Sunday, 25 April 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Weekend Update 24th / 25th April 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Weekend Update 24th / 25th April 2021.

The UK added 1,712 cases today and now has reported a total of 4,404,882 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 1,111,876 tests yesterday. 

The counter says 33,666,638 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 12,587,116 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 11 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 127,428 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 246,204 (+461) cases and 4,872 (+5) losses of life.

There have now been a total of 147,604,837 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 3,118,971. Already 125,145,819 people have recovered.

UK vaccinations save lives image of smiling children

"We stand side by side with India in the shared fight against COVID-19. Vital medical equipment is on its way from the UK to India to help stop the tragic loss of life from the virus and we’ll continue to work closely with the Indian government during this difficult time."
Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister.

The UK has now vaccinated over 50% of the entire population with at least 1 dose of a COVID vaccine. 

'In a new national study of pregnant people who received the Pfizer or Moderna COVID19 vaccines, (the) CDC "found no evidence of safety concerns for pregnant people vaccinated in the 3rd trimester or for their babies. While follow up data is needed, these findings are reassuring."'
Dr. Vivek Murthy, 21st U.S. Surgeon General

The US CDC have advised that use of the Johnson&Johnson vaccination should be resumed - with no special restrictions on who should have it. 

250421 UK Covid vaccinations to date

India have asked the USA to lift a ban on exports of vaccine-making materials, and they have refused. The USA have their own problems with COVID right now and so far have refused, as they feel they need the materials for domestic vaccine production.
They have however said they are sending aid urgently.

The USA have 30m doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that haven't been used because they haven't yet been authorised in the USA. They only have a few month's shelf life and there are requests for Joe Biden to send them to India, Brazil and other struggling nations.

The UK's MHRA latest figures (to 14th April) have reported 168 cases of the rare blood clotting (VITT).
93 are women, and 75 men.
Just under 1 in every 5 lost their life - 19% (32 people).
(Initial figures were around 1 in 3 died, so this is hopefully indicative that we know how to treat this and are watching for it now.)
1 of the cases was after the 2nd vaccine dose. 1 isn't a pattern or proof of anything very much, so it's something to continue to keep an eye on, but possibly just a very unfortunate coincidence.

240421 Serum Institute India vaccine price list

It seems impossible, but each hour you look, India is in a worse and worse position.
Hospital car parks are full of dying patients and their families, desperate for help. There is no help. Hospitals are over capacity and desperately short of oxygen already, if they still have any.
Special trains and military planes are being used to bring in Oxygen to overwhelmed areas, including from overseas in Singapore.
The Indian government have paused import taxes and duties on oxygen and oxygen related equipment for 3 months.
The Indian High Court on Saturday imposed a death penalty on anyone found to be restricting oxygen supplies.
UK lockdown seems so easy right now.

India are reporting day on day record numbers of new cases, and we know this isn't the full story, but even official figures are startling. Times of India report that in Kolkata:
"Of the 25,766 samples tested in the state on April 1, only 1,274 samples were positive, a positivity of 4.9%. On Saturday, 55,060 samples were tested across the state and 25.9% samples or 14,281 persons were positive."
Estimates suggest cremations of COVID victims in India are now 10 to 24 times higher than official death figures in many areas. Indian mathematician and Journalist Murad Banaji is one of those keeping track of the numbers and posting them as updates:
UP (city in Kanpur): "476 funerals in one day (April 22, 2021). The normal number is 90 to 100. Yet there were only 3 COVID-19 deaths in the city on that day according to government figures."
"Nearly 1,000 bodies have been disposed of with COVID19 protocols in April so far in Bhopal. Yet, MP Govt data says less than 50 people have died in the period."
There are hundreds of these updates, all just as grim...

The heartbreaking pleas for help and the video footage come from private hospitals and Indian people with access to the Internet. The situation for the poorest people and those living in rural areas is far more bleak.

Much as I'd love to hide my head and pretend India isn't happening, there is a huge question mark over why? We don't yet know if their variant is more or less transmissible/deadly. It is mostly speculation and comment right now, including this one from Indian hospital Doctor Harjit Singh Bhatti, who was interviewed by ITV on Saturday:
"We were seeing the patients last year also, but that time very few patients required oxygen and very few will need a critical care, intensive care unit.
But this time we are seeing that most of the patients are requiring oxygen and that oxygen is high, high flow of oxygen they are requiring."
"This time we are seeing that even the young patients the adults in their forties, fifties, even they are becoming so sick that they need intensive care and they need ventilation through non-invasive or by intubation."
Is the Indian variant more deadly? Are a larger percentage of younger patients becoming seriously ill? That could be the case, but in a disaster situation, it can be easy to overlook some of the obvious.
It could be that the sheer volume of patients means that there are correspondingly higher numbers of younger patients seriously ill.
It could be that older and more infirm patients are not making it to the hospital, being turned away more often, or simply deciding not to go.
Younger patients tend to survive longer. A 2 or 3 day search for a bed will be too long for many more fragile patients.
It needs a close eye until we know. And a huge amount of good fortune or divine intervention. Please. 

It isn't all bad news. There is very good news from India in the form of a not-yet-peer-reviewed preliminary study from the director of the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad, Rakesh Mishtra.
Plasma from people who have had the Covishield vaccine (AstraZeneca), AND convalescent plasma from recovered patients, both seem effective at neutralising the B1617 Indian variant. Thank heavens for that. Vaccines and antibodies should be able to protect most of us, which in turn means everyone. 

