Tuesday, 23 March 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK Briefing with Boz and World News Update 22nd /23rd March 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK Briefing with Boz and World News Update 22nd /23rd March 2021.

The UK added 5,379 cases today and now has reported a total of 4,307,304 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 1,191,048 tests yesterday.

The counter says 28,327,873 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 2,363,684 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

5,461 people were in hospital on Sunday 21st, with 748 using a ventilator yesterday, 22nd March.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 112 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 126,284 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 231,484 (+365) cases and 4,610 (+22) losses of life.

There have now been a total of 124,596,272 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,740,161. Already over one hundred million (100,500,856) people have recovered.

230321 Deaths by date in the UK bar chart little colour, graph shows huge rise and fall.

"I think one thing worth stressing is that, on the continent right now, you can see sadly there is a third wave under way, and people in this country should be under no illusions that previous experience has taught us, that when a wave hits our friends, I'm afraid it washes up on our shores as well... I suspect we will feel those effects in due course, that's why we're getting on with our vaccination programme as fast as we can.
A vaccination campaign, developing vaccines, rolling them out, these are international projects and they require international cooperation."
Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister and friendly friendly Euro ally - who also led the UK's Leave campaign. (Bring me another ambassador,  this one's broken. Good speech though Boris, well done.)

It may have been a good speech, but as the wave across Europe is being driven by the UK/Kent B117 variant, we've actually already had that wave - hence our strict lockdown for the past few weeks. It's up to 70% more catchy, so it doesn't respond as you'd like to restrictions that worked with original wild COVID, which is why Europe is having a disaster, and our reopening is very cautious.
Any further wave, or spread of a new variant in the UK, will be due to government decisions - including quarantine rules.

From March 29th the UK's current Coronavirus Regulations end, and are swiftly replaced by shiny new ones, which the government will vote on tomorrow - and we've had access to them today. Some media are reporting as if it's a whole new bunch of rules, but they're really not so different.
The new Coronavirus restrictions feature Steps. We've tried tiers and levels, now Steps. They're astoundingly similar to tiers and levels...
A quick flick through the first million or so pages, and I spotted that:
- Uni students will be expected to move no more than once between 29th March and 29th April.
- Garden Centres will stay open in Step 1.
- Restrictions on 'food and drink to be consumed on the premises' don't include breastfeeding rooms.
- The regulations still apply in “the English territorial sea”
(I skimmed.)

two rows of medics in PPE holding cards satating We stay here for you, please stay home for us

It has been illegal to travel around the UK without good reason for a while, including going overseas, and from 29th March, an actual ban on leaving the UK without good reason will become law.
Clearly no country which relies on tourism actually wants an outright ban on overseas travel, but new variants of COVID, including those with the pesky antibody and vaccine-escaping E484K mutation, are making everyone twitchy. So far the UK has done a really good job of keeping them out, and under control - other countries have not been so fortunate. The vaccine rollout is a massive and very expensive endeavour, which is causing friction between the UK and other countries. The UK are relying on vaccinations to reopen, and stay open. They won't risk that lightly.
I am really genuinely truly sorry to anyone with people they love abroad. I can only begin to imagine how far apart you feel.
The new Coronavirus restrictions are due to end on 30th June 2021.

There was a UK Briefing today with the UK COVID trinity - Boris The Mumbler, Chris 'In The Headlights' and Pat Curtains.
Boris talked about how bizarre it was that a year ago, the basic act of going home was our best defence. He says "it's been an epic" of missed events, and acute grief.
When the time is right we will build a fitting and permanent memorial to those lost, and to remember this time.
He refers to science as 'turning the lights on', and gaining the upper hand with the vaccine rollout.

"When people come to describe this epidemic to future generations, we'll tell the story of the heroes of the NHS and social care. The pharmacists, teachers, armed service personnel, shop workers, transport workers, the police, and so many others. But in the end, this was unlike any other struggle in my lifetime. In that, our entire population has been engaged. And it's thanks to all of you, therefore, that we can continue on our roadmap to freedom.
We will meet our targets of offering a first dose to everyone over 50 by the middle of next month, as well as those under 50 who are clinically vulnerable. And offering a first dose of vaccine to every adult by the end of July. And cautiously but irreversibly, step by step, jab by jab, this country is on the path to reclaiming our freedoms."

Samaritans. Do the best you can, you ca'nt do better

The UK's Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, did the slides. Cases have flattened off, as expected with the return to school and new mixing, hopefully that will steady and start falling again.
We can see that deaths and hospitalisations are falling more quickly than with the first wave - this is the effect of vaccination.
147,179 people have died from COVID, using data to the 12th March.
111,641 people over the number expected have died during the pandemic.

