Monday 19 July 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK/Plague Island Briefing with Boris 19th July 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus Plague Island Briefing with Boris 19th July 2021

Cases: +39,950
Losses of Life: +19
1st Dose vaccination: 46,314,039 (87.9% of UK adults)
2nd Dose vaccination: 36,099,727 (68.5%)

IMPORTANT! Read this thing:
The MET Office has issued an Amber Heat Alert until Thursday - and they genuinely expect people to come to harm due to the heat. Look after yourself - and each other.
It may be so hot in some parts of the UK that electrical equipment fails. If your internet goes down, there's probably a server room somewhere which is melting. 

160 people drowned in England last year - don't mess about near water

"Did you see Boris has a Churchillian speech planned "we have vanquished the virus" for tomorrow that has now been cancelled?" Facebook reader Kerry yesterday.
Heavens no, I didn't. But I laughed a full 10 minutes at the idea. And then I cried.

Protestors were in force outside Downing Street today. They can't complain about lockdown any more, and the anti-vaxxers aren't doing so well, so it was 'No COVID Passports'. Bizarrely though, they mainly chanted "Arrest Boris Johnson". I'm not sure which of his crimes they wanted him arrested for, but for once it's a sentiment I can get behind. 

"In the absence of leadership from the Government …
If you’re travelling on public transport in Greater Manchester tomorrow, please wear a mask out of consideration for others
We do things differently here and that means looking out for each other and not buying the “Freedom Day” rhetoric."
Andy Burnham,  Manchester Mayor. 

Scotland moved to Level 0 today. (Children under 12 not included in totals):
- Masks will remain mandatory
- In public places distancing from others should be observed, but your own group don't have to distance from each other
- 8 people from up to 4 households can meet in private homes
- 10 people from up to 4 households can meet in public indoor spaces
- Up to 15 people from up to 15 households can meet outdoors
- Up to 200 people can attend weddings and funerals
- Hospitality will close at midnight, and customers have to provide details for contact tracing
-  Limits on official gatherings increase outdoors to 2,000 seated and 1,000 standing, and indoors to 400
-  Work from home wherever possible remains in place for at least the next 3 weeks.

Wales isn't England the laws are different Wear a mask

There was an England Briefing today with Boris, Pat and Jon Van Tam. Boris is obviously self-isolating, but luckily he has a podium and fancy backdrop in his spare bedroom at Chequers.

Boris started by talking about self-isolating, and how many people might want to wait and not reopen right now (when it's all falling through the sieve). He says:
"The logic remains the same. If we don't open up now, then we face a risk of even tougher conditions in the colder months, when the virus has a natural advantage, and we lose that firebreak of the school holidays, and there comes a point after so many have been vaccinated, when further restrictions no longer prevent hospitalisations and deaths, but simply delay the inevitable. If not now, when?"
(If you are clinically vulnerable, NEVER think you don't matter. YOU MATTER.)
"And though both deaths and hospitalisations are sadly rising, these numbers are well within the margins of what our scientists predicted at the outset of the roadmap."
(Apparently these future deaths are already budgeted)
"So, it is right to proceed cautiously in the way that we are, but it's also right to recognise that this pandemic is far from over. And that's why, I'M AFRAID, it IS essential to keep up the system of Test, Trace and Isolate. And I know how frustrating it is for all those who have been affected, or pinged, and I want to explain therefore; that people identified as contacts of cases are at least 5 times more likely to be infected than others. And even if they've been vaccinated, there is a significant risk that they can still pass the disease on.
And so, as we go forward, I'M AFRAID that the continuing sacrifice of this large minority, those of us who have been asked to isolate, remains important, to allow the rest of society to get back to something like normality, and I'M AFRAID at this stage it's simply a consequence of living with COVID, and of opening up when cases are high in the way that we are."

On August 16th we'll move to a system of testing rather than isolation for those who are double-vaccinated. (Wall of immunity will be higher.)

He reassures us they'll be ensuring essential services, by allowing a "small number" of named, critical workers, to 'leave their isolation'.
(He is referring to people in roles such as NHS dept heads or frontline staff, social care workers etc, if their self-isolation after close contact with someone who tests positive would leave the department unable to operate safely.)

Boris reminds us we've vaccinated tons of people. All adults have been offered a first dose.
In England 96% of over 50's and 83% of people aged 30-50 have been vaccinated, but 35% of 18-30 year olds, 3 million people, are completely unvaccinated. We need more young adults to come forward.
A lot of fun things will "become increasingly dependent on vaccination", including travel.
He reminds us nightclubs are a big risk, and he doesn't want to have to close them again - but he wants them to be responsible and use the app. to prove vaccination, recent test or natural immunity. "We do reserve the right to mandate certification at any point, if it's necessary to prevent transmission".

"I should serve notice now, that by the end of September, when all over 18's will have had their chance to be double jabbed, we are planning to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues, where large crowds gather. Proof of a negative test will no longer be enough."

He talks about taking back our freedoms, but remaining cautious. (Do everything, but sneak...)

