Sunday 24 October 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Weekend Update 23rd / 24th October 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Weekend Update 23rd / 24th October 2021

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 8,773,674 (+39,962)
Losses of Life: 139,533 (+72)
Tests: 1,011,431
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 49,684,322 (86.4% of UK aged 16+)
Vaccinations 2 Doses: 45,542,207 (79.2%)

Rep. Of Ireland: 428,152 cases and 5,369 losses of life (not yet reported today).

World: 244,355,896 reported cases and 4,962,875 losses of life.

you can how use a lateral flow test for some travel

"The pandemic is a powerful demonstration of just how much we rely on health workers, and how vulnerable we all are when the people who protect us are themselves unprotected.
A new WHO working paper estimates that 115,000 health workers may have died from COVID-19 between January 2020 and May this year. That's why it's essential that health workers are prioritised for vaccination.
Data from 110 countries suggests that on average 2 in 5 health and care workers globally are fully vaccinated.
But of course the average makes huge differences across regions and economic groupings. In Africa less than 1 in 10 health workers have been fully vaccinated. Meanwhile in most high income countries, more than 80% of health workers are fully vaccinated.
More than 10 months since the first vaccines were approved, the fact that millions of health workers still haven't been vaccinated is an indictment on the countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines."
Very strong words from Dr Tedros,  Head of WHO.

Time and again promised vaccines have been diverted to wealthier countries, the West won't allow African countries to produce their own patent-free at-cost versions of vaccines, and vaccine equity has gone out of the window in the scramble to keep countries open.
I do feel incredibly fortunate to be fully vaccinated (especially as my 11 year old just tested positive), but it has a bitter taste when I know that vaccine is more likely to save a life if it goes to someone else. 

"Parents can book COVID-19 vaccinations for their children online with appointments available over the October half term.
From tomorrow, millions of letters will begin landing with parents and guardians of 12 to 15-year-olds inviting them to book."
(If your child hasn't yet had their single vaccination in school - and presumably if you haven't signed forms ahead of a planned in-school vaccination session).

241021 UKHSA daily stats on vaccination and infections and deaths

Professor Sir Chris Ham, Co-Chair of the NHS Assembly, isn't sure the UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid is living in the real world. I did wonder the same thing myself after Wednesday's UK Briefing.
"I attended an NHS board meeting yesterday where we discussed the massive pressures facing health and social care.
These pressures include record attendances at ED, ambulances waiting outside hospitals with patients, bed shortages, and difficulties in discharging patients when they no longer need to be in hospital.
We also heard about work on elective recovery and herculean efforts to cut waiting lists and waiting times, while still caring for Covid patients.
Outside our hospitals general practices are dealing with record numbers of patients and social care is struggling with staffing shortages and other pressures.
All of this continues to take its toll on our staff and we are still seeking to fill vacancies and deal with sickness absences that put even more pressure on staff who are at work.
At the end of our board meeting I heard Sajid Javid tell the country that the NHS is coping and no further measures are needed. One of us is living in a parallel universe."

Professor Peter Openshaw, of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), was on BBC Breakfast expressing his doubts about the sensibility of the UK Government's lack of movement:
“I’m very fearful that we’re going to have another lockdown Christmas if we don’t act soon. We know that with public health measures the time to act is immediately. There’s no point in delaying. If you do delay then you need to take even more stringent actions later. The immediacy of response is absolutely vital if you’re going to get things under control.
We all really, really want a wonderful family Christmas where we can all get back together. If that’s what we want, we need to get these measures in place now in order to get transmission rates right down so that we can actually get together and see one another over Christmas.”

Quite honestly, I'm sure the only reason they aren't discussing Plan B is because they want their unaffected half term jollybobbs. They're transparent.
For reference, the terrifying Plan B involves:
"- communicating clearly and urgently to the public that the level of risk has increased, and with it the need to behave more cautiously
- introducing mandatory vaccine-only COVID-status certification in certain settings
- legally mandating face coverings in certain settings
The government would also consider asking people once again to work from home if they can, for a limited period. The government recognises this causes more disruption and has greater immediate costs to the economy and some businesses than the other Plan B interventions. A final decision would be made based on the data at the time."
(More people need to catch COVID just now because we need to sell frothy coffees or the economy collapses.)

