Friday 30 July 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 30th July 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 30th July 2021

The UK added 29,622 cases today and now has reported a total of 5,830,774 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 863,554 tests yesterday.

The counter says 46,775,525 people (88.4% of UK adults) had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 37,962,407 people (71.8%) had received 2 doses.

5,916 people were in hospital yesterday 29th July (up from 5,001 a week earlier / 3,964 two weeks earlier), with 869 people using a ventilator (up from 699 a week earlier / 551 two weeks earlier).

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 68 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 129,583 losses of life in all settings.

Up until Friday 16th July, 153,342 people had COVID listed as a cause on their death certificate.

Rep. Of Ireland 298,048 cases and 5,035 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.)

There have now been a total of 197,703,056 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 4,219,658. Already 178,754,952 people have recovered.

Never too late to book your vaccination

“Delta is a warning..
“It's a warning that this virus is evolving. But it's also a call to action: That we need to move now, before more dangerous variants emerge."
Dr Mike Ryan, World Health Organisation. 

"On average, in five of WHO’s six regions, COVID19 infections have increased by 80%, or nearly doubled, over the past four weeks. In Africa, deaths have increased by 80% over the same period.
Much of this increase is being driven by the highly-transmissible Delta variant, which has now been detected in at least 132 countries.
The rise is also driven by increased social mixing & mobility, the inconsistent use of public health & social measures, & inequitable vaccination use. Hard-won gains are in jeopardy or being lost, & health systems in many countries are being overwhelmed.
The increased number of COVID19 infections is creating a shortage of treatments such as life-saving oxygen. Twenty-nine countries have high and rising oxygen needs, and many countries have inadequate supplies of basic equipment to protect frontline healthworkers.
Testing rates in low-income countries are less than 2% of what they are in high-income countries – leaving the Earth blind to understanding where the disease is and how it’s changing.
Without better testing rates worldwide, we cannot fight the disease on the frontline or mitigate the risk of new, more dangerous variants emerging"
Dr Tedros, Head of WHO - reminding us once again how lucky we should feel to be born where we were. 

300721 indieSAGE people haven't changed their behaviour as much as we might have thought

Today's report from the UK ONS (Office for National Statistics) includes:
"In Week 27 (week ending 9 July 2021), there were 11,137 deaths (all causes) registered in the UK, which was 681 more deaths than the UK five-year average and 962 more deaths than in Week 26 (week ending 2 July 2021).
Across the UK, there were 11,053 deaths (all causes) registered in Week 28 (week ending 16 July 2021), which was 514 more deaths than the UK five-year average and 84 fewer deaths than in Week 27 (week ending 9 July 2021).
Deaths were above the five-year average in England (472 more deaths) and Scotland (100 more deaths) and below the five-year average in Wales (15 fewer deaths) and in Northern Ireland (33 fewer deaths). Of all deaths in the UK in Week 28, 268 involved coronavirus (COVID-19), 51 more deaths than in Week 27, a 23.5% increase."

The reason the US CDC issued new guidance on Delta Variant is because they have been studying it, and they are quite concerned. They've also discovered it really is like battling a different beast - in fact, their memo begins "Acknowledge the war has changed".
The Washington Post has shared the internal CDC presentation and is reporting that it states "that the Delta variant causes more severe illness and spreads as easily as chickenpox, and that vaccinated people may transmit the strain as easily as those who are unvaccinated".
"Vaccinated people infected with delta have measurable viral loads similar to those who are unvaccinated and infected with the variant."
(Vaccinated and unvaccinated people who catch Delta Variant COVID are breathing out the same amount of live virus.)
This does really match up with evidence from India and the UK, and my own personal UK North West experience. It might not be a surprise, but it's obviously still a disappointment.,.
The CDC haven't yet released the study behind this (although I've seen parts of it) and it is very eagerly anticipated. (Oh yes.) Meanwhile, their new advice is to wear masks indoors in public areas, whether you are vaccinated or not (in areas with COVID transmission obviously), and they are considering making vaccination mandatory for health care workers, in order to protect vulnerable populations.
The somewhat good news that they found was in vaccinated populations (the USA uses mainly mRNA vaccinations - Pfizer and Moderna):
The risk of severe disease or death was reduced 10-fold or greater in vaccinated people.
The risk of infection was reduced 3-fold in vaccinated people.
(i.e. risk without vaccination is 10x or 3x bigger - this again matches UK figures, which suggested around 0.2% of vaccinated people who catch Delta may end up in ICU, compared to around 2%-3% of non-vaccinated. We've also previously had studies which found around 1/3 of vaccinated people can still catch and pass on COVID Delta Variant.)

