Tuesday 21 September 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 20th / 21st September 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 20th / 21st September 2021

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 7,496,543 (+31,564)
In Hospital on Monday 20th: 7,731 (DOWN from 8,413 a week earlier)
Using A Ventilator on Monday 20th: 982 (DOWN from 1,056 a week earlier)
Losses of Life: 135,455 (+203)
Tests: 984,065
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 48,617,703 (80.4% of age 16+)
Vaccinations Fully Vaxxed: 44,512,572 (81.9% of age 16+)

Rep. Of Ireland: 376,517 cases and 5,179 losses of life (not yet reported today)

World: 230,045,673 reported cases and 4,717,179 losses of life.

Look out for your Winter vaccines invite UK NHS - image of letter and autumn leaves

The latest ONS figures show that:
- In the week ending 10th September there were 1,853 more deaths than the 2015-19 average. (Up by 20%.)
- Since the beginning of 2021 we have reported the loss of 404,768 people. (Up by 9%.)

Despite those grim figures, over the last 10 days new UK cases have dropped to a lower average level, and now hospital admissions are showing a marked drop - including in Scotland.
"Number of covid+ patients in English hospitals has fallen by nearly 900 over the last 8 days (14%) - the vaccination of younger people beginning to have an impact? Lowest total for over a month."
Alistair McLellan,  Editor of the Health Services Journal.

UK school attendance for 16th September was 91.9%, which is actually very good. 0.7% of all pupils were absent due to confirmed COVID, and 0.6% absent due to suspected COVID. 

Pfizer have announced that their study of efficacy and safety in children aged 5-11 has shown the vaccine to be "safe, well tolerated and showed robust neutralizing antibody responses".
They will share full findings (not-yet-peer-reviewed) with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) "as soon as possible."
Children under 12 in the trial received 1/3 of the dose that people aged 12 or over receive. No actual figures as yet.
Dr Angela Rasmussen (BIG COVID Expert person)
"Nothing annoys me more than being asked for comments on "Vaccine Monday" press releases. I can't honestly say anything besides "sounds promising, but it's a press release. Let's see the data.""
Indeed. Come on Pfizer... 

The Pfizer Vaccine received FULL US FDA approval on 23rd August, meaning it is no longer under any 'emergency use' authorisation. This was swiftly followed by CDC recommendation to offer booster jabs to vulnerable Americans, and vaccination to children 12-18. 

Pfizer BioNTech vaccine efficacy and safety in children 5-11

Good news from Johnson&Johnson (Janssen). We have new data on their single dose vaccine - taken as 2 doses rather than 1.
They haven't shown us all of the numbers yet, they're taken from 3 different studies which ran around the same time. Obviously not yet peer-reviewed.
When studying people in the USA (mainly Delta Variant), 2 doses given 56 days apart was 94% effective against symptomatic COVID (so it's comparable to Moderna or Pfizer). And it was 100% effective against severe COVID.
When they measured the number of antibodies, after the second dose 2 months later, there was a 4-fold increase.
Giving a second dose as a booster 6 months or more afterwards works even better, with a 12-fold increase in antibodies (12 x as many).
This is a £10 a dose fridge temperature vaccine which is fairly traditional, so this is excellent news for the world. It's still an effective single dose vaccine, but clearly 2 doses (a good distance apart) offers a real advantage.

The United States is relaxing rules for fully vaccinated international travellers from early November. A travel ban has been in force since the beginning of the pandemic last year.
The ban on inessential land travel between the US and Canada has been extended until October 21st. 

Crikey, was it a great idea to start importing all of the UK's basic essentials like grain, milk and power...
No. No, it wasn't.
Last week a fire meant 1 of the 3 pipelines supplying the UK with electricity from France won't be back online for months, and now we have a bit of a gas disaster coming at us fairly quickly.
Wholesale gas prices have rocketed, by 250% since January. They've gone up 75% during August alone. Smaller companies who have given customers price promises are going out of business because they simply can't afford to supply.
The UK regulator, OFGEM WILL ensure supply isn't disrupted, and help to find an alternative provider, but it's looking likely the UK Government and possibly others will have to bail out a lot of energy suppliers eventually.
But hang on, the UK get most of our own gas out of the sea, surely we have loads and global prices don't affect us?
Yeah.... allowing private companies to run our infrastructure makes everything really tricky when it goes wrong.

