Tuesday 3 August 2021

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

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

The UK added 21,691 cases today (down from 23,511 a week earlier) and now has reported a total of 5,923,820 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 724,299 tests yesterday.

The counter says 46,898,525 people (88.7% of UK adults) had been given at least one dose of a vaccine in the UK by midnight last night. 38,590,332 people (73%) had received 2 doses.

6,099 people were in hospital yesterday, 2nd August (up from 5,918 a week earlier / 4,567 two weeks earlier) with 895 using a ventilator (up from 820 a week earlier / 611 two weeks earlier).
Significantly these are still increases, but they are visibly slowing - we might just be winning this... but I just can't bring myself to trust it just yet...

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 138 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days, making a total of 129,881 losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 303,426 cases and 5,035 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.)

There have now been a total of 199,936,865 reported cases worldwide - which will be 200 million within the next few hours. A grim milestone indeed.
The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 4,254,571. Already 180,336,389 people have recovered.

Wear face coverings in crowded places to protect others UK Gov 2 workmen sitting on a bus wearing masks and chatting together

"60% of all adults in the EU are now fully vaccinated.
Full vaccination protects us from COVID19 and its variants.
Let's stay vigilant. Let's get vaccinated! For our own health – and to protect others."
Ursula Von Der Leyen, President of the EU Commission.

The UK (including Scotland) have relaxed quarantine this week. Double vaccinated travellers to the US or EU no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days when they return from Amber List countries, except for people who have been in France in the previous 10 days.

The UK Government have abandoned plans for an Amber Watchlist for travel. They had intended to have a list of countries with the potential to turn red, similar to the Green Watchlist of countries which are likely to turn Amber, or the Amber Plus list of something else. Thankfully they have realised this is all ridiculously confusing, and no-one really has a clue what it means (plus its likely to be proven pointless time after time, as outbreaks of variants just pop up at random, and in countries with very little testing, you may have no idea what's actually going on).
Personally I think they should just have 4 lists - Red, Green, Amber and France -  and each country has an up or down arrow to signify how they're doing right now.
Any foreign travel is always at your own risk - and you can suddenly be required to quarantine when you weren't expecting it, at any point - even once you've already arrived either there, or when you are home again.

In a move Trump would be proud of, the UK Government is reducing the number of people identified as contacts, by shortening the length of time those testing positive were assumed to be infectious.
Previously the English/Welsh COVID app. informed people who had been a close contact at any point in the 5 days before a positive test, now it's only going to be 2 days.
The genius of this plan is staggering.
If everyone booked a test the moment they had any symptoms, in theory you'd catch most contacts - but they don't, because everyone spends half their life sneezing, snorting, coughing and/or "feeling a bit hot", so it's a bit tricky to spot at first, and then you book a test - and then you wait for the results. It all takes a few days.
In the real world, by 2 days before your test result comes through, most people WILL ALREADY be isolating - so Test & Trace won't really have to contact very many people at all.
Hefty bonus for the wit who thought that one up. 

text over image of peopl in masks dragging suitcases through airport

Nicola Sturgeon today laid out Scotland's plans for the next step in relaxation of restrictions. From Monday August 9th almost all restrictions will be lifted - ALMOST.
- Social distancing and limits on capacity will be lifted - although school staff should remain 1m away from students and other staff when possible.
- Face coverings remain mandatory in some settings, such as in shops and on public transport, and for anyone aged 12+ in schools.
- Contact tracing will still continue, and hospitality will be expected to collect customers details. Any double jabbed contacts identified will be asked to get a PCR test. If that test comes back negative, they can stop isolating. The same applies to children aged 5-17.
- Nicola also said that the JCVI evidence suggests teenagers and young people should be vaccinated, and if it decided in the next couple of days to go ahead, Scotland is ready to start immunisations for people aged 16-18.

