Friday 3 September 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 3rd September 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 3rd September 2021

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 6,904,969 (+42,076)
In Hospital Thursday 2nd: 7,541
Using A Ventilator Thursday 2nd: 1,038
Losses of Life: 133,041 (+121)
Tests: 1,155,929
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 48,171,998 (88.6% of UK population aged 16+)
Vaccinations 2 Doses: 43,142,747 (79.4%)

UK Nations Cases Last 7 Days:
Area: Cases / Rate per 100,000 population
Wales: 13,566 / 428
Scotland: 40,309 / 737.4
Northern Ireland: 11,035 / 582.2
England: 171,166 / 302.7

Rep. Of Ireland: 354,236 cases and 5,112 losses of life.

World: 220,296,235 reported cases and 4,562,014 losses of life.

030921 UK CMO's to get responsibility of deciding if kids get jabs

The UK's JCVI have just announced updated advice regarding vaccinating young people 12-15, and they say NO.
"The assessment by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is that the health benefits from vaccination are marginally greater than the potential known harms. However, the margin of benefit is considered too small to support universal vaccination of healthy 12 to 15 year olds at this time.
It is not within the JCVI’s remit to consider the wider societal impacts of vaccination, including educational benefits. The government may wish to seek further views on the wider societal and educational impacts from the Chief Medical Officers of the UK 4 nations."
That's the JCVI passing the hot potato, and the Government have already publicly written to the 4 Chief Medical Advisers to request their advice:
"We agree with the approach suggested by JCVI, and so we are writing to request that you take forward work (drawing on experts as you see fit) to consider the matter from a broader perspective, as suggested by the JCVI.
We will consider the advice from the CMOs of the 4 nations, building on the JCVI’s advice, in making our decision. Given the importance of this issue, we would be grateful if you could provide your advice as soon as possible."
Watch this space... 

Public Health England's latest VOC Technical Briefing is out today, and the COVID Actuaries have updated their estimates for how effective the vaccines are in England right now:
"Good news! For 50+s, 2 jabs still reduces your chances of admission/death considerably, by factors of 11 & 8 respectively."

The World Health Organisation have launched the Hub For Pandemic And Epidemic Intelligence.
As more people encroach onto more land, leaving less wild for other species, epidemics become increasingly likely. World travel is easier and faster, and pandemics become increasingly likely. This isn't something to be scared of, it's a big part of who we are, and a price we pay for the lives we choose to lead.
We are also moving faster, and a hub for rapid information sharing is a logical step. COVID has proven that people around the world can work together for the common good very effectively, we need to keep that cooperation going. 030921 John Actuary COVID CASES and deaths in people aged 50+ UK

The UK are doing a vaccine-sharing swap with Australia.
Australia really are struggling to contain their Delta outbreak, its been weeks now and they're reporting more and more daily cases. 3 months ago it didn't look like they had any urgency for vaccines, but now things are getting worrying.
The UK still hasn't had final word from the JCVI on vaccinating teenagers (oops! We have now - see first story!) or expanding the booster programme, so we have Pfizer vaccines here ready that we can send immediately, and when Australia's order comes in later this year, they'll repay them to us. The first batch of 4 million total doses will be on their way shortly.
The UK Government are also keen to point out that they are ready to ship another 2 million AstraZeneca doses via COVAX, the WHO vaccine sharing initiative, making a total of over 9 million doses already sent to the world's poorer countries. We've pledged 30 million doses by the end of the year. 

People are starting to look ahead to the future, and Alzheimers Disease International are concerned that damage left behind from COVID infection could have a significant effect for some people when they get older. They are worried that in years to come, we may see a big increase in people living with Dementia.
Alzheimers Disease International is a group of over 100 charities and associations, they are taking this very seriously, and have asked the World Health Organisation to investigate urgently.
Damage to a brain can take years to repair or re-route, but as we age and our brains begin to deteriorate, all of that becomes harder and harder.
There is obviously very little research available on this, only time will tell, but it is suspected that for some people who have damage from catching COVID, signs of dementia may begin to occur earlier, and we are likely to have more people living with Alzheimers.
There don't seem to be actual numbers, but estimates are that at least 25% of people who have died from COVID had been diagnosed with dementia, so the number of people with the condition is likely to fall quite rapidly in the short term, and I guess that will make it easy to see within the next few years how big our problem is likely to become, or not. 

Anti-vaccine passport protesters attempted to storm the Headquarters of the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) in Canary Wharf, London, today. The police were there just in time to prevent entry.
I'm not sure what they're trying to achieve? The MHRA approve vaccines from a purely scientific/medical point of view, but nothing else. Vaccine passports are entirely the work of the Government. 

