Friday 30 April 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 30th April 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 30th April 2021.

The UK added 2,381 cases today and now has reported a total of 4,416,623 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 1,072,576 tests yesterday.

The counter says 34,216,087 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 14,532,875 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

1,497 people were in hospital on Wednesday 28th, with 196 using a ventilator yesterday, 29th April.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 15 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 127,517 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 248,326 cases and 4,899 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.)

There have now been a total of 151,726,543 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 3,186,785. Already 129,047,164 people have recovered.

300421 People aged 40 or over can book their COVID jab text

If you're aged 40 or over, or if you turn 40 before 1 July 2021, in England you can now book your COVID-19 vaccine.
Go to NHS dot UK to book at a larger centre, hopefully near you. If you cannot get to a larger centre, your GP should contact you (mine did not) about a more local appointment. (For anyone who saw my grumbling on Twitter last week, I have now booked an appointment at the centre down the road from me, as opposed to the previous best offers as far away as Sheffield).

Update and more reassurance for people with a baby in their tummy - from the UK Vaccine In Pregnancy Surveillance Study:
"Available evidence suggests that COVID-19 infection in pregnancy is unlikely to lead to problems with a baby’s development and there have not been any reports of this. There is also no evidence of an increased risk of miscarriage if you become infected during pregnancy."
"In a UK study of pregnant women with COVID-19 disease serious enough to require hospital admission (most infected in the second or third trimester), only 6 of 265 babies tested positive for COVID-19 immediately after birth. In line with other studies, this suggests it is uncommon for the natural infection to pass from a woman to her baby. When babies have developed COVID-19 soon after birth they have been well."
Chicken Pox, German Measles and all kinds of things can pass to your baby in the womb, and they can cause problems. It appears COVID can not. Human bodies are amazing. 

Today's lucky UK 'Variant of Concern' bingo winners are in Redbridge, where the South African COVID19 variant has been found. PCR tests (send away lab tests) are advised for everyone in postcode areas G1, G5, G6 and G7. 

300421 latest transmission rates uk

The UK Government have published the latest figures for risk of the rare blood clotting disorder. You'll see lots of headlines saying "41 more cases reported", but we've vaccinated millions more people.
"This safety update report is based on detailed analysis of data up to 21 April 2021. At this date, an estimated 11.2 million first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and 22 million first doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine had been administered, and around 6.8 million and 4.4 million second doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine respectively. An approximate 0.1 million first doses of the Moderna vaccine have also now been administered."
"Up to 21 April 2021, the MHRA had received Yellow Card reports of 209 cases of major thromboembolic events (blood clots) with concurrent thrombocytopenia (low platelet counts) in the UK following vaccination with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca."
"These events occurred in 120 women and 89 men aged from 18 to 93 years and the overall case fatality rate was 19% with 41 deaths. Four cases have been reported after a second dose. Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis was reported in 84 cases (average age 47 years) and 123 had other major thromboembolic events (average age 55 years) with concurrent thrombocytopenia. Diagnosis was unclear in the remaining two cases."
This gives an overall 'case incidence' of 9.3 per million doses.
Overall risk of developing blood clotting still looks pretty much exactly the same as before, about 3 in a million, and the good news is that, as hoped, now that we are aware of it, the mortality rate seems to have already shifted down from around 1in3-4 to 1in5.
If my maths is correct, this gives an overall mortality rate of around 1.8 in a million or 1 in every 536,585.
Everyone who has died shouldn't have died, and it is an awful tragedy for their loved ones and friends. Hopefully that figure will continue to drop.
Looking at the breakdown in age groups, it seems correct that when you have the choice, the AstraZeneca jab is reserved for people over age 30 - bearing in mind that in the UK more people in all age groups over 30 have already been vaccinated than people under 30 (carers, comorbidities are higher at 30+ etc). We are dealing with very small numbers, so it's all very imprecise, but it does appear it may affect younger people more often. Here are the cases for which ages are given:
Age : Cases : Lost their lives
18-29 : 23 : 6
30-39 : 27 : 8
40-49 : 30 : 4
50-59 : 59 : 12
60-69 : 31 : 6
70-79 : 20 : 3
80-89 : 5 : 2
90-99 : 1 : 0
(Unknown age 13, totals 209 : 41)
For reference, 2 of my own young people (age 21 & 22) had AstraZeneca jabs before advice changed, and I've booked mine. 