Fully vaccinated keep following sensible advice The World health Organisation

Pat with the slides.
Most recent 7 day average for cases is 46,024. He points out that we are quite close to the size of the Winter wave for infections, and this will increase further. He says we have 4 risks:
1. Hospitalisations and deaths increase.
2. Long COVID
3. Mutations and Variants
4. High levels of people off work isolating
5. Testing becomes very stretched
(Reassuring to know your maths is up to par there Pat.)
On 16th July 4,094 people were in hospital with COVID. This is a very different picture to previous waves. It will increase, but at a lower level because of vaccines. They anticipate over 1,000 people a day being hospitalised with COVID (no date for that).
Most recent 7 day average is 42 deaths per day. This is clearly an even lower curve than hospitalisations, again due to vaccinations. It will continue to increase, and they expect it to reach 100, "possibly a lot over 100 over the next few weeks" (their modelling said 100-200 per day - he's being a bit outspoken here. Guilt is bothering him).
His graphs comparing the Autumn wave and current wave don't exactly look reassuring, but they are 'logarithmic', which is deceptive. (It doesn't go 1,2,3,4 at the side, it goes x2, 4, 8, 16.)

190721 English Government Briefing comparison Autumn wave current wave

Public asked why they can't get the NHS COVID Pass with vaccinations done abroad. Jon seemed to suggest they're behind with sorting this out, and are working on it.

Public asked what percentage of people who are ill have been vaccinated. Boris said: "Sadly the number of COVID cases that have involved somebody who's had 2 vaccinations has been rising, although clearly the results of the vaccines remain very good, in the sense that they protect those people very largely against serious illness and death, even if they contract it."

Patrick had numbers - around 60% of people admitted to hospital are double vaccinated, but that's to be expected - vaccines aren't 100% effective, most people are already double-vaccinated, and our most vulnerable are more likely to end up in hospital if they catch it, and are almost all double-vaccinated.

Pat answered questions about super-spreader events. He immediately mentioned nightclubs. Twice. (I think they're genuinely a bit scared about night clubs. They haven't gone well elsewhere.)
Jon reminds us of the 3 C's - close contact, enclosed spaces, crowds. He says inviting his mates into his garden shed for some beers has the same effect as a nightclub. 

Press asked Boris if he might not be able to stand by 'irreversible'. Boris says "the roadmap is 'we hope' irreversible".
"We have to be humble in the face of nature."
He reminds us we should be cautious. 

Press asked if September is the date to watch for, because schools go back and if cases are very high, we might need to impose measures. Pat says most models show a peak before then, and it should be going back down at that point.
Jon says there's a lot of uncertainty, because it will be driven by people's behaviour over the next 4 weeks. We shouldn't "tear the pants off it".
"It is literally in the hands of the public."
Boris reiterated that if it seems too much, they will bring in mandatory entrance requirements for night clubs. He repeats the "if not now, when?" comment from earlier (and he calls it an argument). 

Press asked if they have plans to make double vaccination mandatory for other events, such as football? No answer to that one.

190721 English Government Briefing Cases

One of the press asked around 18 questions. First were about images we've seen on social media of people partying, beaches, parks etc. He says "aren't we already tearing the pants off it?" Jon replies that outdoors with lots of sunlight (UV light) is much safer - nightclubs are very different. (They're mainly at night, in the dark, with alcohol and snogging strangers.)
Boris was asked why he thought he was entitled to avoid isolation. He denied he thought like that (as if!).
He also said he absolutely doesn't want to see COVID passports for pubs, but reserves the right to use measures to protect the public.

At the end, as a rambling not-quite answer, Boris implied it is likely he may increase income tax.... (Boo). 

Press asked about the Netherlands, who reopened night clubs, then closed them and apologised a mere 2-3 weeks later.
Pat reminds us Test & Trace will be utterly pants the higher the numbers go up.
Jon says he knows some young people. He reminds us of the sacrifices young people have made, and tells us that if his garden shed is full of unvaccinated people, the likelihood of them passing COVID will be greater than if they are vaccinated. Generally being among vaccinated people is safer, although never guaranteed or 100%.
(These answers are getting a bit obscure.)

Boris talks about August 16th, when we will move to a testing regime rather than isolating. He asks us to follow the recommendations of English/Welsh Test & Trace and please get a jab. 

Press asked if this is a huge experiment and we are the guinea pigs?
Jon says the NHS is not under anything like the pressure it was in back in January (it has to be said it really is under pressure in some areas though!). It will be another 10 days before we see what happens with cases, another week after that before we see how it affects hospitalisations.
He reminds us staff are trying to catch up, and are shattered.
Again he talks about avoiding mixing indoors. "If there is a good time, and there's no such thing as a sweet spot" it's now, when we have sunshine in abundance and dry weather to play out.
Pat reminds us numbers will go up, but going slowly keeps all of the numbers lower down than going wild. Again he says we may get 1,000 hospitalisations or more a day. 

190721 English Government Briefing hospitalisations

In response to a question about the public inquiry into COVID not beginning until next year, Boris says "the NHS is working flat out" and we shouldn't be asking them to participate in a full public inquiry right now. 

Don't walk your dog in the heat of the day, and make sure animals and birds have access to shade and water. It is going to be hot, especially down South, until Thursday.  All adults and children should have at least 4 wees a day, or you need to drink more water. Be sensible. Save the NHS...

Back with the regular report tomorrow... 



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