Thursday 3 June 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 2nd / 3rd June 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 2nd / 3rd June 2021.

The UK added 5,274 cases today and now has reported a total of 4,499,878 positive cases of COVID-19. (Yes, that is high. It will maybe have some added on figures from the bank holiday, but it's high.)
We completed 854,697 tests yesterday.

The counter says 39,758,428 people had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 26,422,303 people had received 2 doses and are fully vaccinated.

919 people were in hospital on Tuesday 1st June, with 129 people using a ventilator yesterday, 2nd June.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 18 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 127,812 losses of life in all settings.

Up until Friday 21st May 2021, the ONS report that 152,183 people had COVID listed as a cause on their death certificate. 

Rep. Of Ireland 262,726 cases and 4,941 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.)

There have now been a total of 172,671,166 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 3,711,679. Already 155,411,508 people have recovered.

020521 500 community pharmacies have delivered over 5m doses

"I know young people have sacrificed so much over the last year.
 The 100 million hours of extra tuition we are providing should give parents confidence we are doing everything we can to ensure no child is left behind by the pandemic."
Boris Johnson,  UK PM.

"Over 500 community pharmacies have delivered over 5 million vaccines in England - including my own vaccination at Avicenna pharmacy in Lewisham.
Thank you to the staff and volunteers at community pharmacy local vaccination sites for their fantastic efforts."
Not me!! That's Nadhim Zahawi, UK Vaccines Minister. 

Health Minister Matt Hancock released a video yesterday, talking about the success of the UK Vaccination Programme. We have now reached the milestones of vaccinating 3 out of every 4 adults (75%) with at least 1 dose, and 1 in every 2 adults (50%) is now fully vaccinated (including Boris, who got his 2nd dose today).
Be under no illusions, this is monumental. It's a record-breaking effort and in the future people will look back and say "wow". You are part of something really big. Thank you to everyone who has played any part in making it happen. 

Updates to the UK's travel lists were due today in the first of the 3 weekly reviews, and I have incredibly bad news for some of you.
No new countries have been added to the Green List.
UK holidaymakers' favourite Portugal is going to be moved to Amber, along with The Azores and Madeira  - meaning anyone returning after 4am on Tuesday will have to self-isolate for 10 days on your return.
7 countries are moving from Amber to Red, including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Trinidad and Tobago. Only UK nationals and those with good reason can enter the UK from these countries, and you will have to spend your isolation period in a quarantine hotel.
Grant Shapps, UK Transport Minister said on the telly:
“...the positivity rate has nearly doubled since the last review in Portugal, and the other is there’s a sort of Nepal mutation of the so-called Indian variant which has been detected.
We just don’t know the potential for that to be a vaccine-defeating mutation, and simply don’t want to take the risk as we come up to June 21 - and the review of the fourth stage of the unlock.”
Ermmm. Yeah, this Nepal mutation Grant. Have you got any more on that at all? Well, he has. Apparently:
"According to data published on GISAID, 68 cases of the Delta variant of concern have been identified in Portugal, including cases of the Delta variant with an additional, potentially detrimental, mutation."

Today's UK Delta variant (B1617.2 first detected in India) surge testing bingo winners are Gamesley Ward, High Peak in Derbyshire. 

030521 risk assesssmnt for delta indian variant b1617.2

Before we have some excellent news, I'll give you the very brand new bad news. Public Health England have published what they've discovered about the Delta Variant B1617.2 - first discovered in India.
I can't sugar coat it, it's worse than what we had before. We already had plenty of signs that it can infect people even if they've had vaccinations, but they found:
- More likely to spread through your household, and to other people - possibly  at least in part because more virus forms in the airways. (High confidence)
- More likely to result in hospitalisation (Low confidence in this result as there's not really enough evidence yet.)
- Able to escape through some people's natural immunity (Low confidence).
- Vaccination appears around 15-20% less likely to prevent symptomatic infection (Low confidence),
"Delta is predominant and all analyses find that it has a very substantial growth advantage"
After all of that - we still have every reason to believe around 75-95% of people will be saved from severe illness and hospitalisation, or worse, when you are fully vaccinated. 

Excellent real-world study results came out on Tuesday afternoon.
The town of Serrana in Brazil was split into quarters and every adult fully vaccinated - quarter by quarter.
Researchers say they found the key figure is 75% vaccinated, and once you have that, you do have herd immunity which starts to protect everyone in the community, including those who aren't vaccinated - because they're so much less likely to catch COVID (and pass it on), but obviously the more the better.
With 95% of the population vaccinated:
Deaths fell by 95%
Hospitalisations fell by 86%
Symptomatic cases fell by 80%
Vaccinations work, and we don't have to vaccinate every single person in order for them to work.
Serrana's population were vaccinated with CoronaVac, the Chinese-made vaccine which has just been validated by the World Health Organisation, and only claims 50% efficacy against illness with symptoms, so that makes this even better news.
A second study is underway using the AstraZeneca vaccine in the Brazilian town of Botucatu. Results will follow.  

English Education Minister Gavin Williamson has been on the telly a lot over the past couple of days. He's announced a package of catch up ideas, and a budget of 1/10th of what was advised to make them happen. Nothing official has really been announced as final, and I did expect it today, but obviously not. 