Also for reference: I've got 2 sons who both have part time work at events and club nights in Manchester, and they've been using COVID-status certification for entry for weeks. Any sensible business doesn't want all of their staff or clientele ill, or they'll be shut next week anyway.

Good news! Sajid may have had exponential growth explained to him. The Observer and Guardian are reporting that "the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) contacted local authorities on Friday to canvass their level of support for the “immediate rollout of the winter plan – plan B”"

Rishi Sunak, UK Chancellor, knows full well what exponential growth is, but he was on telly this morning saying that current data ‘does not suggest that we should be immediately moving to Plan B’.
(Can someone just check the date on that current data please.)

Get your booster get your flu jab get protected UK GOv

The latest UK Variant watch data shows nothing to worry unduly about, and a couple of interesting points.
- Lambda Variant is now considered extinct in the UK - bye bye Lambda
- AY.4.2 (sometimes called Delta+), the variant of Delta which seems more catchy than standard Delta (+17% in the community and +12% in the home) is still increasing in the UK - slowly. 5.9% of Delta cases now show any 2 of 3 specific mutations. The excellent news is that early results can't see any increase in hospitalisations or deaths - it's just 1/8th more catchy than the already doubly catchy Delta. 

Australia has taken the "carrot" approach to getting vaccinations done quickly.
The worst affected area, Victoria, is on target to reach 80% of age 16 or over on Friday October 29th, at which point they'll fall in line with the rest of the country. The border around the area will drop and domestic travel restrictions end.
There will be "fundamental changes" once Australia reaches 90% total coverage for everyone aged 12 or over (expected on November 24th). Those changes will include no COVID caps on attendance or entry, and masks only in high risk indoor settings. 

The UK published details of England's monthly Reinfection Survey last week. 53,195 people in England have tested positive twice at least 90 days apart. 

Reinfection data England UKHSA

Famous People With COVID:
Popular musician, redhead and Game Of Thrones extra, Ed Sheeran.
He is now self-isolating as per government guidelines, and will "be doing as many of my planned interviews/performances I can from my house". 

Last week the US CDC mentioned booster jabs in relation to "fully vaccinated", stating that they will keep the situation under review and may update guidance in the future.
It's obvious really. Having a vaccination with a jab we are pretty certain wanes over time isn't going to count forever. 

"More than 325,000 booster jabs were given in England yesterday.
That’s our biggest day yet - thank you to everyone who came forward and all those delivering the rollout."
Sajid Javid, UK Heath Secretary and potential inhabitant of another realm. 

My 11 year old is still the only one of us testing positive, and is confining himself to his room or wearing a mask by his own choice - we said nothing. Everyone else is mainly walking round saying "Do I feel hot to you?" and giving the piercing 30 second stare to anyone who dares to cough. It's like living under the Sword Of Damocles, only less shiny and with more nasal swabs.

Fortunately the rest of us are vaccinated, and thank heavens for that. All those countries who worked so hard to avoid COVID over the last 20 months, but have finally succumbed, didn't spend a minute in vain. They kept their populations healthy and bought themselves time for us to learn so much more, to massively improve treatments, and create vaccinations.

Back Tuesday....all being well!

Some numbers. All people on this rock we call home:

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):

USA 46,294,927 (+717) 756,215 (+10)

India 34,189,360 (+14,517) 454,743 (+442)

Brazil 21,723,559 not yet reported today 605,569

UK 8,773,674 (+39,962) 139,533 (+72)

Russia 8,241,643 (+35,660) 230,600 (+1,072)

Turkey 7,851,805 (+24,792) 69,112 (+195)

France 7,120,863 not yet reported today 117,463

Iran 5,860,844 (+9,174) 125,223 (+171)

Spain 4,997,732 not yet reported today 87,132

Italy 4,741,185 (+3,725) 131,826 (+24)

Germany 4,469,636 (+4,969) 95,794 

Indonesia 4,240,019 (+623) 143,205 (+29)

Mexico 3,781,661 (+4,452) 286,259 (+306)

Poland 2,972,927 (+4,728) 76,447 (+13)

Ukraine 2,769,405 (+20,791) 63,872 (+386)

Philippines 2,756,923 (+5,279) 41,793 (+208)

Malaysia 2,431,716 (+5,666) 28,400 (+46) 




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