300721 indieSAGE positives by age

The CDC mask decision seems to have been fuelled by the Cape Cod Beach Outbreak... dah dah daaaaaah.
It was 4th July, COVID cases were low, there was a beach, scantily clad people, fun, etc. A week later there were a few cases, and by yesterday 882 cases have been linked to the celebration a mere 26 days ago. 74% of locals are fully vaccinated, but anecdotal reports are that most people testing positive have some symptoms and 7 have been hospitalised so far. 

I think the CDC might also have read this one... and it's Alpha, not Delta.
An Israeli healthcare workers study (not-yet-peer-reviewed) released this week found 39 cases among 1,497 fully vaccinated staff.
85% were Alpha (UK/Kent Variant)
Although most of the COVID+ people had mild symptoms or were asymptomatic, 19% had symptoms lasting over 6 weeks (almost 1 in 5).
74% (3 in 4) had a high viral load at some point during the infection, implying they could pass COVID on and were infectious, although no secondary cases were noted. 

Alberta, Canada, is removing COVID measures. They think it's all over. It's even more relaxed than England's relaxation, although they don't have the COVID cases we do.
From this week anyone who is a close contact is only advised to isolate, and it's up to the person who tests positive to tell their contacts, who aren't advised to get tested.
From August 16th mask mandates are removed, and people who test positive will only be advised to isolate. People with mild symptoms don't need to be tested. They are really going to try treating COVID like any other contagious disease, and focus only on people who become very ill, or outbreaks in places like care homes.
Best of luck... 

June July 2021 percentage of hospital patients with COVID being treated for COVID

New data from the UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS) shows that COVID-19 vaccinations offer effective protection. This new analysis reports information on all pregnant women admitted with symptoms of confirmed COVID-19 in pregnancy in the UK from the beginning of the pandemic up to 11 July 2021.
"The data show:
- 3371 pregnant women have been admitted to hospital with symptomatic COVID-19.
- The severity of women's illness appears to have become worse; 24% of women admitted in the first wave had moderate or severe disease, compared with 36% with the Alpha variant and 45% with the Delta variant.
- Vaccination data has been collected since 1 February 2021. Of 742 women admitted since that date, only four have received a single dose of vaccine and none have received both doses.
This means that more than 99% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with symptomatic COVID-19 are unvaccinated. In comparison, 60% of the general population admitted to hospital with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. During this time, at least 55,000 pregnant women have received one or more doses of a COVID vaccine in the UK."

Scientists think they have worked out why Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine don't work against COVID. The way COVID infects cells is too quick, and bypasses them. On paper they looked great, and Trump thought they were brilliant, but on real live humans they appear to just wave as the COVID goes past. 

Australia are bringing in the Army. They reported their highest daily total in 11 months on Wednesday - 258 new positives. Cases are centred on specific poorer areas of Sydney, where over half of the residents are migrants. They have been locked down for several weeks already, and really are desperate to find a solution to this. People in the Western suburbs of Sydney are only allowed to travel 5km (3m) and have to show recent negative tests to travel further for work.
The Army will be supporting Police to carry out checks ensuring people self-isolating are where they're meant to be. 

300721 indieSAGE ONS infection survey

Today's indieSAGE - What Is Going On?
They looked into why UK case rates seemed to be going down, and whether it offers a true picture of infection in the UK?
Vaccinations are going really well, but it'll be another 6-8 weeks before we've given 2nd doses to almost all adults who have had their 1st dose, and we need to focus on the remaining people who haven't come forward. Currently we have around 1/3 adults not yet fully vaccinated.
We STILL have a very marked difference in vaccine take-up between white people and ethnic minorities, especially people who identify as black.
We have PCR (lab) test positivity rates of around 15% - slightly lower than the week before, but far too high. We need it to be below 5%.
Hospital occupancy is rising in all nations except Scotland. This matches with Scottish case rates falling 10 days earlier. Their schools closed earlier, and they haven't reopened with the enthusiasm (recklessness) England have.
Now. The important bit.
We have seen a big and sustained drop in reported cases across the UK over the last fortnight, but in the last 2-3 days this has turned, and we have an increase in cases in ALL English regions.
Reported case rates DO NOT match today's ONS random Infection Survey results. These are from last week (24th July), and can ONLY see a decrease in cases in Scotland. In the other 3 nations we can see a steep rise. It did take a week or two before we could see the drop in Scotland, so we will have a more concrete idea next week if cases in England are/were actually dropping, or if we are/were simply being fooled.
If we look at how many people we've been admitting to hospital in England, and how many people are using a ventilator, there is a slight flattening off - but delve deeper and that is almost all due to a decrease in cases in the North West. The Midlands is stable, but all other areas are increasing.
Nuffield Trust released a statement about staff absence this week, which explains the more COVID in the community, the more staff are off work sick, self-isolating, looking after family. The longer it takes to treat patients because of having to split COVID and non-COVID, and the less beds you have because of distancing. It makes it all incredibly hard for the NHS.
Between 1st and 30th June, the number of hospital staff off work due to COVID rose from 6,713 to 13,771.
indieSAGE today also addressed the issue of "are they in hospital because they have COVID, or did they discover they had asymptomatic COVID when they were in hospital for a bunion?" This data was only released yesterday, and across the last month, an almost perfectly static 76-80% of patients with COVID in hospital ARE actually being treated for COVID.
The Financial Times has done some brilliant number crunching looking at your risk of death from COVID by age, and how that has changed with vaccination. I've included the chart below - ordinarily I couldn't fairly share it, but seeing as indieSAGE have, I can. Be careful when you look at the numbers, it's a log scale which changes by x10 each row - so it's better than you might think. It makes it easy to see why we still have some people dying, but also just how low your risk becomes when you are fully vaccinated - although it will never be zero.
The Financial Times estimate that without the vaccinations, hospital admissions in the UK would currently be at just over 4,000 a day (rather than around 900) above the Winter peak.
indieSAGE looked at who is testing positive at the moment in the UK. The number of men testing positive showed a massive spike with the football, which has eased off. Women generally test far more and report more positive cases, they're fairly static. The number of school children testing positive has fallen dramatically - as was expected with schools closing.
The number of tests being carried out is much lower than a couple of weeks ago. indieSAGE ask how many are reluctant to take tests?
On the big question about whether the drop in UK cases is real, or not, Epidemiologist Christina Pagel says that when you reach 'herd immunity', you wouldn't expect it to be even across England, you'd have big variation from area to area, and a gradual decline, not a high peak and a sudden drop. It doesn't look right to her. She believes we did have a small decrease in cases for several minor reasons (including the 6% of people self-isolating), but in her opinion it is now back on the rise. 

