Thursday, 1 April 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 31st March and 1st April 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 31st March and 1st April 2021.

The UK added 4,479 cases today and now has reported a total of 4,350,266 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 1,266,685 tests yesterday.

The counter says 31,147,444 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 4,513,458 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

3,957 people were in hospital on Tuesday 30th March, with 547 using a ventilator yesterday, 31st March.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 51 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 126,764 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 236,600 (+746) cases and 4,705 (+18) losses of life.

There have now been a total of 129,853,409 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,833,034. Already 104,659,703 people have recovered.

Easter holidays access a pharmacist by googling 'find a Pharmacist NHS'

No April Fools below - it's after lunchtime for goodness sake. Also I'm pretty certain Facebook wouldn't like it...

“Our position has not changed. According to the current scientific knowledge, there is no evidence that would support restricting the use of this vaccine in any population."
Director of the European Medicines Agency, Emer Cooke, talking about the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine yesterday.

“Much of the messaging around COVID-19 has been about the risk of death, and I think that’s created a perception that if you recover from infection, you’re fine.
We need to rethink this."
Dr Zoe Hyde, Epidemiologist and biostatistician


Wales is relaxing some restrictions, including:
From 12 April (If public health conditions permit), the following relaxations can go ahead:
- travel restrictions within the UK and Common Travel Area will be lifted
- full return to schools and further education settings
- university campus’ can open for blended face-to-face and online learning for all students
- all shops and close contact services can open
- wedding venues will be able to let prospective clients view their premises by appointment only
From April 26 (if the infection rate allows):
- Outdoor attractions and outdoor hospitality can re-open (including outdoor areas / beer gardens etc).

If you are IN NORTHERN IRELAND and are 45 or over, you can now book your COVID vaccination. Go... do it!

010421 31147000 people received a vaccination in the uk

The UK ONS have released the most extensive data on Long COVID yet, and it's not good news. They define Long COVID as: "Symptoms persisting more than four weeks after the first suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) episode that are not explained by something else".
- "Over the four-week period ending 6 March 2021, an estimated 1.1 million people in private households in the UK reported experiencing long COVID"
- "Self-reported long COVID symptoms were adversely affecting the day-to-day activities of 674,000 people in private households in the UK, with 196,000 of these individuals reporting that their ability to undertake their day-to-day activities had been limited a lot."
- "Of people with self-reported long COVID, 697,000 first had (or suspected they had) COVID-19 at least 12 weeks previously, and 70,000 first had (or suspected they had) COVID-19 at least one year previously."
- "Of study participants who tested positive for COVID-19, symptom prevalence at 12 weeks post-infection was higher for female participants (14.7%) than male participants (12.7%) and was highest among those aged 25 to 34 years (18.2%)."

An Australian study of HOSPITALISED patients (not yet peer-reviewed) found similarly concerning figures regarding long term effects, or 'Long COVID':
"In a cohort study of 478 patients who were evaluated 4 months after hospitalization for COVID-19, 51% reported at least 1 symptom that did not exist before the disease. The most common symptoms were fatigue, cognitive problems (mainly memory difficulties, mental slowness and concentration problems), and new-onset dyspnea (laboured breathing). Among patients who returned for further evaluation, CT scan frequently revealed lung persistent abnormalities (37 of 49 or 75.5% intubated individuals and 71 of 122 or 58.2% non-intubated), as well as lung fibrotic lesions in a minority of patients (33 of 171 or 19.3% of ICU patients examined)."
It has to be noted that although initial interviews were by telephone, any CT scanning was in hospital. People are generally more likely to take part in the 'in-hospital' evaluation if they have a grievance, and haven't just returned to work and want to forget it ever happened.

Long COVID has always concerned me. It's cavalier to gamble with the long term health of your population, and to assume that as long as they survive for 28 days after infection, it's all fine. It could turn out to be ridiculously costly in all ways. 

The current status of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine worldwide is a massively mixed picture.
- Some countries are still not using it on elderly people, after a lack of data in the original trial (only 1 person over 65 caught COVID). We now have clear evidence of effectiveness, so this is really out-of-date (pay attention Spain!)
- South Africa have decided it isn't effective enough against their dominant variant, and sold their allocation of vaccines to the AU (African Union - 55 member states, quite like the EU in Europe, but Africa).
- Germany, France, Canada and others have suspended use in people under age 55-60 because of the blood clotting debacle.
- Parts of Germany actually suspended use for women under 55 initially. As the blood clotting seems to have happened in this specific group, it seems most prudent while this is investigated further. However, this group are also the world's most vaccinated people (aside from the elderly). Women under 55 account for a huge percentage of health and social care workers. If we had vaccine priorities which accidentally included mainly men aged 18-38, would we have spotted patterns there instead? 

