Tuesday 17 August 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 14th to 17th August 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 14th to 17th August 2021

The UK added 26,852 cases today and now has reported a total of 6,322,241 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 699,466 tests yesterday.

The counter says 47,369,418 people (89.6% of UK adults) had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 40,841,971 people (77.2%) had received 2 doses.

6,303 people were in hospital yesterday, Monday 16th August, with 918 using a ventilator.

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 170 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 131,149 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 326,188 cases and 5,059 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.)

There have now been a total of 209,043,777 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 4,389,376. Already 187,396,717 people have recovered.

Close contacts no longer need to isolate if under 18 or double vaccinated image of hand holding phone and text

All young people aged 16 to 17 in England are to be offered a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by next Monday 23rd August "to give them protection before returning to school".
(Yeah... they're rushing now they've realised how quickly September comes around...  )

And as if by magic...
"Today we can confirm that we have authorised the COVID-19 vaccine made by Moderna in 12-17 year olds.
The vaccine is safe and effective in this age group."
The UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA)
Excitingly the Moderna vaccination is also called Spikevax... 

English self-isolation rules have changed. Now the only people who have to self-isolate are:
- Anyone with COVID symptoms. You must book a PCR (lab) test immediately.
- Anyone who tests positive, whether you have symptoms or vaccination or not.
- People who are told to self-isolate by Test & Trace or another official authority.
- Any adult (18 years and 6 months or over) who is identified as a contact of someone who tests positive and HAS NOT been fully vaccinated

Latest ONS data for England and Wales shows that the 'excess deaths' this Summer have been very high. Compared to the average from 2015-2019, during the week ending 6th August, we lost an extra 1,151 people. 527 deaths in that week mentioned COVID on the death certificate, around half. It's a worrying trend, and it never usually happens in Summer. Why it's occurring we don't really know.
It could simply be people finally coming out and mixing after 18 months indoors, and catching all sorts of bugs and diseases, including COVID. It could be the heatwave was too much for a lot of people. It could be COVID is under-reported. In possibly the worst case scenario, it could be due to people missing out on treatment over the last 18 months. If that is the case, it'll only get worse until the NHS is back on its feet again. Let's hope not. To date this year, deaths in England and Wales are 8% higher than the 2015-2019 average. 

Exciting news for anyone who isn't a lifelong anti-vaxxer. A study (which is now peer-reviewed) entitled "Protective heterologous T cell immunity in COVID-19 induced by the trivalent Measles-Mumps-Rubella and Tetanus-Diptheria-Pertussis vaccine antigens" has, as the title suggests (lolz), looked at whether the cocktail of antibodies you receive from the MMR and Tdap childhood immunisations (currently taken as a single jab called the 6in1 vaccine in the UK, at 2,3 and 4 months) helps your body recognise and fight COVID.
Good news. It really does.
Results showed that:
"Indices of disease severity were reduced in MMR or Tdap vaccinated individuals by 32-38% and 20-23% respectively, among COVID-19 patients."
We've known for a long time that some people have an exciting antibody mixture which helps them avoid severe COVID, getting a better idea of which antibodies are in that recipe could prove a winner.
And it could also help explain part of why children don't suffer so badly as older people... 

Close contacts should take a PCR test text and image of hand holding phone

The USA has this week broken the records for total number of hospitalised COVID patients in age groups 0-17, 18-29, 30-39 and 40-49. (Children 2.4% of admissions, over 1,900 hospitalised.) They are having a nightmare in several states, and the CDC list all but 9 states as having High Transmission (1st level).
- Florida has a new record for hospitalised patients, over 16,100, leaving less than 10% of ICU beds empty on Saturday.
- "I just heard that, in Alabama, the ICUs are full and they’ve implemented “crisis standards of care,” namely triage, due to COVID-19. So sad and avoidable."
Nicholas Christakis Science Professor at Yale, Saturday 14th August.
(They were/are triaging to see which patients they admit, and which they send home... )
- “In Georgia last week, around 7 out of every 100,000 children in the state—not per 100,000 pediatric coronavirus cases, but per living child—were hospitalized for Covid-19…”
Jerome Adams MD, 20th US Surgeon General
- In California cases rose from 4.6 per 100,000 (7-day average) on July 4th, to 23.2 per 100,000 on 8th August. (Unvaccinated case rates are over 600% higher than vaccinated, and over 90% of hospitalised people are unvaccinated.) 8% of people testing positive are being admitted to hospital.

