Thursday 17 June 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 16th / 17th June 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 16th / 17th June 2021.

The UK added 11,007 cases today (up from 7,393 a week earlier/ 5,274 a fortnight earlier) and now has reported a total of 4,600,623 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 1,101,741 tests yesterday.

The counter says 42,216,654 people (80.1% of UK adults) had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 30,675,207 people (58.2%) had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

1,227 people were in hospital on Tuesday 15th (up from 1,048 a week earlier / 919 a fortnight earlier), with 208 using a ventilator yesterday, 16th June (up from 158 a week earlier / 129 a fortnight earlier).
(That does imply quite a high percentage of 'severe' ICU patients, which could simply mean that more moderate cases feel well enough to cope at home, or there are less moderate cases, or as we are still in fairly low numbers, it could mean nothing. Delta Variant is still a new thing.)

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 19 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 127,945 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 267,673 cases and 4,941 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.)

There have now been a total of 177,966,027 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 3,851,742. Already 162,486,764 people have recovered.

170621 80% of UK adults have received vaccination single dose

"Four in five adults in the UK have now had their first dose of the COVID19 vaccine.
Thank you to everyone who has come forward for the vaccination so far."
UK Dept. for Health & Social Care

Wales is expected to delay to their lockdown relaxation plans due to concerns about the Delta variant. The announcement will be in tomorrow's briefing, but no major restrictions are likely to change before July, including rules around meeting indoors. Sorry guys.

Scotland is also considering delaying their lockdown relaxation, in fact Nicola Sturgeon said it would "in all probability" be paused. That is likely to also be until July. 

Congratulations to the residents of Bracknell Forest postcode GU47 0. Everyone aged 11 and over wins a PCR test. You can book an appointment or a home test online or by calling 119, or attend walk in pop up clinics in your local area. 

Genuine congratulations to the residents and health teams in Blackburn with Darwen, and Bolton. Their case rates are showing what could be sustained decreases. Not quiet days or blips, but hopefully genuine day on day drops in transmission. A HUGE amount of work has gone into this - well done to everyone involved. We can win.  

If meeting indoors open a window. Drawing of woman opening window.

"There are now more covid+ patients in hospital beds in the North West than there were on 12 April (379 v 351) - the Step 2 milestone on the government's unlocking roadmap. Nationally tho, there are half as many (1057 v 2108)"
Alistair McLellan,  Editor of the Health Services Journal yesterday.
COVID+ patients in Lancashire have doubled in a week. Numbers are still low, so every person makes a difference to that, but it's not an encouraging sign.

Royal Bolton Hospital have confirmed they have transferred a number of patients to local hospitals to ease pressure. That is fairly standard, and sensible, so not too huge a worry just yet. When they have no choice but to ship out of the usual area, then we know we have more of a problem. 

After a fairly long period of public consultation, the UK Government have decided to make vaccinations mandatory for all people working in care homes - including regular visiting tradespeople like hairdressers and podiatrists.
"There will be a further public consultation on whether or not to make COVID19 and flu vaccination a condition of deployment in other health and care settings.
This consultation will be launched in due course."
Department for Health and Social Care 

"Businesses that have had to remain closed during the pandemic and are unable to pay rent on their commercial property will continue to be protected from eviction, giving them the breathing space they need and helping to protect jobs."
Robert Jenrick, UK Communities Secretary, made the announcement yesterday. This will mainly affect nightclubs and other hospitality businesses, which will be closed for another month at least. 

170621 daily vaccine doses

We have bad news from CureVac's 2nd interim report. Their first generation mRNA vaccine is not passing efficacy standards.
The Trial involved 40,000 participants and 134 people caught COVID. These aren't the final results, but they found an efficacy rate of just 47% - although potentially higher than the 50% bar in young people.
Now, that sounds pretty poor, but this isn't a fair really a fair assessment. The participants were in Latin America and Germany, which between them have detected at least 29 different variants. Germany has mainly Alpha (UK), and we know other currently used vaccines are less effective against Alpha.
They sequenced 124 of the positive participants and found 57% had a Variant Of Concern - things like Delta or Alpha. Most of the others had variants which have been assumed not too troublesome. 21% had the Lambda variant (Peru), 7% had B1621 (Colombia). Only 1 participant had original wild COVID.
I wonder how all of the other vaccines would fare in the same trial?
All is not lost. Not everything does work perfectly first time. I guarantee that CureVac will already be working on version 2. 