The UK have upset.the people of India. The Covishield vaccine is not listed as recognised by the UK, in the planned relaxation of travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people (from October).
Covishield is the AstraZeneca vaccine, when it's made in India.
The Indian Government have been assured it will be addressed. 

COVID vaccination consent form for parents 12-15 UK published 21st September 2021

Popular beat combo The Kaiser Chiefs are in a bit of trouble with the anti-vaxxers. At the Isle Of Wight Festival they asked the crowd to raise their hands and cheer, depending on which vaccine they had. They also offered "anti-vaxxers" a chance to raise their hands. A few people did, and there was a bit of booing.
I can't say it was entirely unexpected, and it was very light-hearted.
If you were especially vulnerable, or live with someone who is, you'd be unlikely to be an anti-vaxxer. You'd also probably like to feel you were as safe as possible going to the Isle of Wight Festival.

For the first time in recorded history, in 2020 the state of Alabama, USA, reported more deaths than births - a population fall. This didn't happen in either World War 1 or World War 2, nor did it even happen during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918.
COVID really is insidious, slow-moving and mainly hidden from view, so it's easy for many to forget it's happening. The fact is it's killing people across the USA at a rate of almost 3 x twin towers a week. More than 11 in the last month.

Byline TV went to the last London anti-vaxxer rally. Crikey. Some people interviewed believe this is a large scale government conspiracy to control us. They literally have no idea they were being controlled from the moment they were born and trained to be a hamster on a wheel. They don't seem to realise their phone tracks their every movement, and they even pay for it themselves. Honestly.
Also, really? You think you can manage to get a whole world conspiracy up and running without anyone breaking ranks and telling us it's a lie? It would involve bazillions of people. And why? What would they gain?
Give. Me. Strength.
Some people seem to think the answer is to tear down vaccination centres in a protest against things that might (or might not) happen in the future to limit their choices. Ironic they want to remove choice for everyone else.
Some people STILL don't believe COVID exists, or that it's dangerous.
I know many of you reading have lost relatives and friends to COVID, including younger, healthy people with no known ill health and young families. I am already so much more than offended on your behalf. (I think it probably shows in my write up.) Just don't watch it.

And let me make this clear. If you are the sort of person who would go to a rally and shout about storming vaccination centres, or go on social media and tell all of your friends or followers not to get vaccinated, you are an "anti-vaxxer".

If you are a bit scared, or want to wait a bit, or don't feel entirely comfortable with the idea of being vaccinated, you are vaccine-hesitant, and that is something else entirely.

Hoax Alert:
There is a hoax being shared which says the US National Institute for Health (NIH) has recommended a cocktail of vitamins to protect you from COVID.
The NIH have issued a statement to say SADLY NOT TRUE.
Think about it. People in shared accommodation don't all have the same experience of COVID. Couples who live together and eat exactly the same foods each day will very often have completely different experiences of COVID.
We know that having a healthy diet, with your daily requirement of vitamins and minerals, will put you in your own best position to fight off any viruses, but, as the Director of NCCIH (the part of NIH which deals with complementary and integrative health), Dr Helene Langevin, has said:
"The bottom line: Data are insufficient to support recommendations for or against the use of any vitamin, mineral, herb, or other dietary supplement ingredient to prevent or treat COVID-19."
There are lots of trials taking place - but nothing is really concrete as yet - however there are strong reasons to suggest Vitamin D may be important. Remember and get some from the sunshine before it goes away for Winter.

Disaster Down Under:
This morning around 2,000 people broke the stay-at-home order and gathered in Melbourne to protest COVID restrictions.
Police fired pepper balls and rubber pellets, and more than 60 arrests were made.

210921 daily vaccination totals uk

Cases in Africa are down 18% on last week overall, although there are small rises in around 1/3 of countries - and big rises in Zimbabwe, Djibouti, Botswana, Cameroon and a few others.
Africa briefly looked like things could go very badly, but the situation has stabilised somewhat, with 103,828 cases in the last week (we know this is under-reported) and 2,897 losses of life.
In the UK, the explosion in cases that almost all of the experts predicted would come at the end of Summer didn't happen (and then vaccinations started to take effect and keep numbers down).
We know being outdoors and it being Sunny really is massively beneficial against COVID, but it would be great to understand exactly how much it changes things?