Suicide is obviously a subject that I talk about fairly regularly, and it was one of the first things mentioned when lockdowns and isolations were first discussed. With some relief I can bring you the news that the period of England and Wales' first lockdown saw a significant DECREASE in people lost to suicide, especially younger males.
"Analysis of suicides that occurred between April and July 2020 shows 1,603 people took their own lives – a decrease of 18% on the same period in 2019 and 12.7% drop on the five-year average (April to July 2015 to 2019).
This figure is equivalent to an age-standardised mortality rate of 9.2 per 100,000 people – statistically significantly lower than rates for the same period in the three previous years.
The data show that the main driver behind the drop in suicides came from a decrease among men (the rate was 13.9 per 100, 000), whereas the rate for women stayed largely the same at 4.7 per 100,000."
"The largest decrease was seen in those aged 10 to 24 years between April and July 2020; the rate decreased by 30.2% from 6.3 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019 to 4.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2020, a statistically significant decrease. The only other age group to observe a statistically significant change in this period were those aged between 25 and 44 years; the rate decreased from 13.9 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019 to 10.5 deaths per 100,000 in 2020."
To anyone who has found it hard to cope over the past 20 months, whatever your age or sex, if you are reading this now, I am so, SO very glad you are still here. Never be alone if you don't want to be, there is ALWAYS someone to talk to. And never think you failed, you just didn't get to your best part yet.
Text SHOUT to 85258 or call the Samaritans on 116 123 if you need someone to talk to, and don't have someone else around.

030921 suicides by age during the first UK lockdown compared to historical data

Schools are not hubs of infection... oh no they aren't... well actually Jenny Harries, do you even have kids?
A teacher in Marin County, California, infected 55% of her pupils by reading to them two afternoons running without her mandatory mask. She assumed her mild symptoms were an allergy, and caused an outbreak which infected at least 27 people in total. She was not vaccinated. She is probably very, very sorry she has had a study written about her. 

Still with the USA, this time a motorbike rally. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota seems to have led to an increase in cases locally of 1550% in 2 weeks. The whole state of South Dakota has 6 times as many new cases as 2 weeks ago. Yowch.
The event attracts around half a million people, and this year they reckoned it might have been the biggest ever... yeeeay... No.

Rapid testing is super common in the UK, so it's easy to forget it isn't in most other places. US politician and paediatrician Kim Schrier MD is among those leading a call for rapid testing in American schools to protect pupils and staff.

Today's indieSAGE had a focus on the return to workplaces and schools. They've looked at their previous reports and their advice hasn't changed much, but concentrates slightly more on ventilation. This is NOT official guidance, this is indieSAGE's advice to the UK Govrnment:
They believe the key measures to keep schools safer places to be are:
1. Distancing - minimise contact between pupils and classes
2. Ventilation - HEPA filters, windows, CO2 monitors etc
3. Masks - reinstate previous Spring policy
4. Bubbles - small bubbles, not year groups
5. Self-isolation - close contacts should be supported to isolate
6. Testing - should be regular, and contacts should be tested
7. Learning resources - support any pupil not in school
8. Exams - prepare in case of severe disruption, keep all pupils on an even level regarding accessing education.
9. Wellbeing - safe socialising, remove fines for pupils who feel unable to go to school
10. Transparency - have clear policies
11. Advice and support from local public health teams
12. Clinically vulnerable staff should work from home whenever possible
13. Roll out vaccination to children 12+ ASAP
For Workplaces, they feel there should be grater emphasis on:
1. Vaccination - and supporting people to get vaccinated, with paid time off, workplace vaccination etc.
2. Ventilation
3. Change the culture of expecting people to be there in person. 

030921 indieSAGe cases by age by week

The U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) has reached their conclusions regarding the Origins Of COVID, and the results are.... *drum roll*.....
Of course...
"The IC assesses that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, probably emerged and infected humans through an initial small-scale exposure that occurred no later than November 2019 with the first known cluster of COVID-19 cases arising in Wuhan, China in December 2019. In addition, the IC was able to reach broad agreement on several other key issues. We judge the virus was not developed as a biological weapon. Most agencies also assess with low confidence that SARS-CoV-2 probably was not genetically engineered; however, two agencies believe there was not sufficient evidence to make an assessment either way. Finally, the IC assesses China’s officials did not have foreknowledge of the virus before the initial outbreak of COVID-19 emerged."

The Chinese CDC have their own theories on where COVID came from. Ma Huilai, an official with the CCDC said earlier this week that maybe it originated elsewhere and came in to China via the cold food supply chain. Well maybe Ma, but I think it's no surprise your theory hasn't been widely reported... 

