Thursday 9 September 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 8th / 9th September 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 8th / 9th September 2021

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 7,132,072 (+38,013)
In Hospital on Weds 8th Sept: 8,085 (Up from 7,596 a week earlier, which is actually a slightly slower increase than the previous week).
Using A Ventilator on Weds 8th Sept: 1,060 (Up from 1,030 a week earlier - again, a slower increase this week than last week. Fingers crossed).
Losses of Life: 133,841 (+167)
Tests: 1,254,874
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 48,344,566 (88.9% of UK adults 16+)
Vaccinations Fully Vaxxed: 43,708,906 (80.4%)

Cases by nation in the last 7 days:
Area: Cases / Rate per 100,000 population
Wales: 16,273 / 513.4
Scotland: 43,950 / 804.1
Northern Ireland: 10,073 / 531.4
England: 186,998 / 330.7

Rep. Of Ireland: 360,957 cases and 5,155 losses of life (not yet reported today).

World: 223,720,246 reported cases and 4,614,250 losses of life. 

9th September 2021 COVID vaccine surveillance report from last week

"After all this time, this still has to be said. Head. Desk.
Also more clarification is needed. Indeed SARS-CoV-2 is not one of the 4 coronaviruses that cause common colds, but the majority of common colds are caused by rhinoviruses, which are from a totally different family."
Dr Angela Rasmussen of the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security, responding a hoax which is doing the rounds right now.
No, COVID is not the same virus as the common cold - built in a similar way, but like polar bears and sloths, not actually the same. You all knew that already though.

Scottish Parliament have voted to implement a COVID Passport scheme in Scotland. From Friday October 1st...
People aged 18+ will be required to show proof they have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine before they are allowed entry to:
- Nightclubs and adult entertainment venues.
- Unseated indoor live events, with an audience of over 500 people.
- Unseated outdoor live events, with an audience of over 4,000 people.
- Any event with an audience of over 10,000 people.

"Number waiting for routine operations in England was at 5.6 million in July, another record high. 293,000 waiting more than a year, down on the previous month but still far higher than pre pandemic levels of under 2,000. Number waiting more than 18 weeks was up - 1.78 million."
Hugh Pym of the BBC (it would have been rude to write that up myself when he did such a succinct job).

"We are perilously close.... in some areas of the country to having full occupancy, that you're going to be in a situation where you're gonna have to make some very tough choices."
Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President.
Some areas of the USA really REALLY are in trouble, and prioritising who gets treatment, and who goes home, is looking increasingly likely.
The UK base their decisions on a score created from the Clinical Frailty Scale, the patient's age and severe comorbidities which make recovery from COVID less likely. The USA seem a little more open to other ideas... Anthony Fauci again:
"That's a tough call (Jim), to prioritise a vaccinated versus an unvaccinated person. I don't think we're gonna get there. There's talk of that...
What we really should be doing, and I hope we are doing it; Is to do everything we can to mitigate (lessen) the number of people who are getting infected and requiring hospitalisation and ICU beds."

UK Social Care Reform plan September 2021

The latest Public Health England Vaccine Surveillance Report showed that between April 1st and August 29th, losses of life to COVID in the whole UK were:
Fully jabbed: 1,091 (1,054 aged 50 or over, 37 aged under 50)
Not vaccinated: 536
Bearing in mind that 4 out of every 5 people over 16 are fully vaccinated, and that the more vulnerable you are, the more likely you are to be fully vaccinated. If vaccinations didn't work, for every 536 unvaccinated people lost, we'd expect to lose somewhere around 3,000 vaccinated people.
Yahoo News seem to have done the maths: "In unvaccinated people over the age of 50, 6.5% of cases resulted in death compared to 2% of fully vaccinated over-50-year-olds."
And don't forget your chances of even catching COVID in the first place, or having any symptoms if you do, are also both reduced by vaccination.

We have research news from Japan on the Mu Variant, and it's not great. In lab tests this IS the most antibody resistant variant to date. Obviously this isn't yet peer-reviewed, but scientists took convalescent sera (blood from 8 recovered people) and Pfizer vaccinated sera (from 10 fully vaccinated people). They found that:
Mu Variant COVID virus was 12.4 times more likely to escape the convalescent sera than original COVID.
Mu Variant COVID virus was 7.6 times more likely to escape the Pfizer vaccinated sera than the original COVID.
The UK, the same as the USA and many other countries, already has almost entirely Delta Variant,  which can already escape better than original COVID (convalescent sera x4, vaccinated sera x2.6).
What this means in the real world is some really tricky maths and lots of guesswork. We can assume current antibodies won't be as effective at stopping us catching Mu Variant, but as yet we have no clue as to whether recovered/vaccinated people who are infected are likely to become ill, or if they'll almost all be asymptomatic - and there are no signs Mu is any more dangerous or any quicker or sneakier. Just antibody-escaping.
In countries where Delta and Mu are together, Delta does appear it could very slightly have the upper hand, so if you are already in an area affected by Delta (UK/US/Europe/Asia), that could be some almost good news.

