Thursday, 15 April 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 14th / 15th April 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 14th / 15th April 2021.

The UK added 2,672 cases today and now has reported a total of 4,380,976 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 1,162,840 tests yesterday.

The counter says 32,444,439 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 8,513,864 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

2,393 people were in hospital on Tuesday 13th April, with 351 using a ventilator yesterday, 14th April.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 30 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 127,191 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 242,105 cases and 4,812 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.)

There have now been a total of 139,377,426 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 2,992,053. Already 118,500,382 people have recovered.

uk nhs image of line drawing pill bottles and text covid vaccine will potentially save thousands of lives#

As no-one worldwide seems to call the rare blood clotting exactly the same name, I've referred to it mainly as "rare blood clotting", but it also goes by VITT, Cerebral Venous Thrombosis, CVT, CVST, and other names. They'll decide on a standard name eventually.

Northern Ireland have JUST confirmed relaxation of some restrictions from 23rd April. I've not written them up, but there is a summary in the images below! 


Remaining UK Uni students can return to campus and resume in-person learning on 17th May. The NUS response begins:
“We are pleased that the government has finally remembered that students exist and started to fill the information vacuum of its own making. Our priority has always been that students and staff go back to a safe campus, and this be led by scientific advice, but the silence has been galling."
10/10 for sarcasm. It is incredibly late in the year, and those students will need time to settle, so it's not really going to be the most productive term... 

Health Canada have concluded that blood clots may be linked to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in extremely rare cases, but the benefits still far outweigh the risks in all age groups. They can't see that any specific demographic is more or less likely to be affected.
Their National Advisory Committee on Immunization will continue to review evidence, and may in future make a decision that the vaccine is best reserved for specific age groups, e.g. people over the age of 55. 

Northern Ireland table showing relaxation of restrictions from 23rd April

Denmark meanwhile, have become the first country to permanently suspend use of the Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine. The Director General of the Danish Health Authority, Søren Brostrøm, was very honest:
"If Denmark were in a completely different situation and in the midst of a violent third outbreak, for example, then I would not hesitate to use the vaccine."

Researchers from the UK are pointing out that you have a much greater chance of developing the rare form of blood clotting if you catch COVID, than you do from any COVID vaccination. It's (almost) official now, because there's a (not-yet-peer-reviewed) study.
They studied the anonymous health records of 81m Americans, including over 500,000 COVID-19 patients and 480,000 people who received an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer / Moderna), and looked at the 2 week period after COVID diagnosis or vaccination. Their conclusions are that the rare type of blood clotting (Cerebral Venous Thrombosis) occurs in:
- 39 in a million COVID patients.
- 0 in a million flu patients
- 4 in a million people who received an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer / Moderna).
- The European Medicines Agency (EMA) have concluded that the rare blood clotting occurs in 5 in a million people who received the Oxford  / AstraZeneca vaccine.
Caveats:
- this study wasn't trying to discover if risk was different with different types of vaccines - the numbers are far too small to make any clear statements. However it does support the original comments a couple of months ago, saying that risk of blood clotting was very similar whichever vaccine you had.
-  Note this is comparing risk of developing the blood clotting condition, not dying from it.
- Numbers change, and results may change. If you are dealing with very small figures, every person can make a difference.
-The researchers add that it is still unclear whether "COVID-19 and vaccines lead to CVT by the same or different mechanisms."

One of the big red flags with the rare blood clotting is that a usual treatment for these type of symptoms, Heparin, makes it substantially worse. Now that medics are aware, hopefully less people will succumb.
Symptoms the patient should watch for can include severe headache which continues over days, blurred vision, slurred speech, numbness in limbs, confusion, pain in the chest or lungs. Always get medical advice if you are concerned - and it doesn't matter whether you've had any vaccine, COVID itself, or neither. 

Do not socialise indoors Scot Gov text and Scottish flag

A not-yet-peer-reviewed study commissioned by Swim England, Water Babies and the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) has found that the Chlorine in properly maintained swimming pool water can neutralise COVID in as little as 30 seconds. Professor Wendy Barclay of Imperial College:
“That, coupled with the huge dilution factor of virus that might find its way into a swimming pool from an infected person, suggests the chance of contracting Covid-19 from swimming pool water is negligible.”
This IS why pool water has Chlorine (plus the whole wee thing). No guarantees ever, and you still have to deal with the changing rooms, but pool swimming itself appears to be one of the lowest risk activities out there.
UK pools are now open - ring and book, as numbers will be limited. 

The UK Department for Health and Social Care want your opinion on whether vaccination should be mandatory for people who work in older adult care homes. Google "consultation vaccination care home" and you should find it, or the link will be on my blog at the bottom of today's post (it's the same as this, but with the source links added). 

India really is having a disaster. They reported over 200,000 new cases yesterday, and hospitals are reported to be really struggling. The government have released a statement saying oxygen supply is still sufficient.
It's heartbreaking for a country who seemed to really cope so well until now, and only a month ago were giving away vaccines as much as possible to their poorer neighbours. Now they are the ones needing the help. 

The EU have decided not to renew contracts with AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson,  they will concentrate on the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. They did have orders for hundreds of millions of doses.
It does worry me for places like Poland, Czech Republic or Hungary, which are struggling at the moment. Any delay vaccinating really is madness.
Of course it doesn't mean vaccinations won't take place, and it will probably be great news for the world Health Organisation's COVAX initiative. 

