Thursday 27 May 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 26th / 27th May 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 26th / 27th May 2021.

The UK added 3,542 cases today (UP from 2,874 a week earlier) and now has reported a total of 4,473,677 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 1,132,061 tests yesterday.

The counter says 38,614,683 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 24,043,956 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

916 people were in hospital on Tuesday 25th (UP from 894 a week earlier), with 125 using a ventilator yesterday, 26th May (slightly UP on 122 a week earlier).

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 10 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 127,758 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 260,299 (+436) cases and 4,941 losses of life.

There have now been a total of 169,271,099 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 3,515,786. Already 150,949,234 people have recovered.

Blogger isn't uploading pictures at the moment, so sadly you'll have to just put up with adverts, or go and take a look at my Facebook page for the Govt slides/Dominic's scribbling until the situation resolves... 

Anyone aged 30 or above in England can now book your COVID vaccination.

"The COVID19 pandemic has brought us a tsunami of suffering. Over 3.4M lives have been lost. Some 500M jobs have gone. Trillions of $ have been wiped from global balance sheets. The most vulnerable are suffering most. And I fear this is far from over."
Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations

"I'm watching one of a gang of mass murderers blowing the gaff on the rest of them. And I'm one they tried to murder."
Michael Rosen, still in recovery from COVID. It's exactly a year since he was discharged from intensive care, where he had spent 47 days.


Dominic Cummings gave hours of evidence on the government's handling of the Coronavirus pandemic to a joint parliamentary committee on Wednesday morning.
He told all. Maybe.
We always saw that herd immunity was policy, Dominic says the government saw no other option at first, and they didn't believe COVID could be stopped, so didn't try.  (I think we had noticed that too.)
He admits he didn't attend initial COBR meetings about COVID, and nor did Boris. Boris was very busy on March 12th particularly, when he should have been focussing on strategy for potential lockdown. Apparently Trump was asking us to help him bomb Iraq, and Carrie was ranting because the press said her dog was vicious. The decision to lock down wasn't made, and nor was a plan put in place (they still didn't have one). So, I guess a few thousand of the people who died in the UK can blame the dog. Or Trump. Or the Prime Minister. One of them.

Boris was so convinced COVID was nothing that he actually suggested being injected with it live on TV by Chris Whitty. That would have been spectacular, although I don't think Chris would have coped well mentally once Boris was in intensive care.

Dominic says when everyone was asking for data early last year, the reason they were shifty was because they didn't actually have any data. They were incredibly disorganised. Once data came in, it was looking far worse than they'd previously anticipated. He's shared a photograph of a whiteboard used to discuss what to do. Phrase that stands out above most of the others is "who do we not save?".

When Dominic was answering the questions about leaking information to the media, he said:
"I did occasionally talk to people. The main person... " and the BBC coverage cut off.
Drum roll please....
..... "was Laura Keunssberg".
Who is coincidentally a BBC Reporter. Naughty BBC. Explains why she always asked stupid "are we nearly there yet" questions at the briefings - she already knew everything, so she perhaps couldn't think of an actual question.

Mr Cummings was incredibly blunt about Boris and also the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, saying he made 15 or 20 errors for which he should have been sacked. He denied Rishi Sunak was fighting against lock down. At this point I started to feel like I was listening to my kids say "it wasn't me". It's really been well documented that Rishi didn't want to lock down, so that seems to be a lie (and Rishi has a good chance at being next PM, and Dominic's career is as a backroom politics bloke. Nothing untoward there then.)

Dominic has fallen out very publicly with Boris and Matt, and suddenly he's ready to tell everyone how inadequate and awful he feels they were - despite not mentioning it for over a year, while people died in their tens of thousands. He's the ultimate evil in kiss & tell. Thankfully we also could have guessed that.

When PPE was mentioned, and the possibility of corporate manslaughter charges, Dominic said Trump had the CIA flying round the world out-bidding people. Obviously I can't say whether that's true or not, but Trump did make it clear he would try and secure what was needed for America, and wouldn't let small niggles such as world diplomacy bother him.
The PPE situation was so vicious that armed support was necessary at times. It was in short stocks the world over, and being detained by government forces at airports, being resold while it was in transit (so it never arrived), and even being stolen from planes which had stopped to refuel en route. Fake, substandard and out of date PPE flooded markets.
If the UK had followed our pandemic plan properly, we'd have had enough stock to tide us over initially. We didn't. We didn't rotate stock to prevent items going out of date, nor did we actually have the mahooooosive amounts of PPE that the plan suggested. Because you'd never really need that much, would you?