Meanwhile in Texas:
Governor Greg Abbott banned any authority in Texas making masks mandatory. Dallas and Bexar counties both went to court and won, so they defied that order and made masks mandatory.
In turn Dallas and Bexar were taken to the high court by Greg Abbott's office, and they have lost - so despite rapidly filling hospitals, they aren't allowed to insist anyone wears a mask.
The education departments in 2 counties at least have said they intend to defy the order - and they have been told their funding will be withheld if they do.
You could barely make it up... 

Good news for Americans:
The US FDA has authorised Booster Doses for people with compromised immune systems, such as organ recipients.
As they estimated last week that over 1m Americans had already had a booster shot, I'd say the public are a step ahead of you there... 

Know your strengths grades don't define you SHOUT for help text

Down Under:
Australian officials put the entire New South Wales region under lockdown until Sunday 22nd August. No-one can leave home without good reason. They really, really REALLY want their good life back, and do not want this Sydney Delta Variant outbreak to spread any further. They have detected COVID in sewage in areas with no reported cases, and report that a large percentage of the cases they are reporting are children and young people.
The lockdown is being policed by the Armed Forces and thousands of Police Officers - who issued more than 500 infringements of health orders on Sunday night alone. When they say lockdown, they mean lockdown.
I honestly have everything crossed for them that they can beat this outbreak.

Down Under Again:
In New Zealand, Jacinda "hold my beer" Ardern, has just locked down the ENTIRE COUNTRY for 3 days because they have discovered a case of COVID in Aukland.
Wow. Just, wow.
To be honest, they don't have a lot of choice. They ARE the only people living their normal life without any worry, they are where all the bazillionaires are fleeing, and they are currently worth a fortune. You don't give any of that up in a hurry. They are also massively unvaccinated because they let everyone else who was suffering get their vaccines first.
They do suspect this is Delta Variant, and they aren't playing.
Best of luck - genuinely.

630 people in one escape aircraft Afghanistan

Trump Of The Day:
Donald Trump is calling for Joe Biden's resignation, and what is happening in Afghanistan is first on his list of reasons why, ahead of COVID response. Trump was actually the person who negotiated the deal which saw US soldiers pull out of Afghanistan, after 20 years of "overseeing" the country and keeping the Taliban forces out.
It took barely 3 weeks for the Taliban to take over. It's happened so quickly, even the UK evacuation plan wasn't due to complete for another 10 days or so.
I don't have a "side", it's not my war, but what I do have is a liking for human rights and equality.
When they took power last time, back in 1996, the Taliban implemented their own very strict Sharia moral code. They did not allow girls over age 8 to go to school. Women had to wear a burka in public. They were not allowed to have jobs outside the home - in fact women weren't allowed to even leave their own home without a male relative as escort. Women found flouting their rules were beaten, flogged, stoned, or even beheaded. This is genuine Handmaid's Tale level stuff.
The US and a coalition of 40 other nations, including all the NATO members, took over the country in 2001, and removed the Taliban from power.
Some of those younger women and girls have spent their whole lives with Western freedoms - they have university to complete, new careers they're just starting. Anyone older has had 20 years to form their modern life. Many are now utterly terrified. Women with prominent jobs, including the first ever woman mayor, 29 year old Zarifa Ghafari, truly believe that unless they can escape, they will be killed.
A Taliban spokesman has said that was 20 years ago, they've modernised, and today they announced women will be allowed work and have an education (including university), and they won't be forced to wear a burka (completely covered), but will wear the hijab.
They also announced an "amnesty" and asked all Government officials to come back to work. They barred their troops from entering people's private homes, and told people their homes and lives are safe. Surprisingly they have also said that they want women to come forward to be part of the new governance. This all sounds incredibly promising, but early reports from around Afghanistan aren't quite so rosy, and there are mixed rumours.
We shall see.
There is currently a desperate struggle by many nations to get people out. Embassy employees, diplomats and regular people who publicly supported the US and allied forces. 630 people escaped on a single US cargo plane at 4am this morning. As the UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, while crying, yesterday "some of them won't get out".
It makes the COVID situation look like absolutely nothing.
Dominic Raab, the UK Foreign Secretary, was on holiday in Crete, and Boris Johnson was also on his jollybobbs, in Somerset, while this whole situation was evolving over the last 3 weeks - which is why Ben Wallace was our sole spokesperson until later on yesterday. He's quite angry... livid, frustrated, heartbroken, shattered, disappointed, feels like all those people fought and died for 20 years for nothing.
Let's hope not.

