Friday 23 July 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 23rd July 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 23rd July 2021

The UK added 36,389 cases today and now has reported a total of 5,637,975 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 1,013,261 tests yesterday.

The counter says 46,476,845 people (87.9% of UK adults) had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 36,762,646 people (69.5% of UK adults) had received 2 doses and will be fully vaccinated 14 days after the second dose.

5,001 people were in hospital yesterday Thursday 22nd (up from 3,964 a week earlier), with 699 using a ventilator (up from 551 a week earlier).

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 64 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 129,044 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 290,525 (+1,386) cases and 5,026 losses of life.

There have now been a total of 193,701,849 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 4,156,111. Already 175,919,238 people have recovered.

230721 UK COVID Variants update

“I think the word irreversible about anything is probably best not used.”
NHS England head Sir Simon Stevens (in today's Financial Times).

"North East and Yorkshire becomes the first of seven regions in the English NHS to record over 1000 covid+ hospital patients. [It had 80 on 5 June]."
Alistair McLellan, Editor of the HSJ (Health Services Journal).

UK Environment Secretary George Eustice and Health Secretary Sajid Javid have outlined plans for daily contact testing for the food and drink industries.
They are concerned about supply chains breaking because of outbreaks. Potentially we could have literally millions of people self-isolating at some point within the next month or so. There was a big meeting yesterday with supermarket bosses...
"Following clinical trial results, daily contact testing will be rolled out to critical workplaces in the food supply chain so that contacts who would otherwise be self-isolating can instead take daily tests.
Priority testing sites have already been identified with industry for urgent implementation this week, including the largest supermarket distribution centres, with rollout to hundreds of sites planned to start next week, with up to 500 sites in scope."
This is still a bit of an experiment, and it should massively improve the situation, but daily testing is not 100% accurate. Remember everyone who went anywhere near Trump was tested daily, and even he still caught COVID eventually... but hang on... 

New research from the University Of Oxford found that daily testing  of secondary school students who were in contact with someone with COVID-19, was just as effective as isolation in preventing spread of COVID among the students. That is excellent news. As ever, it's not-yet-peer-reviewed, but it is really positive.
201 secondary schools and colleges (200,000 pupils and 20,000 staff) were randomly placed into two groups.
Half of the schools had the usual twice weekly testing and 10 day isolation for close contacts of positive cases.
The second group allowed close contacts of positive cases to take supervised lateral flow tests for 7 days instead, and around half of those staff and students eligible chose that option.
Close contacts from both groups took a PCR (lab) test on day 2 and 7.
"44/2981 (1.5%) of the contacts attending school in the daily testing group tested positive, compared to 14/886 (1.6%) of the control students and staff staying at home."
Frankly both of those figures are excellent, which is a testament to the school staff and the pupils themselves. You would expect a similar number of contacts to initially test positive obviously, but if the daily testing schedule wasn't catching cases in time, by Day 7 more of the children in the classes and bubbles of the young people still going in would test positive. It really does look like lateral flow testing has ironed it's wrinkles and can do the job. No wonder it's being expanded... 

230721 European CDC 7 day case rate map of EU with coloured sections

Bad news from the other side of the world. New Zealand have suspended their travel bubble with Australia.
Australia have an outbreak in Sydney which they just can't seem to shift - and it is Delta Variant, which proves just how much of a swine it is. They were getting around 3-50 cases a day through June, but by 10th July that had started to creep upwards towards 100, and today they reported another 162 cases (and 1 person lost). That's too big a risk for New Zealand, who have suspended the arrangement for the next 8 weeks.
New Zealand's highest daily total was 146 cases on March 28th 2020. They do currently report an average of about 7 cases a day, and they are almost exclusively new arrivals in the quarantine hotels. 

The PITCH study is a part of the UK's SIREN study into immunity and reinfection, and is being overseen by several universities, Public Health England, the NHS etc etc. PITCH has been looking into the optimum gap between vaccine doses. It's not-yet-peer-reviewed.
They split participants into short dosing schedules (2-5 weeks apart / average 3.4 weeks) range ) and long dosing schedules (6-14 weeks apart / average 10 weeks) with the Pfizer vaccine.
When they measured the responses 4 weeks after the second dose, they found that the people in the long dosing schedule group had:
"2x higher neutralising antibodies against all variants of the virus tested, including the Delta variant, compared to the short dosing interval. Absolute numbers of T cells to spike were lower after the long interval compared to the short one, but the T cell response had more characteristics of a helper response promoting long term memory and antibody production."
This is excellent news for anyone in a country (including the UK) where doses have been spaced out. The writers are very clear though that this is an average, and it really does vary a lot from person to person. 

Several people at the United States Capitol Hill complex have tested positive, despite being fully vaccinated. This includes a senior aide in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and a White House official, and is due to the rapidly increasing Delta Variant.
Masks haven't been officially brought back in, but Politico is reporting that around half the House of Representatives members are now wearing them again. 

