Thursday 13 May 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 12th / 13th May 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 12th / 13th May 2021.

The UK added 2,657 cases today (UP slightly from 2,613 a week earlier) and now has reported a total of 4,444,631 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 1,184,941 tests yesterday.

The counter says 35,906,671 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 18,890,969 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

1,098 people were in hospital on Tuesday 11th (DOWN from 1,289 a week earlier), with 136 people using a ventilator yesterday, 12th May (DOWN from 182 a week earlier).

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 127,651 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 254,013 cases and 4,937 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.)

There have now been a total of 161,566,990 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 3,352,364. Already 139,420,287 people have recovered.

UKNHS UK GOV people aged 38 or over can book their COVID vaccinations now

From today people in England aged 38 and 39 can book their jabs. You should get a text soon. Remember - you don't have to click a link in a text, just go to the NHS dot org and follow the coronavirus link, or go to your doctor's website and you may be able to book a smaller centre closer to home. 

It has been reported the UK Government are considering "surge vaccination" to try and control outbreaks of the Indian variant - this is backed up by the fact that Blackburn have already announced any adult 18+ from the areas affected can book their vaccination - however.... apparently NHS England are NOT happy and say this is currently just one option being discussed by SAGE, but it possibly won't help because it takes around 3 weeks before you get your immunity.
(Shhhh, but being frank, if it has any chance of helping, then you'd want to move super quick. We've seen too much indecision and slow movement this pandemic - well done Blackburn....)
Earlier today Boris was asked about the possibility of lockdowns and other measures in the affected areas, and he said he wasn't going to rule anything out. (Which is always the wisest answer.)
The areas of Blackburn where anyone aged 18+ can potentially book a vaccination are:
Shear Brow and Corporation Park
Billinge and Beardwood
Bastwell & Daisyfield

Everybody (in the world) is getting very twitchy about the B1617.2 (Indian) Variant. Cases in the UK just in the last week have more than trebled. 2 weeks ago we had 202 cases, now we have 1,313.
We can see from Indian evidence, and UK led lab research, that it is capable of infecting at least 2 or 3 people out of every 10 who are vaccinated, or have natural COVID antibodies - although it seems fairly certain very few will become very ill (vaccines ARE working).
Without pulling any punches, B1617.2 has escaped into the UK community, Test & Trace have not managed to control it, and it does threaten UK reopening plans. 

The SAGE Government advisory committee met today to discuss the Indian B1617.2 variant, and they are using data put together by Warwick University and released this week. It suggests that we will DEFINITELY have a 3rd notable wave, which currently is now expected around August/September, but could take as long as Winter if we are all very careful for now. They say a lot is dependent on how transmissible (catchy) B1617.2 is. If it is more than 30% more than our current B117 UK /Kent Variant (which is around 1.3-1.7 x as catchy as wild COVID), we risk filling our hospitals again (because so many unvaccinated people could all fall ill simultaneously - which has ALWAYS been the big risk).
When someone starts talking figures, we want the B1617.2 variant to come back as less than around 2.2 x as catchy as original wild COVID.
Well, really we just want that anyway.... 

Areas of Blackburn surge vaccinating

B1617.2 cases in Bolton are spreading mainly among schoolchildren and young people. High schools in Bolton have already been given the choice over whether to continue to ask pupils to wear masks, and at least one high school in neighbouring Bury has already asked that masks remain.  

The NHS app. is the English & Welsh Test & Trace app. and although it doesn't have medical information on it yet, from May 17th we are promised it will show whether or not you've been vaccinated, and you will be able to use it to prove eligibility for international travel.
If you don't have access to a smartphone, you'll be able to request a letter by calling the NHS COVID phone line on 119. 

India's Subject Expert Committee (SEC) has approved phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin for children aged 2-18 years.
India is vaccinating using Covaxin and their version of the Oxford - AstraZeneca jab, Covishield. Vaccinations are open to anyone aged 18 or over, but supplies are almost on a day to day basis now. Reports are that India has applied to the WHO's COVAX initiative for their share. Less than 2 months ago, India were their main supplier. 

The US CDC have now backed the US FDA and authorised the Pfizer vaccine for young people 12-15.
Several states have made clear an intention to vaccinate pupils before Summer.
The UK is rumoured to be hoping to vaccinate older school pupils before Autumn term begins. 

130521 UK Vaccination statistics

A big report into the Coronavirus pandemic has found it could have been prevented if everyone had reacted more quickly. (Eerrrrrm yeaaah. No sh** Sherlock.)
Basically February 2020 was wasted, while many countries ignored data and warnings from WHO, and just stared slack-jawed at China and tried to decide just how big the threat was, and if the Chinese were maybe being 'over-the-top' cautious.
The winners were the nations who came down hard at that point, before they had commissioned expensive scientific reports on how bad it was likely to be.
The World Health Organisation are criticised for not calling a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) at least a week earlier than they did, and for not stressing the fact human to human transmission seemed incredibly likely, even though we didn't have any actual 'evidence' it occurred for several weeks. 

Australia are using the AstraZeneca jab, and to date have reported 18 cases assessed as the rare blood clotting condition with low platelets TTS (thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome) following vaccination. This is from only 1.8m jabs, giving an incidence of 1 in 100,000. Previous estimates are around 1 in 100,000 - 1 in 300,000. From what I can find, no-one seems to have succumbed, and no more than 5 patients appear to currently be in hospital.
The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (the people in charge of medicines over there) point out that Australia's healthcare system has never been under strain from COVID, and is very robust right now, plus public understanding around the blood clotting condition is very high, therefore it's likely they will find more minor cases than other countries. 1 in 100,000 is potentially the most accurate assessment we'll get.
Australia are also using the Pfizer jab, which they call Comirnaty, and they advise that this is preferred in people aged under 50.
This morning it was announced they are also talking to Moderna about producing their mRNA COVID vaccine at home in Australia. 