300721 indieSAGE vaccination and mortality thanks to the Financial Times

US companies are really taking risk of having no-one at work (because they're all sick or isolating) very seriously. Now that the CDC have reassessed Delta, some of them see reason to make vaccinations mandatory.
According to CNN, employers who are insisting employees are vaccinated before they are allowed back onto company premises or back into the office include:
Netflix (including actors)
Lyft ridesharing (which is offering free or discounted rides to anyone going for their vaccination in the USA.)
Union Square Hospitality (New York - staff AND customers must be fully vaccinated after September 7th.) 

Scarlett Johansson filed a lawsuit against Disney yesterday, for breach of contract because Black Widow was released on Disney Plus at the same time as in cinemas.
I don't usually side with the big guys, but I'm with Disney on this one. They've responded by saying:
“The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Yeah, I know companies can't just ignore contracts, but honestly Scarlett, your beef here seems to be that you'll miss out on bonuses which are tied in to cinema ticket sales. Hundreds of thousands of kids wouldn't have been able to see the movie if it was cinema only, and we still have to pay for it on Disney. You have more money than you can ever spend already. How much do you want? 

Olympic Hopefuls:
The Japanese government has expanded its COVID-19 state of emergency to Osaka and three other prefectures near Tokyo,  because of the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases. It will be effective from Monday until August 31st.
They reported 10,697 new cases today, and rumours are that they do have a large number of cases actually within the Olympic Village - which is an utter tragedy if it's true. These are the best athletes in the world, COVID could ruin their career. 

The NHS app. has been updated. Apparently it now has sections for Domestic and International COVID passports. Some people see this as stealth and a bit worrying.
I know the UK Government can be a bit rubbish at things, but even they are capable of better 'stealth' than this....

300721 indieSAGE summary

Reuters has a great article about mandatory vaccinations. No country as far as I know has actually made vaccinations mandatory for general citizens, but a lot have made them mandatory for healthcare workers, social care workers, mass events or access to things like dining in a restaurant.
Greece has announced intentions to make indoor bars, cinemas, theatres and other closed public spaces open to fully vaccinated people only.
Kazakhstan is making vaccination (or testing) mandatory for anyone working in a group of more than 20.
Saudi Arabia will require vaccination for anyone wishing to enter any government, private or educational establishment, and to use public transport, from August 1st.
Check before you travel - or try to...

It's the weekend! So soon? This was the shortest week ever for me, I hope it was a good one for you. We are now a slightly prouder family with a second Uni graduate, this time Engineering.
A huge congratulations to every student who managed to get a pass, on whatever you were studying this year. Remember to always mention when you passed, because you did it in a year when nothing was exactly as it was meant to be. You rocked.

There are no people today, because the post is too long already - but I didn't want to crop anything out. Have a good weekend - sorry about the weather, but I hope it doesn't spoil any plans! Don't forget your treat - just for you, not for them. You have earned it, make it a good one.

Open The Windows, Play Outdoors, Save The NHS... 



Daily hospital admissions

indieSAGE -

Israel Healthcare workers:

Drop in cases UK:

Reuters Vaccines article:

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