The UK's Chief Scientific Adviser, Patrick Vallance, took a question about antibody response, and how long it will last. He says we can see natural immunity will last at least 6 months, and we anticipate vaccine effects will last a long time too. He mentions booster shots for giving high immunity over Winter. Chris adds that we may need another vaccination because of a new variant.

Boris is asked if he'd do it differently given the year again. He says there are many things they wish they'd done differently. Misunderstanding 'asymptomatic transmission' caused the biggest problems, in leading them down the wrong paths.
Pat says he wishes they could have had much more testing and data at the beginning, so that they really knew what they were facing, and could track the COVID as they can now.
Chris says that understanding of the speed of COVID would have really helped. We didn't know how widespread it was in Europe. If we had known cases were being imported from all over, and not just the areas where we knew there was a problem, we'd have behaved differently. 

Boris says we'll all remember and deal with this for the rest of our lives. He feels the biggest 'legacy issue' aside from the current healthcare crisis is the education lost by children. This is what we have to focus on as a society. 90,000 children going to secondary school this year will be behind because of COVID. He talks about 'recovery', and says we need to learn from what we've done during the pandemic. 1 to 1 tuition will be available to kids who have fallen behind, and kids with potential.
Chris says we will have to live with COVID to a certain extent for the indefinite future. The impact on other parts of the health service will have a delayed effect, which could be significant in the future. The impact on people's livelihoods may push more people into deprivation. We need to look at deprivation very carefully, because not only are deprived people more likely to suffer the effects of COVID, they also are more likely to become ill with everything else. "Diseases like smoking." (Eh what?)
Pat talks about the mental and physical health of people who have survived, and the societal impacts - how will it change us? 

Wash your hands says cartoon favourite cute girl Doc McStuffins

Press asked about Zero COVID. Boris says he's "not sure eradication makes sense in a globalised economy for one country alone. Plainly for humanity it's right, and we should aim for it."
Chris says you've got Bob all chance, "as close to zero as makes no difference". We have eradicated polio, but that is the ONLY disease we have managed to eradicate. Obviously we'd go for it if we could, but he doesn't believe it is a realistic prospect.
Pat agrees. He says get numbers as low as possible, watch out for cases over Winter, but true eradication is almost impossible. 

Press ask a couple of times about international travel, and being allowed if you own property abroad. Is that a risk to everyone? (Yes, yes it is.) Boris talks about anything else. We will get more decisions about international travel before April 12th. Ideas such as universal hotel quarantine are being kept under review.

Press also asked about the EU, and does Boris fear a trade war? Vaccines are made in the EU, but the UK supplies an essential component. Boris says "we in the UK do not believe in a blockade of any kind." It's not something we are considering. (Phew!)
Pat, Chris and Boris all stress this is an international effort.
Boris: "We need the whole planet to be vaccinated."

Google Doodle Wear A Mask characters 050820 with text

The EU are looking more and more likely to block vaccine shipments to the UK. Obviously a blow to the UK's vaccination plans, as it could set us back by a few weeks, but you really can see both sides, and possibly theirs more than ours.
The EU only received around 2/5 of the vaccine orders they placed for Jan-March 2021, including just 1/2 their AstraZeneca order, and only 1 in 10 people across the EU has been vaccinated so far.
The final decision is due on Thursday.

We have press release results from a large 32,000 person trial of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine in the Americas - and it's good news, but crikey they always have a controversy.
Firstly - among the 21,583 people actually given the vaccine, no-one developed any strange or unusual blood clots. As any clotting event seems to be much rarer than 1 in 20,000, we would hope not, but it's still reassuring.
Secondly, they found:
"79% vaccine efficacy at preventing symptomatic COVID-19
100% efficacy against severe or critical disease and hospitalisation
Comparable efficacy result across ethnicity and age, with 80% efficacy in participants aged 65 years and over."
They didn't initially say how many people in the placebo group were hospitalised, but later said it was 5 out of roughly 10,000, so you'd expect about 10 in the vaccinated group, and there were none.
There was a query over the use of outdated data from the US Data And Safety Monitoring Board, and AstraZeneca have responded with the most garbled press release ever. Basically it says they 'have only included data to 17th Feb there, but they've got all of it, and it's all good - just writing it up. Come back Thursday'. 
AstraZeneca have really been horrendous at reporting straightforward figures, and it's done their trust rating no favours. You end up having to really search for the actual truth behind the headline numbers, and it's never been bad news.
(Why, why, why? Just tell us all of the bloody facts, we can work it out anyway. It actually occurred to me in the shower earlier that a movie plot reason for this bizarre, inconsistent and confusing communication would be to make people a bit iffy about the Oxford vaccine. If no-one else wants it, we can vaccinate everyone. Job done.)

