Tuesday 25 May 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 24th / 25th May 2021

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

The UK added 2,493 cases today (UP from 2,412 the same time last week) and now has reported a total of 4,467,310 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 946,830 tests yesterday.

The counter says 38,192,417 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 23,228,511 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

978 people were in hospital on Sunday 23rd, (this is UP on 932 a week earlier) with 121 using a ventilator yesterday, Monday 24th (this is slightly DOWN on 125 a week earlier).

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 127,739 losses of life in all settings.

Up until Friday 14th May, 152,068 people had COVID written as a cause on their death certificate.

Rep. Of Ireland 259,050 cases and 4,941 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.)

There have now been a total of 168,285,383 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 3,493,078. Already 149,743,997 people have recovered.

250521 total vaccinations in the UK

Bolton is not doing any better. In the last week 33 people have been admitted to Bolton Royal hospital with COVID, the week before that figure was 13. (I have no idea which of these people are vaccinated.)
Royal Bolton hospital have asked that people attend A&E ONLY IF NECESSARY, and they are focussing on discharging patients in case of a surge in admissions.
Cases in Bolton are currently running at 451 per 100,000 people in the 7 days to 20th May (around 80 times the England average). 

Today's surge testing bingo winners are in North East Hampshire. Congratulations to the Hart District, Rushmoor Borough and Surrey border. You win a doorstep visit from a Test & Trace representative bearing gifts. Remember: Mouth first, nose second.  

At last weeks briefing Boris said people in B1617.2 'Indian' Variant areas needed to exercise extra caution, but by this morning everyone had noticed that the website update last Friday actually goes much further.
These are the current 8 areas listed:
Bedford Borough Council
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council
Burnley Borough Council
Kirklees Council
Leicester City Council
London Borough of Hounslow
North Tyneside Council
"In the areas listed above, wherever possible, you should try to:
- meet outside rather than inside where possible
- keep 2 metres apart from people that you don’t live with (unless you have formed a support bubble with them), this includes friends and family you don’t live with
- avoid travelling in and out of affected areas unless it is essential, for example for work (if you cannot work from home) or education
You should also:
Get (lateral flow) tested twice a week for free and isolate if you are positive
Continue to work from home if you can
Get vaccinated when you are offered it, and encourage others to do so as well."
You should also get PCR (lab) tested for COVID-19, surge testing may be happening in your local area.
They really should have been a lot clearer, as this has huge implications for travel (half term begins this weekend for most), workplaces etc. and if you aren't following government guidance, you may not be insured if something goes wrong. Check, and double check. 

Scientists didn't take the weekend off, they poured over the figures from PHE (Public Health England) and tried to decipher just how good vaccines will be in the real world against the 'Indian' B1617.2 Variant. These figures are the best we have at the moment, but bear in mind that the Indian variant outbreak in the UK is an ongoing, live event, and with quite a low sample size at present, we may find quite different results over time. As a reminder PHE found that for the period 5 April to 16 May:
- 2 doses Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine - 88% effective against symptomatic disease from the B.1.617.2 variant (2 weeks after the 2nd dose), compared to 93% effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 variant
- 2 doses AstraZeneca vaccine - 60% effective against symptomatic disease from the B.1.617.2 variant (2 weeks after 2nd dose), compared to 66% effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 variant
- 1 dose of either vaccine - 33% effective against symptomatic disease from B.1.617.2 (3 weeks afterward), compared to around 50% effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 variant
The scientists are saying:
1. Bit rude to only compare B1617.2 Indian Variant to the B117 UK/Kent Variant, which we already know is more transmissible and makes the vaccines slightly less effective. It skims over the fact that added together this makes it quite a lot less effective than against original Wild COVID.
2. Real world figures are likely to be better than these numbers, as the study didn't account enough for people who had previously been infected, and around 5 or 6 other potential differences between models and reality. 

Real world figures are also being examined by the ZOE Symptom Tracker app. If you haven't downloaded it, it is a very clever tool that gives you lots of information on what is happening, what symptoms people get the most, and predictions of case numbers in your area (which are generally pretty accurate).
They have found that "Within a window of three days prior and 14 days following a positive PCR test:
The majority (52.6%) of contributors who have had a vaccine do not experience “classic” symptoms. 50% of people with one vaccine dose and 76% of fully vaccinated contributors don’t report classic symptoms
This compares to 30.4% of unvaccinated contributors not reporting classic symptoms."
ZOE have found that reporting 5 or more symptoms within the first 7 days is an indicator that you are more likely to develop severe disease. They found:
"Fully vaccinated contributors reported around 0-1 distinct symptoms within the first week of infection
Partially vaccinated contributors reported around 2-4 distinct symptoms within the first week of infection
Unvaccinated contributors reported a median of 5 distinct symptoms within the first week of infection"
This all supports the fact that vaccinated people are considerably less likely to have symptoms or become very ill, even though they might catch COVID.
(After eradicating COVID, rendering it harmless is the second best thing.)