Cases in Europe are also DOWN - by 4% on last week. Case numbers are rising in Eastern Europe, but in the main, slowly falling further West, with a total of 814,463 cases in the last week and 11,652 losses of life.
Cases in North America (USA etc) are DOWN by 10%, with 1,145,022 cases in the last 7 days and 17,000 losses of life.
South America - UP 15%, with 190,533 cases in the last 7 days, and 5,887 losses of life.
Asia - DOWN 11%, with 1,292,249 cases and 19,707 losses of life.
Oceania (Australia etc) - UP 8%, with 15,960 cases and 159 losses of life in the last 7 days.

Just for reference..
The USA - DOWN 9%, with 937,852 cases in the last 7 days and 11,362 losses of life.
The UK - DOWN 12%, with 209,474 cases in the last 7 days and 991 losses of life. 

Cases are also going down in India,  where the situation has really stabilised since their disaster in April. So much so, the Indian Government has announced they will resume exports of vaccines next month. However, they won't be available to just anyone. Exports will only resume initially for supplies to COVAX - the World Health Organisation's vaccine sharing initiative. 

If you live in the UK, Folic Acid is going to be added to all flour except wholemeal. Also known as B9, it helps your body make healthy blood cells, and you are advised to take a supplement when trying for a baby, and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, as it helps the baby's spine develop correctly.
Adding a supplement to flour ensures that it is cooked into all kinds of foods and reaches just about everyone who might be in the early stages of pregnancy, without any effort.
We already add Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Iron, Calcium and Niacin (Vitamin B3) to our flour in the UK, which is why it will say "fortified" somewhere on the label. We started adding Calcium back in 1941 because they realised lots of women trying to join the army had rickets (bendy weakened bones).
It won't be in anything like the levels you get in vitamin tablets (so it's still safe for people who can't take folic acid supplements), but it's hoped it will prevent around 200 babies a year being born with Spina Bifida.
"The addition of folic acid to food has been a successful public health policy in a number of countries worldwide such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, resulting in falls in neural tube defects." UK Gov.

It's Organ Donation Week. Unless you're an Ancient Egyptian, you probably don't think you need all that fleshy stuff once you're gone, and mummification is so last millennia. Why not sign up to offer someone else a chance at some more time with their family, or sight, or a chance to be ordinary. And tell your family it's what you want to happen, should the worst happen.

Some numbers. Every single one is unique:

Countries / Cases / Losses of life (since midnight GMT. In larger countries, such as the USA and India, some states /provinces have yet to report today):

UK 7,496,543 (+31,564) 135,455 (+203)

India 33,529,986 (+27,242) 445,799 (+383)

Russia 7,313,851 (+19,179) 199,808 (+812)

Iran 5,459,796 (+17,564) 117,905 (+379)

Philippines 2,401,916 (+16,361) 37,074 (+140)

Vietnam 707,436 (+11,692) 17,545 (+240)

Thailand 1,500,105 (+10,919) 15,612 (+143)

USA 43,117,613 (+9,985) 694,809 (+190)

Cuba 818,200 (+8,289) 6,919 (+63)

Serbia 879,342 (+7,232) 7,846 (+38)

Romania 1,158,841 (+6,789) 35,721 (+129)

Ukraine 2,355,805 (+5,159) 55,056 (+137)

Italy 4,641,890 (+3,377) 130,421 (+67)

Mexico 3,573,044 (+3,367) 271,765 (+262)

Indonesia 4,195,958 (+3,263) 140,805 (+171)

Iraq 1,981,493 (+3,081) 21,911 (+42)

Greece 636,596 (+3,040) 14,548 (+42) 








"India will restart exports of COVID-19 vaccines in October" https://twitter.com/i/events/1439942874276122630?s=09




Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)





















"The UK's new COVID-19 travel policy is criticised for excluding fully vaccinated Indians" https://twitter.com/i/events/1440252370072440835?s=09




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