 vaccinations in  the UK image of person being jabbed by nurse

Today a joint letter has been published around the globe. It is co-signed by 26 of the world's political leaders, and the head of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros. It calls for a "Pandemic Treaty" - a unanimously agreed process of working together in the future against global threats.
"Our solidarity in ensuring that the world is better prepared will be our legacy that protects our children and grandchildren and minimizes the impact of future pandemics on our economies and our societies.
Pandemic preparedness needs global leadership for a global health system fit for this millennium. To make this commitment a reality, we must be guided by solidarity, fairness, transparency, inclusiveness and equity."
We aren't safe until we are all safe. 

The Moderna vaccine will be rolled out in the UK hopefully next month, firstly to people in their 40's.
Conspiracy theorists are talking about why people of different ages might get a different vaccine? Well, doofi, it's because we already vaccinated everyone older innit. We can hardly save the Moderna vaccines until next year when 85 year olds need another one. This really is a case of "you get whatever is in the fridge at the time". That said, it could work in our favour very slightly. ..

Canada's National Advisory Committee on Vaccinations (NACI) have officially recommended the AstraZeneca COVID19 vaccine should not be used in adults under 55 "while the safety signal of Vaccine-Induced Prothrombotic Immune Thrombocytopenia (VIPIT) following vaccination" is investigated.
Germany's health bodies are expected to make fresh recommendations today,  after Berlin announced they have decided not to use the AstraZeneca vaccine in people under 60, while they investigate further.
This is the rare blood clotting disorder, which does appear to be a real thing, and it seems at first glance to mainly affect women aged around mid 50's or younger.
It's still incredibly rare, somewhere around 1 in 158,000 (French National Medicine Safety Agency) to 1 in 1.11 million (European Medicine Agency Pharmacovigilance and Risk Assessment Committee), but after millions of vaccinations, several different countries have reported a handful of cases now. We probably would not have ever spotted this if we weren't vaccinating billions of people at once, and it's always worth a further look.
If we consider just women aged 35-55 for example, what is their specific risk? Is it actually greater, or do they just make up the highest percentage of people under 55 who have been vaccinated? Will all people under 55 have the same risk? And is that risk really different from people over 55?
All of the vaccines have to be safe - we don't want to lose anyone we can save. More data is always welcome and useful.
If the risk to a specific population turns out to be higher, even if it might only save a life or 2, it makes sense to give them a different vaccine whenever you have the option (1 life = 1 whole person).
What is very clear, is that the risk of a blood clot from the jab is miniscule compared to your 1 in 50 risk of a blood clot from COVID, so in any country with active cases you are substantially better off having ANY currently available vaccine than risking COVID.
(When the UK roll out the Moderna jab, do not be surprised if middle aged women appear to get more appointments. The government probably won't mention it, because it is complicated, but it's what I would do with the data we have right now.)

Image of person filling in COVID vaccine application form

Latest UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures:
"We’ve published our latest antibody and vaccine data for the UK. 
We estimate that 1 in 2 people or 54.7% of the population in England tested positive for COVID19 antibodies in the week ending 14 March 2021."
This is the scientific evidence which backs up the rapid reduction in daily deaths and hospitalisations which we can clearly see - vaccination is working.

Because children and half of English adults haven't yet been vaccinated, and people do cross paths, it's expected we will reach a level of COVID and sit there. Ideally it would be around 3 cases or less a day, but more realistically it's going to be a few thousand. We could be approaching that plateau, as the decline in COVID hospital patient numbers is visibly slowing down in SOME regions. The NW and NE are showing a 16% week on week drop, whereas the SE is at 37% and East at 32%. It's still a fair drop, and we did get a running start by vaccinating all of our vulnerable people, but it's definitely slowing down.

Obviously the very best COVID vaccine would protect us against all of the variants, but for now boosters and 2nd generation vaccines are currently in development - as well as some cutting edge new types of vaccine.
Early-stage results from Scripps Research show that their experimental COVID19 vaccine performs well against all 3 major variants of concern - B117 UK, B1351 South Africa and P1 Brazil.
The technology uses COVID virus (SARS-COV-2) shaped particles to stimulate the immune response, so it should potentially be able to recognise any variant as a threat. Excitingly this theory is backed up by the fact the same vaccine also works well in a lab against SARS - COVID's deadlier and not-so-distant older cousin.
Frankly it sounds like it could be a massive win, but it does have a long way to go. They haven't yet started any human trials. I'm guessing funding might be quite easy to arrange for this one... 

