Thursday 6 May 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 5th / 6th May 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 5th / 6th May 2021.

The UK added 2,613 cases today and now has reported a total of 4,428,553 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 1,214,619 tests yesterday.

The counter says 34,934,171 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 16,291,719 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

1,289 people were in hospital on Tuesday 4th May (and Alistair McLellan of the HSJ has just said that today we have less than 1,000 COVID positive patients in English hospitals for the first time since 17th September 2020). 182 people were using a ventilator yesterday, 5th May.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 13 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 127,583 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 251,087 cases and 4,915 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.)

There have now been a total of 156,439,818 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 3,263,783. Already 133,822,156 people have recovered.

Face covrings should cover your nose 2 people. One correct one wrong

The UK are not employing any surge testing against Indian variants, despite saying that they were. The three B1617 strains are "variants under investigation" (VUI) as opposed to "variants of concern" (VOC) and only qualify for a bit of extra contact testing.
Dr Christina Pagel, director of the Clinical Operational Research at University College London, and member of indieSAGE, is among those pointing out this is a weeny bit more casual than we'd like.
"Do we have definitive evidence that B1617.2 is more transmissible? No
But honestly I think canaries are chirping - we know it's in the community (from Sanger) and we should act to contain right now while numbers manageable."
It looks like community transmission may already be responsible for around 25% of Indian variant no.2 cases in the UK - according to the data from the Sangar Institute. We simply haven't managed to contain it yet.  

Boris had a big announcement:
"The government will invest £29.3 million through the Vaccines Taskforce in Public Health England’s new testing facilities at Porton Down, to assess the effectiveness of existing and new vaccines against variants of concern.
The funding will increase the site’s current capacity from 700 to 3,000 blood samples tested a week in order to fast-track variant vaccines. These tests measure the levels of antibodies to COVID-19 that are generated by the vaccines."
(You might be best putting some of that effort into getting Test & Trace working at 99%, then we wouldn't have so many variants...)

The USA also had a big announcement. They announced they support the World Health Organisation's call to waiver patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Although they made it clear they respect intellectual property rights, they said the "extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures", and they would support the motion at the World Trade Organisation negotiations.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros responded:
"This is a monumental moment in the fight against COVID-19."
It's fantastic to have one of the big players fully on board, but this morning it's all a bit less shiny. The motion could still take months of deliberation, and that's after all 164 members agree to it. The USA almost seems ready to take a deal, with Reuters reporting they're seeming to favour offering lower income countries a waiver on patents instead. 

Well done to the G7 summit committee for deciding to go ahead with an 'in person' summit in London. There's a pandemic, didn't you know? Lolz...
G7 is a group of the world's 7 largest economies - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US, plus guest delegations invited by the hosts:
"The UK has also invited leaders from Australia, India and South Korea to attend the Leaders' Summit as guest countries".
Guess what happened next?
I think you might have got it...
2 Indian delegates, despite following protocols, have now tested positive. Luckily they hadn't yet sat in any big meetings. Unluckily they met lots of people for small meetings instead. Luckily they all wore masks and other measures. Unluckily for them, the Indian delegation have travelled half way round the world to sit in a hotel for 2 weeks and attend meetings over zoom...
So now we have an interesting isolation experiment featuring some of the most prominent decision-makers in the world... awesome.
Will they all isolate? Will they sneak out of the back door? Will any of them catch COVID? Do the Indian variants have a longer incubation period? Was it ever clever to allow people to avoid hotel quarantine because they are considered important business visitors?
Watch this space... 

Samaritans. Do the best you can, you ca'nt do better

"Our goal by July 4th is to have 70% of adult Americans with at least one shot — and 160 million Americans fully vaccinated. It’s another huge goal, and a serious step toward a return to normal.
Get vaccinated, keep following CDC guidance. We can do this."
US President Joe Biden

Canada has become the first country in the world to authorise a vaccine for children. 12-15 year olds there can now be given the Pfizer vaccine. Different provinces have very different rollout plans, with some offering the vaccinations from next Monday, some suggesting the beginning of next school year, and some admitting they haven't even discussed it yet.

There are news reports that India is suffering so badly because of a strain N440K, which is 15 times more virulent. This appears to be FAKE NEWS. The Indian Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad has issued this response:
"In light of the many reports on coronavirus variant N440K lately, we would like to bring to your attention a few things:
1. The mutant is not new. We have been seeing it in South India since last year.
2. Though in controlled cell culture this variant makes more copies, it does not necessarily mean that it can compete with other variants just the same way in a real life pandemic where new variants keep coming up. Our genome studies say that N440K is now diminishing
3. Our main focus as a community should be on reducing the spread of coronavirus. The more it spreads, the more variants come up, the more mess we create by increasing uncertainties and fear."