020621 1b for education recovery

Joe Biden has made an announcement about vaccine-sharing ahead of the G7 meetings, and made it clear he believes other wealthier nations should join him :
" the end of June, the United States will share 80 million doses of our vaccine supply with the world.
Today, we’re providing more detail on how we will allocate the first 25 million of those vaccines to lay the ground for increased global coverage and to address real and potential surges, high burdens of disease, and the needs of the most vulnerable countries. At least 75 percent of these doses—nearly 19 million—will be shared through COVAX, including approximately 6 million doses for Latin America and the Caribbean, approximately 7 million for South and Southeast Asia, and approximately 5 million for Africa, working in coordination with the African Union and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The remaining doses, just over 6 million, will be shared directly with countries experiencing surges, those in crisis, and other partners and neighbors, including Canada, Mexico, India, and the Republic of Korea.
We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions. We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic, with the power of our example and with our values." 

UK human rights watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), is going to back mandatory vaccinations for care home workers, and it's likely they will have the same opinion for health workers.
An enormous number of people became infected in hospitals and care homes, and "right to life" is a big part of this decision. No-one should be placed at risk when seeking care or being cared for. The rights of the residents and patients they come into contact with are as important as the rights of the care workers.
This isn't a new thing. Many workers have to be vaccinated to more safely perform their jobs, notably healthcare staff. Depending on where you work within the medical system, this can include things like Tetanus, Polio, Tuberculosis, Chicken Pox and Hepatitis B. 

Michael Gove has hinted that the UK's furlough scheme may remain in place longer than this September. Yet again he's right not to rule anything out, but it does imply he's not quite as confident as Boris was last week.

Meeting up outside is safest UK Government message

Canada have pretty much stopped using the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Anyone who was given it as a first jab now has their choice of the same or a different vaccine for their 2nd dose.
The UK's trial for mix and match vaccines hasn't yet finished, so we still don't have any data to show what effect mixed doses have, but it is hoped it might work across a broader spectrum and prove more effective than 2 doses of the same vaccine. Early signs are that it is no less effective. 

The UK's Daily Mail media reported that a new 'Nepal Variant' is responsible for the horrific surge in cases and overwhelming of their health system. Grant Shapps, UK Travel Minister also mentioned it earlier.... but... The Nepalese government have denied it, and the World Health Organisation have seconded:
"WHO is not aware of any new variant of SARS-CoV-2 being detected in Nepal. The 3 confirmed variants in circulation are: Alpha (B.1.1.7), Delta (B.1.617.2) and Kappa (B.1.617.1). The predominant variant currently in circulation in Nepal is Delta (B.1.617.2)."
The Delta Variant is capable of this huge a surge, we saw that in India. India is now thankfully doing much better, and vaccinations are continuing at speed. Fingers crossed Nepal get this under some control quickly, and the Nepal Variant turns out to be hot air and excitability from the Daily Mail (we have enough variants already!!).

It was always the case that every person who died early from COVID, would have died from something eventually, some of them within a relatively short space of time. Now that the pandemic is coming up on 18 months old, and we've massively reduced loss of life through restrictions, better understanding of treatment, and the vaccination rollout, we are already seeing the 'excess deaths' begin to balance out.
It's good to see less people on that list, but sad that so many people did not have the last few weeks or months that they would have wanted.
According to the ONS, between 7th March 2020 and 21st May 2021, the UK had lost 116,062 people more than would have usually been expected. Up until 21st May, 152,183 people had COVID listed as a cause of death. 

Ishwar Sharma, an 11-year-old yoga prodigy from Kent, has been awarded the prestigious Points of Light Award by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson - for helping hundreds of children around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic with his free online yoga classes.

Hong Kong residents aren't coming forward for vaccination as quickly as health bodies would like, so they've organised a fantastic incentive. Residents who have received two vaccine doses are eligible for a lucky draw to win a 449 square-foot (42 square-meter) apartment.
(For reference, the average UK home is 729sq ft, in Hong Kong it's 430sq ft.)

The Queen has confirmed plans for a 4 day UK Bank Holiday weekend to celebrate her 75th year on the throne. Hopefully, with full vaccination and a fair wind, we really should be ready for a celebration - and a Platinum Jubilee is a rare do indeed. The festivities will take place Thursday June 2nd - Sunday June 5th 2022.
(I'll have to get my Silver Jubilee mug out. Best day at school ever - we had a picnic, and wore party dresses and paper hats.)

Today is the first day of the G7 Health Ministers' meeting, which is taking place in Oxford, and chaired by UK Health Minister Matt Hancock.
The countries in the G7 are Canada,  France,  Germany,  Italy,  Japan,  the United Kingdom and the United States. Representatives of the European Union also sit in on meetings.
Anyone else think it's ironic all 7 health ministers still think in-person meetings are wise?

Some numbers. They are all people, but I don't have room for all of their names:

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

USA 34,156,112 (+1,807) 611,067 (+47)

India 28,572,359 (+131,371) 340,719 (+2,706)

Brazil 16,720,081 not yet reported today 467,706

France 5,685,915 not yet reported today 109,758

Turkey 5,270,299 (+6,602) 47,882 (+114)

Russia 5,099,182 (+8,933) 122,660 (+393)

UK 4,499,878 (+5,274) 127,812 (+18)

Italy 4,225,163 (+1,968) 126,342 (+59)

Argentina 3,852,156  not yet reported today 79,320

Germany 3,698,863 (+859) 89,528 (+18)

Spain 3,693,012 (+5,250) 80,099 (+50)

Colombia 3,459,422 not yet reported today 89,808

Iran 2,945,100 (+9,657) 80,658 (+170)

Poland 2,874,092 (+572) 74,075 (+91)

Mexico 2,423,928 (+3,269) 228,146 (+306)

Ukraine 2,209,417 (+2,581) 50,959 (+102) 




Sources: - image image

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