The USA can't decide what to do about the Johnson&Johnson vaccine, which has caused the rare blood clotting (VITT) in 6 known people after 7.5m vaccinations. They have voted to continue the pause for another week while they assess further.
1 of the patients has died, 3 remain in hospital and 2 have recovered. By those figures, the risk of dying is 1-4 in 7.5m.
If the USA vaccinated every single person with J&J, and 2 in every million died, they'd lose 662 human beings, and that would be absolutely tragic (if 1 in every 7.5m were lost, it would be 44), but yesterday alone, the USA reported the loss of another 915 people to COVID. 

Mumsnet vaccines have no effect on fertility

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:
"I think it's really important that we work from facts and understanding of the science around things.
We know for example that the UK is ahead of just about everybody else on vaccinations, and yet they maintain very strong restrictions, and are facing a very serious third wave. Vaccinations on their own are not enough to keep us safe."
That's your weekly reminder that the UK government scientific modelling predicts another wave at the end of May/early June. They expect it, they know loosening restrictions will lead to more hospitalisations. Worst case scenario another 50,000 losses of life before this is all over. Best case scenario, that doesn't happen. 

Olympic Hopefuls:
The Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee still maintain the rearranged 2020 Olympic Games WILL take place, however yesterday a senior Government official made clear that they won't go ahead if it seems impossible (which seems wise).
Japan is currently not doing so well with COVID. They have vaccinated less than 1% of their population, and are going through a rising 3rd wave of infection, with around 3,500 new cases a day.

New Zealand have published shiny graphs to show vaccination rollout and projected rollout, but nothing seems to match up, including the number of people vaccinated. They have so far actually vaccinated 136,000 people, far behind the projected numbers. When asked by the opposition to give the figures behind the charts, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said it is "intended to be illustrative and approximate".
Ah... did you make it up Chris?
New Zealand really do have the luxury of time. 

Age UK are concerned that people may have problems accessing our reopened hospitality and leisure if they aren't computer literate, or don't have a smartphone. 70% of people aged over 70 don't have a smartphone.
Although some businesses have decided to make apps. mandatory, (and that is their right), the law says you are allowed to just write your details on paper, and obviously you can order food and drink by speaking in words. You may have more luck with a local independent than a chain, but you should still be able to get a pint... ring ahead... 

Sorry I wasn't able to reply to comments on Tuesday. Sometimes my kids need me, sometimes I still have to make the tea, and on Tuesday I got no choice because Facebook logged me out and wouldn't let me log back in.... that was a bit scary I can tell you...

Some numbers. Every one used to think that monsters hid under their bed:

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

USA 32,168,325 (+18,665) 578,285 (+187) 

India 14,268,963 (+198,073) 174,172 (+1,020)

Brazil 13,677,564 not yet reported today 362,180

France 5,149,834 not yet reported today 99,777

Russia 4,675,153 (+8,944) 104,398 (+398)

UK 4,380,976 (+2,672) 127,191 (+30)

Turkey 4,086,957 (+61,400) 35,031 (+297)

Italy 3,826,156 (+16,974) 115,937 (+380)

Spain 3,396,685 (+9,663) 76,882 (+126)

Germany 3,089,595 (+25,213) 80,081 (+268)

Poland 2,642,242 (+21,130) 60,612 (+682)

Argentina 2,604,157 not yet reported today 58,542

Colombia 2,585,801 not yet reported today 66,819

Mexico 2,291,246 (+5,113) 210,812 (+518)

Iran 2,168,872 (+25,078) 65,680 (+321)

Ukraine 1,903,765 (+16,427) 38,658 (+433) 

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Sources:

Consultation older people's care homes:
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/making-vaccination-a-condition-of-deployment-in-older-adult-care-homes

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

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

https://wintoncentre.maths.cam.ac.uk/news/communicating-potential-benefits-and-harms-astra-zeneca-covid-19-vaccine/

https://twitter.com/i/events/1382609567041789954

https://twitter.com/i/events/1382296607975120898

https://www.swimming.org/swimengland/swimming-pool-water-inactivates-covid19-virus/#

https://osf.io/a9jdq/ - Blood clotting paper pre-print 

https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2021-04-15-risk-rare-blood-clotting-higher-covid-19-vaccines

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-vaccine-blood-clots-study-pfizer-astrazeneca-moderna-oxford/

https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-data-and-statistics/covid-19-vaccine-data

https://www.newsroom.co.nz/vaccine-rollout-were-making-it-up-on-the-fly

https://twitter.com/apexworldnews/status/1382251081586065411

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/15/cancelling-tokyo-olympics-remains-an-option-top-japanese-politician-2020

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-johnson-johnson-cd/jj-covid-19-vaccine-in-limbo-as-u-s-panel-delays-vote-on-resuming-shots-idUSKBN2C11LC

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1422869/eu-astrazeneca-vaccine-johnson-and-johnson-european-union-covid19-vaccine-rollout-news

https://twitter.com/i/events/1382312047463989252

https://twitter.com/i/events/1382361372420239360

https://news.sky.com/story/risk-of-blood-clot-after-covid-is-eight-times-higher-than-after-astrazeneca-jab-study-12276088




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