We have the first real data on vaccination and pregnant women, and it's come from the USA, and it's all good news.
10 perfectly healthy babies have been born to vaccinated mums now, and 84 pregnant ladies took part in the study. In preventing serious disease or hospitalisation, the vaccine seems to work just as well as it does for anyone who isn't pregnant. 

The World Health Organisation have published the final report from their COVID Origins investigation, and there are no real surprises. There isn't a lot of anything.
The most likely scenario is, as anticipated: Bat - to unknown animal - to human.
They see little likelihood COVID escaped from a lab (people have found several similar virus in bats, including some a few hundred miles from Wuhan). Cooking kills COVID, so a human eating infected meat is really considerably unlikely.
Many animals can catch COVID, and the likelihood is a bat passed it to a domestic or farmed animal, which then spread it to their human.
These people are professional scientists - they'll never say never. They haven't been able to rule anything out, and they didn't find the evidence to say anything much for certain. The headline for the release is:
"WHO calls for further studies, data on origin of SARS-CoV-2 virus, reiterates that all hypotheses remain open."
I think that's code for "we have more questions now than answers."

Image of hand holding credit/debit card

Ireland are expecting news about their lockdown in tonight's address. They have a strict 5km limit on travel for exercise, and a meeting limit of you plus people from 1 household, and a lot of people are hoping they'll be relaxed (rumours are it'll be 2 households and 20km). Mainly it's expected that the current plan to reopen very slowly, beginning on April 5th, will go ahead as planned. 
Obviously within seconds of this being live he'll have finished his press briefing. Fingers crossed I didn't miss anything major.. 

Trump of the Day:
On Friday CNN have a big TV interview with Dr Anthony Fauci and Dr Deborah Birx, who led the USA's COVID response - except we know they didn't. Trump did. Trump's seen clips and has released a very much in-character statement.
“Based on their interviews, I felt it was time to speak up about Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, two self-promoters trying to reinvent history to cover for their bad instincts and faulty recommendations, which I fortunately almost always overturned. They had bad policy decisions that would have left our country open to China and others, closed to reopening our economy, and years away from an approved vaccine - putting millions of lives at risk."
He then goes on to say they moved too slowly, and attacked Dr Fauci's baseball skills, before calling him the "King of Flip Flops" for changing advice as new evidence came in.
He says he and Dr Fauci didn't like Deborah, and would slag her off behind her back:
"Dr. Birx was a terrible medical advisor, which is why I seldom followed her advice."
Donald reminds us that it's thanks to him the USA did so well with COVID, and anyone who didn't do well wasn't listening to him, before returning to personal attack:
"She was a very negative voice who didn’t have the right answers. Time has proven me correct. I only kept Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx on because they worked for the U.S. government for so long—they are like a bad habit!”
At 28 days after Mr Trump's Presidency ended, on February 17th, the USA had lost 504,576 people to COVID. Over half a million people. He's proud of his 'achievement'.
This is why you shouldn't give awards for turning up... 

Image of bank statement and computer screen

A big group of people went "maskless shopping" in a Tesco in Chelmsford at the weekend. I can't begin really. I honestly am ambivalent to what they personally believe, but they know other people feel differently, so why act with such disrespect?
"I have a bit of cloth here, might save you, might not, but I have so little respect for you that I'm not going to put it on my face for 30 minutes while I shop, even though you really want me to, and its actually the law."
Are these the same people who drive at 50 past schools, because the chance they'll actually kill a child is slim?

Vaccinations in those who have access are going well. The US CDC say that over 28% of Americans have received at least 1 dose. Israel has vaccinated over 60% of their adult population, the UK 50%.
Chile are a wild card in this, they've administered an impressive 53 doses per 100 population - higher than the UK (51 per 100), USA (44 per 100), and Canada (14 per 100). Across most of Europe, the rate is 15-17 doses per 100 people. China have 10x the population of Russia, but both have vaccinated around 7.7 people per 100, which is slightly better than the world average of 7.24 people per 100. 

Telegraph Global Health have a report about the town of Serrana in Brazil. Every adult has been given at least 1 dose of a vaccine, so that the real world effects can be studied. The experiment was kept a secret until vaccinations began, and since people have found out, there has been an influx of queries to local estate agents.

