Thursday 4 March 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 3rd / 4th March 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 3rd / 4th March 2021.

The UK added 6,573 cases today and now has reported a total of 4,201,358 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 863,658 tests yesterday.

The counter says 20,982,571 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 963,862 had received 2 doses.

12,136 people were in hospital on Tuesday 2nd, with 1,647 using a ventilator yesterday, 3rd March.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 242 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 124,025 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 221,189 cases and 4,357 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.)

There have now been a total of 115,980,436 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,575,302. Already 91,702,474 people have recovered.

Tips for dealing with stress - every mind matters

"Don't be such a chicken squat.
Get out there and get your shot."
Dolly Parton, country music singer, actor, and creator of The Imagination Library, which has already donated over 100 million books to the world's children.

Today's lucky 'surge testing because they found cases of South African variant in your area' people are.... Stockton-on-Tees (TS19) and Brent (North Wembley). 

Some of the COVID-19 Budget Stuff:
- There is an extra £1.65b to help cover the cost of COVID vaccinations and testing etc., including 5m for "clinical-scale mRNA manufacturing, to create a ‘library’ of vaccines that will work against Covid-19 variants for possible rapid response deployment".
- We're all using contactless payment far more, and it does seem very likely it helps prevent transmission, so the upper limit is being raised from £45 to £100. (Some shops don't have contactless facility or may impose their own limits.) PLEASE be careful with your cards.
- The furlough/job support scheme is being extended until the end of September - this is really wise. Even if we reopened as hoped by the end of June, there's potential for some areas to need to close. This is a safety net in place. Employees will continue to receive 80% of their wages, with employers contributing 10% in July, and 20% in August and September
- £5 billion for new Restart Grants – one off cash grants of up to £18,000 for hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses in England.
- There's a mortgage guarantee scheme to keep house buying active. Home buyers can put down just 5% deposit on  properties worth up to £600,000, the government will underwrite the other 95%. The Stamp Duty holiday on property up to £500k is being extended until September.
- The self-employment grant has been extended until April.
- The £20 a week increase in Universal Credit has been extended for 6 months.
- Business rate cuts for hospitality and leisure, and 5% rate of VAT extended. More business loans made available.
- Funding for museums and spectator sports
- £10m Funding for veterans with mental health problems
- £19m to tackle domestic abuse
- £25 million investment in UK grassroots sports, enough for around 700 new pitches.

040321 vaccinated people in the UK is 20,982,571

The EU and Italy have blocked a shipment of 250,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to Australia. It's going to be a huge blow for Australia and hopefully won't signify things getting ugly out there. AstraZeneca could only supply about 1/3 of the doses ordered by the EU this Spring, and have said there may also be a shortfall in the April-June shipments.
The EU are not happy, cases are high in several nations and so they've implemented an 'export control mechanism'. These particular vaccines were manufactured in Italy, which is suffering badly, so sending them away would have really stung.
Remember - everyone is a bit scared.

Sky News are reporting that the England/Wales Test & Trace failed to use data from millions of app. check-ins to alert people that they'd been near someone with COVID.
I despair. Apparently it's working now. I really hope so. 

