Tuesday 13 April 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 12th / 13th April 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 12th / 13th April 2021.

The UK added 2,472 cases today and has now reported a total of 4,375,814 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 874,399 tests yesterday.

The counter says 32,250,481 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 7,857,396 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

2,537 people were in hospital on Sunday 11th, with 377 using a ventilator yesterday, 12th April.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 23 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 127,123 losses of life in all settings.

Up until Friday 2nd April, the ONS report that 150,419 people had COVID listed as a cause on their death certificate.

Rep. Of Ireland 241,684 (+354) cases and 4,803 (+18) losses of life.

There have now been a total of 137,730,943 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,964,848. Already 110,767,414 people have recovered.

COVID vaccine doesn't break fast, contains no animal products image showing relevant Ramadan gold items on dark background

The UK government has confirmed that ALL over 50's have now been offered a vaccine, which means they met the 15th April target 3 days early.
Phase 2 begins. People in England aged 45-49 are now invited to book their vaccination.
The NHS website crashed within minutes of that announcement this morning, but was back up and running swiftly. My partner and I are both 49, so that's us. (I hope I get a sticker!)

There is an urgent message for anyone living in Lambeth or Wandsworth. Over 70 cases and suspected cases of the South African variant have recently been detected, which means it has escaped into general community. They are asking EVERYONE aged 11+ who lives, works, studies or travels in those areas to arrange a PCR test immediately, whether you have symptoms or not. Door-to-door testing will be taking place.
PCR tests are the ones sent to a lab - so they can check which variant any positive results are. All evidence so far suggests the South African variant B1351 is much more robust against current vaccines. We really don't want it spreading if we can help it. 

Potentially big news today which could even affect ALL of the Adenovirus vaccines - that is most of the vaccines in production and development, and includes AstraZeneca (Oxford), Johnson&Johnson (Janssen), China's CanSino, Russia's Sputnik V etc etc.
It seems beyond dispute the AZ /Oxford vaccine (known as Covishield in India and Vaxzevria in the EU) is causing rare blood clots - 'vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia' (VITT). I think we all get that now.
According to Science magazine:
"In Europe, at least 222 suspected cases have been reported among 34 million people who have received their first dose of the vaccine. More than 30 have died".
Australia has now reported 2 instances of VITT, after vaccinating around 700,000 people. The man and woman in their mid 40's are both thankfully said to be doing well after treatment.
Sadly it is becoming apparent that the Johnson&Johnson vaccine may also cause rare blood clots. The US FDA say:
"Today FDA and CDCgov issued a statement regarding the Johnson & Johnson COVID19 vaccine. We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution.
As of 4/12, 6.8m+ doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S. CDC & FDA are reviewing data involving 6 reported U.S. cases of a rare & severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the vaccine. Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare."
All cases were "women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination."
They will update the public on Wednesday after discussions and examination of all the data.
(It's possible that, as with the Oxford jab, it just appears to affect a certain population because they're the ones being vaccinated most, but it should of course be checked out.)
Partly as a result of the new data, the rollout of the Johnson&Johnson vaccine across Europe has been paused by Johnson & Johnson themselves - they want people to have confidence in their vaccine.
This is a temporary blow to vaccine supply and delivery around the world, and will undoubtedly have a knock on effect for everyone - whether they've ordered Johnson&Johnson, AstraZeneca or anything else.
The condition is exceedingly rare, and although frequency of blood clots overall doesn't show much of a difference, this specific vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) does NOT appear to be occurring with the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer/ Moderna).
With the AstraZeneca vaccines, data suggests VITT may occur in around 1 in every 150,000 - 350,000 first vaccinations, and around 1 in every 1 million people vaccinated do not survive. 

130421 over 45's can now book a jab

The UK's JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations) and MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency) held a joint press briefing today regarding the vaccine rollout in the UK, and the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.
Their advice remains the same - keep rolling out in lowering age groups.
"Mathematical modelling of vaccination strategies for phase 2 indicates that rapid vaccine deployment is the most important means to maximise public health benefits against severe outcomes from COVID-19."
They've looked at employment-based or risk-based vaccination priorities, and still believe it would just slow everything down overall. It's incredibly hard to organise.
They also commented on the blood clotting condition (VITT):
"JCVI has weighed the relative balance of benefits and risks, and advise that the benefits of prompt vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh the risk of adverse events for individuals aged 30 years and over or those at any age who have underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease."

Nicola Sturgeon has announced changes in Scotland from Friday 16th April people in Scotland can:
- travel anywhere in Scotland to meet outdoors with family and friends
- meet in groups of up to 6 adults from 6 households outdoors

The Moderna vaccine is being rolled out across the whole UK. The Government website was updated yesterday. With anticipated delays to the Oxford-AstraZeneca deliveries, due to the situations in Europe and India, and ongoing investigations into other vaccines, this delivery of our 2nd mRNA vaccine will be most welcome. 