Now, where was I. COVID...

A not-yet-peer-reviewed Israeli study into 'natural immunity' (from previously catching COVID), found that it offers protection that's comparable to the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine.
Natural immunity protection from infection was 94.8%, hospital 94.1%, severe COVID 96.4%
Vaccination protection from infection 92.8%, hospital 94.2%, severe COVID 94.4%
There really did have to be some bonus to actually catching COVID... 

This will be important for future travellers:
The UK Government has realised there is a lot of money to be made, while still giving everyone a saving - and now Summer is almost over, they've slashed the price of NHS Test & Trace Travel Test Packages.
"The cost of NHS Test and Trace tests for international arrivals will now be reduced from £88 to £68 for green or fully vaccinated amber arrivals, and from £170 to £136 for two tests for amber arrivals who are not fully vaccinated."
The list of private providers will also be reviewed - and hopefully they'll slough off anyone who at any point was charging £299 for a single PCR test....

A hermit who lives in a cave in Serbia has had the COVID vaccination and is urging other people to do the same. 70 year old Panta Petrovic does venture into town fairly regularly, and he's keen to have both doses and the third booster dose.
This man pays no bills, fills in no forms, his carbon footprint is negative, he rescues and farms animals orphaned by wolves, and he doesn't ever care what his hair looks like. How can he be wrong?
(He does also poo in an old bathtub, but we'll gloss over that.)

Today's numbers are the total 24 hour numbers from yesterday, up until midnight GMT (which may not match that country's 24 hour totals). This shows exactly who are suffering the most at the moment - and how the situation is worldwide, as numbers everywhere creep upwards.

And to everyone who commented, messaged, shared photos, smiles and sunflowers at the weekend. Thank YOU.

Some numbers. They're all just people:

Countries / Cases / Losses of life YESTERDAY - until midnight GMT:

USA 37,736,986 (+103,697) 638,798 (+308)

Iran 4,467,015 (+41,194) 98,483 (+655)

UK 6,295,389 (+28,363) 130,979 (+26)

India 32,249,900 (+24,725) 432,112 (+438)

Thailand 928,314 (+21,157) 7,734 (+182)

Russia 6,621,601 (+20,765) 171,305 (+806)

Malaysia 1,424,639 (+19,740) 12,784 (+274)

Japan 1,145,091 (+18,381) 15,408 (+8)

Turkey 6,096,816 (+18,163) 53,324 (+165)

Indonesia 3,871,738 (+17,384) 118,833 (+1,245)

Brazil 20,378,986 (+14,887) 569,581 (+363)

Philippines 1,755,640 (+14,404) 30,366 (+27)

Mexico 3,101,266 (+9,295) 248,380 (+213)

Cuba 526,837 (+9,169) 4,088 (+65)

Iraq 1,784,594 (+8,830) 19,740 (+68)

Israel 949,535 (+8,730) 6,687 (+19)

Vietnam 283,696 (+8,652) 6,141 (+367)

Spain 4,719,266 (+8,576) 82,595 (+41)

South Africa 2,613,569 (+7,983) 77,440 (+299)






Daily hospital admissions 












Childhood Immunisations









Image aircraft



Pfizer Immunity


















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