Tuesday 12 October 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 11th / 12th October 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 11th / 12th October 2021

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 8,231,437 (+38,520)
In Hospital yesterday 11th: 7,003
Using A Ventilator yesterday: 747
Losses of Life: 137,944 (+181)
Tests: 936,288
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 49,216,092 (85.6% of UK age 12+)
Vaccinations Fully Vaxxed: 45,212,813 (78.6%)

Rep. Of Ireland: 405,970 (+1,456) cases and 5,280 losses of life.

World: 239,261,170 reported cases and 4,876,704 losses of life.

Cross parliamentary report into COVID response photo of 2 MP's and text

6,000 people a week in the UK are being referred to Long COVID clinics, and papers are reporting that even Sajid Javid has finally noticed it might be a bit of a "huge" issue.
The ONS figures released last week show 1.1m people in the UK self-report symptoms lasting over 3 months, (including over 125,000 NHS staff). 405,000 people say symptoms have lasted over a year, and 211,000 people say it significantly reduces their ability to carry out daily activities. 

Unvaccinated pregnant women are yet again making headlines. They account for 17% of the most poorly patients in the UK - those receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), because their lungs are not capable of keeping them alive on a ventilator. This is very VERY few people, so don't panic. However, COVID is very hard work on a body which is already working very hard... keep an eye on yourself. 

1 in 5 of the most critically ill people in the UK are unvaccinated pregnant women

Wales has introduced COVID passes for mass events. No raving without jabs or tests. Or genuine medical reasons...

During September 2021, 10 children aged under 19 died of COVID in England. This is more than they anticipated. Jenny Harries famously said (and repeated) that she believed children were more at risk from being hit by a bus. Didn't happen.
According to the Department for Transport, from 2013 to 2019 an average of 24 pedestrians per year were killed in accidents involving buses or coaches in Great Britain. Alas allowing people to catch COVID doesn't protect from being hit by a bus. During the whole of 2020, 35 people of any age were hit by a bus or coach and killed across the whole of Great Britain - a particularly bad year.
Still, no though. More children in England were not killed by a bus. 

Case rates are rising in age 65+ age groups in the UK. These are still our most vulnerable people. They might be less vulnerable with vaccinations, but a rise in cases will still inevitably mean more people slip through the net, and it will lead to a rise in hospitalisations and deaths.

Nigeria will now also be removed from the UK travel Red List on 11th October, meaning people returning won't have to take extra tests or quarantine.

The UK has now uploaded over one million genome sequences to the international GISAID database, accounting for nearly a quarter of all sequences published globally to date. (Genuinely world beating.)