Dominic Cummings, ex UK Government Advisor and King of the Kiss & Tell, has been spilling his beans again. He's really not someone you'd want to cross, and I'm finding it all a bit vulgar and gossipy, but hey, 150,000 dead people. They all deserve the Government to be held to account. These are some of Dominic's latest assertions:
1. He backs up the 'herd immunity' claims by mentioning minuted meetings and events where it was noted. (We all now just accept this was their plan, right? This is no surprise.)
2. Because in early 2020 the plan was herd immunity, Matt Hancock didn't bother ramping up testing, and community testing was even briefly stopped. "Testing, like vaccines, was removed from his control in May because of his incompetence and dishonesty March-April. You can’t understand what really happened on test-trace in the rest of the year without understanding what actually happened in March-April." (Matt Hancock was the reason Test & Trace did so badly?)
3. The 'Protective Ring' around care homes simply didn't exist. People were sent home from hospital without being tested.
4. "DHSC failed to plan for PPE demand and their procurement operation collapsed. They rejected chances to buy things because of sticking to the old rules."
Dirty Dom shares lots of photos of whiteboards and WhatsApp messages, group messages etc. For me, this feels grim. In one conversation he is talking with Boris about how quickly the USA increased testing, and referring to UK testing and "MH", which can only mean Matt Hancock. Boris replies with "Totally %?@3ing hopeless". The language doesn't offend me, the fact that's our Prime Minister talking about one of his main Ministers doesn't really offend me. What offends me is that actually this shows a level of disinterest and distraction. It's a cursory "yeah" response.
My least favourite part of Dominic's latest offerings - and it's a mahoosive blog post - is particularly grim, and not something I really expected to read.
"Hancock repeated to MPs his claim from summer 2020 that ‘everybody got the treatment they needed.’
This is false, he knows it’s false, the PM knows it’s false, families of the dead know it’s false, the CSA and CMO know it’s false.
Vallance and Whitty briefed me, the PM, Hancock and assorted officials around the Cabinet table on NHS data last summer. They said explicitly: the data shows that death rates spiked sharply upwards around the April peak, roughly doubling, because patients did not get the treatment they needed because the NHS was under so much pressure. MPs should demand this data and a briefing from PV/CW to explain it."
We know that NHS staff and facilities were in many places under extreme pressure, and when the going gets bad, the UK Government figures start coming out late, or they add extra numbers later.  I didn't spot this spike in the death rate - sorry guys.
Dominic says this situation occurred again in December-January.
"There is so much more that could be said but this is long enough for now…"
Yowch. Entirely true or not, I doubt we'll ever know the full story, and I don't think Dominic Cummings has finished yet... 

Public Health England test over image of vaccination

There are a lot of worries for Southern Africa. For the last 18 months case rates have overall remained fairly quiet over there, and for most the worst fears haven't come true. Several countries are suddenly now seeing a growth in case rates where the chart looks like the curve turned into a wall. Among them are Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and South Africa.
In Namibia 1 in 3 tests is positive. The World Health Organisation say only 1 in 20 should be positive if you are catching all cases.
Many African countries have very poor health infrastructure, especially those which have also faced war. They aren't equipped for this at all. 

Dr Susan Hopkins of Public Health England spoke to the Science and Technology Committee yesterday, and told them there are now 25 variants that the UK are actively monitoring, as well as 8 more under investigation.
(It sounds loads, but includes B117, the UK/Kent Variant, and several variants that may hopefully have fizzled out and haven't been seen for weeks or months.)
She spoke about the Delta Variant and warned MP's:
"We're seeing it has much greater transmissibility than Alpha, which had greater transmissibility than the viruses that had gone before unmitigated. So if we were in the real world, where we had none of the measures that we were seeing right now, we would estimate R greater than five and maybe up to seven." (Each infected person spreads their infection to an average of 5-7 other people.)
By 'real world' she reveals she's still hoping to wake up and discover this was the result of too many Wensleydale crackers and an extra glass of a cheeky Italian red. 

Cases in India are going down, and the situation really seems to have improved over there. So much so that museums and monuments reopened yesterday after 2 months of closure, including the Taj Mahal. Entry is by timed ticket, masks must be worn, and only 650 people will be allowed to visit at any time. 

We knew that Delta would be a pain in the behind. It is. It's looking like it can sneak past a lot of people's antibodies, and it seems over twice as catchy and twice as deadly as original COVID last year, but the vaccinations are already keeping plenty of people out of hospital.
Without the vaccines we could expect to lose many times more people in this wave than we did in any previous wave. COVID matured, but so did we. It is a race, but we're keeping up. And ultimately we will win. 

There are, give or take, around 7,874,965,000 people on Earth (7.8 billion). According to Our World In Data, 21.1% of them have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 2.5 billion doses have been administered, with 33.9 million more each day. 
"Only 0.8% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose."

Some people. All flying through space on a great big rock, on the piece of Earth we call Africa:

Countries / Cases / Losses of life reported yesterday in the 24 hours until midnight GMT:

South Africa 1,774,312 (+13,246) 58,223 (+136)

Zambia 118,850 (+3,026) 1,492 (+48)

Tunisia 374,312 (+2,091) 13,721 (+65)

Namibia 69,096 (+2,075) 1,073 (+33)

Uganda 65,631 (+1,110) 508 (+49)

Egypt 275,010 (+606) 15,723 (+32)

Morocco 524,975 (+500) 9,221 (+4)

Kenya 176,622 (+485) 3,428

Algeria 134,458 (+343) 3,598 (+10)

Libya 189,888 (+330) 3,166

DRC 36,222 (+304) 857 (+3)

Rwanda 29,175 (+263) 376 (+4)

Cameroon 80,328 (+238) 1,313 (+3)

Zimbabwe 40,556 (+238) 1,640 (+3)

Angola 37,094 (+173) 847 (+5) 




Daily hospital admissions

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