There was a fantastic study on masks released on Wednesday by Poverty Action, and it's really useful to all of us. MASKING WORKS.
Researchers took different types of masks and face coverings to Bangladesh villages, to see what difference it made. Almost 350,000 people and 600 villages took part. The researchers used a system they called NORM, and mask wearing went up by 29% (from 13% to 42%). Confirmed COVID cases went down by an average 9%.
N: No-cost mask distribution
O: Offering information
R: Reinforcement, public and in-person
M: Modeling, by religious and political leaders
"Free mask distribution and promotion reduced the proportion of people who reported COVID-like symptoms on average by 11 percent, which was driven mainly by the effects of surgical masks. Villages where cloth masks were distributed experienced a 5 percent reduction in symptoms, while villages where surgical masks were distributed saw a reduction of 12 percent. About a third (40 percent) of those who reported COVID-19 symptoms agreed to have their blood tested for SARS-CoV-2. On average, researchers found a decrease of symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections of 9 percent. This reduction was higher in villages that wore a surgical mask (11 percent) and in these, among individuals aged 60+ (35 percent)."
That is a staggering decrease in cases among vulnerable people, when less than half the population are even wearing masks.
The researchers also quashed the myth that when you wear a mask, you take more risks. They found the population were 5% MORE likely to socially distance when they were wearing face coverings. 

In 2020 and 2021 COVID is the leading cause of death in the line of duty for US Law Enforcement Officers.
At least 300 Officers have died from COVID, and with another 170 still under review. And we haven't finished yet.
Officers are being strongly encouraged to get themselves vaccinated.

US CDC unvaccinated teacher infects class floorplan with small child outlines in seats

It seems incredibly likely that UK National Insurance payments will rise, because we have a real shortfall for well-needed social care reforms. Rumour is Boris wants a 1% increase, and the Treasury want 1.25%.
National Insurance covers sick pay, maternity, pension etc - and you pay in when you're earning. The primary carer of a child under 12 has their contributions covered, as raising children is actually one of the most important jobs you can be doing.

Trump Of The Day:
Ohio Judge Gregory Howard has ordered a Cincinatti hospital to give one of their COVID patients Ivermectin, the animal parasite drug, despite the fact the US FDA (Food And Drug Administration) have practically begged people to stop taking it.
There is NO evidence it helps anyone with COVID, NO logical reason it would work, and yet it continues to be touted in non-medical circles as some sort of cure.
The patient's wife took the hospital to court, she's the desperate person who will try anything. The judge is meant to be the voice of sanity and reason. He's ordered 30mg of Ivermectin per day for 3 weeks.
Best of luck to the patient.

Paralympic Hopefuls:
Everyone's favourite female Afghan paralympian is Zakia Khudadadi the Taekwondo competitor - in fact she's the only EVER female Afghan paralympian, and guess what? She made it!! Australia gave emergency visas to Zakia and another athlete who managed to make it to the airport with her, sprinter Hossain Rasouli, and put them on an evacuation flight. They were then flown to Paris to have some calm time, and from there to Japan, too late for the opening few days, but still in time to compete.
Sadly no medals, but winners - both of you. Best of luck with whatever happens next. They both have some big decisions to make.

If the World Health Organisation run out of Greek letters for COVID Variants, they'll move on to constellations and stars, and according to Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, they'll use less common ones that are easier to pronounce - and they're already checking which ones aren't inappropriate in any language. 

It's the weekend! Hurrah! I'm still feeling the benefits from my break, so if you managed one then I hope you are too. It's been another week, and it was the school return, so I'm sure a lot of you will be glad no-one has to wear scratchy jumper/uncomfortable trousers/stiff shoes for a couple of days. Don't forget to treat yourself - something YOU want to do. You have earned it.

Wear A Cardi, Open A Window, Save The NHS...

Some numbers. Each number is a unique human being:

Countries / Cases / Losses of life (since midnight GMT. In larger countries,  such as the USA and India, some states /provinces might not yet have reported today):

UK 6,904,969 (+42,076) 133,041 (+121)

India 32,943,947 (+41,602) 440,234 (+318)

Iran 5,083,133 (+27,621) 109,549 (+561)

Philippines 2,040,568 (+20,310) 33,873 (+193)

Malaysia 1,805,382 (+19,378) 17,521 (+330)

Russia 6,975,174 (+18,856) 185,611 (+799)

Japan 1,524,679 (+18,228) 16,184 (+61)

Mexico 3,387,885 (+18,138) 261,496 (+993)

Vietnam 501,649 (+14,922) 12,446 (+308)

Thailand 1,249,140 (+14,653) 12,374 (+271)

USA 40,526,949 (+13,931) 662,983 (+130)

Indonesia 4,116,890 (+7,797) 134,930 (+574)

Cuba 672,599 (+6,927) 5,538 (+74) 

Italy 4,559,970 (+6,735) 129,410 (+58) 

Spain 4,877,755 (+6,311) 84,795 (+155)

Israel 1,104,971 (+6,244) 7,129 (+7)




COVID and future dementia

Rapid testing in the USA

indieSAGE -

COVID Actuaries Response Group image:

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