Friday 23 April 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 23rd April 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 23rd April 2021.

The UK added 2,678 cases today and now has reported a total of 4,401,109 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 1,111,876 tests yesterday.

The counter says 33,388,637 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 11,623,671 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 40 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 127,385 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 245,310 cases and 4,866 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.)

There have now been a total of 145,866,982 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 3,091,795. Already 123,749,976 people have recovered.

230421 indieSAGE global cases chart. Shows peak falling to very low levels, followed by another peak which is about to surpass the first

Today's surge testing bingo winners are in a targeted area of Bordesley and Highgate, Birmingham, because of South African variant cases.

The UK Government data shows 32 people have died from the rare blood clotting condition in the UK - this works out at 1 in every million people vaccinated. Every single one is a tragedy for their families, and it is awful any of them were lost.
Hopefully now we are aware of the blood clotting condition, and can share best treatments, it will become far less likely people will lose their lives to it.
The UK has saved 100,000 - 150,000 lives by vaccinating so far.
Each and every number is a person. 

Wales are so pleased with the way it's going, they've decided to move to the next stage of reopening earlier than anticipated:
From 24 April
6 people from 6 households will be able to meet outdoors (not including children under 11 years of age or carers from those households).
From 26 April
Outdoor hospitality can open.
If public health conditions permit, the following relaxations can go ahead:
- organised outdoor activities will be permitted for up to 30 people
- outdoor wedding receptions will be permitted for up to 30 people
- outdoor visitor attractions can open

India, India, India. You are breaking our hearts. Last night hospitals reached desperation point, with several in Delhi and elsewhere getting to within 2 hours of running out of oxygen, or actually running out. In at least one hospital staff had no choice but to switch to manually ventilating patients while they waited for supplies. Frantic and heartbreaking messages on Twitter from staff, relatives and patients begged for everyone to allow tankers to travel swiftly through checkpoints and traffic.
Today the picture is no better, with many hospitals overflowing and unable to accept more patients. Oxygen supplies in India can in theory meet the increased demand, but the logistics has to be in place to organise it, and it seems an impossible job right now.
Unlike other countries when at their worst, India is allowing press to film, and the public are big users of social media. The footage of people outside hospitals, attempting to find help for their relatives. Well...
THIS is why the any Government should pull back fast before it gets too risky. Exponential growth (where 1 person infects 2 or more, and they each infect 2 or more, and they each infect 2 or more etc etc) explodes rapidly. All those empty Nightingale Hospitals were truly a beautiful thing.

230421 indieSAGE cases in selection of countries

Sarah Walker of Oxford Uni (lead on the ONS Covid infection survey) has been quoted in the press as saying Britain is no longer in a pandemic situation, and that COVID in the UK has become endemic, due to the success of the vaccines.
Obviously we are still actually in a pandemic, same as we are actually in Europe, but the situation as it stands is heading the right way towards "we can live with it", in the same way we 'live with' annual flu.
According to the ONS Infection Survey results published yesterday, vaccinations are cutting transmission by 65% after a single dose of either Oxford-AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, and 70% after a 2nd dose of Pfizer. We haven't yet given two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to enough people to accurately assess.
This is the same across age ranges and health conditions, but around 5% of people had a low response to vaccination, so we can't be entirely complacent.
Among people who had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, symptomatic infections were reduced by 90%.
Bearing in mind the UK is almost entirely the UK /Kent B117 variant that is causing worry around the world, this is even more excellent news. 

Latest UK surveillance found that prevalence (incidences of, frequency) of positive tests has also dropped substantially overall, and in almost all areas and groups:
The highest weighted prevalence of swab-positivity was found in those aged 5 to 12 years at 0.41%, compared with the lowest in those aged 65 to 74 and 75 and over at 0.09%.
As neither of those age groups are regularly tested as usual practice, that statistic alone really does prove the success of the vaccines, and give hope to the entire world. We are definitely not wasting our time.
ONS also note that although we are still losing more people aged over 75, as we have throughout the pandemic, the percentage of people over 75 who die from COVID is decreasing. (Losses of life are obviously also decreasing overall in all age groups.) 