Deaths of children from COVID UK to September 2021

The UK's cross-party Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committee COVID Pandemic Response report is out... and well, we're good at vaccinations... The report calls the UK Govt. COVID response "One of the worst public health failures the UK has ever experienced".
1.The UK’s pandemic planning was too narrowly and inflexibly based on a flu model - we should have learnt from SARS, Ebola and MERS.
2. In the first three months strategy reflected official scientific advice, but when the Government moved from ‘contain’ to ‘delay’, it amounted to accepting that herd immunity by infection was the inevitable outcome. "The UK, along with many other countries in Europe and North America made a serious early error in adopting this fatalistic approach..."
3. It was also a serious mistake to stop community testing early in the pandemic. "..A country with a world-class expertise in data analysis should not have faced the biggest health crisis in a hundred years with virtually no data to analyse." Ministers, scientific advisers and the Department of Health and Social Care should have challenged this.
4. The structures for offering scientific advice lacked transparency, international representation and structured challenge. Protocols to share vital information between public bodies were absent.
5. "Although it was a rapidly changing situation, given the large number of deaths predicted it was surprising that the initially fatalistic assumptions about the impossibility of suppressing the virus were not challenged until it became clear the NHS could be overwhelmed."
6.There was a desire to avoid a lockdown because of the immense harm it would entail to the economy, normal health services and society, but in the absence of other strategies, a full lockdown was inevitable and should have come sooner.
7.Although some criticised Matt Hancock for announcing it unilaterally, the testing target of 100,000 tests a day was important to galvanise the system and drive the massive increase that was required.
8.It was a remarkable achievement for the NHS to expand ventilator and intensive care capacity. Overall, the majority of covid-19 patients with a clinical need for hospital care received it - but at the cost of significant interruption to NHS core services (including Cancer treatments).
9. Despite being one of the first countries in the world to develop a test for covid in January 2020, the United Kingdom failed to translate that scientific leadership into operational success. "The slow, uncertain, and often chaotic performance of the test, trace and isolate system severely hampered the UK’s response to the pandemic."
10.Both Test&Trace and contact tracing followed a centralised model, and declined assistance from outside (e.g. university laboratories, local Public Health teams). It's now clear centralised facilities should be used for surges to support local agencies.
11.The UK does now appear to have sufficient testing and tracing capacity, however, the problem of compliance with isolation instructions remains a challenge. "We heard evidence that inadequate financial support was a barrier for some people..."
12.The Government and the NHS both failed to recognise the significant risks to the social care sector at the beginning of the pandemic. Ministers lacked important advice when making crucial decisions. This, coupled with staff shortages, a lack of sufficient testing and PPE, and the design of care settings, meant that some care providers were unable to respond to risks as effectively as they should.
13.The lack of priority attached to social care was illustrative of a longstanding failure. It was a mistake to allow patients to be transferred to care homes without the rigour shown in places like Germany and Hong Kong. "This, combined with untested staff bringing infection into homes from the community, led to many thousands of deaths which could have been avoided."
14. Ministers were over-optimistic in their assumption that the worst was behind us during the summer of 2020. It is impossible to know whether a circuit breaker in the early autumn of 2020 would have had a material effect in preventing a second lockdown, but the UK Government did not follow the official scientific advice.
15. UK Ministers were correct to identify that a vaccine would be the long-term route out of the pandemic, and supported the research and development. The Vaccine Task Force and Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre have helped lead to a UK vaccination programme which has been one of the most effective initiatives in the history of UK science and public administration, and which was delivered by the NHS.
16.Treatments for covid are another area where the UK’s response was genuinely world-leading. The RECOVERY Trial randomised trials of covid-19 treatments are estimated to have saved over 1 million lives globally.
17."The UK regulatory authorities—principally the MHRA and the JCVI—approached their crucial remit with authority and creativity. Allowing the results of clinical trials to be submitted on a rolling basis made the UK the first Western country in the world to approve a vaccine. The bold decision to extend the interval between doses allowed more people to be vaccinated more quickly and so protected the population."
18."Existing social, economic and health inequalities were exacerbated by the pandemic and combined with possible biological factors contributed to unequal outcomes including unacceptably high death rates amongst people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. Increased exposure to covid as a result of people’s housing and working conditions played a significant role... The experience of the covid pandemic underlines the need for an urgent and long term strategy to tackle health inequalities and to address the working conditions which have put staff from BAME communities at greater risk."
19. People with learning disabilities and autistic people have suffered disproportionately high mortality rates throughout, highlighting the health inequalities faced. Pre-existing health conditions were compounded by inadequate access to care at a time of crisis. This was a result of restrictions on non-covid hospital activity, and, significantly, because family members and other carers couldn't perform their expected advocacy role. “Do not attempt CPR” notices were issued inappropriately for some people with learning disabilities, which was completely unacceptable.
The panel were made up of 22 members from the Conservative, Labour and Scottish National parties, and were unanimous in their findings.

I think the fact 1 in every 495 of the UK population has died from COVID in just 20 months is probably all we need to assess how well it's gone so far.

Cabinet Office Minister Stephen Barclay was today asked to apologise 11 times and refused. He is not sorry  - or he doesn't have permission to be sorry, and Boris is on jollies at a luxury villa with hot and cold running staff. Convenient... 

Depression can happen to anyone. It is not a sign of weakness

English Life Expectancy! This is pretty grim - especially if you live in the North, or you are poor. Maybe sit down, or look away now. If you live in an affluent area and aren't in any way 'deprived', feel free to read on. Analysis of research and ONS data by the Kings Fund shows:
If you are a man living in Blackpool, on average, you are likely to die a full 10 1/2 years before a man who lives in Westminster. For women the difference is 8 years.
(Yet you reach 'retirement' at the same age, and are more likely to still be working at that point - or beyond it - if you are poor.)
20 years ago, the difference between our most affluent and most deprived areas was 5 years for men, and 4 years for women - it's doubled since 2001. Quite honestly, that's pretty depressing.
Westminster male - 77.3 (2001-03) to 84.7 (2018-20)
Blackpool male - 72 (2001-03) to 74.1 (2018-20)
Westminster female - 82.3 (2001-03) to 87.1 (2018-20)
Blackpool female - 78.4 (2001-03) to 79 (2018-20)
If you pick the very very worst and very very best more local areas in England, it's slightly bigger even still. Dr Veena Raleigh, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund:
"Gaps in life expectancy between local areas grew from 10 years in 2015–17 to 11.6 years in 2018–20 for males and from 7.8 years to 9.6 years for females."
Overall life expectancy has dropped over the past 18 months due to COVID:
"in 2020 life expectancy at birth in England and Wales fell by 1.2 years for males and 0.9 years for females compared with 2019"
Obviously we're hoping that's going to mainly cause a 'blip', rather than a long term change, and will rectify itself within a few years.