Understandably there is some concern worldwide about the blood clotting, because people hear half a story and don't get the full picture. Scandal and bad news always travels quicker than good news and science.
Malaysia is a good example. They have stocks of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, and rather than calling people for appointments and making them feel obligated, they're offering them on a booked “first come, first serve” basis to the general public, in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. Their vaccines minister Khairy Jamaluddin said:
“We do not want to waste a vaccine that is proven to be safe and effective. But at the same time, we understand there are certain concerns among the public on the AstraZeneca vaccine."
You do have to take a gentle hand. People are scared enough of COVID anyway, making them do something they aren't comfortable with wouldn't help. When they offered the same in Belarus, people were queuing for as long as 2 hours for a jab. 

Latest ONS infection survey figures for the UK show numbers of cases AND positivity rates (percentage of tests that come back positive) have both decreased in all 4 nations of the UK. Positivity rates are all down well below 2% and they all look firm, although maybe Northern Ireland a bit less secure. 

300421 total vaccinations UK to date

The UK Government are investigating the possibility of daily lateral flow testing instead of isolating, after contact with someone who has tested positive.
Hmmmm. There are some issues with this. It is more suitable for some people than others. Lateral flow tests need to be carried out correctly, and results reported. They don't have perfect accuracy, and we know they are lucky to instantly catch every case before much virus is exhaled. Trials are taking place, including in 200 volunteer schools. indieSAGE are among those pointing out that you shouldn't really do a trial that could put general public at risk, without their consent or even their knowledge. Even if every pupil and parent, and member of staff, agreed, did Grandma agree? What about the lady in the local shop? A school is a big part of a local community. 

It's been a while since I've picked on English & Welsh Test & Trace, so lets have a look.
In the week ending 21st April, 12,259 cases were transferred to the contact tracing system.
88.9% were contacted (around 10,898 people), so no improvement in the last 3 or 4 months. That's around 10,898 people, meaning 1,361 were missed, (or household duplicates, care home residents, hospitalised etc. Some contacts simply don't need a text.)
48,264 people were identified as close contacts, 85.8% were contacted and told to isolate. So around 41,410, meaning 6,854 were missed.
If you add the 6,854 we know weren't told to isolate, with any extra contacts of the 1,361 positive people Test & Trace didn't get hold of, it is quite a lot. It's not the way to really knock out COVID.
While cases are low is the time Test & Trace have to step up their game really. It's easier now, so both of those % figures should be getting higher. Must try harder Dido. Come on... you can do it... 

India's just heartbreaking. I could relate stories I've read, tweets and images, but I don't think I need to. They aren't the only ones in trouble. Countries having a hard time at the moment include Iran (where cases have never dropped to sensibly low levels for the past 15 months), Poland, Mexico, Brazil are doing a little better but it's scattered, Turkey (reporting almost 40,000 cases), Germany, France and Argentina are reporting nearing 30,000 cases, Columbia, Ukraine, Czechia. A lot of countries are finding previous measures aren't working so well this wave.  

Ireland (South, Republic of) have announced relaxation of restrictions:
From 10 May inter-county travel can resume, reopening of click & collect, museums, hairdressers and the like, maximum of three households or six people can meet outdoors (doesn't include their children aged 12 or younger).
50 people will be allowed at wedding and funeral services, no funeral-related events allowed.
Excitingly fully vaccinated people get a bonus in Ireland:
• Fully vaccinated people can meet indoors with other fully vaccinated people as long as there are no more than three households present.
• Fully vaccinated people can meet indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household, provided that they are not at risk of severe illness and no more than three households are present.
From May 17th all retail can reopen. 

300421 Variants mortality rate UK Gov Screenshot 2021-04-30 140113

VOC-20DEC-01 (B.1.1.7)
VOC-20DEC-02 (B.1.351) South African
VOC-21JAN-02 (P.1) Brazilian
VUI-21FEB-01 (A.23.1)
VUI-21FEB-03 (B.1.525) UK, Bristol
VUI-21FEB-04 (B.1.1.318)
VUI-21APR-01 (B.1.617.1) Indian v1