It's World Obesity Day and there are big headlines today saying that COVID deaths are higher in countries with a higher than healthy BMI, by as much as 10 times. Yes, that sentence is true, but...
Obesity is a very big risk factor with COVID, we know that, and your risk of hospitalisation and death increases with your weight, but my 12 year old can see some flaws in this report, so the peer-reviews will be interesting.
1. Countries with the lightest populations according to WHO a few years ago (BMI average 20.5 - 21.0) are Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Bangladesh.
Burundi (2,240 cases) and Eritrea (2,892 cases) have done an exceptional job at preventing COVID. Ethiopia (161,974 cases) have lost 20 people per million population. Bangladesh (548,549 cases) have lost 51 people per million population.
2. The populations of Nauru, Tonga and Samoa are, on average, the weightiest people on Earth (WHO say average BMI is 31.7-32.5), yet between them they haven't lost a single person to COVID. (Nice one!)
3. Hello New Zealand. Obesity rates are almost exactly the same as Chile (WHO say average BMI 27.8/27.9) but funnily enough, despite Chile losing almost 21,000 people (1,077 people per million), New Zealand have lost 26 (5 per million).
4. For reference, the UK have lost 1,817 people per million people to COVID (sorry, I had to include it). Countries with a virtually identical average BMI include Australia (35 per million), Canada (582 per million), Jamaica (146 per million).
There is FAR more at play than simply a nation's weight.
Living somewhere which didn't take COVID seriously, or didn't want to close the economy because it seemed too drastic, substantially increases your chances of dying from COVID.
Living in a poorer nation, which had little to lose financially and put all efforts into health and avoiding spread of COVID, or a richer nation which went bold, and closed early and hard to prevent entry of COVID, substantially lowers your chances of dying from COVID.
Weight is very important, and if you are very big it does mean you do have an increased risk of dying if you catch COVID, and that increased risk can be substantial, I shan't lie, but it's never been shown to be 10 times as great within any countries own figures - it's more like 2-4 times, depending on how overweight you are. Countries can't ever simply be compared 'like for like'.
You have to be able to catch COVID in order to die from it.

The UK's vaccinated pensioners are going wild. The ONS survey of behaviour among people aged over 80, after immunisation, found:
- an estimated 2 out of every 5 (41%), who had received the first dose of a vaccine less than three weeks ago, reported they had met someone other than a household member, care worker or member of their support bubble, indoors.
Now that's naughty, against the law and you are putting your loved ones at risk. Totally understand the temptation though.
- Trust in attending hospitals increases with the first dose, and again with the second.
- Feeling very much "at risk" reduced from 49% down to 5% after 2 doses.
- 41% had side effects from the jab, but almost 2/3 of those said it didn't change their mind about a 2nd dose (63%), and over 1/3 said they were more likely to get it (35%). Presumably 2% were not impressed.
- 96% would encourage you to get vaccinated.

From Monday care home residents will be allowed 1 regular visitor. You'll still have to be careful, and you'll never be 100% safe, but it should stop all our elderly law-breakers from going rogue... 

Surge testing how it works UK Gov

There was an explosion at a coronavirus testing centre in Noord-Holland on Wednesday morning. This isn't the first violent act in The Netherlands that has targeted testing centres. Nope, I don't know why either. I'm not sure anyone really understands how they think this will help anything.
The testing centre was closed at the time and no-one was injured.

Sweden's laissez-faire pandemic response has been studied by esteemed scientists the world over, but it was a private citizen, Bodil Malmberg, from Vårgårda, Sweden, who spotted something not quite right with a report out last year which supported schools staying open to all pupils.
She used Sweden’s 'open records law' to request email correspondence mentioned between epidemiologist Jonas Ludvigsson of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, and Swedish chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, and the results have been published in Science Magazine.
It turns out that there was a 68% rise in mortality in Swedish children aged 7-16 during March-June 2020, while schools stayed open. They knew full well this was the case, but it was hidden by extending reporting to children aged 1-16, and comparing with the previous 3 months (Winter just before the pandemic hit), rather than year on year Spring average mortality.
Sweden's population is small, and it amounts to an extra 21 children lost.
A fluctuation of this size can be attributed to fluke, but nonetheless the report was clearly purposefully deceptive and falsely reassuring.
Officially Sweden has lost 10 children to COVID, but as they didn't test children for a long time, this may not be entirely accurate. The belief in Sweden initially (and many other places, including the UK) was that children didn't really spread COVID, and only in December did Swedish guidance finally change, so that children in households where someone had COVID were told to stay home from school.

Swedish Epidemiologist Jonas Ludvigsson of the Karolinska Institute (the guy from the above story) was one of the first to sign the 'Great Barrington Declaration' which asked for all nations to reopen fully, and treat COVID like flu, allowing natural herd immunity. He has now quit COVID research. Probably wise, I don't think anything he puts his name to will carry the same trust as previously. 