Boris has announced officially that there will be a full Public Inquiry into the Government's handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, beginning in Spring 2022, in case of a COVID wave over the coming Winter. (If that happens then healthcare workers will have enough to do already.)
My prediction is that after about 8 months and £3m they'll say: "Of course things could have been done better, and improvements can be made to help prevent a repeat in the future, but in the end it was a one-off pandemic. Some of the gambles won (vaccinations), some lost. Pay more attention to other countries in future and move more quickly". Or something like that....
What they won't say is "Herd immunity was a stupid plan when you didn't really know what you were working with, wasn't it?"
One of the things they should definitely say is that, as WHO said very early last year, you cannot separate health and economy. 

From 17th May you can meet up indoors

A bunch of clever US science peeps have crunched some incredibly complex numbers to work out which strategy is best - vaccinating people with 2 doses asap (better protection but less people), or vaccinating everyone at least once asap (lower protection but better coverage).
They found that vaccinating as many people as possible asap saved more lives and had less hospital admissions, as long as the single dose of the vaccine had an efficacy around 70% or greater, and you vaccinated a maximum 1% of the population each day.
To do the study, they created an entire imaginary world of 100,000 people, with ages, jobs and households, and worked out how many contacts they'd be likely to infect if vaccinated or not vaccinated, depending on which theory they were testing. They ran 10 slightly different scenarios. In the 'delayed second dose model', it gave best results if people over 65 were vaccinated first.

In case you were wondering if the UK fall above or below that 70% efficacy, the BBC have crunched those numbers. In an article titled "Will UK Vaccine Success Keep Virus At Bay?" they concluded that a single dose of the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine leads to:
50-70% fewer symptoms
75-80% fewer hospitalisations
75-80% fewer deaths
50-60% less likely to transmit
Job's a goodun. 

Sri Lanka has imposed a 3 day travel ban. From tonight no-one is allowed to travel via road until Monday unless they have essential reason. 

The World Health Organisation are reviewing the situation in The Seychelles. They have vaccinated more of their population than anywhere else, but this tiny island of around 100,000 people is reporting over 300 new cases a day. Either they are really, really close knit, or something is awry.  

The Champions League football final will be played in Portugal, rather than Turkey, which the UK currently has on it's Red List of banned countries. Both finalists are English teams, but unsubstantiated rumour is the UK wouldn't guarantee quarantine-free entry to all of the UEFA delegates, so 12,000 Man City and Chelsea fans will be travelling to Portugal for 29th May. What could possibly go wrong? 

There was a near riot today in Glasgow, when the Home Office turned up in a residential street for a morning raid. They wanted to deport people for being in the UK illegally. It's Eid, and this was a mainly Muslim community. It was basically Christmas Day morning and we're in the throes of a pandemic, you heartless people.
It didn't go well for the Home Office. Initially a few neighbours (mainly slightly mature white men) started shouting and blocking the van's exit. By 3pm hundreds of people and tons of police filled the street, and just after 5pm the Enforcement Officers allowed the detainees to leave the van and return home for now. Scottish Premier Nicola Sturgeon had some very strong words:
"I disagree fundamentally with UK Home Office immigration policy but even putting that aside, this action was unacceptable. To act in this way, in the heart of a Muslim community as they celebrated Eid, and in an area experiencing a Covid outbreak was a health & safety risk."
She's not wrong. Cases in the area of Glasgow where this occurred have suddenly shot up. No prizes for guessing B1617.2 may be to blame. Fingers crossed this doesn't exacerbate that problem. 

I was sent a warning for spam yesterday - so I have to be really careful with comments on Facebook. I DO read all of your comments, and I DO appreciate them - I just don't have the time (or apparently the ability) to reply to everyone. Merely mentioning COVID when you don't have a blue tick is a very fine line with social media - often because you aren't initially fact-checked by a human.  If I ever do suddenly disappear, you can always find the same posts with the links to all of the sources, on my website The Brick Castle dot com.
My spam comment? It was a link to the UK Government Office for National Statistics, showing that cases in children haven't leapt up... 

percentage positive ONS school aged children 110521

It was International Nurses and Midwives Day yesterday. You're all stars - and heck you've had a year. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I hope work is never so scary or demoralising ever again.

Eid Mubarak to everyone who is celebrating. Please continue to look out for each other, and make some smiles. 

Some numbers. All people born under the same sky:

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

USA 33,590,587 (+4,451) 597,864 (+79)

India 24,026,262 (+323,430) 261,969 (+3,618)

Brazil 15,361,686 not yet reported today 428,256

France 5,821,668 not yet reported today 107,119

Turkey 5,083,996 (+11,534) 44,059 (+238)

Russia 4,913,439 (+8,380) 114,723 (+392)

UK 4,444,631 (+2,657) 127,651 (+11)

Italy 4,139,160 (+8,085) 123,745 (+201)

Spain 3,592,751 not yet reported today 79,208

Germany 3,569,249 (+11,101) 86,189 (+180)

Poland 2,845,762 (+3,730) 71,021 (+342)

Iran 2,722,007 (+14,246) 76,231 (+297)

Mexico 2,371,483 (+3,090) 219,590 (+267)

Ukraine 2,135,886 (+6,813) 47,333 (+346) 




Here is the report:

"Covid-19 pandemic may have been prevented had the world acted a month earlier, major report finds"

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