We had a UK data briefing this morning about variants.
Up until April 22nd we've found 119 cases of the Indian variant B1617, spread in all areas of the UK, and so far only 3 don't have clear links to travel (22 we haven't got the details yet).
Now, annoyingly, they have separated out B1617 into 3 strains, (which the variant by itself has split into), but it makes the figures harder to grasp. Above is just B1617.1
We also have 94 cases of B1617.2 and 3 cases of B1617.3
These 3 B1617 strains all have pretty similar features, and seem likely to be as troublesome as each other.
This means the UK has so far found 216 cases of any B1617 variant in total.
The UK has so far as we know lost no-one who has tested positive for any strain of the Indian variant. Yes it's fairly new, and numbers are actually very small, so you can't tell much at all, but it isn't looking super deadly or really anything else horrific at this point. Remember that in the UK almost all cases are already a Variant of Concern, our own B117, so in that respect "a significant bit worse than wild COVID" isn't going to make any more of an impression. 

The USA have started exporting vaccines. They have orders for far more than they need, and simply wouldn't be able to use them all. According to Reuters some of the 10m doses of AstraZeneca jab to be delivered to Mexico this week will be from the USA.  

Since 4th February the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been investigating complaints about Teletext Holidays. They had to refund customers within 14 days, by law, for package holidays cancelled by the company due to pandemic restrictions.
It seems they did not. They owe customers over £7m and they have to pay it back or face legal action.
Sorry to anyone affected by this - which will probably mainly be people who really can't afford to just book something else. 

300421 Variants mortality rate UK Gov Screenshot 2021-04-30 140113

Just out at 5pm today was a new study in Science Mag from Imperial College, London. It's not yet peer-reviewed (are they ever, time is tight!).
The study looked at T-cell immunity responses to the UK's B117 and the South African B1351 variant after a single dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine.
T-cells are like generals with a notepad, they issue instructions to antibodies, and they have longer memories.
The study looked at healthcare workers (HCW):
"After one dose, individuals with prior infection showed enhanced T cell immunity, antibody secreting memory B cell response to spike and neutralizing antibodies effective against B.1.1.7 and B.1.351. By comparison, HCW receiving one vaccine dose without prior infection showed reduced immunity against variants. B.1.1.7 and B.1.351."
Basically, after 1 dose of vaccine, people who had previously caught COVID itself were much better protected than people who hadn't.
It is excellent news for anyone who has already had COVID, and then gets vaccinated... In fact, from these results, prior infection and a single dose of vaccine might offer even greater protection than 2 doses of vaccine. It's only fair there's some benefit to being ill...

It's the weekend! Yeeeay. Have a good couple of days. Time to arrange that treat for you - just for you, not for the kids or someone else. We made it through another week, the UK's figures are still going the right way overall, the vaccinations keep on adding up, and the science just keeps on supporting us right now. We can beat this. All of us, together.

Back Sunday. Get Outside, Book Your Jab, Save The NHS.

Some numbers. All people on a great big rock in the sky:

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

USA 33,051,270 (+7,202) 589,285 (+78) 

India 19,107,611 (+352,627) 211,058 (+2,745)

Brazil 14,592,886 not yet reported today 401,417

France 5,592,390 not yet reported today 104,224

Turkey 4,820,591 (+31,891) 40,131 (+394)

Russia 4,805,288 (+8,731) 110,128 (+397)

UK 4,416,623 (+2,381) 127,517 (+15)

Italy 4,022,653 (+13,446) 120,807 (+263) 

Spain 3,524,077 (+9,135) 78,216 (+136)

Germany 3,392,232 (+12,845) 83,542 (+204)

Argentina 2,954,943 not yet reported today 63,508

Colombia 2,841,934 not yet reported today 73,230

Poland 2,792,142 (+6,796) 67,502 (+429)

Iran 2,499,077 (+19,272) 71,758 (+407)

Mexico 2,340,934 (+3,990) 216,447 (+529)

Ukraine 2,069,537 (+10,072) 44,085 (+307)

Peru 1,791,998 not yet reported today 61,101

Indonesia 1,668,368 (+5,500) 45,521 (+187)

Czechia 1,630,758 (+2,216) 29,267 (+14) 




VOC-20DEC-01 (B.1.1.7)

VOC-20DEC-02 (B.1.351) South African

VOC-21JAN-02 (P.1) Brazilian

VUI-21FEB-01 (A.23.1)

VUI-21FEB-03 (B.1.525) UK, Bristol

VUI-21FEB-04 (B.1.1.318)

VUI-21APR-01 (B.1.617.1) Indian v1

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