The UK Government have announced a new study to find the best gap between vaccinations (dosing interval) for pregnant people.
"Following 130,000 pregnant women being vaccinated in the US and no safety concerns being raised, the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were recommended by the independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) for pregnant women in the UK. Almost 52,000 pregnant women in England have now been vaccinated – similarly, with no safety concerns reported."
A pregnant body is already under stress, so the extra strain from COVID is a massive burden on heart, lungs etc. Research from Oxford Uni in April found:
‘Women with COVID-19 during pregnancy were over 50% more likely to experience pregnancy complications (such as premature birth, pre-eclampsia, admission to intensive care and death) compared to pregnant women unaffected by COVID-19.'
However the really positive news is they also found that "the risks in symptomless infected women and non-infected women were similar".
Vaccination means far more people have no symptoms or mild symptoms, and latest data really does support it for pregnant people:
"Data published last week by NHS England and the University of Oxford also shows no pregnant women who have had both doses of a vaccine have been admitted to hospital with COVID-19. Only 3 have been admitted after having their first dose, meaning 98% of those admitted to hospital have not received a jab."
By my maths, that means to date 150 pregnant people have been admitted to hospital with COVID in the UK.
The "Preg-CoV Study" will be very carefully monitored. Participants will be checked at least 9 times, as well as having a 24 hour phone number and digital diary. Antibodies will be measured in the participants, and the babies once they are born, as well as participant's breast milk. If you are interested in enrolling - Vaccine dot ac dot uk to 'Get involved'. You can still enrol if you had your first dose of vaccine already. 

Delta Variant is playing havoc in the USA. Florida is leading the COVID cases and hospitalisations at the moment, with over 10,000 people currently hospitalised.
In the past week, Florida has averaged 1,525 adult hospitalisations a day, and 35 daily pediatric hospitalisations. Both are the highest per capita rate in the nation, according to Jason Salemi, an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the University of South Florida.
Despite this, last week the governor barred mandatory mask-wearing in schools. Bizarrely this is almost certainly a political move, because apparently in America, if you vote one way then COVID is a threat to be taken seriously, and if you vote the other way, it's "just a flu", even if your hospitals are full.
Darwinism in action, right there. 

lady sitting at a table reading the instructions for a PCR COVID test

(In the UK we don't admit people to hospital with COVID unless they are very ill - whereas in the USA for example, people pay by the hour, so you can't directly compare hospitalisation stats country to country. Around 14-17% of patients who presented with symptoms were admitted to hospital with original COVID, in the UK, China and elsewhere. Delta is assumed by many to be more harsh, but solid evidence is hard to find because comparing now that we have vaccinations and better treatments is very tricky.)

Louisiana is now close to hospital capacity. Their Governor has reinstated mask wearing indoors, and in a press conference, Dr. Catherine O’Neal, chief medical officer at a medical centre in Baton Rouge said 6,000 medical staff were currently off work:
“These are the darkest days of this pandemic.... We are no longer giving adequate care to patients.”

In California, 8 San Francisco Bay Area counties have today reinstated mandatory indoor mask orders in public places.

San Francisco Covid case rates are 2.2x lower for vaccinated people.
"The average case rate per 100,000 for the vaccinated is 16.2, compared to 36.8 for the unvaccinated."
Hospitalisations are even more divergent - out of 3,000 people hospitalised in this currently increasing wave, only 16 were fully vaccinated, and no vaccinated person has died.
San Francisco has a really high rate of vaccination, 77% of eligible people (anyone aged 12+) are fully vaccinated, so those figures are even better. 

The US House Foreign Affairs Committee have released a report into the origins of COVID, which concludes:
"...the preponderance of the evidence proves the virus did leak from the WIV (Wuhan Institute of Virology) and that it did so sometime before September 12, 2019"
Now, proof is something they don't actually have, so that's rubbish, but they do have some interesting evidence for their case, including:
1.The WIV’s virus and sample database was removed in the middle of the night on September 12, 2019 without explanation.
2. Athletes at the Military World Games held in Wuhan in October 2019 became sick with COVID-like symptoms while in Wuhan and also shortly after returning home.
3. Satellite imagery shows increased hospital activity from September 2019 (Google searches for things like cough and diarrhoea also increased around this time - this report doesn't mention that.)
4. There were some safety concerns expressed about the WIV in 2019, and they had some unusual "unscheduled maintenance", as well as installing new management from Chinese Biosecurity.
None of this is "proof", and most of it only suggests WIV was a bit dodgy, and that COVID might have been already transmitting through the community late 2019 (which backs up previous evidence that found COVID in waste water in Italy in late 2019).
YOU CANNOT PROVE A NEGATIVE, so you cannot ever prove there 'wasn't a lab leak', and although this is food for thought, it doesn't prove there was either.
The US Intelligence Community report is due in the next few weeks. 