please book your vaccination Steve Powys says with image of him looking knowledgeable

The EMA (European Medicines Agency) held a special meeting yesterday to discuss the latest data on the AstraZeneca vaccine and the rare blood clotting events.
“For the AZ vaccine based on spontaneous reporting in the EEA (European Economic Area) it's 4.8 cases per million, for the Biontech vaccine, based on the same criteria it was 0.2 cases per million and for the Moderna vaccine, based on the same criteria, 0 cases per million”
Emer Cooke, Director of the European Medicines Agency.
They have recorded 62 cases of cerebral venous thrombosis worldwide, including 44 in the EEA, among 9.2m people vaccinated. Age adjusted figures suggest the risk to the under 60's is 1 per 100,000.

And in further developments,  Danish scientists have swiftly crunched the numbers regarding individual chance of developing this rare blood clotting disorder in the Danish population, to see how it compares to what we are seeing amongst AstraZeneca vaccinated people.
They worked out that in the population of 5m Europeans who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine up until March 10th:
"...this incidence would correspond to approximately 169 expected cases of venous thromboembolism per week, or 736 expected cases per month (if based on the incidence rate among the 18–99-year-old Danes). Similarly, if estimated based on the incidence rate among 18–64-year-old Danes, one would expect 91 cases of venous thromboembolism per week, or 398 cases per month."
"....these data suggest that the reported number of thromboembolic events among Europeans who have received the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (at least those reported as deriving from the venous system) does not seem to be increased relative to the expected number..."
Obviously this doesn't rule out a link, but it's yet more data to imply nothing unusual is happening. 

It's Pfizer / BioNTech's day today, and the first reason why is that researchers from University of Birmingham and Public Health England have found 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be 98% effective against the Brazilian Variant of COVID - in adults over 80. This is the one with the pesky E484K mutation which can escape natural antibodies, so this is truly excellent news.
They also found that people who had previously caught COVID reached their peak antibody response after just 1 dose of the vaccine. Now we just need to wait and see how long it lasts... 

Pfizer vaccine good news number 2 is that it "remains more than 91% effective against disease with any symptoms for six months".
12,000 trial participants have already been followed up for 6 months, and more will follow as time elapses, but this is a tiny drop in efficacy. Fabulous news.

Pfizer's 3rd good news is that their vaccine trial with young people aged 12-15 has had excellent results. Both efficacy and side effects are pretty much equal to those found with young people aged 18-25.
The trial enrolled 2,260 adolescents aged 12 to 15. There were 18 cases of COVID-19 in the placebo group, and none among those who received the vaccine - which is a 100% efficacy rate in preventing COVID.
A smaller group have received 2 doses, and antibody response when measured in a lab is again comparable to that in the 18-25 age group.
Job's a goodun. 

31st March 2021 Chart showing total COVID variants detected in the UK

It seems Hungary is having a massive disaster. Journalists have gone rogue, and are telling all, in an effort to alert Hungarians and the world as to the situation there. They currently have the worst COVID death toll in the world. They have around 1/7th the population of the UK, and are reporting over 300 losses of life a day. Rumours are that the situation is dire, with hospitals overrun, press barred from entry, and no-one being honest to the population about what is going on behind closed doors.
I've said it before - pretending it doesn't exist won't make it didn't happen. In good news they are leading the table in vaccinations in the EU - with 32% of adults vaccinated already. Fingers crossed guys. 

France is having a disaster, and despite attempts to avoid hard restrictions, they are desperately short on hospital beds and out of choices. CNN are reporting that as of Tuesday, more than 28,000 people were in hospital, including 5,072 in intensive care - the highest figure since April last year.
Last night Emmanuel Macron announced a 4 week lockdown and closure of inessential business for all of France.
The 7pm to 6am curfew remains, no-one can travel more than 10km from home without essential purpose, and in addition, all education will close for at least 3 weeks.

It's not just France, because really a lot of Europe is having a disaster. The B117 variant which first appeared in Kent is in some cases really appearing to catch people out, and cases are rising swiftly. There are several countries having a bad week, including France, Ukraine, Poland, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Chechia, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands. 

Johnson & Johnson had to throw out a batch of its key vaccine ingredient which didn't meet quality control standards. Hopefully it won't put them too far behind.
As Jon Van Tam said, it's like beer-making. Sometimes it just doesn't work... 