Boris said this morning that the reduction in hospitalisation and deaths in the UK is majorly due to the lockdown and not the vaccinations, and he sees no reason to speed up reopening.
He's being slated for it by some press, but the science is definitely on his side. Without lockdown cases would have continued to rise, despite the vaccinations, and we would still have seen an increase in people in hospital, and more people would have died.
The people going out and mixing are in large part the ones who haven't yet been vaccinated. It's still very easy for us to get overly confident and overwhelm UK hospitals. Let's not. 

Free COVID tests for all in the UK

We have another therapeutic breakthrough today thanks to researchers in Oxford.
For almost a year we've wondered why Asthma patients were under-represented in hospital admissions, but if they are admitted, they tend to be more poorly. Various studies have suggested some asthma treatments may be helpful against COVID, but nothing has been definitive. A not-yet-peer-reviewed UK study has found that 2 puffs of cheap and cheerful budesonide, twice a day, could be of benefit to many over-50s with early symptoms, and could even reduce hospitalisations.
They gave the drug to around 750 COVID home-care patients who had just started to experience symptoms, and compared them to a group who were just taking paracetamol and rest. They found:
"Early treatment with inhaled budesonide shortens recovery time by a median of three days in patients with COVID-19 who are at higher risk of more severe illness and are treated in the community."
There's more:
 "32% of those taking inhaled budesonide, compared to 22% in the usual care group, recovered within the first 14 days since being randomised into the trial and subsequently have remained well until 28 days."
These are just interim findings, the trial hasn't quite finished yet, but I'd say they were pretty striking. There are early signs that it reduces hospitalisations, but they can't yet be certain on that one, or by how much. 

Good news about the Kent B117 variant today. Previous studies have given us the impression it is around 30-70% more deadly, based on small study data, but it's an incredibly hard thing to measure. Scientists in the UK studied 341 London hospital patients from December and found much more encouraging news:
36% with B117 (72 out of 198) became seriously ill, compared to 38% of patients with other variants, mostly original wild COVID.
16% with B117 succumbed, compared to 17% of patients with other variants.
Much more strikingly this shows just how good we are at treating COVID now, as a year ago the UK lost around 1 in every 3 hospitalised patients, but now it is less than 1 in every 6.
(If you can't get rid of COVID,  the next best thing is to make it as harmless as possible.)
Different countries have different criteria for hospitalisation, so direct comparison across countries is not very easy or accurate.

America is beginning a large scale study into Long COVID in children, and at least 5 hospitals now have Paediatric Long COVID Clinics. Children aren't as affected by COVID as adults in many ways, but they are by no means immune - and you don't have to seem very ill or hospitalised to be left with Long COVID. Symptoms can include joint pain, lingering tiredness and shortness of breath. 

WHO have warnings on complacency and lack of patience:
"Last week was the fourth-highest number of cases in a single week so far. Several countries in Asia and the Middle East have seen large increases in cases. This is despite the fact that more than 780 million doses of vaccine have now been administered globally.
Make no mistake; vaccines are a vital and powerful tool but they're not the only tool. We say this day after day, week after week and we will keep saying it; physical distancing works, masks work, hand hygiene works, ventilation works, surveillance, testing, contact tracing, isolation, supported quarantine and compassionate care; they all work to stop infections and save lives."
Dr Tedros, Head of WHO, went on to say:
"It takes a consistent, co-ordinated and comprehensive approach. So many countries around the world have shown that this virus can be stopped and contained with proven public health measures and strong systems that respond rapidly and consistently."
He reminded us that the World Health Organisation don't want lockdowns, they want us all to be like New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, and all of the other nations able to enjoy their lives relatively restriction and risk-free. 

130421 40m vaccinations UK

Officials in India say it's incredibly difficult (impossible) to ensure social distancing among the millions of people who have gathered by the Ganges for the Kumbh Mela. This is an event which only occurs every 12 years, and it's understandable that people don't want to miss it, but with cases in India really soaring, and the healthcare system barely keeping up, there are worries about what will happen next.
India has reported a truly astounding 483,290 new cases in the last 3 days.

Ramadan Mubarak and Happy Vaisakhi to everyone celebrating. Be sensible, care for those around you, be kind to yourself.

Some people. They look like numbers, but they are all people:

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

USA 32,013,126 (+22,983) 576,567 (+269)

India 13,852,712 (+166,639) 171,929 (+840)

Brazil 13,521,409 not yet reported today 355,031

France 5,067,216 not yet reported today 99,135

Russia 4,657,883 (+8,173) 103,601 (+338)

UK 4,375,814 (+2,472) 127,123 (+23)

Turkey 3,962,760 (+59,187) 34,455 (+273)

Italy 3,793,033 (+13,447) 115,088 (+476)

Spain 3,376,548 (+6,292) 76,625 (+100)

Germany 3,031,836 (+10,772) 79,408 (+298)

Poland 2,599,850 (+13,227) 59,126 (+644)

Mexico 2,281,840 (+1,627) 209,702 (+364)

Iran 2,118,212 (+24,760) 65,055 (+291)

Ukraine 1,872,785 (+11,680) 37,758 (+457) 



























vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT)

(press conference for Oxford-AstraZeneca)

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