indieSAGE cases in India variants tracked in a chart

Today's indieSAGE started by talking about India, and how quickly the situation there deteriorated. We don't yet know how responsible the B1617 variant is, but we need to watch it and treat it with caution. Restrictions are being lifted here, but we MUST NOT BECOME COMPLACENT.
They mention the global situation in India and South America (which has been nearing breaking point for a really long time). Watch and learn.
Dr Kit Yates did the UK numbers:
Vaccinations are going very well still, but we are still seeing inequalities between richer/poorer areas and people of different ethnicities, so we need to continue to address that. As we vaccinate younger age groups, those inequalities are getting bigger and bigger.
83% of over 80's have had their 2nd dose of vaccine.
Case numbers are still going down across the UK. Northern Ireland had a blip last week which has corrected itself.
Positivity rates are around 2.5% everywhere (countries and English regions) - half the 5% that the World Health Organisation say you must be below if you want to catch all cases. (Awesome.)
The case numbers in school children have levelled off, and didn't have as big an effect on older age groups as we'd feared (more awesomeness). Reopening schools seems to have really been a success. 

Professors Gabriel Scally and Stephen Reicher answered questions about travel Red Lists. They believe any 'traffic light' system should be scrapped. We should have countries with which we have free movement, and those we don't. Yes or no.
Other countries might not have availability of sequencing, and may have some stunning variants, but no-one knows about it. We need to pay attention to the fact people don't just travel direct and home again, and when they get to their destination, they may mix with people from all over the world. It really isn't so simple.
They also point out that despite numbers being quite high in many of the countries we have best relationships with (Europe, Canada), we haven't put them on the Red List. We're keeping travel open for our bezzies, which isn't actually best for public health. 

indieSAGE also looked at variants. They think it is likely that the Indian variant B1617 is probably more transmissible, and it seems plausible it could be better at evading natural immunity. Professor Christina Pagel:
"Delhi, which is kind of a major hotspot of COVID right now, in January over 50% of the population were estimated to have antibodies against COVID from previous infection, and so for it to take off in the way it has taken off in the last month, and it's only a matter of weeks that's it's got to this stage... It either implies that it's a lot more infectious, or that it can affect people who've had COVID... Or both, potentially. So that's the worry."
indieSAGE say that last year India had excellent public health measures, but in January they decided it was over, and removed networks for people isolating and other support measures. Complacency even saw leaders allow the Kumbh Mela to go ahead last week - millions of people travelled and then gathered on the banks of the Ganges River. 

230421 latest statistics England R Rate 0.8 - 1.0

Olympic Hopefuls:
Sad news for anyone who was getting their kit ready. Hold that thought.
Japan has declared a State Of Emergency over rising cases in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga apologised to everyone in today's press conference. Japan are currently reporting over 5,000 new cases a day, and restrictions will be in place from Sunday until May 11th.
Diving Australia have said they will not be sending a team to compete, as diving competition heats begin on May 1st, and they do not believe it will be safe. 

Northern Ireland on Monday started testing close contacts of people who have tested positive. For the last year all major advice has included testing close contacts, yet England and Wales still do not test people who have spent time with people who have tested positive. 

Researchers from the UK's Public Health England (PHE) Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards (CRCE) have been supporting the World Health Organisation with studying and public messaging of home UV-C disinfection products.
COVID is a disease caused by the SARSCoV2 virus. It can be destroyed by simple soap, as well as high temperatures and UV Light. Many manufacturers have cottoned on to this, and UV products to 'disinfect' in the home are coming on to the market - but are they any good? And are they safe?
Several products were submitted to CRCE from Trading Standards, and they also purchased 9 low-cost products. 48 devices were assessed in total: handheld wands (18), area exposure units (17), enclosures/bags (12) and one handheld vacuum cleaner.
"The initial results suggested two areas of concern: that the products may potentially not be effective for inactivating SARS-CoV-2 and/or they may present a risk to the eyes or the skin."
Shame.... but be warned - UV Light is not a toy, and it can be very harmful, causing not very fun things like severe burns, scars, skin cancer and blindness. It's early days yet, maybe best to wait a little longer if you were thinking of buying something - and always check out the company thoroughly before you do. They should have a background that suggests they know what they're doing with UV - and aren't just attempting to jump on a profitable 'easily-made plastics' market. 

The English Government have started publishing updates ahead of May 17th, so they're obviously happy with their latest data - and not just smiling on the outside. 

