Friday 16 April 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 16th April 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 16th April 2021.

The UK added 2,596 cases today and now has reported a total of 4,382,732 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 988,311 tests yesterday.

The counter says 32,574,221 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 8,931,547 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

2,281 people were in hospital on Wednesday 14th, with 329 using a ventilator yesterday, 15th April.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 34 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 127,225 losses of life in all settings.

The R range for England is 0.7 to 1.0 and the growth rate range for England is -6% to -1% per day as of 16 April 2021.(It's still going down on average.)

Rep. Of Ireland 242,402 cases and 4,820 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.)

There have now been a total of 140,216,387 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 3,005,636. Already 119,114,668 people have recovered.

Black official UK GOv notice Participate in the 1 minute silence 3pm Saturday 17th April

Lots of Government updates and actions have been held on pause while the UK is officially mourning. We've had no UK COVID briefings, and public appearances have mainly been in regard to statements about the death of Prince Philip. It turns out that potentially more urgent information isn't being updated too though, including alerts for pharmacists on medicine safety, and SAGE reports and COVID updates. Everything will be back to normal from Sunday, but questions are being asked as to whether it was really necessary or wise to go to some of the extremes, especially during a pandemic.

The CEO of Pfizer is quoted in The Hill, as saying it may be necessary for people to get a booster shot within 6-9 months of vaccination, and possibly annually thereafter.
None of that is really a surprise. We knew we'd have to keep adjusting vaccines to protect from variants (just as we do with the flu jab), so it's pretty much exactly what I think most of us were expecting. Mind you, at up to £35 a pop, Pfizer probably should forewarn people... 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was vaccinated this morning with the AstraZeneca vaccine. She is a scientist, and has access to all of the data - doubtless including plenty which we don't see. Hopefully that will give a lot of people some clear reassurance.
I'll miss her 'no-messing' approach when she steps down later this year. 

An update for pregnant people from the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation:
"The JCVI has advised that pregnant women should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the rest of the population, based on their age and clinical risk group."
"Real-world data from the United States shows that around 90,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated, mainly with mRNA vaccines including Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, without any safety concerns being raised.
Based on this data, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises that it’s preferable for pregnant women in the UK to be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines where available. There is no evidence to suggest that other vaccines are unsafe for pregnant women, but more research is needed."

A reminder not to travel to royal residences at this time

Latest UK surveillance shows we've now found 77 cases of a variant first spotted in India. It is concerning because B1617 has a couple of worrying looking mutations, E484Q and L452R. it's expected they will help it escape natural or vaccine-derived antibodies, and may make it more transmissible, as it has really rapidly grown since the end of January, and now accounts for 60% of the sequenced samples from Maharashtra. We really don't know anything for certain yet, but we do know we aren't keen on finding out the hard way.
India had a large amount of success controlling COVID last year, and suddenly they are really struggling, and hospitals are full. B1617 could be a real part of that problem.
That's a reminder that we aren't safe until we are all safe. 

The Guardian published an article last night suggesting the UK's rapid lateral flow tests will be scaled back because of false positive results, which was swiftly followed by Reuters reporting there are no current plans for that.
Each positive lateral flow test is checked with a PCR lab test, because we know around 1-3 in 1,000 give a false positive.
If your area has lots of COVID, as with much of the UK earlier this year, you might test 1,000 people and get 80 real positives and 3 false. If you have little to no COVID in your area, you can easily end up with more false positives than real ones.
As long as you are aware of the limitations then there isn't really a problem, but the maths is confusing some people and making them think lateral flow tests are useless. They aren't. They have a very useful role. Just know their limits.
It may be that they do get scaled back, especially in areas with very little COVID, or rules may change so that asymptomatic people who get a positive rapid test don't have to isolate while they wait for their PCR test results. For now though, everything remains the same. 

Vaccines shouldn't cost lives dermottdermottt on Twitter
@dermottdermottt on Twitter

Cambodia has placed the capital Phnom Penh and nearby region Takhmau under lockdown. Yet again we are seeing restrictions in a country which really seemed to have escaped the worst for almost a year. I'm devastated for them.
Infections suddenly started appearing at the beginning of February. By the end of Feb they were on 25-36 cases a day. By the end of March, it was 60-100. Yesterday they reported 344 new cases, and today 262. Fingers crossed for you guys. Their population is around 1/4 that of the UK, and their income 1/26th per person. 