Yet to be peer-reviewed, India's Bharat Biotech Covaxin vaccine Phase 3 clinical trial results demonstrate "81 per cent interim efficacy in preventing COVID-19 in those without prior infection after the second dose".
That's fabulous.
A bit naughtily, after safety data was in and it seemed it would probably work, Indian authorities okayed Covaxin and started immunisations, so the first few thousand people became part of the trial data.
A pre-print study (again not yet peer reviewed) last week found that in a lab, the efficacy of Covaxin against wild original COVID and UK variant B117 was pretty much the same - job is a goodun.  

040321 Weekly Test and Trace performance update UK Gov

The owners of the Daily Mail have bought New Scientist magazine.
The Daily Mail are famously low-brow and racist, prompting LEGO and other companies to withdraw advertising over their hatred-inciting headlines and articles. I'm honestly not sure how this is going to pan out, but I first spotted it because some German scientists were laughing about how many pictures might be in next month's edition.

The head of the US CDC, Rochelle Walensky, has warned that it's too early for American states to lift all restrictions, as cases and hospitalisations are still very high.
Texas within hours went further than any other state, and pretty much just dumped COVID restrictions entirely.
I hope to goodness this isn't some sort of political showboating, because that would be really sad and very immature. (I suspect it is.)
Texans from next week have no requirement to wear masks, and businesses can reopen fully - with 100% capacity.
For all the people saying we should all just reopen, get yourself some popcorn. Fingers crossed you were right all along.

Nothing to do with COVID, but a parcel delivery driver in Hanoi, Vietnam, saw a 2 year old girl falling from a 12th floor balcony, ran and climbed on top of a shed below the flats, and he caught her. He was thrown to his knees and she landed on his lap, breaking an arm and a leg, but otherwise alive and well. He says he isn't a hero. He totally is. Bloody miracle that.

3 blokes are in custody after stealing a lorry load of Lateral Flow COVID tests due to be delivered to schools around the UK. The tests were recovered. Stupid in so many ways. You can go to a walk in test centre and get a lateral flow test any time you like, and it's free. 

Dolly Parton is some sort of true legend. She got a dose of her own medicine on Tuesday, and posted a video of herself getting her jab - the vaccine that she helped fund by donating £1m to Moderna last year. She even sang us a few lines to celebrate:
"Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine,
I'm begging of you, please don't hesitate.
Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, because once you're dead,
then that's a bit too late."

The UK's figures are still overall going the right way, but ONS results back up what we can see from the daily figures, the decrease is slowing down. The Romans used to say that 'it doesn't matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop'.
We EXPECT to see some difference when kids go back to school, it's unavoidable whenever you allow new groups of people to mix - the COVID will find fresh hosts, how big a difference we'll know by Easter, when we have a natural break we can take advantage of. Once we have really started vaccinating general population - the people who go out and mix every day, usually because they have to, THEN we should see case numbers really start to drop. It IS going the right way, and it hasn't stopped.

Some numbers. All floating on the same piece of rock as you:

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

USA 29,467,219 (+10,842) 531,872 (+220)

India 11,173,567 (+16,819) 157,584 (+113)

Brazil 10,722,221 not yet reported today 259,402

Russia 4,290,135 (+11,385) 87,823 (+475)

UK 4,201,358 (+6,573) 124,025 (+242)

France 3,810,316 not yet reported today 87,542

Spain 3,142,358 (+6,037) 70,501 (+254)

Italy 2,999,119 (+22,865) 98,974 (+339)

Turkey 2,734,836 not yet reported today 28,771

Germany 2,476,384 (+3,488) 71,819 (+108)

Colombia 2,262,646 not yet reported today 60,082

Argentina 2,126,531 not yet reported today 52,453

Mexico 2,104,987 (+7,793) 188,044 (+857)

Poland 1,750,659 (+15,250) 44,649 (+289)

Iran 1,665,103 (+8,404) 60,431 (+78) 




Texas lifts most Covid restrictions including mandatory masks

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all your effort in these updates Jenny. They are so easy to read, really informative and with just the right amount of humour. 👏


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