230421 ons figures deaths by age

We've had some fantastic (as in flipping unbelievable) myth debunking in the last few days. It's almost as if we're back to the days of injecting light. Here are just 3 of the things professionals have had to make clear this week:
- There is NO evidence to suggest COVID-19 vaccines can affect fertility. (As several people became pregnant during the trials, this hoax shouldn't even have made it out of the starting gate.)
- You can't experience side effects of any COVID-19 vaccine by being physically nearby to someone who has been vaccinated. (Lolz. If that was possible, then you'd probably be able to catch hayfever and asthma - thankfully not.)
- There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines affect menstrual cycles, but more research won't go amiss. Some people are reporting that their menstrual cycle seems messed up after their vaccination. Obviously it can change for all kinds of reasons, including long haul travel, age or stress, because you have a holiday/night out planned, or just because it feels like it (from my own experience).
It's going to be a very difficult thing to actually measure, and my personal guess is, around about 1/3 the menstruating women who know about this and are vaccinated, will think maybe they have been affected too.
- Excitingly two of those now combine into some sort of world-beating super myth. Drum roll... 
No, your menstrual cycle cannot be affected by being physically nearby someone who has been vaccinated.
(There's only one way I know of that someone can affect your menstrual cycle by being physically nearby. It doesn't matter whether they've been vaccinated, and they have to get really, really close.. )

Domestic Luxury Cruise News:
No earlier than 17 May domestic cruises will be permitted in England (under step 3 of the roadmap out of lockdown). They'll be limited to 50% passenger capacity with a 1,000 people maximum, and mixing indoors will be limited to 6 people or 2 households.
That Captain's table seat will be really exclusive now...  

It seems likely the EU will continue a general blanket travel ban over Summer, but may allow tourists from heavily vaccinated countries - which would include the UK.
It is expected the ban on you leaving the UK for leisure will be lifted on May 17th, so potentially you could be sunning yourself on a foreign beach this Summer. However, if you book a holiday abroad during a pandemic, the situation can change suddenly and unexpectedly:
- They might bar you entry
- You might be barred from leaving the UK
- You could find yourself having to quarantine - at either end
- Quarantine could be very expensive
- You could find yourself in an area with a lot more COVID than anticipated
- Your travel company could decide against and cancel
- Your travel company could go bust
- You could be exposed to COVID before your holiday and become unable to travel
- You could be exposed to COVID before your holiday and have to self-isolate while you are there
- You could be exposed to COVID on holiday, and end up having to stay longer than anticipated, in isolation
- You could be admitted to hospital abroad
- Lots and lots of other things
The UK Government is likely to give you permission to book a foreign holiday, but if you do it, you have to be prepared to smile and say "never mind" if it doesn't happen or it goes wrong. Know your risks and own them. 

Have an excellent weekend. The weather here is gorgeous, and I've promised the boys we'll sit round the firepit and have a late night. I hope you get chance to enjoy the outdoors and top up your vitamin D in the daytime too. Don't forget to treat yourself - something for you, not for anyone else. You made it through another week, and in the UK at least, it's all going the right way. It may be dragging for a long time, but it's calm.

Get Outdoors, Make Someone Smile, Save The NHS.

Some numbers. All floating on the same rock as you:

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

USA 32,680,397 (+11,276) 584,347 (+121)

India 16,555,849 (+298,540) 188,984 (+2,056)

Brazil 14,172,139 not yet reported today 383,757

France 5,408,606 not yet reported today 102,164

Russia 4,744,961 (+8,840) 107,501 (+398)

Turkey 4,501,382 not yet reported today 37,329

UK 4,401,109 (+2,678) 127,385 (+40)

Italy 3,935,703 (+14,761) 118,699 (+342)

Spain 3,468,617 (+11,731) 77,591 (+95)

Germany 3,249,663 (+11,609) 81,794 (+101)

Poland 2,742,122 (+10,858) 64,707 (+539) 

Iran 2,358,809 (+22,904) 68,746 (+380)

Mexico 2,319,519 (+3,708) 214,095 (+498)

Ukraine 2,004,630 (+14,277) 41,700 (+434) 

Indonesia 1,632,248 (+5,436) 44,346 (+174)

Netherlands 1,445,064 (+9,210) 17,016 (+14)

Canada 1,161,385 (+5,551) 23,871 (+49)




"India records world's highest one-day surge in cases"

Data supporting SAGE briefing 230421

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