It's going to be one of the worst kept secrets ever, but I've heard from 4 sources in the last 24 hours that businesses and the cabinet office are being warned/drawing up plans in the eventuality that we have to reimpose restrictions somewhere around September to October. IT MIGHT NOT HAPPEN. It seems quite likely though, eh... If we get that far before we have to lockdown, it will mean that the English Government plan has done pretty 'well', all things considered.
Lockdown wouldn't be the first thing that comes back, mask-wearing and distancing would come back first. It is highly unlikely schools will blanket shut at any point.

indieSAGE summary this week

Today's indieSAGE - well, I missed it. My kids finished early, so it was impossible to catch. I'll make it up from the slides.
Cases in the UK are showing a decrease over the last few days. This is a bit unexpected, but welcome, however, lets not get too excited. Testing is down a bit, and test positivity rate has really gone up everywhere except Scotland - implying we simply aren't testing enough contacts and catching enough cases.
Remember WHO say maximum 5% positives, or you are missing some. In fact Scotland is at around 9% and the other UK nations are at 11-13%. Really - lets not get excited, but if it continues, then we can. (If it turns out to be a fudge in order to make case numbers look low ahead of the Summer holidays and everyone jetting off to their jollybobbs, well, that'll be a bad thing.)

"People working in care homes will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID19 by 11 November.
This will help to protect those most at risk from the virus."
UK Dept. of Health & Social Care.
You need to have had your first dose by September 16th in order to be fully vaccinated in time. 

Some UK press are reporting excitedly that we have a new variant under watch, and they're possibly overplaying it. I wouldn't panic just yet, we've only had 16 cases, mainly linked to travel, and it's a really quiet day for news (I'm not complaining! I've sorted more emails in the last 48 hours than I did in the last 2 weeks). It could turn out to be incredibly deadly and catchy and all sorts, or we might get 1 more case next week and then never see it again. Variants are being created all the time, we only need to worry if they actually get a foot in the door. 

The UK ONS surveys this week show that:
"Almost two-thirds (64%) of working adults travelled to work at some point in the past seven days (60% last week); this includes half (50%) of working adults travelling to work exclusively and not working from home (46% last week); this has increased from mid-February (34% in the period 10 to 14 February 2021)."
I hope that a substantial number of people can continue to work from home if they choose, at least part of the time. It's planet-friendly, and less traffic = less of your life wasted sitting in traffic, and less stress all round. Some companies have moved a lot of their staff out of the office permanently, including banks JP Morgan, who intend to have around 10% of employees work from home full time, and HSBC, who are currently in discussions, and may have up to 70% of staff working from home in future.

All Care Home workers need to be fully vaccinated before 11th November

Olympic Hopefuls:
Fantastic news! Guinea’s five athletes WILL participate in the Olympic games. Sports Minister Sanoussy Bantama Sow reversed his decision within 24 hours:
'The Minister of State, Minister of Sports has the true pleasure of informing the people of Guinea and the whole sports family, that the government, after obtaining guarantees from the health authorities, agrees to the participation of our athletes in the 32nd Olympics in Tokyo,"
I'm so pleased for them. Heck, it really doesn't matter where they place, they are the best in their country, and they're Olympians. They will face a very strict quarantine on their return, Guinea are still extremely worried about COVID, but I don't think they'll mind.  

The person on the treadmill during the opening of the Tokyo Olympic Games earlier today was Arisa Tsubata. She is a nurse who was also training to become an Olympic boxer, and she should have taken part in qualifiers last month. Because of COVID, the heats were cancelled, and places allocated according to world ranking, so Arisa missed out. The organisers gave her a chance to take part anyway - centre stage.

It IS the weekend. It's been a ridiculously long week here as we headed towards the Summer holidays and crossed our fingers no-one had to isolate. My youngest child finished Primary school, so he had a week of fun which he's enjoyed no end. I know some of the staff read this, so a very personal THANK YOU, to all of you, for the support you've offered my family over the last 13 years. We've not been easy, we've had bereavement, meningitis, and various other emergencies - one of our children was even run over by another child's aunt outside the school back in 2008.
It was nice to be able to give my school warning COVID was on the way, and be almost spot on with which date school would close last March, but so very sad that it had to happen. This wasn't how it was meant to be.
This marks an end to 24 years of raising Primary School children for me - which really does feel like the end of an era (no more white polo shirts!). But anyway, enough of that...

DO NOT forget your treat - something for you, not for them. I know I've earnt mine this week. Remember that the simplest things, the ones you have most control of, are often the ones which are the most effective.

The heatwave is ending, and the rain is on the way, but wherever you can, Play Outdoors, Wash Your Hands, Save The NHS...

Some people. Almost exactly the same, but completely unique:

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

USA 35,216,594 (+3,000) 626,191 (+19)

India 31,329,005 (+37,301) 420,019 (+517)

Brazil 19,524,092 not yet reported today 547,134

Russia 6,078,522 (+23,811) 152,296 (+795)

France 5,933,510 not yet reported today 111,565

UK 5,637,975 (+36,389) 129,044 (+64)

Turkey 5,563,903 not yet reported today 50,761

Argentina 4,812,351 not yet reported today 103,074

Colombia 4,692,570 not yet reported today 117,836

Italy 4,307,535 (+5,143) 127,937 (+17)

Spain 4,249,258 not yet reported today 81,194

Germany 3,759,314 (+908) 92,006 (+16)

Iran 3,645,654 (+21,814) 88,273 (+210)

Indonesia 3,082,410 (+49,071) 80,598 (+1,566)

Poland 2,881,948 (+108) 75,235 (+4)

Mexico 2,709,739 (+16,244) 237,626 (+419)




Daily hospital admissions


Arisa -


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