Just for interest, and to take your mind off those figures if you live in Blackpool, back in 1841, life expectancy was 40.2 for men, and 42.3 for women. By 1920 we had made such improvements to nutrition, hygiene, housing, sanitation and healthcare, it had increased to 56 years for males and 59 years for females. It only reached 65 for both men and women after the 2nd world war. 

Mental Health support in the UK for anyone who needs it

Last week the regulator dropped the case against BA and Ryanair for the cost of flights passengers couldn't legally use due to being locked down. The flights went ahead, so the airlines 'performed their part of the contract'. Some people had their credit cards stop the charge and refund the cash, and now they are finding they face a huge bill if they try and fly with Ryanair again - as they are being charged for those refunded flights before they can board the new one.
Hopefully that makes sense. It's a bit of a nightmare all round really, especially if you discover this is the case just before you are due to fly again, but it's in Ryanair's T's&C's (although Money Saving Expert is attempting to help resolve it).
If you shopped in Tesco and then cancelled the credit card payment, they would expect you to pay that before they gave you any more shopping - whether you ate the first lot or not.

Remember Mu Variant? Scientist Trevor Bedford has been keeping an eye on it for us. It does seem to be more catchy than almost all other variants, except Delta. Sequencing shows everything else reducing as Mu or Delta comes along (and infects people before the slow variants get there) - but Delta is increasing at a greater rate, whereas Mu just holds it's own. He reckons without Delta, Mu would take over, and it needs us to keep watching, because at some point mutations will inevitably occur that could give it more of an advantage. Not for now though... 

Dame Sarah Gilbert, head of the Oxford vaccine team, has said that since COVID came along, vaccine development for other diseases has gone backward. When the pandemic emerged, her team were researching Vaccines against Nipah Virus, MERS and Lassa Fever. They still haven't been able to secure the funding to continue with any of those vaccines.
And THAT is why vaccine development usually takes years. It's all about dancing for the investors, to get the pennies to actually do it.

The Indian government's Subject Expert Committee on COVID-19 has recommended Bharat Biotech's Covaxin for 2-18 year-olds. Final approval will be given by Drug Controller General of India.
This is India's own home-produced vaccine, and back in March showed efficacy against catching COVID of 81% - although that was before Delta Variant, so I'd expect that to drop a few percent. It's a very similar vaccine to China's CoronaVac. 

Vaccines are your best protection against COVID and flu

Trump Of The Day:
Allen West. Candidate for Texas Governor. He's unvaccinated, he's this morning been released from hospital where he was being treated for COVID, and by crikey, his Twitter is exciting reading. He proudly announced he was taking Hydroxychloroquine (we have multiple evidence this does nothing to help) and Ivermectin (de-wormer - we have no evidence it helps, retracted studies and some ongoing trials which so far aren't making anyone leap for joy), and together with his vaccinated wife had monoclonal antibody treatments - which evidence shows can be incredibly helpful.
He tweeted from hospital (while on oxygen with pneumonia) that pro-vaccination adverts featuring loved ones of people who have died are "manipulative deception", and says he's even more determined to bar vaccine mandates, because people should make up their own minds and not just give money to big pharma.
Erm.... hang on Allen. How much have you just paid for a hospital stay with oxygen and 2 unauthorised and unproven treatments? A heck of a lot more than the cost of a vaccine... even Pfizer's only 13 quid on bulk order...
"I am not a conspiracy theorist but something very nefarious is at work here , and the innocent blood of Texans are on some dirty, corrupt hands. I promise y'all, as Governor of Texas, I will find those hands and ensure they're held accountable."
Allen, You ARE a conspiracy theorist and you have a fever. Go to bed. 

Sad news if you are a fan of massive firework displays and annual events, and reside in London. Mayor Sadiq Khan's spokesperson:
"This year, as always, London will be welcoming the new year in a spectacular way.
Due to the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, our world-famous New Year’s Eve display will not be held on the banks of the Thames this year."
We'll all have to wait to find out exactly what 'spectacular way' refers to...

There are no people numbers today because that pesky report used up all of my space - but I think it was worth reporting in full. You can find new daily cases worldwide at Worldometer, or find vaccination data at Our World In Data... Back on Friday.... 






India COVAXIN 2-15





Life Expectancy












Pandemic Response:













Cross party report:




Image - https://twitter.com/NHSEngland/status/1447456995850739716?t=yK28FyNybMS_zfY320K_dw&s=19










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