Matt Hancock has been asked a couple of times about the allegations made by Dominic Cummings on Wednesday morning. His response has been that it's unsubstantiated and he's very busy with the vaccine rollout.
Boris says "at every stage we've been governed by a determination" to protect lives...


Matt Hancock led today's UK Briefing.
Latest estimates are that at least half, if not 3/4 new cases are Indian variant B1617.2. He stresses we are trying to cut the link between cases and hospitalisation. Cases remain focussed on hotspots, where we are also focussing resources, surging vaccines, testing etc.
Out of the now 49 people in hospital in Bolton with COVID, only 5 have had both vaccinations. (More Bolton Hospital figures below.) The hospital is functioning well, and open to all those who need it.
This really is hopeful.
"Today's ONS data show that 3 in every 4 adults now have COVID antibodies, including over 90% of people aged 50 and above" (from infection or vaccination). Marvellous.
Public Health England have estimated that over the course of the last 7 days, vaccination has prevented another 200 deaths, and 600 people from going into hospital. In total 13,200 deaths and 39,700 hospitalisations have been prevented by vaccinations.
We have administered over 1.4m vaccinations in the last week.
450m doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine have now been administered, at cost, worldwide. (Around £2.50 a dose.)
Together with CEPI (The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations), the UK Govt has funded a trial of mixed vaccinations - not just to see if it helps effectiveness, but if it works, it can also speed up vaccinations worldwide.
We are also looking into antivirals both as a treatment, and as a prophylactic to prevent serious infection.

Jenny Harries had the slides. "What you can see here is a suggestion of an upward rise in cases". Erm, yeah, that's a very polite way to say it. We can do numbers Jenny, cases are going up. She reminds us we are surge testing, actively seeking out cases, so that will have an effect.
The hospitalisations chart doesn't yet show 'a suggestion of an upward rise'. (More hospital numbers below.) Jenny says it's mainly older people who haven't taken up vaccination yet.

Public asked when people entering the UK can do so freely with a vaccination certificate. Matt didn't answer that. He said you can travel now to a green list country, and you don't even need to be vaccinated.
The Global Travel Taskforce are working on a route to international travel (remember people under 30 won't all be fully vaccinated for another 2-5 months at least).
Public also asked why we're unlocking when most of the people spreading COVID in the UK right now aren't even getting vaccinated yet? Matt was very VERY rambly and talked about vaccine efficacy. (Tag Jenny, Matt!!)
Phew. He passed to Jenny, who also talked about vaccine efficacy against the Indian Variant. (Tag, ermmmm, the cameraman, Jenny!)
I think the gist is, "yeah, they'll catch it and spread it, but you have a much smaller chance of dying Mr Mature Public Citizen". 

Press really asked about Dominic Cummings' allegations.
Several asked about the UK not testing care home residents when they were discharged from hospital back home, even though promises were made that testing would happen, and was in fact happening. This was a huge issue and undoubtedly cost many, many lives.
Matt and Jenny said we have much more testing in place now, we have massively built up capacity, it wasn't possible back at the start. Matt didn't directly admit or deny that he lied. He claims he only ever said testing would occur once capacity was better and it was possible.
Jenny talked about regular testing, and that when you look at the data, very few care home residents were infected by another resident who had recently been discharged from hospital, most outbreaks in care homes were from other sources.

Press asked about Indian variant. Jenny says we've twice as many cases as last week, but we have done a lot of surge testing, and we have 'closed down' some outbreaks. Although cases in Bolton are still increasing, it IS slowing down. Test & Trace are working with local authorities and local knowledge, locating community buildings at the centre of outbreaks etc.
Jenny says it's "on the cusp" - either a rise in cases because it's taking off, or because of surge testing.
If we can hold it down while vaccinations are done, it's a win. 


Alistair McLellan,  Editor of the Health Service Journal this morning:
"NEW: Day 7 of summer coronavirus ‘wave’ shows hospital admissions of covid+ patients in England continuing to rise in small numbers (tho increase ever more rapid). Up 18% in a week (7 day total to 24/5). Midlands up 36% & North West up 26%. Back 2 where we were @ start of May."
Boo. Hospital admissions have been going up very slowly now for 7 days - I think we can say we reached our low point and now we are definitely on the rise, or "uptick" if you want it to sound cheery.
Bolton hospital on Wednesday 26th had 43 COVID patients, 2 more than the day before. Matt Hancock just said they now have 49 COVID patients.