Smirk Hancock its on all of us

Serbia has so many Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccines with a short shelf life right now, that anyone can go to Belgrade, queue up and be vaccinated - says my partner's colleague in Belgrade. Apparently she was vaccinated alongside a Czech gentleman who had travelled especially.
It's not all good news - at times last Saturday, the queue was 7,000 people long, and I don't think they're doing stickers. 

Shielded people in England are now allowed out, and in some cases that means you have to go out, whether you like it or not. You should have been vaccinated wherever possible. Vaccination IS clearly working to greatly reduce serious illness, hospitalisation, death, and transmission.  For those of us who haven't been vaccinated, and those of you who can't be, this helps protect us. It isn't yet safe out there, but it is getting safer. 

Russia have registered the world's first COVID vaccine for animals. Trials show it produces antibodies in dogs, cats, foxes and mink, and mass production could begin next month.

Tomorrow is Good Friday, which will likely be a slow news day COVID-wise for much of the world, so I am planning to take 2 whole consecutive days off, and will be back Sunday. (Obviously there will now be massive news and a UK briefing,)
I'll barely know what to do with myself, but, it will definitely involve time for ME. Remember to spoil yourself too - you made it through another week, and we all ended it better informed than when we started.

It's still going the right way, and we have better vaccination protection with every hour that goes by. We WILL get there.

Meet People Outdoors, Keep 2m Apart, Save The NHS.

Some numbers. All would appreciate the joy of finding a carefully hidden egg:

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

USA 31,175,882 (+9,538) 565,331 (+75)

Brazil 12,753,258 not yet reported today 321,886

India 12,299,987 (+79,318) 163,421 (+461)

France 4,644,423 not yet reported today 95,640

Russia 4,554,264 (+9,169) 99,233 (+383) 

UK 4,350,266 (+4,478) 126,764 (+51) 

Italy 3,607,083 (+23,649) 109,847 (+501)

Turkey 3,357,988 (+40,806) 31,713 (+176)

Spain 3,284,353 not yet reported today 75,459

Germany 2,840,489 (+10,154) 77,139 (+100)

Colombia 2,406,377 not yet reported today 63,422

Poland 2,356,970 (+35,251) 53,665 (+621)

Argentina 2,348,821 not yet reported today 55,858

Mexico 2,238,887 (+5,977) 203,210 (+577)

Iran 1,897,314 (+11,750) 62,759 (+94)

Ukraine 1,691,737 (+17,569) 33,246 (+421)

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Sources:

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

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

(Huge thanks to Kai Kupferschmit for his translating / reporting on this.)

https://twitter.com/kakape/status/1377268296739913728?s=19

https://www.independent.ie/news/no-evidence-to-support-restricting-use-of-astrazeneca-vaccine-says-european-medicines-agency-boss-emer-cooke-40261746.html

https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2021-03-21-its-official-sa-has-sold-its-batch-of-astrazeneca-vaccines-to-the-au-mkhize/

https://www.euronews.com/2021/03/31/partial-lockdown-to-be-extended-across-the-whole-of-france

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/31/europe/france-macron-lockdown-coronavirus-intl/index.html

https://twitter.com/i/events/1377338280400678917

Danish Study Blood Clotting Chance

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)00762-5/fulltext

https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/after-canada-germany-halts-astrazeneca-coronavirus-vaccine-for-under-60s-over-clot-risks-2402709

https://twitter.com/i/events/1377567075040825345

https://twitter.com/AFP/status/1377430683048497154

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/prevalenceofongoingsymptomsfollowingcoronaviruscovid19infectionintheuk/1april2021

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/politics/wales-covid-restrictions-rules-pubs-20298453

https://gov.wales/coronavirus

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2777787

https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/clinical/long-covid-may-occur-in-more-than-half-of-all-case

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-pfizer/pfizer-covid-19-vaccine-safe-effective-on-adolescents-in-trial-companies-say-idUSKBN2BN1IA

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/pfizer-vaccine-produces-off-scale-20303542

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/04/01/health/pfizer-covid-vaccine-efficacy-six-months-bn/index.html

https://www.pfizer.com/news/press-release/press-release-detail/pfizer-and-biontech-confirm-high-efficacy-and-no-serious

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210401005365/en/

https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/news/northern-ireland-vaccination-programme-expanded-45-49-age-group

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-hungary-media/hungarian-journalists-say-state-conceals-impact-of-worlds-deadliest-covid-19-outbreak-idUSKBN2BN0XI

https://www.voanews.com/covid-19-pandemic/falling-flies-hungarys-roma-community-pleads-covid-19-help

https://www.euronews.com/2021/03/31/despite-vaccination-success-hungary-sets-daily-record-covid-deaths

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/johnson-johnson-confirms-one-vaccine-batch-was-discarded-over-production-n1262696





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