We have known since the beginning of the pandemic that 'excess mortality' would be the only way we could truly measure the cost of COVID. The number of people who died over and above what would be expected.
Ariel Karlinsky of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and Dmitry Kobak of the University of Tübingen, have compiled all the data from 103 countries and territories into the 'World Mortality Dataset'. They have a really comprehensive article in 'elifesciences', where you can see the whole report.
They estimate that reported global losses are in fact around 1 million short, and over 5.2 million people have already been lost to COVID.
At the moment the UK has an 'excess mortality' which is up by 18% - 110,000 people - this is below the number of COVID deaths reported. This is because we have a lot of testing, so we usually know if someone has COVID when they die, and the pandemic has lasted 19 months - over which time several thousand of the people lost to COVID would have naturally died anyway. COVID doesn't only steal years, it can take away people's last weeks or months.
Heartbreaking are countries towards the beginning of the table, especially Peru, who (with less than half the UK population) have lost 200,000 people more than expected. Their excess mortality matches almost precisely with reported losses of life to COVID.
The country with the second highest excess mortality is Ecuador, who had such a sudden and overwhelming outbreak that they couldn't keep track at all. Their excess deaths stand at 64,000 people, which is over twice the official reports of deaths to COVID.
At the other end of the chart we have the nations who lost very few people to COVID, but had restrictions, which brought down the number of people who died from other reasons. Notably Uruguay and New Zealand lost 2,000 people less than anticipated over the last 18 months.
I've included a chart from the article in this post - The black line is average expected loss of life -  anything over the line is higher than expected, below the line, down from expected figures. The red lines are 2020, the blue 2021. If you click on the image then it should enlarge.

Ariel Karlinsky 2nd August 2021 Excess Mortality world Countries tightened up

Famous People With COVID:
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (tested positive despite being vaccinated, has flu-like symptoms).

Olympic Hopefuls:
There are now 299 cases linked to the Olympics, including 4 Artistic Swimmers from Greece (their team has unsurprisingly pulled out of the competition).

This year's UK "I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here" TV competition will be filmed at Gwrych Castle, Conwy, Wales, as COVID logistics make it hard to film outside the UK.
That's a polite way of saying "Australia aren't keen, and their border is still shut except for essential travel, which doesn't really include a bunch of people you may have vaguely heard of munching down local wildlife for funsies". Also, I imagine if there are any actual "celebs", they won't appreciate 2 weeks in a Quarantine Hotel. 

I'd totally forgotten about Plague Stones. Back in the late 1600's, during the time of the Plague, special stones popped up all over England. They had an indentation on the top, which was filled with vinegar and water so that you could sanitise money. They were used when a person/family/community isolating with Plague was paying for goods, kindly brought for them by friends and neighbours, or when traders met with each other. They were really an early version of a 'sanitising station'.
There are loads out there still, you can find them in Eyam, Leeds, York etc., although they do definitely seem to be more common in the Midlands/North of England. Fingers crossed we don't ever need them again, although they are definitely prettier than spray bottles and hand sanitiser. 

This week's climate change extreme weather warning is for several hours of thunderstorms on Friday. This is currently predicted to last up to 14 hours in places, including potentially Northern Ireland, Southern Scotland, Northern England and the Midlands. Flooding IS expected.
If you were planning on inessential driving, it might be wise to take it into account. Of course the winds can always change by tomorrow morning...

Some people. All almost identical, yet every one is unique:

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

India 31,767,481 (+42,082) 425,787 (+559)

Russia 6,334,195 (+22,010) 160,925 (+788)

UK 5,923,820 (+21,691) 129,881 (+138)

Spain 4,523,310 (+20,327) 81,773 (+130)

Italy 4,363,374 (+4,845) 128,115 (+27)

Iran 3,979,727 (+39,019) 91,785 (+378)

Germany 3,780,235 (+457) 92,184 (+1)

Indonesia 3,496,700 (+33,900) 98,889 (+1,598)

Poland 2,883,284 (+164) 75,265 (+4)

Mexico 2,861,498 (+6,506) 241,279 (+245)

Ukraine 2,254,361 (+827) 52,981 (+26)

Netherlands 1,872,093 (+2,184) 17,832 (+3)

Czechia 1,673,926 (+152) 30,378 (+1)

Iraq 1,660,371 (+11,644) 18,865 (+63)

Philippines 1,612,541 (+6,879) 28,141 (+48)




Daily hospital admissions






NHS Covid app modified so fewer contacts are required to self-isolate









Mortality Dataset: 
















COVID Olympics:


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