2nd dose gives longer lasting protection book yours

Meanwhile in the UK, there was a massive anti-lockdown protest in London yesterday, attended by thousands of people.
I'm struggling not to wish COVID on everyone at those protests. Look at India you utter buffoons. You are literally protesting that you should be allowed to have that too.

Neighbouring Iran has suspended all flights to and from India and Pakistan, over the sheer scale of the problem, and worries about the potential of the Indian variant.

Conservative party "look at this instead" scandal of the day appears to be that Susan Michie, one of the top UK government SAGE scientific advisors is a Communist. Shocker. (Even more worrying, some of them are Tories.)
SAGE members don't get to give advice on their own, nor do they have any power over what the government actually choose to do. They are independent advisors who are there because they are excellent scientists. If they were all Matt Hancock's bezzies we'd have a problem!

A man in Majorca, Spain, has been arrested on a charge of assault after infecting 22 people with COVID. Apparently he had symptoms at work and thought it was amusing to pull down his mask and tell people he was infecting them. He refused to go home, eventually agreed to a COVID test, but went to the gym and back to work before he got his positive result.
Luckily for all involved, no-one became seriously ill, or the charge would have been far greater.

The Spanish guy has it very easy compared to people who defy regulations in Cambodia. Break lockdown restrictions there and potentially face a public caning. 

The UK has been studying the wastewater in Bristol and creating a whole new stool chart. They are actually looking for COVID, and COVID variants. The trial has been deemed a success, and has already rolled out to more areas - especially those where variants of concern are being tracked. The percentage of different variants in the poop doesn't lie. 

Hungary has relaxed restrictions. They have lost the highest number of losses of life per 100,000 population in the world, and I truly wish them well, but they aren't taking it very slowly - a surprise when they've already suffered so much. Fingers crossed they aren't moving too quickly. 

I hope you've had a good weekend. Just enough time left to spoil yourself if you haven't already. I imagine there'll be a UK briefing tomorrow - if not , back Tuesday! 

Some people. They look like numbers here, but not when you know them: 

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

USA 32,796,297 (+6,644) 585,925 (+45)

India 17,285,627 (+333,858) 194,797 (+2,487)

Brazil 14,308,215 not reported today 389,609 (yesterday +70,105 / +2,986)

France 5,473,579 not reported today 102,713 (yesterday +32,633 / +217)

Russia 4,762,569 (+8,780) 108,232 (+332)

Turkey 4,629,969 (+38,553) 38,358 (+347)

UK 4,404,882 (+1,712) 127,428 (+11)

Italy 3,962,674 (+13,158) 119,238 (+217)

Spain 3,468,617 don't report at weekends 77,591

Germany 3,289,321 (+3,134) 82,213 (+19) 

Argentina 2,845,872 (not reported today) 61,474 (yesterday +21,220 / +298)

Poland 2,758,856 (+7,219) 65,415 (+193)

Colombia 2,757,274 not reported today) 70,886 (yesterday +16,730 / +440)

Iran 2,396,204 (+19,165) 69,574 (+454)

Mexico 2,326,738 (+3,308) 214,853 (+349)

Ukraine 2,025,271 (+7,930) 42,323 (+231) 

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Sources:

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

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

https://m.timesofindia.com/city/kolkata/every-second-person-getting-tested-in-kolkata-is-positive/amp_articleshow/82236519.cms

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-56874018

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/979864/S1193_Wastewater_Monitoring_of_SARS-CoV-2_Variants_in_England_Demonstration_Case_Study_for_Bristol__Dec_2020-March_2021_.pdf

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/budapest-residents-drink-spritzer-by-danube-covid-rules-ease-2021-04-24/

https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/cambodia-police-defend-caning-lockdown-offenders-breaching-covid-19-rules-2021-04-21/

https://twitter.com/MarkHiggie1/status/1386222350727790592?s=19

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/24/iran-halts-flights-with-india-and-pakistan-due-to-covid-19

https://twitter.com/sudhirchaudhary/status/1384785775741440000?s=19

https://twitter.com/3RakeshMishra/status/1385245798544207875?s=19

https://www.itv.com/news/2021-04-23/covid-patients-dying-on-the-roads-outside-hospitals-in-india-due-to-lack-of-oxygen-and-beds-doctor-says

https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/1385949510749274113?s=19

https://reut.rs/3dLv83f

"Indian doctors beg for oxygen as hospitals struggle buckle under COVID" https://twitter.com/i/events/1385661442410561540?s=09

Thread with links India

https://twitter.com/DrEricDing/status/1385116938255454211?s=19

https://t.co/ZsjCpl1TZq

https://twitter.com/muradbanaji/status/1386030978615988227?s=19

https://twitter.com/deepakpatel_91/status/1385459668818927620?s=19

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rakesh_Mishra

https://www.pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetailm.aspx?PRID=1713751

https://m.timesofindia.com/city/kolkata/every-second-person-getting-tested-in-kolkata-is-positive/amp_articleshow/82236519.cms

https://twitter.com/i/events/1385653411886944260?s=09

https://twitter.com/BorisJohnson/status/1386340882086047753

https://twitter.com/bhwords/status/1385202175111057408/photo/1

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2104983

https://twitter.com/Surgeon_General/status/1385264382490423302?s=19

https://twitter.com/bhwords/status/1385202175111057408?s=19

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/us-panel-recommends-lifting-pause-jjs-covid-19-vaccine-2021-04-23/

https://twitter.com/Surgeon_General/status/1385264381026521094

https://www.reuters.com/world/india/us-deploy-support-india-govt-healthcare-workers-2021-04-25/

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.04.23.441101v1.full.pdf




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