£500 test and trace support payments

Finally the UK Government may have realised that not everyone can self-isolate in a great big house and grounds, surrounded by hot and cold running staff, and receiving their wages in full while they're on the PlayStation.
"The government is to launch 9 trailblazing pilots in England to test new, creative ways to help ensure people stick to self-isolation rules in areas with higher prevalence of infection including from new variants."
Measures will include:
Translation help
Alternative accommodation for overcrowded homes
Social care support
Buddying services for people whose mental health is affected
The pilots will take place in (and this confusing list is a direct copy/paste):
"Newham; Yorkshire and Humber; Lancashire, Blackburn & Darwen, Blackpool; Greater Manchester; Cheshire and Merseyside; Royal Borough of Kingston; Hackney; Peterborough, Fenland and South Holland, and Somerset."

The US CDC are investigating cases of Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) after the Pfizer and Moderna jabs. This is INCREDIBLY RARE, but can be caused by an immune reaction, and every possible link should be looked into.
It seems to be more often than not younger men, much more common after the 2nd jab, and one report says seems to occur almost always 4 days after the jab. Symptoms are mostly tiredness and shortness of breath, so milder cases may not even be noticed - especially if you aren't an active person anyway. Thankfully it mainly goes away by itself.
Israel has reported 62 cases out of 5 million doses, which is 1 in 145,000.
Chest pain is a sign that you have a problem, and should ALWAYS be checked out. Your heart is a big muscle which you really need to keep going regardless, and it can be given all kinds of help if it is struggling. 

The Indian Government "...is committed to support and protect every vulnerable child due to loss of both parents to Covid-19. From 1st April 2021 till 2:00 PM today, the State Governments & UTs across the country have reported 577 children whose parents succumbed to Covid-19."
Smriti Irani, Indian Minister of Textiles

The fallout from Dominic Cummings' expose Twitter thread continues, with Priti Patel and others still maintaining that the UK never contemplated herd immunity. Yeah, sure. Here's Boris chatting to Holly and Philip on telly programme This Morning last year:
"One of the theories is that, perhaps, you can take it all on the chin, take it all in one go, and allow the disease as it were to move throughout the population, without really taking so many draconian measures. I think we need to strike a balance."
Yes, it was a theory, and one that you really cannot consider adopting until you actually know your enemy. For reference: New Zealand 26 & UK 127,739.

Indian central government opened vaccinations up to all adults on May 1st, and while they have been distributing vaccines, there aren't even enough for high priority groups, so states have to top up by buying more themselves. They have started asking vaccine companies, and Pfizer and Moderna have already said No. Apparently the drug companies' policies only allow them to deal with a central government, and not individuals or, in this case, states like Punjab, with a population of over 30m people... 

Olympic Hopefuls:
Potentially bad news for anyone who has spent 5 years training for an international sporting event.
Japan is having a disaster.
They have a sustained outbreak which is centred in Osaka, and Reuters are reporting that the hospitals there are struggling. They have only vaccinated around half of their healthcare workers, and just 5% of the population.
While the situation is showing signs of a plateau, or even a slow improvement, their healthcare system isn't entirely in a strong position, and they they have been reporting an average of around 5,000 new cases a day for the last month. That isn't huge by UK standards (our population is just over half theirs), but it is enough to really frighten a lot of countries. Some of the heats have already started, but many people are now calling for the Olympic Games 2020/2021 to be scrapped. 

UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (or Health Minister as we usually call him), Matt Hancock, gave a speech to the 74th World Health Assembly today. He called for people to behave like the UK has, donating generously to the World Health Organisation and making vaccines available at cost. He also talked about the future pandemic preparedness, and said it's urgent we get onto it straight away, and do it together, involving as much of the world as possible.
15 months ago the UK were considered Gold Standard at pandemic preparedness. We had such a great plan that other countries used it. The little problem with our plan was that we hadn't actually followed it to the letter ourselves...

Some numbers. All of them people:

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

USA 33,924,707 (+1,770) 604,478 (+62)

India 27,122,158 (+174,662) 310,416 (+3,167)

Brazil 16,121,136 not yet reported today 450,026

France 5,605,895 not yet reported today 108,658

Turkey 5,203,385 (+9,375) 46,621 (+175)

Russia 5,017,795 (+7,884) 119,194 (+393)

UK 4,467,310 (+2,493) 127,739 (+15)

Italy 4,197,892 (+3,224) 125,501 (+166)

Germany 3,660,547 (+557) 88,054 (+15)

Spain 3,652,879 (+5,359) 79,801 (+90)

Poland 2,867,187 (+1,000) 73,096 (+151)

Iran 2,855,396 (+11,873) 79,056 (+208)

Mexico 2,397,307 (+703) 221,695 (+48)

Ukraine 2,186,463 (+2,608) 49,685 (+249) 

























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