The Indian government have today finally acknowledged that the "double mutant" B1617 Indian variant(s) may be at least partly responsible for the surge in cases. The BBC are reporting that:
"Out of roughly 13,000 samples sequenced, more than 3,500 were found to be variants of concern - including B.1.617 - across eight states."
We still don't know exactly what the mutations in the Indian variants do, but it does look in a lab slightly more catchy than the UK B117 variant - which has caused absolute havoc across much of Europe. 

The London's Royal Albert Hall will reopen at the end of May as part of mass event trials. Initially events will be socially distanced, with the first no-restriction event due to happen on 6th July with James Blunt. James is a bit of a comedian, and got his line in first (nicely played). He tweeted a link to the story, with the comment:
"The answer is no. You obviously haven’t suffered enough."

Spain have been running mass event trials, and residents of Girona were able to buy a digital pass this weekend to attend a club night or dine out at 1 of 5 restaurants taking part.
In order to buy a pass, you need a negative test or proof you have had COVID, and passes are valid for different amounts of time, from a single event to 36 hours. 

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

Reuters have spent a shift with Rohan Aggarwal, 26, a resident doctor at Holy Family Hospital in New Delhi.
It makes for heartbreaking reading. This young man hasn't even taken his final exams, and during his 27 hour shift had to make decisions on who to send home and who to admit.
The hospitals are all guarded now, as violence from bereaved, frustrated relatives is being directed towards staff, and there is a danger of oxygen theft.
Who steals oxygen from a dying person?  Someone who has their own dying loved one...  

Good news from a UK study of 100 care homes. The Vivaldi Study wanted to see if residents or staff would be reinfected after previously having COVID. Out of 2,111 people, only 4 residents and 10 staff recorded reinfections. Although most had symptoms, none needed hospital.
'The analysis of 100 care homes suggests that amongst participants who had evidence of previous infection, the risk of subsequent reinfection was 61% lower for staff, and 85% lower for residents, when compared with individuals who had not been previously infected.'
These are very small numbers, which is why it seems so different between residents and staff, but it's incredibly good reading. 

The Seychelles have fully vaccinated 62% of their adult population, more than anywhere else, but annoyingly they've just had to announce a 2 week school closure and lockdown measures to curb a surge in new cases. Households are barred from mixing and a curfew will be in place.
Vaccinations are brilliant, and they are doing an excellent job of rapidly reducing serious illness, death, and even transmission of the virus, but it's the low-tech measures we can all make every day which will truly stop spread. Complacency could be responsible, as the Seychelles have had low case numbers for a long time and had been able to relax. Indian Ocean neighbours the Maldives are also experiencing a very similar outbreak. 

We have excellent news from Israel and their real-world COVID data. They vaccinated entirely with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and have mainly UK variant B117 and original wild COVID.
After two doses of the Pfizer vaccine there was over 95% protection against infection, severe disease and death.
You honestly couldn't ever hope for better.
After a single dose, there was 58% protection against infection, 76% against hospitalisation, and 77% against death.
This really proves how important it is to get your second vaccination. Don't forget it! 

It's not COVID-related, but the UK and France have been squabbling over fishing rights in the waters around Jersey. Both countries sent police/ military vehicles to keep an eye on it, but the situation does appear to have calmed down just now... Brexit eh... 

Noto, a fishing town in Japan, were very forward thinking when deciding what to spend their $230,000 pandemic money on - they bought a 43ft squid statue. Of course they did. They hope it will help boost tourism when the pandemic calms down. (It'll terrify anyone who meets it unexpectedly at night, that's for sure...)

It's polling day. You hopefully still have time to nip out if you didn't vote by post, and haven't had chance yet. If you vote, you have every right to complain if they let you down. Don't forget your mask and your own writing implement.

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 33,326,968 (+5,724) 593,267 (+119)

India 21,468,314 (+397,462) 233,769 (+3,618)

Brazil 14,936,464 not yet reported today 414,645

France 5,706,378 not yet reported today 105,631

Turkey 4,977,982 (+22,388) 42,187 (+304)

Russia 4,855,128 (+7,639) 112,246 (+351)

UK 4,428,553 (+2,613) 127,583 (+13)

Italy 4,082,198 (+11,807) 122,263 (+258)

Spain 3,559,222 (+7,960) 78,726 (+160)

Germany 3,479,601 (+10,153) 84,735 (+142)

Argentina 3,071,496 not yet reported today 65,865

Colombia 2,934,611 not yet reported today 76,015

Poland 2,818,378 (+6,431) 68,993 (+510)

Iran 2,610,018 (+18,409) 73,906 (+338) 




Indian Delegation:



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