Mu Variant Japanese study September 2021

And we have some (not-yet-peer-reviewed) data from Israel on immunity against Delta, and whether it does start to wane a few months down the line. They used the anonymous health records of almost 50,000 people, and looked at those who had been vaccinated or caught COVID in January or February this year (before Delta), and then revisited them between June 1st and August 14th. They did several different models and calculations, but each gave the same results when they looked at how many people had caught COVID since vaccination or infection:
"This study demonstrated that natural immunity confers longer lasting and stronger protection against infection, symptomatic disease and hospitalization caused by the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, compared to the BNT162b2 (Pfizer) two-dose vaccine-induced immunity. Individuals who were both previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 and given a single dose of the vaccine gained additional protection against the Delta variant."
In fact people with natural immunity were up to 13 times less likely to test positive than people who had been vaccinated.
This is excellent news for anyone who has been unlucky enough to catch COVID at any point - you'll still have good protection against Delta Variant. And it again backs up previous research, in that natural immunity will be stronger longer, and it really REALLY boosts when you are vaccinated on top.

Disaster Down Under:
The New South Wales outbreak continues apace. There were 1,723 cases reported across Australia in the last 24 hours, including 1,405 in New South Wales.
People can't just be locked down forever, so the New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced today that stay-at-home orders for adults who have received both vaccine doses will be lifted from the Monday after 70% of the state's population over 16 is fully vaccinated.

It seems UK Ministers aren't the only ones who missed important meetings last year. Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt in Summer 2020 failed to meet with Pfizer, who were willing to discuss supplying millions of vaccine doses before the end of 2020. Australia did eventually sign a deal for 10m doses in October.
Australia mainly went with AstraZeneca initially, at a leisurely pace, as they didn't have the urgency places like the UK and USA had.

The UK Government have underwritten certain payments insurers might have to make, if a live public event is cancelled due to COVID. That arrangement as it stands will end on 30th September 2022.

090921 UK Vaccination stats

Last week every kindergarten teacher at Kinder Ranch Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas, tested positive for COVID-19.
Parents are not impressed - mainly because the school didn't notify them how bad the situation was, they only found out by talking to each other.... and then speaking to the press...
A 3rd grade teacher from the same school is currently in hospital with COVID. It's Texas, not an area that mandates mask wearing, and close contacts aren't required to quarantine.  

The world keeps turning, and we have more reason to be grateful for vaccinations here in the richer parts of the world.
A Meningitis outbreak has been declared in DRC's north-eastern Tshopo Province. 261 suspected cases & 129 deaths had been reported by lunchtime yesterday.
And a reminder that young people in the first years of uni are the group most likely to catch infectious meningitis - so please make sure they've been vaccinated.
(Meningitis refers to inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, and it most usually caused by virus or bacteria. Symptoms in an adult are very much like an awful hangover that doesn't get better, and patients may not be able to touch their own chin to their chest - if that happens, or if in doubt, seek medical attention immediately.)

On Friday Denmark lifts the last of it's COVID regulations. The government having declared the virus "no longer a critical threat to society". It's all over folks.
(Honestly that has to be the most dangerous thing anyone can say, right? Fate will be very tempted by the challenge.)
We have heard this before in other countries, and it hasn't always gone entirely well, but Denmark have fully vaccinated 72% of the entire population, so things are different this time. Unlike the UK, when they  began lifting restrictions, case numbers didn't go up, they stayed relatively level. Denmark have been reporting an average below 1,000 new cases a day since January.
It's being suggested that their success is in large part down to the honest and open nature of the Director General of the Danish Health Authority, Søren Brostrøm. He has explained everything with clarity, rather than treating the public as a faceless entity.
For example: The UK said 'no mixing between households' and secretly expected over half of us to break the rules because they forgot we might care about our own health.
In Denmark Dr Brostrøm said 'singles do not have to be celibate, we know you need company, but here are the risks'.
Frank honesty and being treated as a human actually has a better outcome. When people are assessing their own risk, rather than "Boris said...", they make smarter choices. And they don't end up in a position of "well, we've already broken the rules, so what difference will one more make...?".
Fingers crossed guys. 

US CDC unvaccinated teacher infects class

Universities are very keen for students to get vaccinated - it'll make classes far less likely to suffer mass outbreaks, or to have to send everyone home/back to that overly-expensive box you've rented for the next year. Several universities have vaccination rewards and incentives, including Sussex University, who are offering 10 students a £5,000 cash prize, if they are drawn out of the hat and can prove they've been vaccinated or are exempt.

"Today is 999 day
This past year people working in emergency services have faced unprecedented challenges with courage and skill.
I want to say a huge thank you for keeping us all safe - day and night."
Sajid Javid, UK Health Secretary.
I couldn't have put it better myself. THANK YOU ALL.

Across the Thames, opposite the Houses Of Parliament in London, is the National COVID Memorial Wall. This is a really long stretch of polished stone, on which people have added hearts to represent loved ones lost to COVID.
Yesterday bereaved families travelled from their homes to ‘walk the wall’ together.

Every number is a person:

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 7,132,072 (+38,013) 133,841 (+167)

India 33,173,166 (+34,310) 441,983 (+201)

Iran 5,237,799 (+26,821) 112,935 (+505)

Philippines 2,161,892 (+22,820) 34,733 (+61)

USA 41,417,648 (+20,061) 671,468 (+285)

Russia 7,084,284 (+18,380) 190,376 (+794)

Thailand 1,338,550 (+16,031) 13,731 (+220)

Mexico 3,465,171 (+15,876) 265,420 (+879)

Vietnam 576,096 (+12,420) 14,470 (+272)

Japan 1,603,112 (+12,398) 16,525 (+89)

Cuba 720,739 (+7,747) 6,056 (+89)

Indonesia 4,153,355 (+5,990) 138,116 (+334)

Serbia 800,359 (+5,831) 7,468 (+23)

Italy 4,590,941 (+5,522) 129,766 (+59)

Iraq 1,939,408 (+5,073) 21,333 (+51)




UK COVID treatment priorities:

Image social care UK-

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