China has been struggling to get people to come forward for vaccination as quickly as they'd like. The country has very little COVID, after visibly taking extremely strong measures to control outbreaks since January 2020. (We watched, we didn't learn.) The population feel pretty safe, and China started vaccinating before trials of their vaccines had finished, which understandably led to some mistrust. In fact the West still only has interim data on the Coronavac vaccine - and that suggests it's 50% effective. That's really useful in an emergency situation,  but Chinese people may feel no urgency.
The Associated Press is reporting that incentives are now being offered to encourage people to come forward, including store discounts and coupons, and in one health centre, everyone over age 60 can take home 2.5kg of eggs. That's about 45! Well, I'm sold...

Vaccines shouldn't cost lives WondowGazing on Twitter
@WindowGazing on Twitter

On Friday's the creative people on Twitter are invited to take part in a "one-minute-brief". A one minute challenge to produce a poster. Today's subject was in collaboration with Oxfam and People's Vaccine, asking for expensive patents to be dropped from COVID vaccines, in order to massively reduce the price, so that they can be made by generic companies around the world and are affordable to all.
This is an area where I'm incredibly proud to be from the UK, because Oxford AstraZeneca have done just that, and their vaccine is available to anyone worldwide at whatever it costs them to make it.
Vaccine prices vary depending on bulk purchase and deals between companies/nations, which again generally benefits the wealthy (the world costs more when you're poor). Very very roughly, per patient for a full vaccination of either 1 or 2 doses - and this doesn't include the cost of the dispensary/pharmacist/nurse:
Oxford-AstraZeneca = £4-£6 
Johnson&Johnson (single dose) = £10
Sanofi-Glaxosmithkline = £ 20
Russia's Sputnik V = promised to be no more than £15
Pfizer-BioNTech = £25-£35
Moderna = £26-£60
Curevac = £25
If your national income only averages around £1,000 a person for a whole year, every £1 counts. 

Vaccines shouldn't cost lives content_grinder on Twitter
@content_grinder on Twitter

New cases are continuing to increase around the world, as Europe continues it's wave (Turkey is having a nightmare), and cases continue to rise slowly in the USA, and much more rapidly in India. Brazil does seem to have plateaued thankfully, but the Middle East and Asia are also seeing a rise in cases, as are parts of Africa. It's not a great picture. 

"Although this is an extraordinarily difficult time for many, the public are being asked not to travel to or gather at Royal Residences."
The Royal Ceremonial Funeral of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh will be held on Saturday 17th April at 3pm in St. George’s Chapel, beginning with a national one minute silence. The entire service will be broadcast live by the BBC, ITV and Sky, starting at 2.30pm. 

Whatever you are doing this weekend, make sure you grab some of that free vitamin D the sunshine is offering us, and remember to treat yourself. It feels like we are climbing out of a hole right now, but we know we still have some bumps left on this road, so enjoy the respite - recharge your own batteries, and do something nice for yourself - you deserve it.

Back Sunday. Get outdoors, make some smiles, save the NHS.

Some numbers. All were their parent's most precious gift:

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

USA 32,240,108 (+15,969) 579,143 (+150)

India 14,496,601 (+208,861) 175,459 (+1,124)

Brazil 13,758,093 not yet reported today 365,954

France 5,187,879 not yet reported today 100,073

Russia 4,684,148 (+8,995) 104,795 (+397)

UK 4,383,572 (+2,596) 127,225 (+34)

Turkey 4,150,039 (+63,082) 35,320 (+289)

Italy 3,842,079 (+15,943) 116,366 (+429)

Spain 3,407,283 (+10,598) 76,981 (+99)

Germany 3,111,574 (+16,558) 80,328 (+187)

Poland 2,660,088 (+17,847) 61,208 (+595)

Mexico 2,295,435 (+4,189) 211,213 (+401)

Iran 2,194,133 (+25,261) 66,008 (+328)

Ukraine 1,921,244 (+17,479) 39,096 (+438) 





India Double mutated variant -

Images - all retweeted by Oxfam and taken as an endorsement. If I have used your image and you don't want me to, please just let me know - and accept my sincere apology.

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