Talking of newly famous 'must visit' locations... The Valneva Vaccine manufactured in the UK will be bottled at GlaxoSmithKline's facility in..... drum roll.... Barnard Castle (the place, not the ancient moment, although that would be even funnier).
I actually wrote that up yesterday and deleted it thinking I must have misheard.
Handily this allows any future UK government minister or advisor to go to Barnard Castle whenever they want, and still claim it's for work...

Some people. All racing at 460m per second around the same sun:

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

USA 31,045,099 (+11,298) 563,318 (+112)

Brazil 12,577,354 not yet reported today 314,268

India 12,148,405 (+53,076) 162,502 (+355)

France 4,554,683 not yet reported today 94,956

Russia 4,536,820 (+8,277) 98,442 (+409)

UK 4,341,736 (+4,040) 126,670 (+56)

Italy 3,561,012 (+16,017) 108,879 (+529)

Spain 3,275,819 (+4,994) 75,305 (+106)

Turkey 3,240,577 not yet reported today 31,230

Germany 2,800,917 (+4,517) 76,664 (+65)

Poland 2,288,826 (+20,870) 52,392 (+461)

Mexico 2,227,842 (+1,292) 201,826 (+203)

Iran 1,875,234 (+10,250) 62,569 (+91)

Ukraine 1,662,942 (+10,533) 32,418 (+286)

South Africa 1,545,979 not yet reported today 52,710

Peru 1,533,121 not yet reported today 51,635

Czechia 1,523,668 (+6,865) 26,222 (+85)

Indonesia 1,505,775 (+4,682) 40,754 (+173)

Netherlands 1,264,983 (+5,828) 16,509 (+36)

Chile 989,492 (+5,008) 23,107 (+37)

Canada 974,924 (+3,206) 22,921 (+21)

Romania 946,647 (+6,204) 23,409 (+175)

Belgium 872,936 (+2,179) 22,921 (+24)

Iraq 844,260 (+5,995) 14,286 (+37) 

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Sources:

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

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

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/30/global-treaty-needed-to-protect-states-from-pandemics-say-world-leaders

https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/op-ed---covid-19-shows-why-united-action-is-needed-for-more-robust-international-health-architecture

https://twitter.com/DrTedros/status/1376881449064935427?s=19

https://twitter.com/sheeza_blade/status/1376472395167449095?s=19

https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/news/astounded-reactions-as-new-vaccine-will-be-bottled-up-at-barnard-castle-261747/

https://www.bostonherald.com/2021/03/29/full-text-of-trumps-statement-on-fauci-birx/amp/

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-targets-fauci-birx-in-lengthy-diatribe/ar-BB1f645w?ocid=st

Canada - https://twitter.com/i/events/1376593291982999554?s=09

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-30/germany-probing-astra-shot-after-berlin-stops-use-in-under-60s

https://twitter.com/ONS/status/1376818789434687490?s=19

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/articles/coronaviruscovid19infectionsurveyantibodydatafortheuk/30march2021

https://www.who.int/director-general/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-remarks-at-the-member-state-briefing-on-the-report-of-the-international-team-studying-the-origins-of-sars-cov-2

https://www.who.int/news/item/30-03-2021-who-calls-for-further-studies-data-on-origin-of-sars-cov-2-virus-reiterates-that-all-hypotheses-remain-open

https://twitter.com/France24_en/status/1376837857990565890?s=19

https://apnews.com/article/animals-coronavirus-pandemic-bats-united-nations-china-8a839c179c330c56fa46a763b7286a7f

https://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/ireland-lockdown-updates-six-more-23812896

https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/health/covid19/public_health_measures_for_covid19.html#

https://www.scripps.edu/news-and-events/press-room/2021/20210329-zhu-covid19.html

https://twitter.com/scrippsresearch/status/1376598493788274689

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2021/03/27/covid-19-pregnancy-vaccines-safe-protect-moms-babies-study/6979881002/

https://twitter.com/HSJEditor/status/1376928958638387214

https://www.hsj.co.uk/coronavirus/covid-patients-in-hospital-declining-much-faster-in-south-and-east-than-in-north/7029809.article

https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/world/covid-vaccinations-tracker.html

https://twitter.com/i/events/1376855860987715588





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