The big wheel keeps on turning. There's been another large earthquake out at sea near Japan (fortunately not causing a tsunami), Iceland has a fantastic volcanic eruption at uninhabited Fagradalsfjal (for the first time in 6,000 years), and Australia's population is not so fortunate. They are having problems with vaccination plans because of the worst flooding in decades. Thousands of people from Sydney and New South Wales are currently evacuated. Over the last 24 hours around half the population have been on high alert. 

Data released by the NHS today shows that by giving the drug Dexamethasone to patients who require oxygen, the UK has saved around 22,000 lives. It's an incredibly cheap treatment, which is available everywhere, and so the even better news is that estimated use around the world has saved around 1 million lives. 

Photo of Rwandan Presient Akufo Addo with text We know how to rebuild the economy, what we do not know , is ho to bring people back to life

It is exactly 1 year since the UK first went into lockdown. Remember how weird that felt? And how scary? It's easy to look back and say it should have been longer, harder, more decisive, but it was completely alien to us, and only a handful of world leaders bet on the right track to win that one. We have learned a lot, and we have paid a very high price along the way.

Today, the Marie Curie end of life charity have led a #DayOfReflection. A minute's silence was held at noon, and they ask that we light a candle or shine a torch on our doorstep at 8pm, to remember all of those we have lost, and show that we are there to offer support to those left behind.

I am truly sorry to all of you who have lost someone to COVID.

Some numbers. All were once their parents' most precious treasure:

Some numbers. All were once their parents' most precious treasure:

ONS, England & Wales, December 2019 until 12th March 2021
73,712 Men (including 64,105 aged 65+)
62,096 Women (including 56,586 aged 65+)
13 Children Aged 0-14
135,808 People in England and Wales

230 Frontline NHS healthcare workers (at 2nd Feb 2021)
147,179 People in the UK

1 in every 463 of us.
.
.
.
Sources:

https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/get-involved/day-of-reflection

Draft legislation:
https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2021/364/pdfs/uksi_20210364_en.pdf

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsregisteredweeklyinenglandandwalesprovisional/weekending12march2021#deaths-registered-by-age-group

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsregisteredweeklyinenglandandwalesprovisional/weekending12march2021#deaths-registered-by-age-group

https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/deaths?areaType=nation&areaName=England

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/articles/coronaviruscovid19roundup/2020-03-26

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/causesofdeath/bulletins/coronaviruscovid19relateddeathsbyoccupationenglandandwales/deathsregisteredbetween9marchand28december2020#deaths-involving-covid-19-in-teaching-and-educational-professionals

Christina Pagel

https://twitter.com/chrischirp/status/1374092822350020617?s=19

https://news.sky.com/story/amp/covid-19-boris-johnson-warns-europes-third-wave-will-hit-uk-but-is-reassured-eu-doesnt-want-jabs-blockade-12253582

https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/uk-population/

https://twitter.com/JohnJMcGivern/status/1373995953162747909

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-21/eu-set-to-block-exports-of-astra-vaccine-and-ingredients-to-u-k

https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2021/03/22/astrazenecas-us-vaccine-trial-data

https://twitter.com/Dereklowe/status/1373999549493219333

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

"The biggest floods in decades are hurting Australia’s vaccine rollout" https://twitter.com/i/events/1373996898894381057?s=09

https://amp.smh.com.au/national/nsw/extremely-dangerous-flooding-disaster-up-and-down-the-nsw-coast-20210322-p57d24.html

https://www.astrazeneca.com/media-centre/press-releases/2021/astrazeneca-us-vaccine-trial-met-primary-endpoint.html

https://news.sky.com/story/amp/covid-19-boris-johnson-warns-europes-third-wave-will-hit-uk-but-is-reassured-eu-doesnt-want-jabs-blockade-12253582

https://twitter.com/kakape/status/1374285046673256448?s=19

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-23/astra-may-have-given-outdated-details-on-vaccine-says-u-s-body

https://www.itv.com/news/2021-02-02/covid-at-least-230-nhs-workers-have-died-during-the-pandemic-here-is-a-list-of-all-of-them

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

https://twitter.com/i/events/1373996898894381057

https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/1373262197988732929

https://twitter.com/5_News/status/1373966016737333255?s=19

https://www.england.nhs.uk/2021/03/covid-treatment-developed-in-the-nhs-saves-a-million-lives/

https://twitter.com/i/events/1373996898894381057

https://twitter.com/i/events/1373914221944041474

https://twitter.com/AdamWagner1/status/1374001660289282050?s=19


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