There has been a little more on the reports of Myocarditis following the mRNA vaccinations from Pfizer and Moderna. Medics and scientists from just about everywhere are saying that they aren't seeing more cases than would usually be expected among general population, and it doesn't appear this is something anyone should be losing sleep over just now. The US CDC say:
"VaST concluded that there are relatively few reports of myocarditis to date and that these cases seem to occur:
- predominantly in adolescents and young adults,
- more often in males than females,
- more often following dose 2 than dose 1, and
- typically within 4 days after vaccination.
Most cases appear to be mild, and follow-up of cases is ongoing."
More information will definitely follow. 

"Ending the COVID19 pandemic is only achievable when everyone, everywhere can access the health technologies needed for detection, prevention, treatment & response. That's why Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado Queseda & I call on all WHO Member States to support the C-TAP"
Dr Tedros, Head of the World Health Organisation.
The C-TAP is the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool. Basically a world resource for all things COVID, where governments, scientists and medics can voluntarily pool knowledge, intellectual property and data, so that it can quickly be accessed by others. 

Lots of people are attempting to work out transmissibility for the 'Indian Variant' B1617.2 (which is spreading pretty rapidly across the world), and what it means in reality. We only have very early data, but it's not looking great.
Adam Kucharski, Epidemiologist at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has worked out some figures:
"If (and given early data it’s still a big if) B.1.617.2 is >20% more transmissible than B.1.1.7, then given the estimated baseline R for B.1.1.7 is around 4-5, the spring 2020 UK lockdown probably wouldn’t have got R<1 for this variant, and not clear even Wuhan one would have:"
Without restriction everyone infected with basic original wild COVID would pass it on average to around 2-3 other people. The UK/Kent variant B117 spreads to around 4-5 average from everyone who gets infected. The Indian variant B1617.2 only needs to be 20% more catchy for it to pass on to an average of 6 people from everyone infected - which is 2 to 3 times as many as original COVID. Mr Kucharski doesn't believe regular lockdown would stop that.
(Transmission is always given as an average. Someone who meets and spends time with a lot of other people will clearly be likely to pass their infection to more others than someone who sits at home alone working all day.)


Africa needs another 20m doses of AstraZeneca vaccines for 2nd doses within the next 8 weeks, just in case anyone has some in the fridge...

The Australian state of Victoria has entered a 7 day lockdown. They have an outbreak in Melbourne, and have so far found 26 cases - but these people have been to over 150 venues between them, coming into contact with thousands of people. The outbreak is B1617.2 (Indian) Variant, and they aren't taking any chances. Everything inessential is closed, stay at home when possible. 

Olympic Hopefuls:
The USA has added another blow to the Olympic chances by advising against travel to Japan, due to their current outbreak and state of emergency. This is a big blow, and if other countries follow suit, which I have little doubt they will, it could see the games cancelled whether Japan are still adamant they'll happen or not.

Little tiny Luxembourg is in a similar position to the UK currently, and thanks to Blogger and COVID-reporter over there, Claus Nehring, for pulling some of these figures together.
They have a fairly low case rate currently and B117 UK Variant accounts for the vast majority of cases (79%). They also have rising B1617.2 Indian Variant cases threatening to spoil their success. It now accounts for 3.9% of new cases. Like a lot of the world, including the UK, they're also finding COVID is spreading amongst schoolkids. In the week ending 23rd May they reported a total of 495 new cases, of which 182 were in schools.

We've been here before, we didn't want to be here again, but we know how it works now. Everyone has a sensible number of toilet rolls and paracetamol in the cupboard, we can do lateral flow testing, we have free PCR testing at the end of the phone, and the UK has 60m doses of vaccination in arms to help keep people out of hospital. 45.6% of the UK's adults are fully vaccinated. If you do end up in hospital, you are far more likely to go home than this time last year. We HAVE come a long way, even though it feels at times we've been standing still.

Some numbers. All look up to see the same sky:

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

USA 33,976,833 (+5,626) 606,312 (+133)

India 27,419,974 (+52,039) 315,869 (+606)

Brazil 16,275,440 not yet reported today 454,623

France 5,621,696 not yet reported today 109,023

Turkey 5,220,549 (+8,426) 46,970 (+183)

Russia 5,035,207 (+9,039) 120,002 (+402)

UK 4,473,677 (+3,542) 127,758 (+10)

Italy 4,205,970 (+4,147) 125,793 (+171)

Germany 3,671,368 (+4,327) 88,623 (+144)

Spain 3,663,176 (+5,290) 79,888 (+33)

Iran 2,875,858 (+9,994) 79,384 (+165)

Poland 2,869,652 (+1,230) 73,440 (+135)

Mexico 2,402,722 (+2,932) 222,232 (+272)

Ukraine 2,193,367 (+3,509) 50,076 (+183)




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